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Richard Writes:  Theo and Annie joined us a little jet lagged from the Salts sailing charity in British Columbia, Canada, on an ASTO exchange supported by the James Myatt Trust. They are both volunteers with the impressive SALTS group in British Columbia. It stands for Sailing and Life Training Society and uses two (soon three) fine schooners to work with around 1700 people a year on the beautiful coast of BC. We were very proud James Myatt had chosen Sea-Change to host the exchange as we offered places on our open Youth Sailing Scheme voyage on Cambria this August, with the emphasis on “Swallows and Amazons” type activity with our fleet of dinghies based on the barge. It is also our last trip with Cambria this year and the second week will see us return her to the Cambria Trust.

Before Annie and Theo joined us the weather broke after a long hot summer revealing deck leaks, so the photos start with one of Amelia putting her gaffer tape skills to good use sticking tarpaulins over the berth area to help make their first night a dry one.

Next day the rest of the team arrived and Jim Dines towed us away mid morning with the film crew from Old Ships Company in attendance. As we ran gently down the Blackwater it felt good to get away on another adventure even if we were unable to totally dodge a thunderstorm while doing sail drill off Mersea. Before that a porpoise popped up alongside to check us out. By evening the skies had cleared and we beat into the Colne against the ebb to find an anchorage off Brightlingsea for the night.

Tuesday’s objective was Walton Backwaters, Arthur Ransome’s Secret Water, and the forecast promised a nice south-westerly to take us down over the flood to make high water at our destination. The sun shone and progress was steady, enabling us to anchor inside the Pye Sand by High Hill. Though not quite in Hamford Water before the tide turned, we were able to rig the Toppers and take them up to Stone Point for the evening. The dying breeze and a clear sky made for lovely conditions for the first-timers, and after a few tacks and gybes we took the last of the ebb and a fair wind back to Cambria for supper.

After a clean through Wednesday morning, the tide served for a short beat (with short tacks) into the anchorage. After lunch, as two boys needed to go home for appointments we took the bargeboat up to Walton where the usual kind welcome awaited at the yacht club and various essential provisions were obtained. Back aboard early evening there was time to visit the thriving seals in Oakley Creek after which we were greeted by bangers and mash as Hilary staying aboard had not been idle.

As expected Thursday brought rain from late morning, so we decided to have a late Canadian breakfast of pancakes, maple syrup, fruit, cream and bacon. It was then a case of stowing everything below clear of the leaks and building an awning over the after deck before the rain hit. Then we boarded the bargeboat and fully togged up in wet weather gear made for Walton, fish and chips and the pier amusements, in expectation of a clear evening.

To be continued…

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This Youth Sailing Scheme residential is supported in part by Essex Community Foundation, Groundwork​ and Tesco Bags of Help.