This year has seen the East Anglian Sailing Trust celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the first cruise for those with visual impairments (VI) so this year’s cruise, held between 7th – 16th September, was a rather special event. The VI Section committee decided on a pirate theme for this year so Ian Jewry, the admiral, was resplendent in his pirates costume for the Thursday night gathering where all the sailors gather to meet for the first time and find out where the fleet will aim to sail to.
The first port of call was Brightlingsea and while weather was glorious there was not much wind to power the sails so most of the fleet had to motor sail much of the way. The next day was the same weather wise as the yachts made their way to Queenborough.
For the sailors to get to know each other, two boats hosted pre dinner drinks for the rest of the fleet. It’s a great way for the sailors to get to know each other and also look round the other boats on the fleet.
From Queenborough the fleet set sail once more towards Chatham Marina; again glorious weather was enjoyed by everyone but light winds still proved challenging and the following day the fleet sailed back to Bradwell. It proved to be a late evening, as the fleet had to wait for the tide to come in to enable some of the bigger yachts to get in. Once moored up, a great supper was had in the Marina Restaurant.
The fleet then made their way to Heybridge Basin first gathering outside before manoeuvring into the lock for just one opening with eight yachts brilliantly spaced so we could all get in. To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the first EAST VI cruise, a great evening was had on shore with a pirate theme BBQ where everyone dressed up as pirates and were given challenges to entertain the rest of the crews.
Weather is the sailors friend (or foe) and the best laid plans are often undone by this uncooperative element, and so it was that the weather didn’t permit the fleet to sail the intended route, so most of the fleet free sailed for the day in and around the River Blackwater and anchored overnight in Pyfleet Creek.
The weather gods finally smiled upon the EAST fleet and provided some wind for a good sail back to Shotley Marina for the night followed by some free sailing the next day and final last night supper at Levington Sailing club where everyone was entertained with a sea shanty evening and final speeches and poems.