Whitby to Ispwitch

Keith Burgess who many of you know at the club sailed from Whitby to Ipswich in an old schooner. For those that are interested he tells his story below.

From Whitby to Ipswich – A voyage on the Schooner “Trinovante”

On September 21st I caught the train from Nottingham to Whitby, where at 18.00 hours I boarded the 3 masted schooner “Trinovante”. The other 3 crew members arrived from their respective home ports and we spent the evening of what was to prove to be the tail end of summer . John and Sue, the joint owners treated us to a welcome supper as we found our berths and unpacked.

The basics of the boat were explained and potential on deck hazards identified.  Thereafter weretired to our bunks in readiness to leave at 8.00am the following morning.

Whitby harbour is only accessible when the road bridge is raised for two hours either side of high tide, but we were the first boat to sail under the raised bridge and motor down to the harbour mouth to the waiting North Sea.

Trinovante’s bows cleaved the water as many had done before and we headed South.

The weather forecast gave a prediction of f4/5 from the S.E, which combined with the tide gave no opportunity to make any significant headway, so the skipper’s decision was made to motor down the coast through the night to make landfall at Harwich. We took 4 hour watches on a rolling rotation with 3 of the 6 of us on deck at any one time. I must say there are now an awful lot of wind farms off England’s East coast and surprisingly little shipping evident.

We eventually moored at Halfpenny pier at Harwich at 14.36, where we were greeted by old friends of John and Sue. We took the opportunity to walk around the town and find an off-licence or two. The town itself showed many signs of deprivation that is common with many coastal resorts of the UK. The large container port with highly automated crane systems for the container ship traffic seemed at odds with the little town just the other side of the water.

The following day we left our mooring from halfpenny pier and headed out of the estuary for a days offshore sailing. We were all given the opportunity to helm and put up sail. Raising a gaffe rigged sail up is a two crew affair which involves one person hauling on a halyard nearest the mast and is called the “throat” whilst the other end of the boom is called the “peak”. It’s a procedure that must be done in unison to ensure an efficient hoist.

The weather was not at its kindest with a number of sharp rain squalls. A steady stream of tea came up from the galley which was always appreciated.

At the end of the day we sailed back to the port of Harwich, past the container ships and upstream into the estuary where we dropped anchor for the night.  As ever an excellent meal was prepared by Sue and a subtle bonding of the crew from many different backgrounds helped make the evening a memorable one.

Next morning we raised anchor and headed down river for the next leg of the voyage to the Blackwater estuary .“Trinovante’s” anchor winch is a formidable affair, manually operated by two crew which again required unison of effort and a stance of pushing down in alternate strokes to achieve an effective lift. The winch was originally fitted to a Thames barge but was

spotted by John as just what he needed when he designed and built “Trinovante” from scratch.

Our sail down to the Blackwater estuary had similar weather conditions, though perhaps a little more benign. The last leg of the voyage was again under motor and we moored in the estuary

late afternoon for the night. This particular river divides Suffolk from Essex and is also the location of the late Tony Benn’s ancestral home. From where we were moored it did look a rather splendid location.

On the morning of September 26th we set sail for the last leg of our voyage, back up the coast toward the confluence of the river Stour and River Orwell and onto Ipswich.

Under sail for most of the day we passed Mersea, Clacton and its pier, Frinton and Walton on the Naze.. The sun was shining again as we passed all these well known place names finally motoring up the river Orwell passing under the road bridge of the A41 and into the lock of Neptune marina. Here we moored up for the night and disembarked the following morning.

The crew went their separate ways; I headed for the Travelodge hotel and after a day of sightseeing Ipswich, a town I had never visited before, caught the train back to Nottingham.

It had been an interesting and insightful week.

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