The forecast was for less wind today, but it still seemed pretty breezy when we woke up. The plan was to dash back South and into the Crouch, so we can recover Aurora tomorrow. The sea had been quite rough yesterday, so I I was planning (reluctantly) to motor the whole way. My plan was to leave Brightlingsea on the last of the ebb, so we would not have rough wind-over-tide water at the mouth of the Colne and I had calculated that this would put us at the Ray Sand (Rays’n) bar an hour or so before high water, so we would have some flood to help us up the widest part of the Crouch as well as plenty of water for crossing the shallow part.
We took the water taxi ashore for the last time and had a walk in town, had an ice cream and went to the play park for Alice’s benefit. After a quick lunch, it was time to leave. The first part of the journey was easy enough, but as we got into the mouth of the Blackwater, it got more and more rough. The girls stayed below and I put the washboards in; I also clipped on my safety line.
I have been out when there is a big swell, and Aurora copes pretty well with that. However, we were ploughing through a steep chop, which would sometimes nearly stop the boat and at other times make her roll crazily. Occasionally a big brown wave would wash right over the bow. Navigation with the iPad was very difficult, as the screen kept getting wet, but I had put a waypoint into the GPS (as always on trips such as this, so I was able to navigate to that.
Henry Honda did not miss a beat and pushed us on, averaging about 3.5kt; not bad, given the conditions, I think. As we neared the Rays’n bar, a large motor cruiser came abeam, gave us a wave and then moved ahead. Crossing the bar with a swell of more than a metre made me a bit nervous, but I kept telling myself that this was the top of a spring tide and there was at least 5m of tide, so there was definitely going to be enough water. Still, the thought of bottoming out in those conditions was not a nice one.
The worst sea was actually just after we had crossed the bar and made it into the deeper water in the mouth of the Crouch- the tide was beginning to ebb by this point – but, little by little, we crawled (so it felt) into more sheltered, calmer water. Once into the river proper, we made better progress and soon turned into the River Roach. From there we made good time to the anchorage at Potton Island which we visited last week.
It was with some relief that I finally dropped anchor and stopped the engine. I’m glad to say that the girls had not found that crossing a problem and were un-bothered by either the duration or the motion of the boat. A fair bit of water had come into the boat- when the waves swept across the companionway hatch, a dribble of water came in and dropped to the floor, so anything on the floor was a bit damp. The anchor well drains were also blocked again, and water was dripping in here too. Just as well this was our last night. After a quick meal, we all had an early night.
Distance travelled 17nm; avg speed 3.5kt.