Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Burnham and the River Crouch – Part 1

Map reproduced by kind permission of Ordnance Survey.

The River Crouch is a marvellous venue for small sailing craft. It is particularly good for protected anchorages, especially for yachts that can take the ground, which in most places is soft mud.

Being a west to east river there is often the need for tacking against the prevailing westerly wind. When there are high pressure systems during the early spring, or even into the summer months, one finds the reverse. As the land heats up, a sea breeze is drawn off the North Sea.

When the centre of a low pressure area that brings a westerly gale moves to the east or northeast, the wind veers so that it comes from the northwest, or from the north. Under those conditions the high river banks provide cover for the water, but they are not sufficiently high enough to prevent the wind from reaching the sails, which makes for exhilarating sailing.

The River Crouch is well known for its wonderful sunsets, particularly in September when the sun sets due west.

As river estuaries go, the Crouch needs be navigated with care. There are numerous buoys marking a labyrinth of sandbanks. Novices beware, because the effects of fast flowing water over shallows combined with strong winds can make the estuary a very unpleasant and dangerous place.

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