trip logs

Trip log: Into the River Deben

Tuesday morning dawned calm and very misty. When it was light, I stuck my head out of the hatch and could not see the other side of the river. It was very still and the only sounds were those of the birds around us. Gradually a light breeze arose and gently cleared away the mist and the morning grew warm in the sun. 

We had to wait until the top of the tide to get out of the river, so Niki and I passed a leisurely morning watching the wildlife around us before lifting the anchor and making our way downstream. The aim was to leave the Ore and enter the Deben on the same tide. The flood was still strong as we made our way out of the Ore and we motor sailed to the mouth. We needed all the beans Henry could give us to get out of the river, but we popped out into Hollesley Bay with little drama. 

Overnight the wind had swung round to the SW, so it became a beat to reach Felixstowe Ferry and the mouth of the Deben. We made good time along close to the shore, flying main, staysail and genoa and beat around the headland . We  could see remains from two centuries of fortification of this coast against potential invasion, with chains of napoleonic Martello towers and rather less elegant concrete WWII pill boxes visible along the shore. The most recent invasion threat was from the sea though, and there were several places where steel and stone had been used to prevent the sea from eating into the shore and jeopardising the properties behind. As we drew nearer to the next river mouth, we could see Bawdsey Manor and its single radar mast. During WWII, radar system had been developed at nearby Orford Ness and put into operation at Bawdsey Manor. It’s now a private school, but one radar mast remains.


A mile or so from the safe water mark, we admitted defeat with the sails and motored directly upwind. It was tempting to cut the corner off, but I knew that even at high tide there is not a great deal of water at the Deben entrance and a large shingle bank stood between us and the channel. I could see the buoys were in different spots to last year and there was an extra port hand buoy; with the tide ebbing, we took no chances and passed close to the buoys. The ebb tide was strong, but it was easier to make the entrance than I expected and we were soon in Felixstowe Ferry. The ebb was very strong over the moorings and it took some careful manoeuvring before we picked up a buoy.


We had arranged to meet Drew, a local sailor and fellow Cape Cutter owner, and he got the harbour master to bring the ferry boat to us, as it would have been impossible to row the tender even the short distance ashore. We dropped Aurelia ashore, ready for the return trip and retired to the Ferry Boat inn for a meal and some beers. Drew was good company, and we discussed possible arrangements for the gathering of Cape Cutters next month. We were later joined by Jeff; Niki drove his car home , leaving Jeff and I to row back to Aurora (fortunately now a very short distance across a very modest current) for a nightcap before retiring. 

Distance travelled 12.8nm. Trip total 108nm.



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