The plan was for an overnight to Pin Mill or the Walton Backwaters. We left Manningtree under sail around 1130 anticipating the ebb, without even a cat’s paw of breeze. The sun soon burned away what remained of the morning mist, and the upper reaches of the River Stour, smooth and sparkling, opened before us. By the time we had floated past Mistley and Wrabness the breeze began to fill in from the west. OK, maybe Pin Mill will be possible after all. Into Harwich harbour, around Shotley Horse, and Helene joined the small afternoon parade up the Orwell.
But even the last of the ebb was too much for the now faltering breeze, and when it looked like we were no longer moving forward, we swung around with the idea of making Ha’Penny Pier and sampling the delights of historic Harwich. Four tacks or so took us through the harbour and into the vicinity of the pier, so it was sails down, fenders and lines ready. But alas, another boat was intent on taking the last remaining space on the outside of the pier so we waved her on. Our magnanimity proved to be misplaced as there were no other spaces on the inside and the rafting options were not very attractive.
By this time the breeze was back and we had lovely sail back up the Stour, right into the setting sun. When we picked a buoy at Wrabness the sky was ablaze (and the crew was hungry).
0520, only the beginnings of dawn: “Wake up skipper, the dinghy’s awash… and I think the oars are gone!”
And sure enough. Gunnels below the water, the outline of dinghy could just be seen through the gloom, careening dramatically to the strong ebb. “How are we going to get out of this one?”