Report from Richard, photos from Barbara
On Monday the 3rd July Joe Coulson and I arrived at a very windy Mersea Island for our annual camping and cruise trip. Having set up camp we headed to the local loft for some sail repairs which were completed and collected the next day. Not cheap but they were very efficient and did a great job. In the afternoon we watched the local hotshots mostly using 4.2m sails and decided conditions were not suitable for our longboards and big sails so became spectators instead. In the evening we were joined at the campsite by Barbara and Maurice Humberstone and had a nice meal at the local pub.
Tuesday dawned bright and with the wind moderating a bit we all launched and had a good morning’s sailing. After lunch we were joined by Fiona and Nick Rose as well as Martin Brooks. That evening we all went to the Coast Inn by the harbour. There was some discussion over the weather for the planned cruise the next day but decided conditions were not suitable for cruising with gusty winds and a chance of thundery showers. Thursday looked to be perfect cruising weather with full sun and a steady 10 to 13 mph wind. As most of us were due to leave that day we had a word with the site manager who very kindly allowed us to stay on site that day at no extra cost.
On the Wednesday we all did the customary round Island bike ride, stopping at the vineyard for coffee at just the right time to avoid the first heavy shower of the day. As we left the rain stopped and we headed back to rig up for an afternoon on the water. There was some delay as a very angry looking cloud appeared, followed by the second storm of the day. After this the sun came out and most of us had a decent afternoon’s sailing, followed by an impromptu BBQ in the evening.
Thursday was cruise day and we woke to warm sunshine and the predicted 10/13 mph wind, 5 of us launched at 11.30 and enjoyed a great blast downwind towards Brightlingsea. There was a short delay near the end of the island for my mast-foot to be lashed to the front of the board as it had failed to lock in position. This was done by Martin’s expert knot tying skills.
We landed at Brightlingsea just ahead of schedule at 1.00 and sat on the sea wall for our customary fish and chip lunch, launching again at 2.00. We then had an even beat up the Pyefleet channel before arriving at the Strood causeway bang on high tide at 3.00. We crossed easily as not many cars were risking driving across, just the odd lorry and a motorbike which was great fun to watch. Launching again at 3.30 we beat up through the busy harbour and landed to regroup at the entrance. Maurice had dropped back a bit and when he landed we discovered he had also suffered a mast-track malfunction with the whole thing lifting out of the board. Again Martin used his skills to lash it back in place and we had an easy reach back to base, landing at 5.00. We were pleased we could re-schedule the cruise as it turned out to be perfect conditions and rounded off our stay on this lovely island nicely.