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  • Writer's pictureNigel

The Sun, that rises in the East 東に昇る太陽


.....also rises over London.

Sailing セーリング

I am sitting on a bench next to the tiller as Rachel steers her yacht out into the Medway river. We are talking of the big river just south east of London, which joins the Thames at Sheerness. Here's a map, with her boatyard at Upnor pin-pointed.出発点.

Being a total ignoramous about sailing, I am trying not to get in anyone's way. I am wearing waterproof trousers, a rain jacket and a life jacket. I was told to wear a hat, so have my keep-out-of-the-sun-hiking-cap firmly on my head. I am lucky to be in experienced company. The other member of our crew is Peter, a man with immense knowledge of boats. ピーター.

Now on Rachel's boat he has already shown me how to unfurl the mainsail, so at least I am not totally useless. Our route was logged, and connection made with the coastgard .....notice the digestive biscuits.....they help with the navigation....ビスケットは重要です😅

This was our starting point - the Medway Yacht Club.

And this our have to keep between the red and the green buoys, otherwise you

get stuck on a sandbank or tangled with a wreck.....州 と難破

At the jetty we had climbed aboard a motor taxi ボートタクシー ("trot boat"), steered by a certain Jean-Pierre, who seemed a merry fellow 😄

He brought us to our boat, which was moored midstream. There (the nearest boat in the picture) she is. Her name is "Polliwiggle", which means tadpole おたまじゃくし in Norfolk, apparently. She was built by Martin Sadler and is 28ft / 8m long.レイチェルのヨット.

Now this is a part of England I simply do not know. There are sandbanks, flat muddy marshes and vestiges of history lying scattered around everywhere. This is the country of Charles Dickens` "Great Expectations", the famous Historic Chatham Dockyards...forts, wrecks, and a lot more.

The weather was mixed, and dark clouds were brewing on the horizon....黒雲!

But there was a good breeze and a favourable tide. 良い風と潮.

The sky is huge here....rather like a Turner painting. You can "see" the weather and which way it is moving. Peter was a mine of information, having grown up in the area. He was sad at the derelict jetty we passed, wondering why this was now closed down. I noticed an incongrous sight on it: Two rather weather-beaten red telephone boxes. I suppose if you were crewing a cargo of crude oil (pre mobile phone era) from Saudi Arabia and had docked here, the first thing you would want to do would be to phone your dearest.

We passed by an island with a lonely chimney. What is that I asked? Apparently in the 19thc mud was dug up here to make bricks. History, winds and tides. You are at the mercy of both of the latter here, and maybe history aswell. The wind never seems to stay in the same direction. 変化する風.

We dropped the anchor near a low spit of land and had lunch. No need to drop lead weights on lines over the side of the boat (like in old films!). No, A little sonar device told us that we were in 5 metres of water. This was Stangate Spit, where Stanway Creek meets the Medway river. The shoreline was about 50 metres away - low mud cliffs. Not far away there was a huge raucous gathering of seabirds - a nesting and breeding colony (designated as a site of Special Scientific Interest). A big banner told us in no uncertain terms not to land. As if one could! I watched as a sharp-eyed bird dived into the water nearby, emerging with a flash of green in its beak. A tasty morsel for her offspring no doubt. To the other side of the creek lay Deadman's Island. It was here in 2016 that almost 200 human remains were discovered, exposed by erosion of the coast. They are thought to be the victims of disease from the prison ships ("hulks") which were moored here 200 years ago. Read Charles' Dickens`"Great Expectations" again. History everywhere.

But back to our boat. The yacht had a cosy cabin with seats, table and galley (kitchen) where we could retreat if rain threatened. レイチェル.

But we were spared the rain. Later we hauled the anchor up on its long chain - covered with the black mud of the river bed.

I was allowed to steer the boat for a while. It was only then that I realised this did not mean just lounging at the stern holding the tiller, but staying alert to the tug of the rudder. When the sails began to flap I was told to move the boat here, and then there...using a church spire or a pylon on the horizon as a navigational fixed pint.

We passed an old Napoleonic would have been equipped with cannons to ward off those French warships. The only trouble was that the cannons kept on sinking into the soft earth apparently, so I'm not sure how accurate they were......古い砦

The River Medway joins the Thames at Sheerness. It was here that I once took the ferry to Holland, many years ago. At the time I was astonished that the ferry passed within spitting distance of a wreck, whose masts were still sticking out of the water. Only much later did I discover that this was the munitions ship SS Montgomery, which was blown onto a sandbank in 1944. Read more here.....

The return journey involved sailing in a zig-zag route up the river - tacking in other words.

I was put in charge of various ropes and winches and somewhow managed not to fall overboard.....

Driving home to Walthamstow from Upnor took us through the grim Blackwall Tunnel under the Thames, and an awe-inspiring view of the City of London from the east. The sun was going down in the west, shining on rank upon rank of electricity pylons marching to the metropolis, feeding the hungry heart with energy.


Home at last

.....a wonderful day of sailing....quite a new experience for me....and thank you to Rachel and Peter for all the guidance. Peter has spent most of his life with ships. He pointed out the wharf on the Medway, where, as a boy, he had seen lines of warships moored up. He knew all about salvaging original old wood from London's docklands to re-use in restoration. Restoration, for example of this magnificent Thames barge Mirosa....this is fully authentic condition....what a wonderful sight.


Marcie is not interested in boats - except if they have mice on boat perhaps. Here she is, eager to greet us again....and be fed "what fish have you got for me then?"

Quintessential North London. E17.



Thanks for taking the time to read this この投稿を読んでいただきありがとうございます。 新しい投稿のお知らせを受け取りたい場合は、上部の購読フォームに記入してください。 ありがとう!Nigel.😊 do subscribe if you want new posts automatically in your inbox. How about forwarding on to a friend ?

Thank you this week for additional photos! The Iron Wharf, Faversham, Kent. Marcie.

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