3rd August

‘Talisker 1’ is at anchor in the Orwell.  Just down river from Buttermans Bay and just above Colton Creek … tucked into the bank.

We arrived yesterday evening.  Anchored close by was ‘Gravitas’, a Westerly Oceanlord, Liz and John Mills.  Liz and John were early mentors to me when I first took tentative steps in these waters.  They were marvelous to me.  ‘Gravitas’ headed back to the Deben this morning.

2nd August Westerly Oceanlord ‘Gravitas’

On Monday 1st August we left the Ore and sailed to the Colne in predominantly fresh south easterlies.

1st August The Ore to The Colne

1st August underway

1st August

1st August heading down the Wallet. Walton Pier can just be seen astern.

1st August Chevaux de Frise Pt mast ahead

1st August old and new. The wind farm on the Gunfleet Sands would not have been known to this Thames Barge The ‘Will’ when she plied her trade on the east coast in bygone days.

Despite a dirty bottom and a foul tide ‘Talisker 1’ did what she does best and made good progress.  The sail was a fraction over 40 NM through the water, this being my longest sail since my Heart Block in November.  I was starting to feel quite tired when we dropped anchor in the lee of Mersey Stone Point, half way between the SS ‘Lowlands’ wreck and the mooring of ‘Pioneer’.

1st August at anchor in the lee of Mersey Stone Point

To my great joy , Thames Barge ‘Mirosa’ was at anchor just above ‘Pioneer’.  We were in an ideal place with south westerlies overnight.

2nd August To my great joy , Thames Barge ‘Mirosa’ was at anchor just above ‘Pioneer’.

At high water Brighlingsea yesterday afternoon we hauled the anchor and set just the genoa.  In south westerly 5’s we romped back up the Wallet and in to the Orwell.

2nd August The Colne to The Orwell

2nd August Leaving the Colne. ‘Pioneer’ and ‘Mirosa’ tucked behind Mersey Stone Point

2nd August Clacton Pier

2nd August romping back up the Wallet

2nd August

2nd August Felixstowe Docks ahead …

2nd August Walton on the Naze astern

2nd August heading slowly up the Orwell before running aground …

Approaching the anchorage under sail and closing in on low water we ran aground.  I had to start the engine for the first time since the day before yesterday to get off.  It was going to be so easy to have anchored under sail.  A few moments after running aground the anchor was set and peace reigned again.

2nd & 3rd August at anchor … tucked in to the bank (my track shows where we hit the putty)

3rd August at anchor River Orwell

Just to put the cat amongst the pigeons I received an email from David ‘Doc’ Foreman in July.  “Just in case your interested there is an Orford Dabchick Ten Footer for sale”.

Having told my friend Bill Hughes that owning a wooden boat was madness what did I do?

I had to sell my Mirror to buy the Ten Footer.  I made enquiries with Martin Egan at and learned that my Mirror had a well known racing history.  Martin also suggested a price and agreed to advertise my Mirror (previously known as ‘The Black Boat’) on his website.

My Mirror long before I owned her.  I bought the Mirror in 2011 from British Olympic Team sailor Maddy Anderson who had sailed her successfully at the Brightlingsea SC when she was very young.  The photo above is pre Maddy.  Note TBB on the hull ‘The Black Boat’.  Note the gunter rig in the photo.  Maddy sold her to me with a Bermudan rig.  Photo courtesy of Martin Egan.

In the mean time an advert in the Orford SC Clubhouse immediately found a buyer and even better, she will stay at Orford SC.  In a trice I was able to buy the Ten Footer.

‘Dolphin’ is sail No 18 and she was built at Robertsons, Woodbridge circa 1953.  David Bettinson had not sailed her since 2019 and she promptly sank when I launched her.

23rd July. ‘Dolphin’ Orford Dabchick Ten Footer taking up

She is leaking more slowly. T/T to ‘Talisker 1’ is moored against the pontoon behind ‘Dolphin’.

On the following tide she was half full and after several more tides she was pretty water tight having taken up reasonably well.  Doc did however seal up a cracked plank and a large leak in the bow which will have to be addressed this winter.  A flexible sealant that never goes off was used!

Having rigged her with experts Mary Goldin, Jonny Oakes and Doc I went for a sail on the 29th July with another new Ten Footer custodian Jenny, Doc and Mary.

28th July Jenny, Doc and Jonny Oakes rigging ‘Dolphin’. Mary’s Ten Footer is behind Jenny & Doc.  Three more Ten Footers to the right. Doc has a blue hull. Jenny is rigged and ready to go. A Roberts Ten Footer is covered in the foreground, to the right of ‘Dolphin’s’ rudder.

All I can say is that I must have looked like a person who had got off the lift at the wrong floor.  An Orford Dabchick Ten Footer is quite easy to sail but mighty difficult to sail well.

29th July … my first sail & looking like a man who has got off the lift on the wrong floor!

4th August

A wind shift to the west had us move yesterday evening and anchor down river inside Orwell PH Buoy.

3rd August River Orwell. A wind shift to the west had us move.

4th August anchored inside Orwell PH Buoy

This evening the wind was predicted to veer north easterly at 1700 and bang on time it did exactly that.  Anticipating this wind shift, we were already heading up the Stour under genoa to anchor in Erwarton Bay.

4th August. We were already heading up the Stour when the wind veered north easterly.

4th August heading up the Stour

There will be more north in the wind overnight before the wind backs to the north west in the early hours tomorrow.

We will probably return to the Ore tomorrow.

I’ve been reading an awesome story.  Lijia ‘Lily’ Xu was the Laser Radial gold medal winner at the 2012 London Olympics.  A world champion already, twice as an Optimist sailor and once as a Laser Radial Sailor, Lily had already won bronze at her home Beijing Olympics in 2008.  Lija’s is an extraordinary story.  The book was given to me by my brother Henry who had been filming with Lily and her husband, world class sailing coach and Laser sailor Jon Emmett.  Lily had so many obstacles stacked against her, but she still succeeded in being … simply the best in the world.

Here is the link to Lijia’s book.  I highly recommend it.

22nd August

We did return to the Ore on the 5th August.  My first proper sail since the medical problems in November.

5th August The Stour to Orford

5th August leaving the Stour

5th August Harwich to starboard as we leave the Stour.

5th August Felixstowe Docks

5th August Deben Haven approaches …

5th August Doc in his Orford Dabchick Ten Footer in the Orford approaches

Orford Sailing Club is very busy.  There are some very promising youngsters and some that are finding their way on the water for the first time.

I’ve been sailing my Ten Footer.

On the 17th August we briefly put to sea and sailed out to Shipwash and back with two of our excellent Dinghy Instructors, Ruby Brint and Jacob Kunert.

17th August … we briefly put to sea and sailed out to Shipwash and back.

17th August Ruby & Jacob inbound to the Ore.

Jacob’s sister Hannah has featured in this blog last year.  Ruby became our Orford SC Chief Dinghy Instructor this year.

21st August & more Ten Footer sailing

I’m thinking of leaving the river for a few days tomorrow.

24th August

24th August The Ore to The Colne. I finally shoehorned myself and ‘Talisker 1’ out of the river.

I finally shoehorned myself and ‘Talisker 1’ out of the river this morning.  She’s been a good nurse and seems content with my apparent idleness, as if to say … we can stay here … we’ve done all that travelling before … BUT … if you want … you lead me, and I’ll take you safely.  Otherwise … the mooring is just fine.

We’ve ended up in the Colne … again.  We briefly thought about Potten Creek in the Roach.  Much of this summer has been spent just using her as a house boat.  I hope to be well enough to feel more adventurous again, though perhaps I should take note of my date of birth.  I’ll have to heap some TLC on my ship should I be fit enough to go far again.

We are anchored just inside Mersey Stone Point and the anchorage is busy with the prime spots taken.  We arrived at LW.  I’m always fascinated by yachts going in to Brightlingsea Creek.  They seem to run aground deliberately and just wait for the tide to rise a little before making there way in …  a step at a time.  Others anchor for a while before going in, without fuss, and the rest, like me … just anchor.

The weather has been sublime after a miserable start.  Rain was in the air at 0630 and we were underway from our mooring in an overcast at 0700.

HW Orford Haven was 1020 BST.  I decided I was not going to worry about going out a tad later, preferring another hours sleep.  We switched the engine off as we rounded Weir at 0840 and under a reefed main and stay sail crossed the river bar and beat down the coast in to SW4’s.  The skies were clearing and the prospect of the wind backing at midday pleased me as it meant an easy sail, all be it against a foul tide, down the Wallet.

24th August we rounded Roughs Tower at 1130

24th August heading for the Wallet

We rounded Roughs Tower at 1130, the wind backed SSE as predicted, the skies cleared and we headed for the Wallet.  Undaunted by a foul tide and a dirty bottom, ‘Talisker 1’ had a terrific sail south as we at times, touched 8 knots through the water.  With a clean bottom she would have flown.

24th August with a clean bottom she would have flown

24th August Colne approaches

Today was just under fifty nautical miles through the water.  I think back to the days of 4,000 nautical miles in a couple of months.

Approaching Brightlingsea I started the engine and got the main sail down.

The sunset over Pyefleet Creek was as good as it gets.

24th August the sunset over Pyefleet Creek was as good as it gets

Thames Barges ‘ Edith May’ & ‘Centaur’ are anchored off Brightlingsea Spit.  The ‘May’ arrived quietly at dusk and expertly anchored under full sail.  No fuss, no bother and no words.

24th August ‘Centaur’

24th August The Edith May about to round Mersey Stone Point

It’s been a lovely day and evening marred only by a lone jet skier this evening off Brightlingsea Creek.  I’ve nothing against jet skiing.  I suppose it’s got to be done, but was he not aware of the tranquility and beauty of this estuary an hour or so ago?  Or was it just another tide  … another sunset!

25th August

25th August The Colne to The Stour

We got underway just before HW Brightlingsea.

Both barges were away an hour in front of us and as we rounded Colne Point, close in shore, I have never seen so many boats in the Wallet.  Both the Edith May and Centaur were amongst them and were lowering their sails to anchor.

The flotilla was there for an air show off Clacton.

25th August an Air Display over Clacton

Variable winds took us up the Wallet helped mainly by a strong ebb tide.  I expected the winds to become very light and for a short period of time, only the tidal stream was taking us north.  The wind then freshened again from the north west and we beat from Medusa in to the Orwell and then sailed up the Stour to Erwarton Bay where we are anchored for the night.

25th August at last the wind freshened again from the north west

An old trick of Doc is to gently touch mud bang on low water and then lower the anchor, backing off in to deeper water. Preferably anchoring on a flat shelf.  By anchoring in very shallow water the vessel is virtually out of the tidal stream and therefore windrode and comfortable.  BUT … one must be certain of there not being a wind shift.  The winds were going to be northerly overnight and in to the morning.

25th August. An old trick of Doc is to gently touch mud bang on low water.

‘Talisker 1’ is not herself.  I will try to organize a September scrub at Suffolk Yacht Harbour.

We will return to the Ore tomorrow.

27th August

26th August The Stour to The Ore

We did return to the river yesterday.

We awoke to a lovely day in the Stour and were underway at 0730.  HW at Orford Haven was 1140.

26th August we awoke to a lovely day in the Stour

Very light North Westerly winds were going to die out as the morning progressed before veering to the north.

We managed to sail to Boat House Point against the flood before succumbing to the engine.  Earlier we had sailed inside Andrews Spit, almost touching the groins at Languard Point as we sailed through the narrow gap and along the beach.

26th August inside Andrews Spit …

26th August Languard astern as we sail inside Andrews Spit

26th August close inshore there is an eddy

A ‘Swallow’ and ‘Amazon’ attack of Ten Footers as Doc, Mary and Jenny bore down on us as we came in to the moorings at Orford.  I’m so pleased I am part of this small fleet.

26th August Three Ten Footers in the approaches to the moorings at Orford

26th August

26th August Doc, Jenny and Mary

Long chats with Doc yesterday and a good nights sleep and I’ve been lazily putting the boat to bed.  I won’t be back for a couple of weeks except to sail my Ten Footer.

Copying ‘Tuesday’ I hung the dinghy on the main halyard while the river flooded.

27th August T/T ‘Talisker 1’ hung out of harms way

It was so much more comfortable not having to think about the tender.  I must set up a rig that is quick to use.  It is protection from the wash of the speeding motor boats, most of whom are oblivious to slowing down through the moorings.  Also, slowing down a bit creates a bigger wake.  They really have to slow down completely to create little wake.  This will never happen.  Very few of them are businesslike or aware of their surroundings.

28th August. Our small unpretentious sailing club punches above its weight. Two of Orford SC’s exceptional sailors David ‘Doc’ Foreman & James Grogano in the club house at Orford.


  • John says:

    Congratulations on the new boat! Glad Talisker is looking after you, hang in there. Sending our love from across the pond.

    • And much love to you John, K, D & ‘Sentijn’. A very big tide today (biggest of the year) and Doc, in his Ten Footer, me in mine ened up practically exploring ditches. “Plenty of water” Doc said “this way!” I did not know what fun an ancient clinker built Ten Foot boat with a single lug sail could be. Are you afloat again?

  • Martin Kuhn says:

    Hello James. I’ve just read your post abbout sailing along the East Coast during August. We were in this area at the same time and absolutely loved it. Briefly we sailed from Ramsgate to the Stour, then up the Orwell, down to the Walton Backwaters, through the Wallet to Brightlingsea, anchored in Pyefleet and sailed back to the Medway on 27th August and home. I just wonder if our boats sailed past each other somewhere… What a lovely summer this was!!
    Best wishes from Serenity (Westerly Storm 33)
    Martin & Erika

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