The 2000 East Coast rally started off with a rally at Walton Stone. I set off in SWANTI with Ivor Jones in MARSHMALLOW on the Friday with a very fresh wind from the East. Alan Holland had planned to join us in RUTH, but he was delayed by engine problems and was planning to set off on the Saturday.
We had a reasonable motor sail down the Crouch to the Ray channel where we were both able to get a slant towards Walton and switch engines off. I kept close to the Buxey beacon and skirted East of the Buxey sands.
The sea was very choppy and before long the autohelm mount had split away from the deck. No making tea until I reach Walton. Past Jaywick, Clacton and Frinton, as close hauled as possible, I made the Naze without having to tack.
The final sail down to the Pye End buoy was calm enough to lash the helm and have a brew. I clipped the cardinal buoy at the mouth of the Walton Channel at Island Point, wrapping the main sheets around the top-mark and solar panel. How embarrassing, but no-one saw.
The following day, Richard Bessey in PUDMUDDLE was going to meet us at the Stone, so Ivor and myself stayed out in the river while the rest of the OGA crowd went into the Walton marina. Ivor and I helped another Dauntless owner Lena Reekie take her Dauntless LINNEA into the marina as she had problems with the Stewart Turner and Ivor and I agreed to lend a hand.
After arranging an engineer to replace the faulty starter solenoid on LINEA, Ivor and I walked through Walton and bought a few supplies and then had fish and chips on the sea front overlooking the Wallet. Finally Ivor and I left the marina before the last of the ebb and motored the Dinghy back to the Stone to await Richard's arrival. Justine and Richard arrived shortly and that evening we all ate aboard.
On the Sunday, Ivor crewed on SWANTI as the main event was a picnic at Landamere where there would not be enough water for MARSHMALLOW's keel. Ivor and I wanted to try and make Beaumont Quay, but knew that SWANTI would not be able to get under the electricity pylons and cable stretching 20' above the water line in the reach up to the quay. We left SWANTI on a mooring at Landamere and took the dinghy up to Beaumont Quay. At the head of the creek is an old barge quay with a sign on a building nearby indicating that the stones on the quay were taken from the old London Bridge.
A friend and Dauntless owner has DORMOUSE snug in a rill next to the channel and the owner met us for a natter on the quay before Ivor rowed the dinghy back down the channel to SWANTI for a beer and lunch.
Presently, above the reeds to the South, we could just see a red gunter sail and before long we were joined by Alan Holland in RUTH. Alan had sailed from the Roach the day before, but did not notice the 'gang' at the Stone and instead anchored round Horsey Island.
We all had a leisurely sail back to the Stone for a barbecue that evening. We were very proud that of the whole OGA event, there were more Dauntlesses present (3) than any other class.
On the Monday a sail to Mistley Quay and lunch at the pub was planned. With very little wind, RUTH, MARSHMALLOW and SWANTI sailed out with the rest of the OGA boats.
Just past Shotley, I saw yet another Dauntless Association member Robert Coles in 'KING OLIVER', I hailed him and invited him to a 'raft up' in Holbrook Bay. (Note now 4 Dauntlesses). I rafted next to KING OLIVER and Alan manoeuvred along the other side. Alan has asked me not to elaborate more on the said 'manoeuvre', but suffice to say that he will tell you more if you buy him a pint.
Then anchors away for Mistley where we rafted up next to the Quay for lunch and a trip to the shops for provisions. That evening we had an excellent barbecue laid on by the OGA at Wrabness, excellent for both crew and mosquitoes.
In the morning we planned to sail to Pin Mill. But we had not accounted for the fact that some of the moorings off Wrabness have very little water. Not a problem for SWANTI and RUTH, but this cannot be said for MARSHMALLOW who required a 'tug' to move her from a mud berth. A gentle sail to Pin Mill saw the wind die to nothing and then all ashore for lunch at the Butt and Oyster.
That evening we were all booked in at Levington Marina for a shower and meal. Alan Holland in RUTH had called in the marina earlier and preferred to stay over at Pin Mill that evening.
On the following day it was planned to sail to Southwold but that evening the wind rose and the glass fell and in the morning the forecast was 6-7 from the SW, a great day to sail to Southwold, but not in a Dauntless or other small boat.
Ivor and I walked along the sea wall and Levington creek to Levington village where we had a great meal at The Ship inn and a leisurely walk back to the marina. Again the forecast for the following day was equally poor, we heard that gales had been blowing > f8 of Landguard point.
It was now Thursday and still the wind howled, clacking the rigging of the surrounding 'plastics'. Alan was still tucked under the lea at Pin Mill, unable to move, but with the Butt and Oyster for 'comfort'.
Not liking marinas too much, Ivor and I again went on our walk to the Ship in Levington village. On the way back I also visited the boat shed where they made me a new block for my autohelm. An excellent service for which they would not take any money, so a fiver for a couple of pints seemed fair.
The following day the forecast had some NW, and f4 – f5, possible f6 meant lighter winds. Perhaps we could make a run for it? Alan was planning to take RUTH to Ipswich for the festival so hopefully he might be an easier sail.
With two hours of ebb, SWANTI and MARSHMALLOW started down the Orwell towards Walton. The wind was still SW, but only 3-4. The forecast was to move to W-NW, we hoped. With the autohelm engaged, I was able to cook bacon and eggs, as I doubt if I will have chance to eat after the Naze.
Both reefed well down, we reached the Naze at low water and headed into the wind which now increased F5-6 and remained SW. With a very lumpy sea and many tacks I headed for the Ray Sand channel while Ivor favoured the Spitway. The Autohelm on SWANTI is of little use in such a sea and so it was 'white knuckles' on the helm for about five hours before eventually tacking around the Branklet Spit into calmer and more familiar waters.
An exhilarating sail and the only damage was that one of MARSHMALLOW's dinghy oars went missing somewhere down the Wallet.