We awoke to a much brighter, though very breezy morning. Paul had discovered that his tender had gone AWOL, but fortunately had not gone far before sticking to the leeward bank of the channel. He borrowed Aurelia to retrieve it.
My crew were due at the Suffolk Show today, so we pulled the anchor from the grey sticky mud (really good holding!) and made for Brightlingsea under engine and genoa. We had been offered spots in the marina, rather than the pontoons and the entrance was tricky with strong tidal flow and onshore wind. Aurora made it to the berth and, with the help of the harbour launch, was turned about. She was quickly followed by Sapphire and her brace of tenders and somewhat later by Tystie, who had sailed up the Colne past the tidal barrage at Wivenhoe.
The other half of the fleet arrived somewhat later, having left Heybridge on the high tide. The entry was not without drama, but soon all six boats were moored.
We had a sunny afternoon to stroll round Brightlingsea, ready for an early departure back to the Crouch first thing tomorrow.
Brightlingsea has existed before the Domesday Book and long depended on fishing (especially oysters) and shipbuilding for its trade. At one point in the nineteenth century, it was the largest shipbuilding town on the East Coast for fishing smacks and also leisure craft. It is also the only town outside of Kent and Sussex to be part of the Cinque Ports, a now ceremonial connection which the town still takes seriously.
Although these industries have long faded, the sea still permeates the town (sometimes literally) and there lots of signs of its former trades. It retains the eccentricity often seen in these coastal towns and has also kept a largely unspoiled high street with a number of independent shops meeting most needs, with only a token chain supermarket.
A rather discordant note is struck by the marina development which disrupts the “old world” charm of the waterfront. However, it is active and bringing trade to the town. Last time I was here it was unfinished, unoccupied and inactive. Now lots of apartments are occupied and the marina is pretty much full.