It's all about
finding the calm
in the chaos
Image "Vashti at dawn"
Summer 2013. Aged 28 and a half.
What little wind there was seemed to be intent on taking me to sea and with a light north easterly breeze AWOL darted out of Holbrook Creek like a cork out of a champagne bottle. In this instance however there was sadly no champagne available.
The previous weekend I stayed well out in Holbrook bay with a similarly light breeze from the south creating a lee-shore to Holbrook which could be tricky to get off in such light winds. However this weekend with the wind in the opposite direction I had an opportunity to sail up the shallow shore of Holbrook and Harkstead, and explore this wonderful, silent, inland coast...a place of tranquility where time is irrelevant owing to a distinct lack of human intervention. This is the very place I grew up messing around in boats, living and going to school only a couple of miles away, yet every time I come here it looks somehow different. As they say, no man steps in the same river twice because the river has changed and so has the man.
AWOL's centre plate was merely an inch or two down, and no doubt a little leeway took us away from the beach while we were slowly and silently reaching towards Harkstead. The waters surface was providing a crystal clear looking glass to the plant life and wildlife that lay beneath, with the water so clear in fact that no sounding is required due to the knowledge that you can see the bottom well before you touch it.
Reaching steadily all the way to Harkstead the wind dropped off to nothing at my imaginary turning mark, my furthest point from home and AWOL's mainsheet fell slowly and lazily down, to shatter the surface of the water. My crystal clear looking glass was no more.
Carrying no engine onboard I momentarily accepted that I was in for a long scull home against the tide before my thoughts drifted away to take in the view we had been presented with, the River Stour like glass as far as the eye could see. There are some moments that come and go so quickly that it's best to see them with your eyes rather than through the lens of a camera and this was indeed one of those moments. What the camera would have seen though was a white 12ft swallows and amazons style smacks boat, with a single lug rigged sail hanging from varnished wooden spars and a man sat down all alone but with the best of company- a tranquil river all to himself.
For a minute or two I just sat there enjoying the peace of the whole river on this crisp Autumn Sunday afternoon until the silence was broken with the sound of lapping water at AWOL's clinker stem. As her boom slowly lifted the mainsheet clear of the water we were sailing once again on a starboard reach for Holbrook creek with imaginary cats dancing across the water all around us.
At the Holbrook end of this foreshore a young family were enjoying a Sunday afternoon BBQ and as I passed through a very dense and defined stream of cooking burger smell I felt it time to head home for something to eat. Sailing past, four children shouted with excitement at the anticipation of a pirate raid invading their party, in response to "Who goes there!?" a sturdy wave and reply of "friend, not foe!" was enough to keep the small savages at bay.
Clive Robertson, sailing all sorts since 1990.
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