This is the first edition of our online magazine and I hope that you enjoy it. We want to keep it fresh, interesting and entertaining, so if you have anything that you want to boast about or are ashamed of, please let me know and I will pass it on to all (both) our readers. Click HERE to communicate with me or write it on a piece of paper and put it in the club addressed to ‘Magazine’.
‘Floating Stones’…………..Jerry Garner
One afternoon towards the end of September Margaret and I had been for a sail down river in our Catamaran Coco de Mer. Coming back against the ebb tide the wind was rather light so we started the outboard before we got to the Hook buoys. Luckily we left the mainsail up.
Just as we were rounding the Hook, in over 2 metres of water, the engine stopped with a bang. We quickly unfurled the jib and were just able to maintain steerage way and hold our own against the tide. I tilted the outboard up and there was a clump of seaweed (bladderwrack) round the propeller. That was quickly poked off, the outboard lowered and re-started. As soon as the forward gear was engaged the engine stopped dead.
With the outboard tilted I could just reach the propeller with my hand. I could not move it, even with the gear lever in neutral. On further investigation I found a pebble, about an inch and a half in diameter, wedged between the prop and the sacrificial anode at the base of the shaft. The seaweed must have rooted to the pebble and floated off with it.
I could not get the stone out by hand but eventually, by hitting it with a spanner, it was removed. The engine was re-started, put into gear and seemed none the worse for the experience. How it didn’t break the shear pin, I do not know.
How much did the pirate pay for his peg-leg and hook? – An arm and a leg!
History of the Quay and Docks
One of the first mariner records we have is for ‘John the Sailor’ from the Town of Manningtree, who in 1275 was paying four pence a year in rent to the Lord of the Manor. In the 1300’s the Manningtree fishing fleet was said to be larger than that of Colchester and in 1398 woollen cloth, hides and timber were all being exported from Manningtree, often across the north sea to the Low Countries.
The quay was developed by a series of back-filled revetments progressively reaching out into the Channel. The first local markets may well have been on the beach, with fish being the main product sold straight off the boats. By 1540 there was a crane and a common store house for the receipt and stowage of goods and merchandise. These were in private hands, given to the Nuns of Canonsleigh Priory before being seized by Henry VIII who in 1566 sold them as part of the manor – one part going to a ‘Gentleman’ known as John Lucas.
By the mid 19th Century 43 ships masters, six ship owners and two sail makers were listed in Manningtree, this included John Moor, owner and Captain of the ‘Sally’ Passage boat, which plied daily to Harwich to meet the London ‘Packets’. Townsend’s book shop was at the time known as the Packet Inn and the yards at the rear led right down to the Quayside. Earlier, in the 1760’s, John Norman ran a regular ‘Wherry’ from Manningtree to Harwich for passengers .
Maps at the beginning of the twentieth century show the ‘Town’ dock at the bottom of South Street, now filled in under Jewson’s yard. Another at the eastern end, where the sailing club quay and slipway can now been found, ran along what was a relatively modern man-made promontory. On the other side of the town dock was more quayside and a slipway, now hidden behind the sea wall by Edme Cottage. There may have been another dock here shown in an early drawing of a slipway and dock. This may also at one time have been the town ship yard mentioned in several wills. Further west, until it was demolished in 1987, was the Crane House, it may have stood there in one form or another since at least the 15th Century. As well as the Common warehouse there may well have been custom houses to monitor the flow of
The amount of warehousing gradually expanded and in the 18th Century the number of granaries increased alongside the growing number of malt houses, initially linked to the local Inns (White Hart, Packet and the Crown). By 1775 there were 10 granaries being rented out alongside the quays, later these gave way to the industrial maltings that ended up encircling the town.
Vestry Minutes and Parish Council Minutes record charges for landing goods at the slipway and adjacent dock-head and later flood damage requiring repair. Photos in the early 20th Century show boats in the run-down town dock and by 1960 the slipway is being filled with rubble. In 1967 after an appeal by Taylor & Butler they were granted permission to infill the remaining dock and in 1988 Essex County Council declared there was no proof the slipway was a Public Right of Way. Interestingly the dock still shows on the map of the estuary leased by the club from the Crown Estates who clearly think that, as part of the river, it still belongs to them.
One of the first big changes we see is the building of the new fire station in about 1954 in the back yard of the old Packet Inn. Before this the fire engine was kept in a shed on the Market Cross. The fire station yard and tower to practice ladder drills and dry the hoses, were built across the road, in what is now the Club’s West compound.
A large number of the old timber warehouses on both sides of Quay street have either come down or been replaced. Timber was one of the last imports brought into the port and the yards changed hands several times. Taylor & Jessup became
Taylor & Butler; Groom Daniels then took over before William Brown’s had the Quay. Finally Jewson’s bought what was left after many of the timber yards and saw mills were closed and sold off on the south side of the street. The North Street Maltings were demolished in 1987 along with the old Crane house, making way for a number of new developments.
Most of the Quay and beach is now hidden behind a second six foot sea wall, the buildings and people have all changed, particularly over the last century and it has fallen to the Sailing Club to preserve the only remaining Quay Street cottage and a sense of the Town’s maritime history.
Based on research by Peter Gant and written by Philip Cunningham both of Manningtree Museum & History group.
Dream Catcher’s Log to Snape
Thursday 11th May
Well I guess it’s just like any other holiday……no matter how long in the planning, or how well organised, one is always running around at the last minute. Today was no exception. Mike was due round by noon, and I still had to check out some kit, fill up the outboard, and find a sleeping bag!
So Mike arrived at 11.30, laid back, organised, and apparently looking forward to this trip, planned some 4 months earlier in the cold dark months of winter, when all one could look forward to are trips such as we were about to undertake. Kit, clobber, food, gismos and all were stowed away on board by 12.40, and Dream Catcher slipped her mooring on this fine sunny afternoon, a gentle easterly blowing on the nose as we motored down the river Stour from Manningtree to Harwich Harbour.
Ha’penny Quay, our first port of call at 14.40, gave us a good excuse to sit in the sun on the pier’s café to enjoy an excellent cup of coffee, and to relieve any stress on Dream Catcher’s plumbing. Officialdom reared its ugly head in the form of the Harbour Master, on our return, collecting tariff for those unsuspecting mariners daring to stay after 16.00. A fee was demanded, but with Mike’s quickness of tongue, expertise in the use of BS, and sharing with me, the need to avoid spending money unnecessarily, was able to talk his way out of having to open that sacred wallet.
So it was that we left the quay hurriedly but happy, for another daunting leg of the journey across the Harbour to lock into Shotley Marina at 17.10.
Taking a berth, F09, taking a shower, and taking money from the aforementioned sacred wallet to pay for our one night stay, we settled down to a pleasant evening with the adjoining company of our respective wives Jackie and Sharon, who for the purposes and pleasurable nature of our trip, became colloquially and disrespectably known as the Shotley Tarts. We were as near to heaven as life in this world could be. Good food, wine, (or was it beer?), and a beautiful sunset preceding a full moon spoilt us still further. The only downside was the thought of locking out at 05.45 the next morning in order to time the tide right for entry into the river Ore. Log: 10.9nm
Friday 12th May
We slipped the floating fenders of Shotley Lock and motored into the light mist of a dawn promising a beautiful morning. We were not to be disappointed, as with sails set, we headed out of Harwich Harbour with a track set on the GPS to take us across the shipping lane at ‘Deane’ & ‘Rolling Ground’, and on through the black flagged markers of lobster pots and sprightly little fishing boats working them in the glistening playground of this awesome East coast on a morning as perfect as one could wish for. Cruising on past Felixstowe beach at 07.05.
The Deben had been set in the passage plan as a ‘bolt hole’ should conditions have deteriorated, but as events unfolded, the weather remained our friend as we passed Woodbridge Haven SW buoy at 08.00.
Orford Haven came into view as we slipped past the Martello tower, just south of the mark at 0900. We followed closely the chartlet of Orford entrance with a clear 3.5 mtrs depth between Oxley and Weir buoys, and a minimum of 2.7 mtrs along the landward side of the river as we moved up to North Weir point. From there, a move over to the seaward side of the river, and we were safely in the Ore.
An hour and a quarter later, having travelled on up the most unwelcoming stretch of the river, with barely a landmark save a few fishermen’s sheds, we arrived at Orford. A pretty village with an active quay seeming more beautiful highlighted against the flat featureless surrounding landscape, and now basking in the mid morning sunshine.
At 11.00 we passed the transit of the 5 huge radio masts that dominate the northern end of Orford Ness, and entered the Alde. Another 3nm further and we picked up a mooring abreast Aldeburgh Yacht Club at 11.40.
Sailing over for the day, a tidy up to get ship shape, followed by a quick shower at the YC, and we were ready to receive the girls, who had driven up with provisions and overnight gear.
Aldeburgh town looked so relaxed in the afternoon sun as we took in the sights and forced down a cool beer at the Cross Keys pub, though they refused to serve even a sarnie at 10 past 2 in the afternoon, leaving us feeling a little unwanted and peckish! Undeterred, a walk along the High Street to the Co-Op provided all that was needed to satisfy that empty feeling. Later, after the obligatory clothes shop by the Girls, we all meandered back to the Yacht Club, and freshened up in preparation for a delightful evening meal at the Lighthouse restaurant. A superb meal to complete what had proved so far to be a perfect trip. Log: 33.2nm
Saturday 13th May
With Mike and I giving up our bunks to the Girls down below, we slept soundly under the boom tent. Wakened by the sound of rain on canvas we were slow to stir, and reluctant to decide positively when to leave for Snape. The rain cleared just before 10.00, and with the promise of at least a drier spell, cast off the mooring at 10.50 for the upper reaches of the Alde.
Wow……what an amazing experience, following withies for just over 5½nm up a river, in places just on a mile wide, but with withies sometimes barely wide enough apart to pass between, the gut way snakes back and forth across this flat landscape, creating a remarkable challenge to anyone foolish enough to take it on.
The reward however is a most attractive destination at Snape Maltings Bridge. Coming alongside the quay at 12.00, Dream Catcher waited whilst we took tea and scones in brilliant warm sunshine at the teashop and had a mosey around the tourist gift shops. It felt so different to have arrived by boat rather than car, so often experienced in the past.
Aware of tidal restrictions, we turned in the narrow river and headed back to Aldeburgh at 14.25 on the top of the tide.
Shortly after leaving, ominous black clouds forewarned of a serious imminent wetting, and sure enough having donned wet weather gear, while the Girls got cosy below, Mike and I shared a truly remarkable soaking. The river began to boil as the weight of the rain overpowered the water’s surface already being whipped up by the gusting frontal wind. To hold a course, more power was called for to increase speed, and with the reducing visibility it became very demanding to remain focused on these wooden signposts projecting from the mud.
Plugging on southward the river widened, the withies passed less frequently and the rain began to ease to a mere downpour. It was not until after our return to Aldeburgh at around 16.00, and following our fabulous fish and chip supper, eaten in the car overlooking the sea, that the skies cleared and left us with a cool clear evening and a watery sunset.
18.20 and we were on the move again. The Girls had packed their bags and abandoned ship leaving Mike and I to follow our planned passage southward to the Butley River, in order to be closer to the mouth of the Ore for an early morning tide tomorrow. As we worked our way downstream, choosing the northern passage around Havergate Island, the river showed us more attractive scenery than the southern route. A further turn into Butley river and we were upon a strangely barren beauty, so far from man made noise; alone, quiet and at one with nature. After a short reconnoitre up past Boyton Dock and the Old Ferry Landing, we returned to drop anchor just below Boyton Dock.
A well earned cup of coffee and we were about as chilled out as one could wish for. I think we both slept the best night’s sleep of the whole trip.
Sunday 14th May
An early start, weighing anchor at 07.15, we needed to be at the mouth of the Ore LW + 1hr or so. Blessed with another fine sunny morning, we motored freely down to the river mouth, only to put Dream Catcher on the shingle close to the marker post opposite North Weir Point. No problem, apart from jamming up the centre plate, presumably with stones. Unable to free even after dropping anchor to give ourselves time to remedy, we were left with the unfortunate proposition of motoring back to Harwich. Such a shame as we had a pleasant south easterly following us back. Past the Deben SW buoy at 09.00, we cruised into Harwich in time to watch a bit of Sunday sailing from the ‘marinas gangs’. Turning into the Stour with the wind backing easterly we were able to hoist sail and peacefully creep up to Manningtree arriving at Dream Catcher’s mooring at 1300. Log: 79.4nm
With a tidy up, and all gear stowed aboard the tender, we disembarked at 14.00, to be greeted by Sharon waiting to pick us up.
A very special thanks to my trusted companion Mike, who endured my company for near on 4 days, ensured our safe passage with his awesome knowledge and navigational skills, (cough!), and provided almost perfect weather conditions throughout the whole adventure.
Thanks must also be bestowed upon Jackie and Sharon, without whose attention to detail, provision of supplies and providers of uplifting company during our darkest hours, this trip may never have had a happy ending.