We awoke to a much calmer morning on our anchorage in the river Roach. We made an early start and sailed against the tide. Our aim was to take a shortcut across one of the many sand banks just offshore on this coast.
We gybed from shore to shore as we made our way to the mouth. The south bank of the Crouch below the Roach is Foulness Island, owned by the MoD. Amongst other, more secret, operations, there is a firing range here, pointing out to sea.
We had heard the occasional bang and seen the resulting plume of smoke yesterday from our anchorage. Today, we were approached by the firing range control boat and asked to stay North (the wrong side !) of the channel markers. We were shortly treated to an excellent view of a series of quite impressive explosions.
The helpful harbour master at North Fambridge had told me that there was an inshore gap in Ray Sand. He had told me that rather than choosing the narrowest point in the ray, we should run North on the 1-degree line. So it was we ran out to sea and then bore up to a reach, parallel to the shore. We had hit high tide, and just as well, because the depth sounder gave only 1m of water at the shallowest!
Even after successfully traversing the sand bank, the area between the Crouch and the next river, the Blackwater, is very shallow. We continued making good time North and soon entered the Colne and took a berth on a pontoon at Brightlingsea.