A Few Days in the Thames Estuary

28th June

We are anchored in Stangate Creek, River Medway after sailing here from Pyefleet Creek on the 26th in strong northeasterly winds.

Pyefleet to Stangate Creek

Leaving the Colne

The Colne Estuary outward bound

We had a nice beat out of the Colne and gradually the wind increased and a reef was slipped in to the main whilst crossing the Wallet Spitway. By then we had 20 to 25 knots over the deck.

Bearing away to the south we furled the stay sail and just gently ran down to the Medway under just a reefed main on a preventer.

Heading south under main only

Middle Deep

By the time we passed the wreck of the ‘Montgomery’ it was blowing a solid F6.

The wreck of the Montgomery

Entering the Medway

We anchored under the north bank of Stangate Creek, half a mile further up the Creek from the entrance to Dead Mans Hole. So close to the bank we are pretty much wind rode. Nice.

Anchored in Stangate Creek. The anchor was dropped almost on the bank at LW

Dead Mans Hole is to the top left of the picture. A favourite anchorage.

At anchor Stangate Creek

Stangate Creek

The northerlies will finally die later tonight and we will try to sail north tomorrow in the predicted easterlies. But it has been windy.

The northerly winds have finally died. At anchor Stangate Creek.

We sailed across the Orford Bar at 1500 on the 23rd June.

Leaving Orford & US SV ‘Endeavor’

Orford to Pyefleet Creek

‘Dura’ was inbound and going like a train with Wendy, Peter and James Robbie.

‘Dura’ inbound to Orford

NE4’s enabled me to gently test my aches and pains as we sailed to Pyefleet Creek under genoa only.

We were heading south down the Wallet, goose winged under twin headsails.

Goose winged under twin head sails

A large Sailing Vessel heading northeast directly towards us under engine only was making heavy going with wind over tide. Watching her carefully I waited as long as I could for her to alter course. Incomprehensibly the boat stood on.

I turned hard to port, which backed the stay sail. The SV cheerfully waved as they passed. I’m not proud of the fact that I shouted invective and shook my fist. Arse Holes!

Heading down the Wallet

‘Pioneer’ on her mooring at the head of Pyefleet Creek

At anchor Pyefleet Creek looking towards Brightlingsea

Peace in Pyefleet as the sun goes down

I’ve done some jobs. And tried to work out why everything hurts. Neck, lower back and ribs. I’m getting old.

I’ve got a ‘vendetta’ with my Jabsco Manuel Toilet. Or should I say with Jabsco! Since 2014 I’ve bought at least eight service kits and a complete pump assembly as a spare. This morning I removed the pump assembly and installed the spare. I suppose I’ve been on board for ten months over the last three years. So although I am a summer live aboard I’m still just one person.

I’ve had to swap the pump twice a year since I installed the loo. I don’t think that’s good enough.

30th June

Yesterday was a fabulous sail from the Medway.

Leaving the Medway in light airs

Grain Tower River Medway

We slowly tacked out of the Medway against the last of the flood in light airs and it took nearly two hours to be abeam of Grain Tower before we could lay a course across The Flats and Nore Sand at slack water to the north bank of the estuary.

Tacking out of the Medway against the flood

& out across the Estuary

Looking towards Southend

A beat along the southern bank of Maplin Sands before a longer tack on starboard to Blacktail Spit allowed two more tacks before we were able to tack on to starboard and lay a course north east through Middle Deep around the top of Whitaker Spit and through the Spitway in to the Wallet. Enjoyable sailing.

Beating along the Maplin Sands

Once through the Spitway we had about another hour of current in our favour before slack water but close hauled we were going to make the Naze on one tack and in good time. I was also tempted, if the wind dropped, to put in to the Orwell or the Deben, or go all the way home to Orford if the breeze held. High water at the Orford Bar was 2140.

Wallet Spitway to the Naze

We made straight for the Ore as the breeze held

& up to Orford

Woodbridge Haven & Bawdsey

Bawdsey Beach

The breeze held and Oxley was missing from station when we crossed the Orford Bar rounding Weir at 2035.

Our river entrance

We’d been underway since 0830 and finally picked up our mooring at 2140 after a terrific days sailing. My body had stood up to 30 tacks on the passage from Stangate Creek.

The following day was spent with three legends. Candy, Doc and James Robbie.

Candy, Doc & James Robbie aboard ‘Talisker 1’

Out in James’s rib with the three legends

Sunday night our Castle & Church

Monday morning our Castle & Church

Philip, our wonderful Harbour Master, collected me in his launch on Monday morning to take me ashore.


  • colin says:

    I would love to learn the skills and knowledge you have..

    • Hi Colin. I’m really not that clever at all. I’ve just been lucky enough to have had the time to do the miles. There is no substitute for that and being taught really well early on. There is a saying that perfect practice makes perfect. Whilst it’s never going to be perfect I always try to achieve unremarkable cruises. Getting from A to B safely knowing I’ve done most things right and that I’ve looked after myself so that I can take care of my ship. Do the knowledge … that means you need to clock up coastal miles. Sailing close to land and traffic is by far the hardest sailing. Happy New Year. ATB James

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