Tuesday 26th May
The fleet took in a new river today. The river Stour joins the Orwell near their combined estuary between Felixstowe, with its massive container port and historic Harwich, home to many of the support vessels which shepherd the visiting container ships.
The weather was fine and warm, but the winds light and from the West, so we made initially slow progress down the Orwell against the rising tide. There was sufficient water to cut some of gone corner at Shotley. We were glad of the Genoa on Aurora; the other boats in the fleet carried Yankee fore sails instead and we benefitted from the extra sail area in the light breeze.
As we entered the river Stour, we were dead downwind, so the breeze seemed to fade altogether, but we made 3 knots even so, assisted by the tide. The upper reaches of the Stour contain a RORO ferry port on the Harwich (South) bank, but this quickly gives way to lovely countryside. As we slipped upstream, we could see the wide Holbrook Bay, overlooked by the impressive building of the Royal Hospital School.
At this point, the fleet was well spread out and progress was slower than I had hoped. My original target had been Stutton Ness, which has a lovely sandy beach. However, we had a barbecue planned and I could see sand shining on the shore of Harkstead Point, so decided that would make a suitable alternative venue.
We dropped anchor in the shallows and pumped up Aurelia. Aimee did stirling work shuttling people and equipment ashore. We had three tenders between 8 boats, so it took a while to get 19 people ashore. It was a lovely evening and we admired the anchored boats in the evening sun while we munched on burgers and hot dogs cooked by Niki. Technically, this might have been the largest gathering of Cape Cutters so far, because in addition to the 8 at anchor, two more are berthed at Holbook Creek round the corner and another one has its home mooring at Wrabness opposite. However, on of the Holbrook boats, Enigma, was not on its mooring, but had taken the morning tide and made its way up to the Royal Harwich Yacht Club, in preparation for our race tomorrow. Sadly the skipper of the other Holbrook boat was unwell and unable to join us.
The falling tide forced us to carry out another dinghy shuttle, so we could move the boats out to deeper water; we took moorings at Wrabness and passed a breezy but uneventful night.
9.4nm; avg speed 2.8kts.