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Bradwell - Gateway to the East?

East Coast - 07 May 18 Cruising

April sunshine sent the East Coasters into a flurry of activity- boats being launched, slipped and commissioned in a race to capture the sun - Bradwell was the best fit to get us together for the May Bank Holiday (with apologies to Peter Sellers and the Residents of Bradwell).

Once more East Coasters glimpsed life in St Tropez (well perhaps not quite!). Anyway, 25 degrees and a cloudless sky in May can't be sneezed at.
'Woodwind' (Fred Harris) from Orford and 'Jacqui-B' from Woolverstone met up at Harwich; somehow we ended up in the Alma (Samuel Pepys would have felt quite at home with the welcome).
It was light airs all weekend so we dawdled down the Wallet on tide power, a little contribution from an occasional Easterly puff and a couple of litres of diesel. The upside was the ability to serve smoked salmon (without that crumpled look that arouses suspicion that it might have been scooped from the galley deck!)

The Blackwater was criss-crossed by red faced yachtsmen and red-bodied yachtswomen, and so we arrived in Bradwell Marina in mid-afternoon at the top of the tide. 'Dancing Bear' (Chris and Pat Jones)was ready for 'host boat' duty. By six 'Susannah' (Colin and Moira's 'other' boat) had also arrived along with the news that our first glimpse of Peter Bradley's new acquisition 'Athena' was not to be. It had conked out on the voyage from West Mersea and taken refuge in the Marconi Sailing Club. Such are sea trials!

Bradwell, famous for its defunct Magnox Power Station was chosen for our May Bank Holiday as the shortest route for most boats from the slipway to a rendez-vous point. The Marina, like several of the Blackwater Marinas has been hewn out of the shifting mud (possibly in the first instance by the Romans)so lines of witheys guide you in (what is the technique for anchoring such flimsy branches in constantly swirling water?). The shore facilities are traditional. A healthy one and a half mile walk to the village community shop through delightful countryside wins you a loaf of bread and a pot of jam, and of course a chat with the lovely lady about her charming village, once host to an RAF station. One can but help wondering what the Members of China General Nuclear will make of it when they arrive to build the new Power Station? It is the antithesis of a thronging Chinese city so they will probably love it.

Well 'Dancing Bear' did its stuff with the Pimms before sunset and then we managed to find the Green Man Pub for an excellent supper. Conversation ranged from the dangers of a cargo of coal to 'fire in the refrigerator' (the reader may have three guesses on each). We returned onboard under a starlit sky (down, by now a very steep mudbank - it is low tide).

Catch the tide at dawn, leaving Bradwell asleep apart from the 'dunk', 'dunk' of a fishing boat. Tide, sunshine and another couple of litres of diesel and we are back in the Orwell. The Marina staff are in shorts and singlets serving wine and cheese on the lawn in blistering sunshine. (.....just heard that its raining in St Tropez!)


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