Locally we have some of the best cruising on the East Coast, although some people call the navigation around this area ‘3D sailing’. For those of you that haven’t guessed, the third dimension is depth. It’s true – at high water you can sail almost anywhere, but at half to low water, its well worth consulting your charts – but don’t worry – when you eventually do run a ground – its only soft mud! The coastline is clearly visible (most of the time), and there’s plenty to look at whether cruising up the Wallet towards Harwich, or sailing up the River Blackwater towards Osea. When the wind does blow up, there are many places to find shelter in this area. It can get rather nasty when there is a strong wind blowing over the tide, especially an easterly!
Places to Cruise
Right on our door step is West Mersea and Bradwell Marina, where there are always moorings or berths to tie up to, although you will need a dinghy to get a shore to the pontoon in West Mersea. Brightlingsea is one of the clubs favourite places to sail to, as many of our cruiser races finish there. There are two choices of where to moor – Pyefleet offers a peaceful natural un-spoilt anchorage – except on Saturday nights in high summer – where it can be difficult to find enough swinging room without drying out. Alternatively, Brightlingsea offers some nice places to eat at reasonable prices, but, again in high summer, you may need to raft up 3 or 4 deep on the pontoons. A handy ‘water taxi’ runs here, which will save you pumping up the ‘rubber duck’ to go ashore. Further up the River Blackwater, the last anchorage that doesn’t dry is the south side of Osea, although it’s a bit exposed here from an easterly wind. It’s possible to venture right up to Maldon, but you must be prepared to dry out, unless you lock in to the canal at Heybridge Basin. For more detailed information of the area,the pilot books ‘East Coast Rivers’, by Janet Harber and East Coast Pilot by Garth Cooper, Dick Holness and Colin Jarman are both excellent reads, and are available from most chandlers.
Local Navigation Notes / Information
- South Channel – the main buoyed channel into Tollesbury – some moorings don’t dry out.
- Tollesbury Hard – accessible about 3 hours before and after high water by tender – although it’s still quite muddy at this time – 2.5 hours is a better time!
- The Tollesbury Marina – accessible about 1.5 hours before and after high water depending on your draft. There’s a Marina tide gauge (in feet) on the entrance to Woodrolfe Creek, which shows the water over.
- North Channel – little used except by local sailors – not buoyed.
- Fisherman’s Hard – accessible even at low water. It’s a path of large bags filled with gravel with mud each side which leads down to the waters edge.
Follow the links below for more on cruising at the club: