Niki, Alice and I had spent a peaceful night in Heybridge Basin. Our plan was to take the last of the flood tide up to Maldon town for lunch and then take the ebb back down river to Brightlingsea. This gave us a very leisurely start, with time for a walk, a shower and Alice to enjoy the swings.
We left as soon as the lock gate was opened. Whilst we were waiting, I got chatting to the skipper of the motor boat next to us in the lock. It turns out that he had been an engineer on the Radio Caroline ship (“Ross’ Revenge”) in its heyday. We had seen this boat moored on the Blackwater on our sail upriver the previous day (in fact we had seen it before too, when it was in dry dock at Tilbury last summer when we took Aurora to Sweden; I noted on our return that it was not there, and had wondered what happened to it). He was part of the group restoring the ship Nd was returning today for a meeting aboard.
The weather was absolutely glorious with a gentle breeze and hot sun. It was upwind to Maldon, so we motored to the public quay and moored. We had time for a walk up to the high street, lunch and an ice cream. Whilst we were sat in the cockpit, someone came up for a chat, seeing our OGA “gaffers 50” burgee and had a chat to us and pointed out that there was another Cape Cutter resident at Maldon (“Stormy Cape”). There was a party atmosphere in town, and we discovered it was carnival day, but we couldn’t stop to see the procession because the tide had begun falling (full moon yesterday, so helpfully, the biggest tides right now).
When we set off, we decided to have a quick look at our fellow CC, but Alice, who was eager to help, dropped a fender in the river. This proved to be useful man overboard drill and Blue Fred was quickly recovered. Alice was very proud to be the one to retrieve him.
We made our way down steam with the tide and Genoa only, gybing our way round the winding passage near the head of the river. As soon as we passed Heybridge Basin again, we hoisted main and staysail too. The breeze and the strong tide meant we made excellent time downriver, moving from fetch, to reach and run. The breeze was patchy in places and the foresails would occasionally collapse as our boat speed exceeded the wind speed, but always filled in again after a minute or two.
The sun was really hot and it was such a pleasure to sail at a good pace barefoot in shorts and tee-shirt. As we sailed past Mersea Island, we had a useful shift in the wind which carried us right into the mouth of the Colne, where we had to fire up Henry Honda to enter Brightlingsea harbour.
By this time it was almost low tide and there was not much water, but we got in and tied up at the pontoon. Here it was we said farewell to Niki, who went home to return to work, and hello to Aimee, who had been spending some time with grandma and grandad. With some extra provisions supplied too, we set off again and picked our way out of the harbour, motoring over to the Pyefleet channel, where we dropped anchor.
The girls and I prepared and ate dinner in the cockpit with a terrific sunset into a glassy sea. By the time Alice was settled in her berth, the full moon dramatically rose, providing another lovely view on the opposite Horizon. A perfect end to a wonderful day.
Distance travelled 20.4nm; avg speed 4.2kt