Saturday, September 03, 2011

Colne Smack and Barge Race 3rd September 2011

Daybreak at Brightlingsea

This year’s Colne Smack and Barge Race started at 0730 for the smacks and at 0800 for the barges. I had the privilege of being a crewmember aboard the smack CK 36 ‘Electron’.

'Electron' at Pyfleet

On the dot, we crossed the start line between Bateman Tower and a mark boat off the entrance of Pyfleet Creek. There was very little wind from the southwest, but the ebb carried the smacks to the Colne Bar Buoy. From there they headed for a marker buoy off Clacton Pier, then on the wind with the aid of the flood to the Wallet Spitway before turning northwest for the River Colne, and the finishing line.

Closing in on the windfarm off Clacton

There was never a great deal of wind, but it felt like a Force 3 when ‘Electron was on the final windward leg to the Wallet Spitway Buoy. After she rounded it the wind gradually faded until just before the finish when there was hardly any at all.

Hanging out the washing

This was a fun race for us, without and any stress. We relaxed most of the time and enjoyed the sunshine. In fact it was so warm I discarded my sweater and rolled up my shirt sleeves. I thoroughly enjoyed observing ‘competitors’ and taking photos of them. The leading barges where not far behind when we crossed the line. All in all, we felt we had done pretty well to finish in seventh or eighth position, halfway in the fleet.

If all goes well tomorrow, I’m hoping to join ‘Electron’ for a bit of oyster dredging off Mersea Island. I’m not sure what it’s all about, but I think the event is a competition of sorts, and I’ve been warned that the crew will get thoroughly dirty – definitely a welly boots day! The weather forecast is not too great, but I’ve been reminded by my daughter that we can always wear oilskins. Thanks.


CK 36 ‘Electron’

Colne Yacht Club

Brightlingsea Sailing Club

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