Monday 14th April 2014
Yesterday saw Aurora’s first launch of the 2014 season, at Suffolk Yacht Harbour in Levington on the river Orwell. This was an opportunity for a bit of father-daughter time doing some “adventuring”. The rig and launch went surprisingly well, with just Aimee and I. The marina has an unusual system for launch, with a wire and a sheave, so that the launch vehicle stays on the hard above the slipway and lowers the trailer into the water. This proved quite interesting with just one boat/car driver (me) but Aimee proved an excellent helper and I only got slightly wet….
Later we walked through the lovely Levington nature reserve,as the Sun set, to the famous Ship Inn. Sadly however, it was closed, so ewe had to wait for a lift back to the marine for “whale and chips” at the Lightship restaurant.
The plan was to sail to the Walton Backwaters, made famous in Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons book “Secret Water”. Aimee loved the idea of spending the night at anchor, away from civilisation, and I was only too happy to oblige.
An early start this morning was not to be, and we were not “ropes off” until 10.00. The wind was perky F3/4 from the NW, so we started nearly dead downwind down the Orwell. Aimee helmed beautifully, and I handled the main sheet as we gybed past the enormous container port at Felixstowe and out of huge estuary close by the shore at Harwich. We then had a lovely run down to the safe water mark at the entrance to the Walton Backwaters, which became a reach as we surged down the channel. After a hard turn to port down Walton Channel, all went well at first and then the channel markers stopped!
The water is really confusing here at high water because, though it’s water visible everywhere, there are many rows of grass tufts just breaking the surface indicating the many banks to ground any unwary vessel. At one point I was so pleased to be ghosting along goose winged, I took the wrong channel and had to perform a swift 180 to get out.
Passing Titchmarch marina, we needed the outboard as we were now head to wind. There then followed a game of “use the depth sounder to find the channel”. I was *fairly* certain I could get through, but there were a number of occasions, as the depth sounder approached 1m, when my bottle was tested (especially as the ebb had already begun!).
Needless to say, we eventually found our way to the moorings on the W side of Horsey Island and thence back to Hamford Water. We had picked a deeper spot in Langmere Creek, which generally nearly dries, but should afford us at least 2m at low tide. With Aimee again helming, we motored into the wind and tide until we found a good depth and dropped in the hook.
With only the huge colony of Terns on nearby Garnham’s Island for company, there was nothing more to do but put the kettle on and have a leisurely afternoon as Felixstowe dropped below the horizon as we sank into our mud hole on the ebb tide.