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East Coast: Suffolk Rivers Rally

26th July 2018 - 29th July 2018

The East Coast Suffolk Rivers rally took place from Thursday, 26th to Sunday, 29th July on the Rivers Orwell and Stour and the River Deben. The rally started extremely well in hot, sunny weather with ten boats turning up at Shotley marina on Thursday for a pontoon drinks party on “Arion”, followed by a great dinner at the “Bristol Arms”.

Despite increasingly inclement weather warnings, the rally continued on land and water in bright sunshine on Friday, with the majority visiting the excellent English Heritage site at Landguard Fort, travelling for the most part on the Harwich Harbour foot ferry from Shotley to Felixstowe. Having visited the Fort before, “Arion”, “Papa” and “Purejoy” sailed up the River Stour to moorings at Wrabness, for a picnic and swim from the beach next to the beach huts owned by local residents. “Purejoy” had brought a barbecue which was used to cook some good food on the beach. The wind picked up in the afternoon and we had a lovely sail back to Shotley on a close-haul/close reach on the hottest day the year so far!

In the evening, the group came together again for dinner at the “Shipwreck” at Shotley marina and were entertained with an excellent quiz prepared by Bill Drew, with other customers of the “Shipwreck” invited to participate as well. The quiz was won by Stephen and Hilary Morris from “Travelling Light” who again showed their broad general knowledge. As we were enjoying the food and quiz, however, the sky darkened, black clouds obscured the full moon and the long spell of warm and balmy weather was interrupted by a violent thunderstorm. With gales forecast for the next few days, some yachts returned early to home ports in Essex and Kent the next day, some remained at Shotley marina and a few braved the worsening weather to sail to the Deben bar and up the River Deben to Woodbridge Tidemill marina, as planned.

We made the best of it in the bad weather and six boats (“Arion”, “Cloud Nine”, “Mylor May”, “Purejoy”, “Sal Darago”, “Sandpiper” and “Travelling Light”) and thirteen people showed up at “Ye Olde Bell and Steelyard” at Woodbridge for a barbecue (by then the weather had ameliorated) and two challenging quizzes put together by Bill Drew which we again shared with other people in the pub. The first, on Sixties music was won by “Purejoy”, largely because of Ian Bartlett’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the era. The second, another general knowledge quiz, was won by Bill and Brenda McKee of “Sandpiper”, ably supported by Jeremy and Kathy Spencer of “Sal Darago”.

And so, although it could have been a total washout because of the bad storms, it turned out to be a lot of fun. Next year, we look forward to some fair weather Suffolk river and North Sea sailing, even if it may also be less hot for some of the time!

Nick van den Brul and Bill Drew


26th July 2018
29th July 2018
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Nick Van Den Brul
07522 428 305