Today we sailed a new (to us) river- the Blackwater. We left Brightlingsea with a crew of my parents, Alice and myself, with the plan to meet the rest of the family in Maldon. This is at the navigable head of the Blackwater and we were hoping to follow the tide up river and arrive at high tide.
My dad was dubious about the amount of wind we might find, but the direction and the tide were both in our favour. We initially tried beating against the flood out of the Colne, but we’re making no progress at all and so were forced to motor for some distance past the drying Mersea Flats. However, once we reached the ECB marking the wreck of the Molliet, we were able to give Henry Honda a rest.
The sails filled and we had a fantastic fetch along the top of the Blackwater. With the tide helping us, we made a steady 7kts in the sun. As the river turned we went to a fast reach and then a run. The wind dropped as we progressed up river and gybed in the narrowing channel.
Looking at the pilot, and wanting showers, we chose Heybridge Basin as our destination. Heybridge Basin is a lock and small marina at the southern end of the Chelmer and Blackwater canal. It is entered an hour or so either side of high water, but I was not certain when high water was. I rang the lock keeper and asked for a berth. “How far away are you?”, he asked.
“Oh, not far”, I said.
“Well, get here as quick as you can then, we’re about to close the lock”, he replied.
It was fortunate were were not far away, because the lock gates were closed behind us and there were several boats waiting too.
“Where were you planning to stay, then?”, the lock-keeper asked me.
“I make it up as I go along!”, I responded.
We were very glad to have made it, as this was a really lovely place to spend the rest of the day. The basin is obviously a very popular destination for visitors from near and far and there was a party atmosphere, with families barbecuing We sat in the sun and had a pint (or two) in The Old Ship. We then had a lovely walk along the river bank and back along the canal tow path. After an evening meal in the Old Ship, we said godly to my parents and Niki’s parents and spent a very peaceful night in the lock.
Distance travelled 20nm; avg speed 4kts.