Circumnavigation by Mistake

Like most of our passage making this year , the trip to Lowestoft was in winds of F 5 to 6, but unlike further North , the seas were a doddle , and we made a fast and comfortable trip, arriving just before dawn. Already the temperature was in the high teens and a clear sky and warm wind enabled us to strip, air and dry the boat for the first time in a couple of months. However much we like the wild and chilly North , I am almost ashamed to say that it is nice occasionally to bask in the gentle warmth of a Southern summer . I guess we are getting soft in our old age .

I used to think of Norfolk and Suffolk as sleepy places , but the downside to summer is that other folk seek it too , and now the next week spent in the charming East coast rivers was a complete culture shock caused by the sheer number of people and boats. We risked the shallow shingle entrance to the river Alde to seek out a secluded anchorage , only to find 4 boats already there.The picture perfect coastal villages of Orford and Aldeburgh were bursting at the seams ,their streets packed with large and suspiciously shiny Range Rovers and the adjacent  riverside mooring fields overflowing.


I got talking to a man who lived in the Walton Backwaters on a beautifully maintained old fishing boat . Judging by his wonderful Suffolk accent he was a native of these parts , and told us that the above mentioned villages are now too expensive for any locals to still live there . I suppose that this “gentrification” of these old fishing villages should upset us , but am ashamed to admit that they appeared to be very pleasant places indeed , albeit financially way out of our reach.

Rather sooner than we had planned for , the weather delivered 48 hours of warm dry Easterlies which were just too good to turn down ( beating West down the Channel is no fun!) , so we gratefully accepted the gift and were whisked home with scarcely a sheet touched . If we thought the East coast crowded , the entrance to the river Hamble was complete carnage with more boats in a ten minute period than we had seen for the whole of our summer in Northern waters.

It seemed that the wind , which earlier in the year had blown us West to Ireland , had now blown us right round the British Isles ! We hadn’t planned it that way but it did give us a good insight into the variety on offer in the (still just) United Kingdom. There is no doubt that the wild waters and coastline of the NW and far North are the most beautiful and the little communities that hang in there are the most friendly , but who can fail to be impressed by the beautiful city of Edinburgh or the “Chelsea by the sea” villages of Aldeburgh and Oford . Even the impossibly busy Hamble and its benign Solent waters are nice to come home to.

On reflection , the overwhelming feeling is that we are fantastically lucky to live in this wonderful country and we needn’t bother going off to far flung lands when we have we have such varied and beautiful home waters to play in . And if that statement reads like it came from the mouth of a Brexiteer, let me hasten to add that despite these sentiments ,  I voted to stay in Europe!

One Comments

  1. Hi Philip, Thank you for interesting report of around the island. I can see from your writing that the old saying is still in use ” Gentlemen never sail to windward”

    greetings from Iceland

    Egill Kolbeinsson on Embla 2208

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