After lunch aboard during which Centaur made a fine sight tacking in and past us, it was a case of sailing over to Walton Stone Point to explore the beach after a trip up Dardenelles Creek opposite. Then Hilary was collected from the barge with the makings of a barbeque and the evening was spent eating far too many burgers and hotdogs, ably cooked by Chef Stretch. Nestling around a camp fire as the sun set was magical. Back aboard after towing the fleet of dinghies in the calm of the gloaming, it was a case of getting them aboard and commencing preparing for the next day departure for the Colne, for it would be Saturday and time to start making our way home all too soon.
Anchor aweigh at 1030. Luckily by then most of the boats anchored around us for the night had gone and the Centaur anchored above us had already motored past on her way back to Ipswich, where she is based for part of the season. The wind and tide were down and there were boats anchored astern so to be properly in control it was necessary to set topsail and half mainsail then tack and bear away. Cambria is reluctant to bear away quickly without help so the manoeuvre was accomplished by dropping the head of the topsail again and we dropped down to the Pye End before resetting after the gybe, by which time the anchor was catted for sea and the bobstay set up. By the time Stone Banks was abeam Cambria had her jib set, the mainsheet was wound home on the crab winch and she was getting into her stride in the south-westerly four to five doing a good six knots with a deck cargo of dinghies securely lashed down.
It was a glorious sail up the Wallet, keeping up with some smart yachts and overtaking others. It is a sign of a good boat to take the Wallet with a fair tide and south-westerly breeze in four tacks, and this she failed to do by about a mile, needing only a short hitch to get over Colne Bar. This is impressive for a coasting barge. We anchored in Pyefleet at 1515, four and three quarter hours from setting out. Fish and chips ashore rounded off the day and we met Mick Nolan and Shiner Wright, both having a long weekend from Kent in their respective boats.
Sunday dawned bright and breezy with a westerly force six forecast. The previous evening a yacht had anchored close to where our anchor was placed and, as we shortened the cable, set the lower gear and started to sheer about they sensibly got under way. With three cloths of main brailed we tacked and bore away past Ironsides visiting from Kent and owned by Toby Lester Cambria’s surveyor, and Hydrogen with a day trip from Maldon. With anchor catted and jib set we commenced the long beat up the Blackwater with the topsail stowed.
Jim Dines picked us up at the end of the Prom Extension after Cambria had tacked four times above Herring Point with the foresail dropped to help her wind. It is noteworthy that the bottom of the barge has stayed pretty clean after she was sprayed with antifoul by Nigel Cardy in April and this was touched up but not recoated in June at Pin Mill. Elsewhere it has been a good growing season and the barge has sat on the mud on the mooring so the reason must be a combination of Hempel antifoul and achieving the correct thickness by spraying. When using rollers laying under the blocks there is a tendency with the best of us to squeeze out the paint to get the horrid job over. Also, the spraying used seven litres more than previous rollings, further evidence perhaps. A dirty bottom on an engineless boat is a real problem and prevents safe and predictable operation. With auxiliary barges it is often deemed less important though late in the season fouling can mean passages are truncated and training manoeuvres have to be done differently. But at least the red diesel bill is lower than derv.
Jim turned us on the last of the flood and put us alongside Pudge, recently awarded a lottery grant for restoration of her deck and upper works. This was a great berth as we could top up with water, launch and return the dinghies to Heybridge and thoroughly clean the barge ready for returning to the Cambria Trust the following week.