East Coast Jubilee Cruise: July 2013

20 July 2013 finds the Round Britain Challenge fleet joined by around 50 local boats from the East Coast, arriving in Ipswich from their home ports for a week of cruising, racing and parties from Ipswich to Wivenhoe. Following the Cruise, many of these boats intend to continue down the coast to Cowes. As most of the RBC boats join the Anniversary Cruise we also hear from ‘Snoopy’ on her counter-clockwise circumnavigation and ‘Annabel J’ as she makes passage for France.

Jubilee Cruise

Ipswich Wet Dock, EC Jubilee Cruise, July 2013
Ipswich Wet Dock, EC Jubilee Cruise, July 2013

Following a passage race to Ipswich, Round Britain Challenge boats are joined by around 50 others for the East Coast Jubilee Cruise, starting with a civic reception hosted by the Deputy Mayor in the Custom House, Ipswich. Ipswich Haven Marina, managed by OGA sponsors ABP, made the large fleet most welcome, allowing them to raft up in front of the Last Anchor where skippers and crews enjoyed a buffet and music in the evening. This international event includes Dutch, Belgian and English boats from all areas of the UK. The fleet dressed overall for the occasion and basked in bright sunshine for the whole weekend.

Sunday finds visitors being introduced to the joys of the Wet Dock Regatta, a regular feature of the East Coast OGA calendar, including all the skills of sculling, rowing, sailing a rubber flubber and the culmination of and international ‘Rubber flubber football’ match. We understand this event will be repeated in Cowes during the August celebrations.

'Avola' the committee boat
‘Avola’ the committee boat

On Monday skippers and crews finish provisioning their vessels, and depart through the lock into the Orwell to cruise or race to Wrabness on the River Stour. As the sun goes down, Robert stands on the deck of ‘Charm’ and the sound of his Highland pipes drifts across the boats at anchor opposite the Royal Hospital School. The beach below a hut flying the Dutch flag provides a great venue for another gathering and briefing for the next couple of days. There’s another race on Tuesday starting at 0900 across Pennyhole Bay to Walton Backwaters, where the fleet moors at Stone Point or Hamford Water. Wednesday dawns with another fine morning for the Seaways Bells Passage Race down the Wallet to West Mersea. Its an early start to catch the ebb and avoid the shallows around the start buoy. The fleet spreads out down the coast, making a fine sight of 50 boats under full sail against the backdrop of cranes at Felixstowe standing on the misty horizon.

At West Mersea, the fleet moors up to be taken by launch for a magnificent seafood lunch at the historic Packing Shed, now restored, originally built around 1890 by the Tollesbury & Mersea Native Oyster Fishing Company Limited. Skippers and crews spent an evening ashore, welcomed by the Walton and Frinton Yacht Club.

East Coast Jubilee Cruise, 2013
East Coast Jubilee Cruise, 2013

On Thursday, skippers invited the young and lady members on board, to ensure their boat could compete in either the Junior Helm or Lady Skipper Race up the Blackwater to Osea Pier. This event attracted a large entry, providing a great opportunity for those who don’t always have the chance to helm in a race. Forced to moor in several locations, the organisers laid on land transport to ensure everyone reached Maldon Little Ship Club for the Anniversary Buffet.

As the last day of the Cruise dawns, skippers wonder if there’s sufficient wind to race, with an early start the only option and several being forced to retire as the tide turned. Everyone eventually arrived in Brightlingsea, rafting up with the assistance of the harbourmasters, to be joined by even more boats for the East Coast Race on Saturday.

The skipper of ‘Witch‘ reflects on the Cruise, as he completes the Round Britain Challenge.

‘Snoopy’ and ‘Annabel J’

‘Snoopy’ reaches the Scilly Isles after a trip of 125 miles from Milford Haven in 29 hours struggling against wind and tide.

After joining the East Coast Cruise for a couple of days, ‘Annabel J‘ decided to head for Honfleur, taking a 40 hour passage to sail the 190 miles from Harwich to reach the French coast.