"Anchored" in the Swale

Wednesday 17th May - At last we're on our way! 

Sail cover's off, staysail is ready, time to go

Send off committee of one - thank you Sarah! Our fault 'cos as usual we set off earlier than advertised

Bonify's ship's log entry for Wed 17th May starts "Harwich towards the Swale".
We think there's some ancient nautical superstition about counting your chickens before they hatch which requires this vague use of "towards". Similarly we have described our intentions this summer as being to cruise "towards Denmark".

The Swale might not seem an obvious waypoint between Harwich and Denmark, but then neither would Gravelines (France) or Ostend (Belgium) but they are on our planned itinerary too. In fact that is just about as far as our itinerary goes. Our friend Brian Hammett will be horrified to know that we have no specific plans after that and will be making it up as we go along. Shock, horror!

Day 1 is a case in point: if you'd met us in the sailing club the night before you'd have thought we were going to Brightlingsea first stop. We had intended to stay on the Essex coast and test the ship with a relatively short hop up the Wallet. But the wind and the tide for crossing the Thames estuary were too good to resist so we revised the passage plan and set off at 8.30am through drizzle and fog with the intention of anchoring in the Swale on Wed night.

Leaving Harwich harbour - last glance back at the cranes of Felixstowe

So what went wrong with Plan B?
Well in terms of the ship, nothing much at all. Light SE wind, mainsail and both headsails up, bit of engine assistance but not much, bowling along nicely at 6kts over the ground. At about 11am we turned to pass through the Swin Spitway (to those unfamiliar with navigation in this part of the world that is a gut way between sandbanks) and the sun came out.
At 12.30 land ahoy! We could see Kent.

Nice to be sailing, albeit with a bit of engine assistance

Then came the siren call, not a mermaid on a rock but as good as. Thames Barge Ironsides hailed us via Facebook and invited us up to Iron Wharf at Faversham. Plenty of time as we were at the mouth of the creek by 3pm and plenty of water to get up there.
By 4.30pm we were snugly tied up among the Thames barges on the wharf and greeting friends here.

Faversham Creek dries to about 2m so we'll soon be resting on the mud

More barges astern, one of them Ironsides. And rain

We had every intention of a walk around but then the rain came down, so 6pm found us in The Anchor with gaffer chums supping the best golden beer the Shepherd Neame brewery has to offer (Spitfire Gold for the record).

So anchored in the Swale yes, but just not the anchor we'd had in mind.

Our "anchor" in the Swale


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