On a lovely bright morning a small but select group of three, Joe Coulson, Simon Barker and myself met at the ever friendly and helpful Stone SC for the sixth and final cruise of the season, on the Blackwater estuary. We launched on time at 11.00 and beat up towards Osea Island into the SW wind which was blowing at steady as predicted 12mph. It was a bit choppy with wind against tide, but we enjoyed a fast upwind sail in company with a fully rigged Thames sailing barge.
We had made such good progress that we decided to stop at Mundon Stone Point, not wanting to arrive too early at Maylandsea as it's difficult to land there more than 2 hours before HT. While stopped on the point we had a photo opportunity, and watched some seals basking in the sunshine.
Setting sail again we had another nice beat up Lawling Creek, and landed without problem at Maylandsea SC at 12.00. We walked a few hundred yards to our normal fish & chip shop and were rewarded with an OAP takeaway special for £3.80, all packed in a sturdy box complete with mushy peas. Even Simon who's not an OAP managed to get one. We returned to the SC and enjoyed our really good and large lunches in the warm sunshine. While there we had a bizarre encounter with an American wave sailor, who had moved to live in Maylandsea and was trying out some kit he had just purchased on E-bay for £20. Anyway we told him about Seavets and the benefits of longboards and he seemed interested in both.
Launching again at 1.00 we made our way on a run/broad reach back down the creek, passing the 9 seals we spotted earlier still sunning themselves. After rounding Mundon Stone again we were back on a beat and heading for the south of Northey Island. After crossing the submerged causeway it was back on a run past Maldon, and along Collier's Reach before landing at Heybridge Basin at 2.00. Here we had a short walk to the very smart and popular Tiptree café, which is situated on a jetty. Simon and I treated ourselves to ice creams with Joe opting for a pear tart and tea.
It was getting really hot now as we posed for a photo taken by a friendly local, who wondered why we were clad in wetsuits in this warm weather.
Setting sail again at 3.00 for the final leg back to base the wind that had been steady at 12mph all day had now dropped to 8mph, and we feared a slow run home but with the help of the outgoing tide we made good progress and took in the picturesque scenery, arriving back at 3.45. We had covered the 16 or so miles in 2 hours 45 minutes, a stunning days sailing under the big sunny skies of Essex, a great way to round off the season.