|Stephen Squirrell (29857km): |
What a top weekend :) Friday night overnight out in the VW with nice walk, Saturday 5-star bike ride around the lovely Suffolk countryside and then today we had a Felixstowe sailor’s away day in Essex!
The wind forecast was west, off shore at Felixstowe, and with a 3 o clock high at Point Clear this seemed the best option especially as it’s one of my favourite spot and I haven’t been there for a while. Mag and I left Felixstowe at 10 arriving an hour later after a bit of a hold up at a roundabout on the Clacton road. We were first to arrive so got a good position in the far car park and went for a walk along the seafront from the Brightlingsea end to the café as the tide was really low.
A few had arrived by this point but were not in any hurry to rig but with 18 mph on the gauge I took a chance with 7.8 on the 133. I had to walk out past the rock groyne but sadly the wind was very light and I wobbled back to the beach. It was too nice a day to stand about so I quickly rigged 9.4 on the raceboard and headed out, my intention was to sail round Mersea Island so I started beating to the right towards Brightlingsea and up the creek in winds that were becoming a handful for big kit. Then after about a mile it was too strong to continue. I thought that if it was this windy inland it must be blowing a gale out to sea so I turned and had a hairy reach back only to find the wind fairly light at Point Clear :( I turned and headed back up the creek towards Wivenhoe where again I found some serious wind just past the gunnery range and was now getting over 25 kts peaking at 26.59 kts. When maxed out there was a large bang as my mast gave way, luckily I did not damage the sail and I could just touch bottom so I could walk ashore to de-rig! I now had a problem being on the wrong side of the creek, 3 miles from the van! It was high water so I just had to wait for a boat to pass and wave for help, after about 10 minutes a group of jet bikes headed my way and after waving they came over to me :) I asked if one of them could take me to Point Clear to get the bottom section of my spare mast and bring me back and I would pay for some fuel. One of them backed right up to the bank and I climbed aboard, heading off at top speed – I have never been on one before and it was fast. They were friendly Eastern European jet bikers but didn’t seem overly keen to bring me back. Lucky for me we spotted the RLNI inshore boat just across the river! We headed over and I climbed aboard the inflatable and we went over and picked my gear up. It was a good job I had switched my GPS off as we broke 30 kts on the 3 miles back! They dropped me by the green and several local sailors helped me ashore:) I then met Mag and Peter Cutts walking towards me helping me back with my rig, I left the board on the beach.
The wind had picked up so I went straight out on the 133 which I had left on the beach. The tide was now nearly fully in. I headed into the lagoon where there were loads of windsurfers and kiters but very little wind:( It was then out to the open water where the wind was much stronger. I beat a couple of miles along the nature reserve to the sea where it was really lumpy then turning and riding the swells back which was fun. Now the wind had come back so it was back to the flat water of the lagoon which was also fun but not fast and the wind was gusty and there was a real danger of getting a kitesurfer on the head. I was getting some nice gybe’s in and an OK hour. With the wind up and down in the lagoon I had one last run out to sea turning at the green bouy 2 miles down the coast and trying for a fast mile back. The wind was not strong enough and the sea too big but still nice running down the back of the swells:)
With the tide starting to go out and having been out for four and a half hours it was time to call it a day. Even with the drama of the rescue – a big thank-you to the Mersea Island inshore rescue boat – it was a 4-star day, great to be out in the warm sunshine with loads of mates from Felixstowe who all enjoyed their day out in Essex:) Mag had fun making pebble mosaics and reading although she said it would have been nice if I had stopped for ten minutes for lunch!