Mersea Island, August 2018

Updated: Sep 8, 2018

A cruise around the Island is the main aim of our visit but is accompanied by some casual sailing, pub meals, bike rides and a BBQ. Intrepid campers at the Seaview site were Richard Williams, Joe Coulson, Alan Jackson, Andy and Linda Lacy, John and Deborah Ellis, Tony and Lorraine Goodwin, Derrick and Ellie Hall and Maurice and Barbara Humberstone. This site is a few yards from the beach which is reached by some careful manoeuvring through the beach huts. Pitches need to be reserved early to get the ones nearest the beach.

Activities included:-

  • Bike ride to East Mersea with coffee and cakes at the Vineyard on the way back. Lots of wine made here and on sale in the café, lots of grapes on the vines promising more for next year.

  • Bike ride to the Strood and around the sea wall (hundreds of Butterflies here – Essex skippers and common blues)

  • Sail to town for ice cream. Eight boards arriving at the car park caused a bit of excitement locally with people taking photos and videos.

  • Pub meals at the Victory and The Fox

  • Casual sailing on several days

  • BBQ and boozy social after the cruise.

This year the race around the Island organised by Mersea Island Yacht Club, set for 12th August, was cancelled due to unsettled weather and a rumour of thunderstorms. Our cruise was undertaken on Tuesday 14th which had the best forecast with cloud, reasonable temperatures and an 11 knot westerly wind. Barbara Humberstone was our photographer at launch and at the Strood..

Campers Richard Williams, John Ellis, Andy Lacy, Joe Coulson, Alan Jackson, Maurice Humberstone and Derrick Hall were joined by day visitors John Chubb and Steve Fletcher along with local sailor Paul Reynolds. Launching from the campsite beach at 12.00 noon with a flooding tide and 10 knot wind we moved along smartly. A broad reach to Brightlingsea was over mostly flat water; the strange wind meant that some sailors could be on a rapid plane whilst others 50 yards away just drifted along.

We aimed to be at the Strood road crossing at high tide so had 3 hours from launch to get there. After an hour sailing to Brightlingsea we had plenty of time for an excellent if rather large fish and chips. During lunch the wind had dropped; the leg to the Strood at 14:00 was against the tide at first and tricky until we reached the main flows up the Colne river and the Pyefleet channel. John Ellis and Joe Coulson shot off about a mile up the Colne before realising that the Pyefleet channel was the course and so were late.On the way up to the Strood Joe had an incident with a motoring yacht: moral of the story: Never trust a yacht with fenders hanging'.

Despite using a heavy wind Demon sail in the light wind Richard arrived at the Strood well before the others; water about a foot deep was flowing east over the road. We are advised that a passing motorcyclist called starboard. High tide was at 15:15 but the top is earlier at the Strood in the Pyefleet channel; Joe and John Ellis were late but helped by the ebbing tide which carried them to the Strood fence with the water now flowing west over the road. After re-launching from the Strood the ebbing tide and an increasing wind gave fast sailing along the channel and through the crowds of boats moored at the town and Yacht club. After a short pause to regroup a run with the tide brought us quickly back to base. The total distance sailed was 21 miles in just under 3 hours.

Joe Coulson

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