A seal is peering at us as we poke our heads through the hatch, but sadly doesn’t hang around long enough for us to get cameras etc. The river is glassy and we disturb the early morning peace as we putter on the first of the ebb towards the cranes of Felixstowe and the Orwell.
As East Coast virgins we do exactly as the pilot says, following the suggested track and counting buoys. We are slightly disconcerted as first the ferry bound for Hook of Holland and then a coaster bear down on us…
…but they bear away down the channel and we are left again to gaze up at what a rough count suggests is over 3000 containers stored above decks on a ship.
Once clear of the docks however, it seems that everyone else is rather more relaxed and we get into the swing of motor-sailing along a very pretty river using buoys as a rough guide and the depth sounder carefully.
Under the vast Orwell bridge and the Ipswich docks look rather forlorn compared to the efficient modernity of Felixstowe.
We get plenty of time to consider them however as we wait to lock through into the Wet Dock. Another seal greets us to Ipswich, the grateful recipient presumably of an abundance of fish thriving on the assorted detritus from a few hundred boats…
We meet our crew (aka wives) from the train and are forced into some cocktails ‘while the rain passes’. Then it is off back down the river to find an anchorage for the night. Off the royal Harwich club we find ourselves in the middle of a flotilla of boats all flying flags and bunting in honour of the Queen’s 90th. With a republican and assorted monarchists on board we are respectful without dipping the ensign and have a pleasant half hour musing on whether the Brexiteers who are concerned about the EU’s ‘democratic deficit’ are also in favour of a hereditary head of state.
We head off west at Harwich along the Stour and are accompanied by some (presumably more fastidious) seals. The anchorage at Erwarten Ness promises a pleasant country walk to the village and a pub. Mistake number one is when we fail to top up the outboard with petrol, necessitating a reasonably strenuous paddle against a rapid ebb the instant we let go of the boat. It is also starting to drizzle.
Mistake number two becomes apparent after a wet walk, as it would seem that we should have googled the pub first. It closed around 5 years ago and is clearly a private home despite having a sign to the car park and the original pub sign outside. Still, we have plenty of beer on board. With the tide now firmly out, the clean sandy landing earlier has turned into a very muddy slide to get the tender back into the water.
The rest of the evening is spent putting the world to rights…sadly the world outside Erwarton isn’t listening.