Monday, September 9, 2013

First Sail on the Deben River

We took the boat out on the river this weekend for the first time since arriving in August.  We left early Saturday morning and got to Woodbridge around 9:00, in time for Alex to do a little maintenance before taking the boat out at 2:00 at high tide.
 The Tidemill Yacht Marina is great! The facilities are wonderful, the price is right, the people are friendly and it is situated next to a charming town full of shops, markets and restaurants but it has one downside: you can only get in and out of the marina for about 2 hours a day since the river is very tidal. The marina has a sill which keeps the water deep enough for the boats but when the tide goes out you can't get over the sill, so you have to plan your arrival and departures to co-incide with the tides and so does everyone else who wants to get out on the river that day. It turns the marina into a hive of activity for 2 hours and the narrow channel into a highway of boats. 

Saturday was quite a windy day, but we got the boat out of the slip without any major incident which is no small feat since the area behind the boat is barely wider than 40 feet and got her out into the river. The channel is quite narrow so you have to follow the markers very carefully in order to stay in enough water. After that you have to dodge all the numerous boats on moorings, the dingy racing that is going on in and out of the channel and through the moorings and the other sailboats that are sailing towards you in the channel and have preference.  I didn't get any good pictures of this, but I'm going to try to get some next time out, it is impressive. Most of you who know me, know that this was probably just a little bit stressful for me! Alex decided on the first day out not to sail since it was quite windy (about 15 - 20 knots) and  did not want to risk running aground. I was fine with that decision.
out on the river
beautiful landscape
going home after the race
We motored down the river looking for an anchorage that Alex had heard about where we thought we could anchor for the night. We found it, it was full with dingys and there were lots of people swimming, these Brits are tough! I had on 2 sweaters, a hat and gloves and there were people swimming in the water! 
dingy party
The dingy group had left by the time we anchored for the night and after the wind dropped, it was quite a peaceful evening. 
sunset at "the rocks' we didn't actually see any rocks

our flag did attract a lot of attention
In the morning we saw more people swimming, they must have been training for something because they were swimming in large groups up the river with a dingy chaperone. We also saw a large group of people walking, probably bird watching along the footpath, about a dozen or so people riding horses and people searching for shark teeth on the shore. We made a quick trip to shore to check it out and then back to the boat since Alex wanted to sail. 
Nani gets her sails up

We sailed for about an hour and a half where the river opens up a bit and then turned around to make it back up the river to get over the sill at high tide. It definitely was easier the second time around navigating the buoys and the boats, so I'm sure it will become second nature eventually. There were lots of kids and teenagers out on the river in dingys in shorts an T-shirts even in the rain on Sunday, so I guess they start them young turning them into tough hardy sailors. 

The boats on the river are all so colorful and interesting and most of them are in really good condition.  The long dark winters must be a good time for boat maintenance! We saw so many interesting boats, the pictures don't really do justice. 
dog in a dingy
beautiful boat
rafting up Deben style 
We made it back into the slip without a scratch (Alex was very happy about this!) and just before leaving saw this gorgeous rainbow. 

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