Sunday 6 August 2023


We left Ipswich at about midday for a Parade of Sail down the river Orwell. D and I had Des from the NE OGA helping out. We left the wet dock at high tide when there was a steady stream of boats through the open lock gates on 'free flow'.
The sight of dozens of gaff rigged boats spread right across the river and progressing at a stately pace made a fine sight, though perhaps not fully appreciated by the skipper of the cargo ship coming up towards Ipswich and repeatedly sounding his horn.
However this peaceful scene was soon disrupted by a torrential rain storm. At times the rain was so heavy it reduced visibility at times to a few yards so we could see hardly any of the other boats or anything else on the river. The Parade of Sail became rather less orderly as a result.

 Eventually the rain became intermittent rather than continuous and we entered Levington marina where the Gaffers are based for the next couple of days to celebrate to OGA Diamond Jubilee. We have been joined for this by Tim and Elaine, Sian and Ant. There was evening entertainment until late at night. On Saturday there was again strong wind and a great deal of rain. None of the cruising boats felt the need to go out for a sail. Instead we drove to Sutton Hoo to see the site of the seventh century ship excavation where the Anglo-Saxon treasure hoard was discovered in 1938. Like so many others, we found the contrast between the peaceful rural landscape today, and the rich and colorful history of this spot very striking. The wooden structure of the ship rotted away long ago. The key point in her discovery was when the first investigator, Basil Brown recognised a rusty iron rivet for what it was and its significance.
 We then went to Woodbridge where a replica of the Sutton Hoo ship is being built. The build is informed by a great deal of historical research, and she is being built of the same materials and with the same sort of tools as the original. It will take another 2 years or so to finish and is about half built.The black frames are temporary supports: the hull is being built of oak fastened like the original with wrought iron rivets. It will be fascinating to see her afloat when she is finished: 88 ft long, weighing around 6 tons and propelled by 40 oarsmen. Seeing the scale of the work, and some of the ironwork and jewellery on display at Sutton Hoo gives an impression of the sophistication, wealth and stability of Anglo-Saxon society at that time.

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