Friday 29th June:
Jean Says: J and J took us up to a large food hall which involved going in a car for the first time in weeks and presented us with a rare bulk buying opportunity. We started with coffee in the attached garden centre and then wandered amongst tastefully set out counters, burgeoning with some of the best produce Suffolk could offer. Between us, we managed to get a whole range of naughty treats and delicious goodies to see us through the weekend. Once we'd offloaded the spoils, we braced ourselves for a brisk sail out of the estuary to see how the sea was behaving. It was very gusty and a force six at times. Janene and Jules know the area so well, it was good to be taken and not to need to do any thinking. Up wind, the going was difficult and quite hard work so we didn't stay out in the open for very long. A more relaxing option was to find ourselves a buoy at Pin Mill and visit the Butt and Oyster pub for dinner. We had a lovely sail up the River Stour which is wide and accommodating and although still a bit gusty, it offered more shelter than out in the open sea. We found our buoy, put the kettle on, and worked our way through tea, scones and jam, followed by gin and tonics before going by dinghy to the pub. The Butt and Oyster has a good reputation for being worth a visit, and it lives up to it. The location is unspoilt, with views across the river and a real boating community feel to it.
The nearby sailing club was going to be hosting the 51st annual Thames Barge race on Saturday morning, and all the participants were congregating in the river ready for the race the following morning. There are only about thirty of these barges in existence, and 17 were going to be taking part in this race.
The barges originated in the 1800's and early 1900's as working cargo vessels, and were designed to be sailed by just a man and a boy, presumably so that a father and son could work together and not be dependent on a crew. Their flat hulls were designed to deal with the shallows of the Thames estuary and they carried anything from linseed to manure.
On the way back to the boat, the outboard conked out (again) and Janene and I rowed back with the tide with us. Swallows and Amazons is tame compared to what we've been up to. We conked out ourselves after a fun and varied day.
The Thames Barges gathering
The Butt and Oyster at Pin Mill
The Stour near Pin Mill in the evening sun
Saturday 30th June:
Waking up on a buoy in the middle of a delightful estuary on a warm and sunny morning, is one of the best things about being on a boat. We had a very lazy day, starting with breakfast on deck in the sun, a walk along the river bank and then a short sail back to Shotley marina. It might have been windy, but the sun was out and we revelled in it. In the evening, we all moved over to Temptress where Janene and Jules produced a bottle of champagne to celebrate having got this far, and Janene cooked us a big bowl of pasta with mozzarella and chorizo.
The Admirable with Janene and Jules