Sunday, 23 August 2015

End of the cruise

Thames barge match off Southend
We woke on Saturday morning in Stangate creek on the river Medway to very little wind. On leaving we found a bit

more breeze from the East and encountered the Thames sailing barge match in progress off Southend. We crossed the river to watch the barges turning round a mark. This was Julie's first experience of sailing in the Thames estuary and as always there is much of interest to see.

Off Southend there are the remains of a Phoenix pontoon that was under tow destined for Mulberry harbour when the towline broke and it ended up stranded on the Essex shore. The masts of the sunken ammunition ship Richard Montgomery are easily visible on the sands close to the Medway entrance channel. No-one knows quite how much ammunition remains aboard or what state it is in. We passed quite close as we returned from watching the barges, over the Kentish flats on a rising tide and into the Swale just before high water. 

Bonita's 2015 Channel cruise covered nearly 600 miles in 14 days. There was only one day when we didn't sail - due to fog when we were in Le Havre. We had a few difficult moments, but achieved the main purpose of cruising in an old boat which is, as always, to get back home without loss or significant damage. 

Mulberry Phoenix caissons
The high point undoubtedly was the few hours spent at anchor in Mulberry B harbour off Arromanches contemplating the events that took place there 71 years ago, a trip I have wanted to make for a long time.  We would liked to have spent longer there and we wondered several times if it would have been worth waiting for better weather. However the anchorage is so exposed that I would only go ashore or spend the night there in completely settled conditions and so we might have waited a long time. 

The last photo from Bonita's cockpit shows some of the remaining Phoenix caissons at Mulberry B. These are all of the later type - they have concrete decking to prevent the caissons filling with water and the walls collapsing outwards during storm conditions. This modification was recommended by Allan Beckett who noticed how some of the original caissons disintegrated during the storm that struck Mulberry harbour on 19 June 1944.