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OGA60 fleet: towards the River Orwell

The fleet is making good progress south in rather grey weather with the famous challenges of east coast mud when entering or leaving harbours. ‘Moon River’, ‘Indian Runner’, ‘Recipe’, ‘Bonita’, ’Hilda’, ‘Letty’ and ‘Susan J’ have all left Scarborough today, with ‘Minstrel’ enjoying some time ashore and ‘Onward of Ito’ staying to sort out some engine fuel supply issues. ‘Bonita’ reports on her passage from Blyth, calling at Whitby and meeting up with other members of the fleet in Scarborough.

We left Blyth early this morning, about 4.30, to catch the tide. Our all weather crew are D and Hugo who is getting to grips with the principles of sailing. Unfortunately as we were motoring out of the harbour the engine suddenly started producing ominous sounding grinding noises. Fearing the worst, we turned round and went back. It turned out that the cause was the pulley on the cooling water pump touching the engine bearer when under load. I replaced the belt that drives the pump with a new one and that seemed to cure the problem. We set out again an hour or so later. Sadly it was rather a frustrating sail. There was very little wind and there was a heavy swell left over from several days of strong northerly winds so the boat rolled around a bit. We motor-sailed most of the way so it was lucky the engine was OK. We radioed the Whitby Harbour Master and he was confident there would be enough water. He was right of course: the depths went down to 0.5m under the keel at the shallowest bit but we never touched the bottom.

We left Whitby when the swing bridge opened at 8am and sailed the 15 or so miles down the coast to Scarborough. We had fair tide, a breeze off the land and no rain, so a pleasant sail and were in the little Old Harbour at the end of the morning. We were welcomed by the crew of ‘Susan J’ who arrived last night. ‘Indian Runner’, ‘Letty’, ‘Onward of Ito’ and ‘Moon River’ all arrived later today. I hadn’t been to Scarborough before but it is a lively town full of holidaymakers and lots of grand buildings near the sea front. A little known yachting connection is with the yacht designer Albert Strange (1855-1917). He was influential  in popularising yawl rig, as suitable for gentlemen yachtsmen who sailed without a professional crew. A number of his pretty boats are still sailing. It turns out that though he designed lots of boats, this was just a hobby. His day job was as the Principal of the Scarborough School of Art. After it got dark we welcomed in the marvellous Barbara in ‘Moon River’ who had sailed all the way from Amble today singlehanded, 65 nm. She was welcomed on ‘Susan J’ with tea, cake and whisky.

Mike Beckett, ‘Bonita’

Leaving Bridlington on Tuesday, we hear from ‘Lahloo’, who has now sailed on to take a break in Lowestoft for a few days:

The last big leg of OGA60, Bridlington to Lowestoft, we pass by six major wind farms. Always impressive close up. Lowering clouds over Spurn Head off the River Humber. At night the P&O ferry ‘Pride of Hull’ passes us (having radio requested, politely, to give her more room)! TBF we were between the Race Bank and Docking Shoal about a mile wide at that point. We could see her passing under the moon and through the wind farm lights behind her. Pre dawn at 0350 we crossed Sheringham Shoal. The OGA60 Jubilee Celebrations are close and the big trip is drawing to a close as we slowly sail into home waters . . . and then the day gets even better! Nothing like a big breakfast rustled up by amazing crew and chef Paul as we roll along the Norfolk coast.

Richard Bailey, ‘Lahloo’

Now on the East Coast, we have an update from Mary, sailing ‘Molly Cobbler’ across the UK for her version of the Round Britain Cruise.

I had to wait until Monday 24 July to head down the Thames (locking out times are later at the weekend and high water was early). That went OK, but there was little wind till later, and I got hardly any sailing. Stayed overnight in Queenborough, then headed across the Thames – wind strength variable, but direction always on the nose, so I didn’t get much sailing there either! Overnight in Bradwell, then along the coast to Titchmarsh Marina in the Backwaters. Wind was minimal at first, then switched on a good force 4, which, in the wind over tide conditions, was more than I could sail with alone. There’s no pictures of ‘Molly’, I’m afraid, though some striking ones of rain showers and clouds! But we’re in reach of the Orwell now!

Mary Gibbs, ‘Molly Cobbler’

Also enjoying the peaceful Walton Backwaters, is ‘Charlotte Elizabeth’. This area was one of Arthur Ransome’s favourite places to visit in his yacht, ‘Nancy Blackett’. Unlike earlier books in the ‘Swallows and Amazons’ series, the places depicted in his 1930s books ‘Secret Water’ and ‘We didn’t mean to go to Sea’ are based on actual places around Harwich and the Backwaters.

Two of the Round Britain Cruise fleet are already in the River Orwell. ‘Cygnet of London’ has been in Suffolk Yacht Harbour for a couple of weeks while skipper and crew take a break and ‘Barbarossa’ is in Pin Mill. ‘Windbreker’ arrived on the Norfolk coast on Tuesday and sailed on south to spend time exploring the beautiful, unspoilt River Deben, anchored at ‘The Rocks’ (which is really only mud) before continuing her passage south to the River Orwell.

‘Satellite’ Photo: Sue Pennison

Solent Gaffer ‘Molly of Mylor’, has already departed Gosport, arriving in Eastbourne, 23 July. She will be joined on passage by several more boats from the Solent, sailing north, including; ‘High Barbaree’, ‘Meagan’, ’Tammie’ and ‘Satellite’. For those who are sailing, sadly we hear they’re now stormbound on passage to Ramsgate, but ‘Satellite’ has been loaded onto her trailer so just has traffic jams on the roads to contend with.