On Saturday 14th June 11 boats plus our 2 support cruisers & our rib gathered on Breydon for an 1100hrs Haven Bridge lift. We had a steady run down the coast in bright, warm sunshine and a gentle swell. We were all safely tied up in the RN&SYC Marina by 1245.
After a Skippers briefing at 1500hrs the crews relaxed for the afternoon before meeting at the bar for drinks and dinner. Nobody was too late for bed as the crews braced themselves for the big run to St Katharines dock the following day.
After radio checks at 0645hrs the fleet were ready to depart. At 0700hrs \‘Evita\’, our new fleet lead boat, slipped her moorings and made her way out of the harbour to the North Newcombe buoy where she waited until all the boats were at sea. From there, we passage down the Stanford Channel and down to Orford. We passed outside the Shipwash Bank at the south of which we met up with 2 more boats that were joining us out of Ipswich. Conditions were pleasant with a gentle swell & overcast skies. Once down the Barrow Deep, we made for the medway safewater mark at which point the fleet formed into a line astern of Evita with our support boat Tallulah bringing up the rear, we made our way to the south of the Yanlet Channel at around 20 knots.
We were in good time for free flow at St Katharines so had a relaxed cruise up the Thames taking in the sites. We arrived at St Katharines lock 4 or 5 minutes before free flow and after a small delay waiting for some craft to exit, we made our way into the centre basin and moored.
Everyone was in high spirits by the time the drinks party started on Evita at 1830hrs, with crews swapping experiences over a drink or two or three…….
The crews relaxed in London until Thursday morning when we made our way out of the lock and down river. We rounded North Foreland in the mid afternoon and headed to Ramsgate. After a trip into town to watch the football disappointment and have dinner, most of the crews had an early night in readiness for the run north the following morning.
We awoke to a pleasant sunny morning but a slightly stiffer breeze than we were hoping for. The forecast however was good with the breeze due to abate imminently.
We left the harbour and ran down the Ramsgate approach channel. We were finding it hard not to spill our cups of tea on Evita so decided that it must be unpleasant for the other smaller boats and took the decision to turn the fleet round and wait a couple of hours fo the wind to drop and the tide to turn.
When we left the harbour again at 1100hrs the sun was shining and the wind over tide chop had abated to a rolling swell which was not unpleasant. The support crews were kept busy with a few minor mechanical difficulties which slowed us down to around 15 knots.
As we approached Orfordness, an RAF Search & Rescue helicopter appeared overhead. After following us for a while, they called the fleet and asked if we would be prepared to take part in a training exercise. Speedo was very excited and we were happy to oblige. What a great photo opportunity. We maintained our 15 knot speed and within a few minutes an RAF S.A.R Crew Member was winched onto Evitas bathing platform, with the helicopter hovering just a few metres above. Very impressive stuff and great to know these guys and girls are there if we ever need them.
We entered into Lowestoft Harbour just after 1600hrs where we moored for the night with everyone in good spirits before finishing the last leg into Great Yarmouth the next morning for a 1000hrs Haven Bridge lift.
An excellent experience for all concerned. Cruising to our capital city is always a great experience and this sun kissed cruise in great company was particularly enjoyable.