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‘Kelpie II’: Bradwell Quay to Pin Mill and back to Erith, 1902

We bring the second instalment from the Cruising Log of ‘Kelpie II’, launched in July 1902 at Greenwich and based at the Erith Yacht Club. In the first extracts from her log, we find she was launched at Greenwich and sailed to the River Blackwater. In this extract, she continues up the coast to reach Pin Mill on the River Orwell before returning to her home port at Erith. Her current skipper is only her fourth owner in 120 years and still sails her on the East Coasts of England, keeping her on the River Orwell, Suffolk. Read the first instalment here

Sunday 13th July Up early after a good nights rest & got underway before breakfast so as to get out of our channel before low water; stood over to Bradwell Quay & anchored for breakfast. Had a grand beat up the Blackwater from here & then with a freshening breeze put up the helm & ran out to sea for spin & then bore round to Brightlingsea. We had stowed dinghy below as she seemed a drag, & we did just move along, with a moderate swell on the water over which we lifted in glorious style. Ran into Brightlingsea with a rising tide, but grounded on the bar, were not worried thereby however, we dropped the hook & very soon floated off.  Now sent Crew into harbour shopping, then had dinner (very late) after which we went for a sail out to Colne Mouth & then back into Brightlingsea Harbour & anchored for the night  – had tea – washed up & turned in. Later, went on deck to look round & found water shallowing out very fast, also found we were anchored too near shore, had to pay out all chain & steer out into deep water and potter about till nearly 12 to keep her off the mud, as we didn’t fancy sleeping all huddled up in the bilge with the ship heeling to an angle of 45o.

Monday 14th July Rose at 8 o/c & shifted our berth to better position, went ashore victualling & also filled water tanks, left the Mate on board to do odd jobs & let the Boy have a holiday. Said Boy hired a bike & rode off to Harwich. Our barometer had been so low for 2 days & the sky doubtful that we hesitated sailing round to Harwich & had decided to potter about here. On going ashore the Skipper found barometer at 30.2 & went aboard & had a few words with our own machine. After dinner, took a sail out to the river mouth & then back to tea.  Found the Boy had returned an hour before with letters & parcels. After tea, Skipper & Boy went ashore for a stroll whilst the Mate touched up the topsides where soiled. A glorious day. The evening was beautiful & the view over the estuary from the low cliff on the point was very pretty. A poor place to victual this, you could fit out a fleet at the yacht chandlery stores, but the only victual to be bought are groceries & bread & meat. Fruit and vegetables, especially the former appear to be considered an unnecessary luxury.

Tuesday 15th July Rose early – 6 o/c as a long run was before us, had breakfast & got underway at 7 o/c wind light but fair, rounded Colne Point about 8. Sun getting warm, passed Clacton Pier at 10.30, wind still very light & sun very hot, but tide with us. Skipper & Mate here went over side for a bathe. Set the big spinnaker & this made a difference to our pace. Off Frinton the tide began to hack & by the time we were off Walton (about 1 0/c) it was making against us. The sun was now very trying & heat intense, the brass & ironwork being too hot to bear handling. If it had not been for the Skipper’s forethought in purchasing white linen hats the day before, the whole ship’s company would have been overcome. Had dinner off Walton, after passing Walton Pier, we stood in close to shore to avoid full strength of the foul tide. We just made sufficient headway to take us over the ground. Passed the Naze at 1.30 & stood over to Dovercourt & so got a little less tide. Passed Landguard Point about 4 o/c & then made our course up the Orwell and dropped anchor off Pin Mill at 5.30 where tea was prepared & put away. We had done about 34 miles, not bad considering the light wind. Skipper & Mate went ashore after tea, but found all the shops shut, went back to the hard & hailed the yacht, but could not make the Boy hear. Hung about on the shore for an hour or more until quite dark, when a faint murmur reached the Boy’s ear & he came & fetched us on board.

Wednesday 16th July All hands abed until 8. After breakfast sent Mate & Boy ashore for water & victuals, they were fairly successful this time. Weighed the hook & sailed down to Felixstowe with a ripping breeze. Skipper took the Boy ashore here & went into the town shopping – made a good haul – like this place much! Very nice & quiet!  After dinner weighed anchor again and sailed back to our pretty & quiet anchorage at Pin Mill. After tea the whole ship’s company deserted the ship & rowed across the river to Orwell Park where they landed, bought potatoes & were shown over an oyster hatchery.

Thursday 17th July Up early (6.30) as another long run was before us. Broke our fast and then got under way for the return voyage. Brightlingsea being our next port. Thought we should have a fair wind, but we were close hauled the whole way, as the wind seemed to just head us as we came round the coast, but there was a fairly good breeze and we made good way.
2.10 passed the Naze 2.30 Walton 4.30 Clacton After passing Clacton the wind freshened and blew strong from the NW and we had a lively time until well up the Colne. Oilies had to be donned as the spray was sousing us fore and aft. We dropped anchor off Brightlingsea at 6.30 and had tea, then as the tide had risen we shifted into the harbour, went ashore for letters, but found it too late, it was 5 minutes past 8 and the Post Office shut, at this moment a friendly damsel came over to our rescue and suggested and attempt on the back door and acting on this advice we were successful and had the pleasure of several letters from home.

Friday 18th July (This by the Mate) Turned out at 7am. Went ashore for letters etc. (if you reflect that the Boy was one of the crew, you will be able to guess the “etc”) and got under way at 10am. Had a spanking from NNW all the way to the mouth of the Crouch where we anchored for dinner at 12.45. All hands very drowsy for some time after; how can this be accounted for? Then we sailed up to Burnham where we found ‘Rani IV’, our double, at her moorings, so we borrowed the next buoy. Went ashore in the evening. Skipper started having a light supper at 8.30, Mate and Boy had more courage and Skipper then thought better of it and supplemented his first effort, so as to bring himself so to speak well in line with his subordinates. At 9 o/c clouds visible; Captain anxiously scanning the horizon, thought he saw lightning, but not sure. All snuggled down in readiness for a dirty night. All serene till time of writing log. 9.15 all hands turn in. NB, today was the Mate’s birthday. Town not illuminated.

Saturday 19th July Skipper turned us out at 3.30, hook raised at 4 am, sailed down the Crouch with the last of the ebb and a light air aft. Preliminary breakfast disposed of as soon as possible. Breeze gradually strengthening as we cleared Foulness, we wanted all we had as tide was beginning to flow against us. Passed the Whittaker Beacon at 6.45 and the Swin Middle Light at 7.30, the Mate here relieved the Skipper at the tiller while he and the Boy prepared a proper breakfast. This much appreciated, as it was beastly cold. Breeze holding steady from NW and as we had now the tide with us we raced along in fine style. Passed Maplin light 8.15. At Priory Spit Buoy we stood out a bit to clear Nore Light, the breeze had been lightening and when off the Nore at 9.15 wind dropped completely. After flopping about for half an hour we got it again from the W. Our big jib helped us a lot in these light airs. Nearing Garrison Point Sheerness we took in big jib as breeze was freshening. Passed Garrison Point 11.30 and dropped anchor in Queenboro Harbour at 12. Skipper and Mate went ashore to arrange for arrival of late Crew who was joining ship again, whilst Boy prepared dinner. Had a quiet afternoon on board which all were ready for. Crew arrived at 6.30, when all being ready we immediately got under way with a very light breeze from SW. Off Grain Spit the wind freshened considerably and the big jib was taken in. Still freshening and coming in strong gusts we reefed main and foresail and as it was now getting dark lit side and stern lights ready for use. We tacked up south shore in rough water till about a mile above the Chapman Light; then lowered our mainsail and ran across under foresail only, just making the mouth of Hole Haven. Found yachts anchored anyhow off the Causeway which made it extremely difficult for us to clear and get in. Had to shove a dinghy out of our course as we passed astern of one yacht to avoid running aground. Dropped anchor at 10pm about ¼ mile up the creek, turned in just before 11, but as the tide reached its full at midnight the swell came in over the sandbank and we rolled most horribly, fortunately not for very long so we got to sleep at last.

Sunday 20th July and last Out at  8.30 am. Mate had caught cold somehow and was in a bad humour accordingly. Breakfast cleared the prospect somewhat though it was a wretched morning – raining hard and looked like doing so for a week. Weighed anchor and cleared the Haven at 10.40 with a fair breeze from the N. Under all plain sail, at the same time as a yawl a bit bigger than ourselves. Sailed side by side at first but we gradually drew ahead and at the Ovens Buoy at 11.30 had a lead of ¼ mile. Kept going with good breeze until off Greenhithe where wind full light and tide beginning to slack, we felt doubtful of making Erith with that tide. Hoisted big jib and made better progress up Long Reach but came to a stand still almost at Cross Ness. Tide had now turned, so we got out our wooden sails and stood for our anchorage at Erith, and succeeded in getting opposite the Clubhouse, but not get up to our moorings. We dropped the hook and had dinner after which cleaned up the ship and packed things for home. 5 o/c went ashore and so ended our first cruise on ‘Kelpie II’ and a most enjoyable one it proved. The Skipper must here pay a tribute to the behaviour of the Officer and Crew. All hands, being respectful and attentive to duty, even the Boy being affable as long as the supply of jam held out.

Ships Company
Skipper: H E Kennard
Mate: A R Kennard
Crew: D Kennard
Boy: D C Kennard

Contributed by East Coast OGA member, Rik Graham, owner/skipper of ‘Kelpie II’
Read the first instalment here