While many of the UK population dragged themselves out of bed and trudged back to work on Tuesday morning, our intrepid fundraisers headed out into the waters off the scenic Suffolk Heritage Coast. Chris on board Nightsong reports
“Beat our way north from Shotley, primed with Skipper’s breakfast of porridge, bacon and tomatoes, and Felixstowe’s cranes left a lasting impression all morning!”
Meanwhile, the Kingfisher crew settled into a different routine and
“had an early start this morning and left Harwich with gentle breezes.
Breakfast consisted of freshly cooked bacon rolls and coffee while sailing past the Deben and then past the attractive town of Orford, well known for its delicious oysters.”
Daniel Defoe allegedly once described Orford in 1722 as “once a good town, but now decayed”. However, the town now attracts many visitors who appreciate the quintessentially English village for its tranquillity and beautiful, surrounding landscape. It is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is home to a cultured community who organise the annual Walking Festival, as well as Haydn recitals in the local church. It’s traditions mix farming and fishing, so the local businesses offer a wealth of local artisan produce.
As the wind gradually freshened, crews’ bellies full, both yachts beat their way up the coast past the charming North Suffolk seaside town of Southwold, whose attractions include a working lighthouse, beach huts, an award-winning pier, a busy harbour, a cliff top cannon and of course a popular beach. Southwold is almost an island, being bounded by the North Sea to the East, by the River Blyth and Southwold harbour to the South–West and by Buss Creek to the North.
Those who have the leisure time to go ashore may see the town sign which depicts galleons at sea and recalls the tremendous sea battle fought off Southwold – the Battle of Sole Bay, in May 1672, when the allied fleet of England and France were engaged in battle against the Dutch. Southwold’s historic lighthouse was clearly visible to our passing seafarers, standing in the middle of the resort. There was no lighthouse here until a temporary one was erected in 1888. The existing structure was built later when erosion and storms destroyed the lights down the coast at Orford Ness.
As Nightsong passed Southwold, one of the wildlife watchers ( who shall remain nameless here) spotted the first dolphin of the cruise. Sadly, on slightly closer inspection this turned out to be something resembling a mine, so they gave it a wide berth and carried on safely to Lowestoft! Lowestoft is the birthplace of Elizabethan pamphleteer Thomas Nashe, one of the earliest journalists, and composer Benjamin Britten, who has been described as “the greatest English classical composer of the last century”.
This port town is the most easterly settlement in the UK which developed with the fishing industry and continues to be a popular seaside holiday resort. Whilst its fisheries have declined, the development of oil and gas exploitation in the southern North Sea in the 1960s led to the growth of the town, and as this industry has declined in turn the modern business of renewable energy has taken its place.
So, while Kingfisher “arrived at Lowestoft in time for a well-deserved fish and chip supper in the welcoming Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club”, those aboard Nightsong finished off a fine day’s sailing with “Mate’s brilliant Thai Chicken Curry, with emergency beer supplies arriving just in time. Thus, amply fed and watered, the crews prepared for the next stage of their adventure, the longest sail so far, that will take them on to Whitby.
Now if you’re reading this and thinking “I’d love to do that”, why not have a chat with organisers Colin and Jan Stracey of Premier Sailing. You do not have to be an experienced or qualified sailor, you just need to have a sense of adventure. You too could Sail for Macmillan on a Round Britain Challenge.