Monday, August 29, 2011

Leigh-on-Sea Bank Holiday Amble

Belton Way Smallcraft Club

Leigh-on-Sea is very well-known for being a venue for fresh sea foods, especially, cockles. This late summer bank holiday I walked along the sea front to take in the flavour of the place. Without a doubt, Leigh has character; there are the old, quaint houses and shellfish processing sheds, pubs, art and craft studios, restaurants, fishing boats, yachts and boating clubs. There’s even a small stretch of sand for the kids, and acres of dark, squelchy mud at low water.

The Moorings

Hordes of visitors sat in the open air at pub benches admiring the view over the water while eating sea foods and downing pints of ale, lager and soft drinks. Kids, mums and dads, dogs, ice creams, candyfloss, prams, slow moving cars on a narrow road by the railway line, all contributed to the thronging scene.

LO 41, 'Endeavour'


My eyes focussed on a nearby smack, painted in Woolworths green. I remembered seeing her in Leigh Creek years ago, without a mast and looking forlorn, as if she had given up all hope of being cherished again, but there she was, with her short stout mast, tanned main and painted boom resting on her counter in traditional style for shedding rain. No ugly raised cabin disfigured her workmanlike appearance, much to the credit of her owner. Instead there was a low profile trunk, barely visible above her gunwales. She was registered as LO 41 and she had the name ‘Endeavour’ painted on her transom. I admired her sturdiness and full-bodied hull, her transom-hung rudder and curved metal tiller. Unusual for a vessel of this type, I noted that her mast was stepped in a tabernacle, instead of passing through her deck to the keelson. Her clear foredeck and side decks gave easy access for her crew when anchoring and shipping the bowsprit.

Other sailing vessels were equally interesting to me, but they will be left for another day, even tomorrow perhaps! You’ll have to wait and see.


Tweezerman said...

Your posts take me back. We visited Leigh-on-Sea on my last trip to England. Very delightful time. Watched two yachtsmen squelch across the mud in their boots, crossing over a water filled channel, carrying a ladder to get to their yacht. Enjoyed cockles in various fried forms. Wandered among the boat sheds down where the sea would be at high tide and came across a forlorn wooden Merlin Rocket, no cover, resting on a decrepit dolly weathering away. Always surprises me when sailboats built with that level of craftmanship are left to rot.

William Serjeant said...

Thanks Tweezerman, You are a man after my own heart, but I don't have the nerve to sail the sort of boats you have sailed, and the classic Moth Tweezer, your current boat. The nearest I got to International Canoe sailing was briefly 'playing' with a Toy class dinghy, which somewhat resembled an International Canoe with a sliding seat.

Leigh has changed a lot over the years, and sadly not for the better. Heavy machinery for the shellfish industry does not enhance what used to be a very picturesque foreshore.