Monthly Archives: May 2015

Northward bound: Exploring inland


Saturday, May 16, 2015

After two days along the coast we headed inland to the historic city of York. Only an hour away by train, this Yorkshire town built in 71 C.E. was originally called Eboracum and served as Rome’s capital of the northern province. It maintained its prominence after the Romans left, renamed Eoforwic under the Saxons. Danish names for streets show the influence of the Vikings who settled here beginning 867 C.E. and the city continued to thrive as one of Europe’s trading centers. York became even more prominent, becoming England’s second city between 1100 and 1500. When we mentioned York as a place we were considering visiting, locals enthusiastically agreed.

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We can’t say enough about the friendliness of these folk! Everyone we’ve met goes out of their way to make us feel welcome, beginning with the marina folk here at Hartlepool. And, it’s not just in Hartlepool. On the streets in York a man stopped to ask if we needed help (we were trying to locate something on a map). He then went out of his way to ensure we were headed in the right direction.

So, on this Saturday morning we joined the throng of merry travelers including those continuing onto London two hours past our stop in York. It was packed, which meant making space on the floor since most seats were reserved. Armed with crosswords and sudoku, we easily passed time and within an hour were gliding into York.

Leaving the station we walked towards the river, following the ancient wall. And, found a mother goose and her ducklings alongside the river bank.

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Our initial stop was the largest landmark in this ancient city, York Minster, towering over the narrow streets clustered around it, like a big hen and its brood. ‘Minster’ means a missionary teaching church, and York Minster is the largest medieval Gothic cathedral north of the Alps. Similar to other large cathedral sites we’ve visited, this cathedral is located where once a smaller, wooden church stood. Matter-of-fact, King Edwin of Northumbria was baptized here in 627 C.E., which means so was his grand-niece Hilda, that abbess mentioned earlier. 

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We entered the cathedral just in time to catch the beginning of an hour tour. The guide was informative without being overly so and we proceeded to learn about this awe-inspiring building begun in 1220 and completed 250 years later (lots of add-ons and renovations, not the least being a major fund-raiser to clean and restore some of the 128 stained glass windows).

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As we walked down one side and up the other, our guide pointed out old family shields hanging on the walls. These indicated who paid for those particular windows. Some windows also featured the donor with one set actually including a whole panel of the entire family. Nothing like cash to get you into heaven. Or, the good graces of powerful church figures.

The shields also helped identify the archbishops, such as this one on a tomb.

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Our guide mentioned that the shields identifying who was who and the stained glass windows depicting biblical scenes were easy ways to inform a mainly illiterate public.

One of the unusual features was the Chapter House located behind the alter.

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This room had excellent acoustics with each stone seat along the walls placed in its own alcove. Stone carvings ran above the seats, and, with so many faces needed to decorate such a room, most of the designs were left to the discretion of the carvers themselves, resulting in some quite startling expressions.

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On one side of the choir stood a 15th-century stone screen. Statues of the kings of England were featured, beginning with William the Conqueror and ending with Henry VI. The latter was the pious king of the mid-1400s who built the King’s Chapel in Cambridge,  which we visited with Hugo back in April.

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The last point of interest was a board listing all of the archbishops, including Thomas Wosley from Ipswich and who helped Henry VIII split from Catholicism.

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Outside we were once again reminded of this city’s antiquity when we saw a Roman column

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the statue of Constantine whose coronation was held here in 306 C.E.

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This town is loaded with kingly presence. Richard III, the last Plantagenet King, spent most of his youth at Middleham Castle north of York. He only ruled for two years, being defeated by Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth. He had a soft spot for York, and the city milked it for what it was worth. No different from savvy politicians and their donors of today’s world.

You may remember hearing about this infamous (he’s the one who’s accused of murdering his two nephews in order to grab the crown for himself) king in the news this past March. His bones were recently re-interred after being found in a Leicester car park. Some say he wanted to be buried in York, but, Leicester was chosen because (a) he left no actual written will stipulating York as his desired burial place, (b) bodies are generally reburied where they were originally found, and (c) the Battle of Bosworth occurred close to Leicester. Also, as a gentleman told us who helped us with directions, a local leader has ties to Leicester, which easily could have influenced her vote on where to put Richard’s old bones.

There was a museum dedicated to Richard III housed in one of the original, medieval city gates, Monk Bar. We didn’t go to the museum but did climb to see the murder holes (where they dropped nasty stuff on anyone stupid enough to try to enter blindly) and the portcullis that still works (but wasn’t demonstrated).

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We peeked into a tranquil sanctuary, the Church of Holy Trinity. The guide who happened to be from Seattle (her father’s English, which is how she ended up here) walked us down to the original part of the church, which is roughly two feet below the current site) and pointed out some original Norman walls (marked by these chevrons).

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While wandering along these old streets we took in the end of a busker’s show (with quite an original name) eating are lunch brought from JUANONA.

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The crooked streets were filled with crooked houses, some more so than others.

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We walked to another medieval site, Clifford Tower. Located on a mound where William the Conqueror built his wooden castle (although he didn’t use it much), the tower was built by Henry III 100 years later.

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Max pointed out how far we’d sailed to-date on an English Heritage promo poster (we joined thanks to some cruisers who told us about this organization),

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then we climbed to the top and tried to get a good pic of the tower model only to have an (American) kid constantly insert himself, which the mother only thought was adorable.

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A good view from the top where I, with my fear of heights, kept a tight hold on the inner fencing.

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Saw the medieval red devil notes on Stonegate Street, built over a Roman road,

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and continued to check out the Yorkshire Museum located in another green oasis, St. Mary’s Abbey, founded in 1086. Thanks to York’s wool trade along with royal and papal privileges this Benedictine abbey was one of the richest in Britain. We just perused the museum shop (we find that’s a good way to suss out whether we’re up for another cultural bit) with Max finding the perfect card for JUANONA (and him!).

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By then it was time to catch the train home as we enjoyed the afternoon sun, crossing the old city walls and back to the bridge we first crossed heading to York Minster.

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On the ride home looking out the window we passed the 19th-century white horse carved into the sides of Sutton Bank in the North York Moors. Reading later I discovered William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy also visited these North York Moors in 1802. If the horse had been there then, we may be reading a poem today, only, I’m sure it’d be galloping through a host of golden daffodils.

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Northward bound: Exploring northward


Thursday, May 14, 2015

We headed north this time, towards Newcastle where our nephew and his wife would be flying into for a visit. This city known for its shipping of coal has a reputation for night life and all that goes with it: clubs, music, events, and restaurants. It also features several marinas, one of which we were checking out along with other ports of call further north.

It was blustery and chilly but we enjoyed walking the streets of Tynemouth after visiting Tynemouth’s headland with yet another priory and castle. This one had the typical convoluted history (to me) as other old and crumbling ruins:  began as a smaller building in 600s; later sacked by the Danes in 800s (St. Hilda’s nuns who went there to be safe found themselves massacred at one of these attacks); rebuilt during Norman times (1000-1300s), and, later the monastic buildings were dismantled during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the Catholic Church’s holdings 1536-40.

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But, the castle and Prior’s house were saved. The castle ended up being the birthplace of the 9th Earl of Northumbria, Henry Percy in 1854, and there’s a beautiful chapel still on the grounds.  This 9th Earl Percy was the grandson of the 6th who was originally betrothed to Anne Boleyn prior to her becoming Henry VIII’s second wife. If only she had known where her future was headed….

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This priory was also on a headland similar to Whitby. The reason for the prominent placement of these priories is they weren’t serving as retreats from the world but as missions to spread the word of Christianity. Therefore, it made perfect sense to site these grand behemoths in actively trading ports found where river mouths ran into the sea.

This particular site remained in use as a garrison for British troops but then, like most of these magnificent ruins, evolved eventually into an English Heritage site for people like us to troop around while trying to imagine what it was like way back when.

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Walking down the streets running parallel to the river Max spotted some people-watchers

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who were sitting above a spot where a famous musician ate some fish and chips.

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Getting back in the car we headed for one of Newcastle marina’s when we saw some boats sailing in this brisk wind.

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We hopped out and met up with the sailors with one captain letting Max try his hand.

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This sailing club has been in existence for more than 100 years, and these guys are part of a group who meet Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. to race. A nice way to enjoy the simple pleasures of sailing.

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The rest of the day entailed driving to and checking out marinas in Newcastle (a bit out of town if using the one close to the river mouth), Blythe (small and very industrial), and Amble (extremely friendly with access 2hrs-45 mins to 3hrs-45 mins either side of high tide depending on whether spring or neap tide). By the end of the day we were ready to head home happy to be returning to Hartlepool.

Northward bound: Exploring southward


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Just as we sussed out one famous sailor’s ties to the East Coast of England, we did so again with another in mind, Captain James Cook (1728 – 1774). When Max mentioned that Cook lived in Whitby, just south of Hartlepool, I immediately envisioned a young man looking out to sea in a town on the blustery east coast of England. Why this image came to mind was due to a wonderful book my brother Cam gave me some years ago, THE? BLUE PLANET. And, more recently, I devoured another excellent book, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS, featuring a main character whose fortune was tied to Joseph Banks, the gentleman scientist aboard Cook’s first voyage on the ENDEAVOR.

But, it’s not only James Cook’s fame which attracts visitors. The ruins of the hauntingly beautiful Whitby Abbey are just across the River Esk, reached by walking through the cobblestone streets and climbing 199 steps to this medieval structure. And, if that’s not enough, Whitby is located on the ‘Dinosaur Coast’ where fossils from the Jurassic and Cretaceous eras have been found.

We didn’t look for petrified creatures but were interested in the James Cook Museum and Whitby Abbey, so off we drove with the added benefit of seeing the spectacular North York Moors National Park.

At the suggestion of the Tourist Information in Hartlepool we opted for the park-and-ride feature, which removed any concerns about finding a parking space. Arriving in the middle of town we hopped off the bus and asked directions to the Cook Museum.

In spite of it not being a holiday and being mid-week, the warm(er) weather brought out more than us strolling around this historic town. Of course, there are the obligatory boat photos,

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and the backdrop of the harbor, crab pots, and Abbey along with my favorite subject.

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Across the river we located the old stone house belonging to a prominent merchant, John Walker, where James Cook lived for nine years.

What was coincidence was our spotting a sailboat exiting the harbor just as we were entering the museum. Max looked more closely as the boat motored closer and exclaimed we knew them! Sure enough, they were a couple we had met in Lowestoft on their boat the OYSTER CATCHER who were circumnavigating the British Isles this summer. I whistled and we waved, and, just as surprisingly, they recognized us. Before they passed by we exchanged hoped-for destinations and then wished them good sailing towards their next port.

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With that, we left the 21st century and stepped back into the 18th.

Immediately we were immersed in the world of James Cook.

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Choosing Whitby for his schooling in learning the ways of the sea wasn’t just happenstance. This town had gained a well-deserved reputation for teaching the art of sailing. Not only was navigation part of the schools’ curriculum, but also the wild and wooly North Sea was an excellent training ground.

Additionally, Whitby seamen were treated fairly and were well-fed. This most likely evolved from the tradition of merchants taking on one anothers’ sons as apprentices. This practice encouraged better treatment than the normal apprenticeship associated with living one’s life at sea. And, Cook was fortunate to find himself in the care of Captain John Walker. A devout Quake and respected merchant, Walker came from a long line of shipowners. Under him Cook served as apprentice, seaman, and master’s mate from age 17 to 26. Although he decided to leave Walker’s employment in 1755 to join the British Navy, correspondence shows the teacher/employer and pupil/employee had became friends.

Just a note on navigation, Cook was one of the first explorers who could actually plot where he was and where he was going. This was due to his having on his second and third voyage the benefit of the chronometer, a timepiece. This invention by John Harrison meant the longitude coordinate [the distance from Greenwich MeanTime (0º] could accurately be recorded.

The museum is small yet houses quite a few documents, models, and illustrations covering Cook’s time in Whitby and his global explorations. One of the earliest records of Cook’s association with Walker is a 1747  ‘Muster Roll’ of one of Walker’s ships, the FREELOVE. The document was found in 1980 under the roof of Whitby’s Seaman’s Hospital. (His name is the third up from the bottom on the left-hand side.)

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Others associated with Cook were also on display, one being the gentleman naturalist Sir Joseph Banks. Banks was the scientist who joined Cook on the first voyage (1768-71) sailing on the ENDEAVOR. Remembering some controversy from the book I mentioned earlier, an excerpt from a 1772 letter painted this wealthy gentleman as a bit too heavy-handed in his demands. He was suppose to accompany Cook on his second voyage (1772-75) aboard the RESOLUTION; and, he altered the ship to accommodate a much larger party. These adjustments made the boat unseaworthy and had to be removed.

Banks was so upset he threatened to make his displeasure public, which would have created bad PR for the voyage. Fortunately, he didn’t but, needless to say, Banks didn’t join Cook on the second voyage and his third and last one (1776-80).

However, the naturalist Banks was given credit for his contribution to science and his assistance in ensuring the safety and comfort of Omai, a young Ra’iatean from the Pacific Islands, who became joined Cook’s expedition. In 1773 returned to England on and later sailed back to his homeland arriving safely in 1776.

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In 1762 Cook married Elizabeth Batts (1741-1835). During this time Cook was surveying the coast of Newfoundland, and, for the next few years he’d sail across in spring to continue his work then return to England in the late fall. As Max said just these journeys alone show how hardy those sailors were for typically we’d only think to sail those waters during the summer.

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They had six children but only three survived childhood; and of those, two died while in the Navy and one at Cambridge University of a fever. She tragically outlived all of them, eventually moving to Clapham where her cousin Isaac Smith lived.

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The museum followed Cook’s career, which was portrayed partly through the illustrations of those aboard, including one of Sulpher Island now known as Iwo Jima.

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What is really amazing are the detailed drawings created by the naturalists. Through their eyes and paints it was easy to understand just how significant Cook’s expeditions were for botany as well as portraits of the people inhabiting these foreign lands.

Below are brief bios of these artists who, themselves, were adventurers as well as one of their exquisite drawings.

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My photo doesn’t do the best job of showing Cook’s three voyages but at least you get an idea of the extent of his travel. He even tried to do the Northwest Passage, a route that today has become much more doable because of climate change resulting in less ice blocking the way.

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Accounts of these explorations were popular and a way to earn income from those reporting. One of those aboard, a Mr. Forster who was appointed as a naturalist on the second voyage, submitted his account.

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Yet, Lord Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty and a patron and friend of Cook’s, refuted Forster’s account and refused to sanction its printing. Forster continued to write angry letters to Sandwich but his account was never officially received.

Cook’s final voyage ended with his being killed and dismembered on the shores of Hawaii February 14, 1774. The story goes he was trying to recover a boat taken by the Hawaiians. A chief was killed by a Brit, and then upon landing, a skirmish entailed, more shots were fired, and Cook was struck by a club and repeatedly stabbed.

In trying to recover the body, the now-Captain Clerke (who later died during the voyage) learned from friendly Hawaiian priests that Cook’s body had been treated like that of a high chief. In other words, his body was cut into pieces and flesh stripped from the bones, the latter believed to convey the spiritual power of the deceased.

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One of the surprising displays was that of Captain Bligh (1754-1817) and his wife, Elizabeth (1753-1812). He served as Master on the RESOLUTION during Cook’s third voyage prior to captaining the BOUNTY in 1787 (suggested by none other than Sir Banks). Although known for an ‘uncertain temper’, Bligh had a much better reputation than that depicted by Humphrey Bogart in the cinematic version of that mutiny by Christian Fletcher.

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After climbing to the attic where Cook had lived with the other apprentices, we descended to the final display, that of food (something always near and dear to my heart, yet not so much here). We learned what the typical daily rations were…

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and, why we call something a square meal (meals were served on a square tray):

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Before I leave our museum visit I would be remiss in not congratulating Cook on his prevention of scurvy. Unlike many ships before and after his voyages, none of his crew died of that dreaded disease. This was due to Cook’s willingness to experiment with a variety of diets and enforcing cleanliness. In spite of no foregone conclusions on what worked best, Cook received a medal for preserving the health of his crew.

We left the museum with our head full of the New World explorations only to now go back further in time to the 600s.

Whitby Abbey stands on a bluff looking out to the North Sea. The abbey must have been an imposing sight when seen in a distance. It is now and that’s with only some huge stone walls and large windows outlining the sky. Imagining how this would look at night, it’s no wonder Bram Stoker used this for his tale of Dracula.

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The site was the place of a Christian community led by a famous abbess Hilda in the 600s. The Venerable Bede, the same monk who wrote about Redwald of Sutton Hoo, described her as exemplary. She was of noble birth (the grand-niece of King Edwin, King of Northumbria) and was abbess of the double monastery in Hartlepool prior to moving to this more prominent abbey in Whitby.

During these times it wasn’t unusual to have double monasteries, meaning both women and men sharing the same religious center. But, what I find really interesting is that it was common for these monasteries to be run by women, not men. Yet, in a book I’m reading about medieval women, historians, including Bede, say women were possibly more likely to adopt Christianity than men. The reason presented is that men couldn’t afford to show a softer side, one that forgave enemies and championed peace over going to war and acquiring more earthly riches. Therefore, women naturally took a larger role in spreading the word of Christ and converting kinfolk to this new world religion.

It’s not to say, though, that men still didn’t perceive women as second-class. All one has to do is read about the early Anglo-Saxon laws where the worth of a person is strictly laid out in terms of compensation for crimes committed. Here, it’s quite clear the value of a female was less than that of a male. Yet, it’s still refreshing to see some women, at least, obtain status and power during these Dark Ages; and, Hilda definitely left her mark since it’s said the future of Christianity in England was determined at a synod held here in 664 C.E.

In the 7th and 8th centuries this headland featured a much smaller church. The ruins of today are remnants of construction dating after the Norman invasion in 1066. Like most religious bodies, the abbey became quite wealthy. In addition to being a religion, Christianity was also a business, and pilgrims trekking to this site were charged for anything and everything to do with paying homage to Christ and any saint’s bones languishing in a tomb.

One of the biggest changes was during Henry VIII’s dissolution (looting) of the Catholic monasteries and churches 1536-40,*  and Whitby didn’t escape either. Chums of the king, the Cholmleys, took over the land and built a large manor right next to the cathedral. Today the visitor’s Center is located in this solid stone house. We picked up our audio guides, stuck them to our ears and proceeded to wander around with the other tourists.

* To fund his lifestyle, Henry needed a good source of income; and, the Catholic monasteries was the fatted calf with income four times that of the crown and real estate comprising one-sixth of all of England.

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Next door to the ruins and the manor house is St. Mary’s Church, a small building

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a pulpit with ear trumpets (evidently used by the preacher’s wife),

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and ancient relics recovered on the grounds.

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From here we descended the 199 steps to the town’s narrow, cobbled streets

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and looked for lunch across the river while checking out the sights.

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We decided on some sausages and chips advertised for £3.10. We sat down to order and noticed the menu now said £6. Realizing we had seen the take-away price, which is always less than the sit-down one, we decided to order take-away and wait outside.

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We then decided to catch a local bus to Robin Hood’s Bay just five miles south of here. Once again we were a bit startled at the price (£14) so we backed out of there, too, and grabbed the park-and-ride bus to our car and drove there :)

This tiny coastal town is situated at the end of the Coast to Coast Walk, which is why we saw so many folk outfitted in hiking gear with walking sticks.

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We arrived two hours prior to low tide, so you can imagine the extent of the shore when it’s dead low.

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Walking back up the hill to the car park (due to hardly any turn-around space the advice is to walk down the steep hill and back up) we passed plenty of little homes for holiday rental, many with appropriate signs such as this one:

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It was a beautiful day and I snapped photos of a manhole cover for Ellen

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and spring flowers,

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recognizing some as ones my sister really likes (I just can’t remember the name).

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Reaching the top we gazed once more at the bay then retraced our way through the moors to our new port of call, Hartlepool.

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Northward bound: Lowestoft to Hartlepool

Sunday, May 10, to Monday, May 11, 2015

The winds were forecast to be out of the WSW, building to 15 to 20 knots from today though Monday, so we made the decision to leave around 5 a.m. on Sunday for our overnight passage to Hartlepool. We left the harbor and Guliver, the wind turbine, which had been a failiar site every since we landed a week earlier.

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The morning sail was really a morning motor while we waited for the wind to pick up. Eventually it did and we were able to turn off the engine (always a pleasure with the exception we lost the ability to keep the cabin toasty from our engine heater) around 10 a.m.

We passed several wind farms

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as well as what Max assumes was ‘Jumping Jack’, the pile driver mentioned at our visit to the Sroby Sands Wind Farm center.

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We were making excellent time thanks to the wind on the beam (perpendicular to our heading and a good point of sail) and England’s infamous current being with us.

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You know you’re in different waters when your waypoint (the latitude and longitude towards which we head) indicates you’re sailing close to the Greenwich longitude of 00º.

Taking turns keeping watch, we saw the shoreline for most of the passage until we headed past the Wash (big open bay) .

I find it a lot easier to keep watch out in the middle of the ocean than when hugging the shore. The need to avoid fishing pots, the unindentified lights when sailing at night, and the amount of boat traffic kept us on our toes. What is extremely helpful is our Automatic Identification System (AIS). We first used this crossing the Atlantic last summer, and ever since then, it’s one of the best navigational instruments aboard. It really does take the fright out of seeing a 100-meter tanker steaming 12 knots towards you.

For some reason we were suddenly inundated with flies. Where they came from, we don’t know, but came they did. The photo doesn’t begin to show how much they covered the boat but you get the idea. Luckily they weren’t biting and were fairly slow moving, which meant we were soon carrying smashed fly bodies on our shoes all over the boat.

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Max went below for a well-deserved sleep, and after awhile I find myself looking for anything to keep me entertained. I can only read, do crosswords, look at the sky for just so long as I checked the sailing instruments and adjusted for any wind change.

I did my usual ‘capture-the-captain-asleep’ photo. You can tell there wasn’t any heat aboard.

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I tried to see how fast we could go while steering around any odd-looking fishing buoys.

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And then just watched the sky as a faint rainbow appeared.

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The wind became fickle, slowing way down then going behind us, then switching to the SSE. Oh joy. Now what? So, after trying to eke out speed by changing the sail configurations, I gave up and turned on the engine when it was light enough to avoid those damn pots.

Thirty minutes later the wind switched back to WSW and grew strong enough so I could kill the motor. It was bliss :)

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Max came up for his watch and we sailed into Hartlepool where Colin, one of the marina guys, helped us at the lock and getting us to our berth.

The wind at that point was creating white caps in the small harbor, and we were thankful to reach another port of safety as opposed to being out in the North Sea. And, the added benefit were the marina guys couldn’t have been more helpful as we got instructions on entering the lock (as well as someone catching our lines, which I always appreciate).

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It felt great having our first passage completed, and our sea legs back. We are definitely ready for our summer cruising!

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Northward bound: Orwell River to Lowestoft and then some

Sunday, May 3, 2015

One thing that is a constant in cruising is you’ll never know when you’ll really be able to leave somewhere to go somewhere. Such was the case as we sat out the winds and current over our first weekend after leaving Ipswich Haven Marina. Fortunately, forecasts are available but there’s still no guarantee that what was predicted for two days out will be occurring even one day later. On the eastern coast of the UK this posit seems to be even truer.

Moored on the Orwell the weather was still unfavorable for heading out, but not so for the hard Brits. When down below to avoid the rain we noticed some masts going by JUANONA . Hopping up we peeked through the portholes and spotted some boats prepping for racing.


Man, it looked cold and ugly out there but the sailors on those boats didn’t seem to mind.


Snapping some photos we caught two racers duking it out. Their hi-tech sails only added to their speed as they whooshed down wind.


Later we watched more boats plying the river as the sun began to come out providing a spectacular viewing from the confines of our cockpit.


We also espied one poor soul whose spinnaker almost capsized him.


Seeing these boats go up and down the river was akin to sitting on one’s front porch watching traffic go by.

Even though it appeared to be clearing up some, all we had to do was look to the west and still be thankful we weren’t heading out to the sea just yet. But, the dramatic clouds sure did make a beautiful sight.




Monday, May 4, 2015

Fighting one knot of current and not too much wind, we ended up motoring for an hour just to get around a point. From then on, the tide changed, wind picked up, and we were able to enjoy a sail up to Lowestoft.


In addition to being our first sail of the season, the excitement for the day was being approached by the English Border Force. I had noticed the mother ship passing us, then stopping, and looking at us a tad menacingly. I said a loud ‘uh-oh’ to Max below pointing out that an official-looking ship just stopped fairly close by. Sure enough, a rubber tender was off loaded with a bunch of comando-dressed guys.

They headed our way as we continued to sail at 6-7 knots with the wind and current. Coming alongside they announced who they were and asked permission to come aboard. Not a good time to say ‘no, I don’t think so’ and three climbed aboard while one kept their tender fairly close.

Asking for JUANONA’s registration papers and our passports, two stayed in the cockpit while one ducked below where Max was.

They were very polite (what do you expect from Brits?) and professional. We asked why they chose us and they responded they boarded most foreign vessels. Then, one of the guys mentioned they had just finished a joint exercise up in Aberdeen with the Socttish Navy. The biggest drug bust (£800 million worth of coke) had just occurred up there thanks to a odd-looking tug being watched as it headed north.

They also said they had boarded a boat at midnight the night before. That would have scared the bejesus out of me, seeing some bright lights and a rubber dinghy full of dudes outfitted in black rubber suits clambering aboard.

After fifteen or so minutes, they graciously thanked us and left. Prior to their hopping off we asked if it’d be okay to take a pic. The leader said once they had gotten off and headed away it’d be fine. So, off they went to the mother ship and we started snapping.


Tuesday, May 5 &  Wednesday, May 6, 2015

After an easy day sail from the Orwell River we landed in Lowestoft at the working marina just inside the jetty’s entrance. Surrounded by fishing boats and wind farm vessels we hunkered down for the forecast strong winds. And, they didn’t disappoint us. At times we felt we were heeling/tilting due to being blustered about even as we sat moored to our pontoon.

This town was a fishing port and resort village attracting many beach-goers when the train service began in the 1840s. Fishing is still an industry although what’s really driving the economy here is the boom in wind farms. There’s a singular wind turbine fondly called Guliver next to Orbis, the company servicing many of Guliver’s kin sitting out in the ocean, which we dodged heading north.


With winds still high on Wednesday (30 gusting higher) we decided to stay put with the exception of checking out England’s furtherest point East. The winds had whipped the ocean into a frothy lather, and, spray shot out from the jetty rocks.


A compass design was embedded in the walkway, and after standing in the center we walked around finding  compass headings for celestial events.



Then we walked into town to run an errand, passing by a 16th century home.


Back on JUANONA Max finished off another boat project, this one being a protective box around a vulnerable knob of our diesel heater. We’d hate having THAT not work when sailing further north.


Thursday, May 6, 2015

Based on some other cruisers’ excellent notes from last year, we hopped on a bus for Southwold. Less than an hour south of us this seaside village kept its quaintness thanks to the railroad stopping service in 1929. Thus, this English Georgian beach resort is like stepping back in time.

The last stop was right at a pier where Max noted how some fences running perpindicular to the beach were keeping sand from eroding to one end of the beach. Knowing how Joanne, our geologist friend, takes her students to Georgetown to observe a similar phenomena, we snapped some photos.


Colorful cabanas stretched off from the pier.

Seeing these wee wooden cabins reminded me so much of the Overman’s one at Virginia Beach.  Painted a variety of hues and colorfully named, these wooden houses could have evolved from the Victorian times when they were rolled out into the sea for the bathers inside to step out and dunk themselves. Although still portable (most, if not all, are moved back off the beach in the winter), the cabanas stay put during the summer months while hosting those catching the early spring sunshine.


Some were more decorated than others…


while many would have benefited from our artist friends’ talents.

All had some sort of name, and I kept taking photos as Max asked if I was really going to snap pics of each one? I’ll spare you the result but share some of the fun ones…


ending with two of my favorites:


We stopped to talk with a guy who was sprucing up a cabana, only on the inside.


It belongs to his boss who wanted to redo the interior. The cabin doesn’t have electricity or water, yet it’s still a wonderful little front porch to escape from the sun while watching beach strollers and a wet-suited swimmer.


After reaching the end we walked up the hill to the meandering village streets,


passing a beach-clean up sign that reminded us of our friends off on s/v DOLPHINS who recently began a similar effort, Operation Beach Clean (check out his FaceBook page for more info and to see some friends with whom we spent the winter at Ipswich )


Glancing at the brick homes as we strolled down one of the main streets we passed one with an inviting chair whose owner could look out at those looking in


and another whose kitchen window sported a wise reminder of just how we should be living.


stopping for a coffee at a popular bakery, which had a pretty clever menu, and to pen a local artist’s card to Max’s mom.


From there we scouted out the 15th-century church dedicated to Edmund, the last East Anglican King and Christian martyr. St. Edmund reputedly was executed by the Danes in 869/870 C.E. because he refused to denounce Christianity. He was beaten, shot full of arrows, and beheaded, which must have hurt like hell.


Unfortunately, the structure was undergoing a huge renovation, so we saw very little of the magnificent stone and woodwork.


We were able to see part of the interior where services were still being held along with some of the magnificent stained glass


and medieval graffitti.


then walked around outside where Max couldn’t resist checking to see if there was another way in,


in spite of a sign saying otherwise.


We ate our packed lunch in the tranquil green next to the church.


Wandering around this little park I saw camellias, which reminded me of the ones Mom grew at home when we were little. They’d bloom during January, always a welcome surprise in the midst of winter.


There’s a brewery, Adnams, established in 1872, whose brand name is all over the town, from its labeled beer to its shop to a cafe to the actual brewery to that beach clean-up sign shown earlier. You couldn’t help but find the brewery due to the intense yeasty smell wafting over that block of the town.


We opted not to go for a tour but did spot Adnam’s symbol:  Southwold Jack o’the clock perched on the side of its building. Dressed in the uniform of a soldier from the War of the Roses, this rare mechanical figure use to strike the bell on the hour. The original is at the renovated St. Edmund’s Church.


Ready for home we made it to the bus stop and caught the next one back to Lowestoft as the rain started to pelt the windows.


Friday, May 7, 2015

Today we were off to Great Yarmouth, north of Lowestoft, again by bus. We are really enjoying the public transportation England offers. They make it so easy to explore their country.

Great Yarmouth was our destination due to reading about Horatio Nelson’s ties to this town. Later, we found out Charles Dickens wrote DAVID COPPERFIELD while staying here and the another 19th-century author, Anna Sewell of BLACK BEAUTY fame, was born here.

Getting off the bus at Market Gates we walked towards the beach in search of the Tourist Information office. Ironically, it’s not the easiest place to find but we did locate it after stopping in at the Scroby Sands Wind Farm visitor’s center. The center was built by E.ON, one of the UK’s leading electricity and gas companies investing in alternative energy. After sailing by all the wind turbines (one route being when we crossed the Thames last summer)


it was fascinating to get a glimpse of the inner workings of these windmill giants.

E.ON installed 30 of these turbines, using a ‘Jumping Jack’ barge to drive the pile 30 meters into the sea bed. Driving each pile required 15 people working two hours (Max found this remarkably fast). Two separate columns were then fitted into place onto the pile. Atop the columns the nacelle hub (the brain of the turbine) was placed. The hub, called ‘bunny ears’ with its two blades, then had the third blade attached by matching up 90 holes. One assembly took 12 hours with two turbines assembled every three days. Cable was laid buried three meters under the seabed, testing was done, and voila, alternative energy started flowing.


Every six months regular maintenance of each turbine is performed. Due to the North Sea’s weather pattern it can get pretty dicey heading out to these farms even when so close to shore. I can just imagine the tossing and tumbling riding in one of those service vessels let alone hauling yourself up to one of the boat landing platforms. Once inside many, but not all of the turbines, have lifts. Otherwise it’s a pretty long climb to the top. Claustophobia and fear of heights would do me in before I even began any climbing.

With a better understanding and plenty of respect for the wind farms and their operators, we set off for the Tourist Information office passing plenty of honky-tonk offerings along the boardwalk. So far, Great Yarmouth wasn’t living up to our expectations of a historical port.


However, this town quickly redeemed itself once we actually were along the old quay. Here we entered the Elizabethan House built by a wealthy merchant (those with money built or purchased homes facing out towards the riverfront; those with less money lived in the Row Houses, which faced inward and, thus, had less light and ventilation).


Each room was filled with careful descriptions of how the owners lived and used the space.

 The kitchen showed the progress from the Tudor to Victorian, including butter paddles, which I remembered my mom having, to a hand-operated vacuum cleaner.


Climbing to the second floor we stepped into a room with curtains drawn to protect the beautiful wood panels and white plaster ceiling.


In this parlor King Charles I’s death warrant was signed in November 1648 during England’s civil war by disgruntled officers of the army. Cromwell himself supposedly visited here several times being a friend of the owner John Carter (one of Carter’s sons, Nathaniel, actually married Oliver Cromwell’s granddaughter).


It was a bit unnerving standing in this darkened room where a group of men had plotted the removal of King Charles’ head.

The mood lightened when we migrated from that room to one showing a 19th-century nursery with squirrels sitting around a formal dining table.



Heading back outside to more modern times we walked the plank to Lydia Eva, the last surviving steam drifter, built in 1930.



Powered by a steam engine this boat was a hybrid constructed to be both a drifter and a trawler to catch herring, the important fish crop of the area. Again, the information provided as we wandered below the deck was extraordinary. The dioramas explained everything you’d want to know about herring fishing, beginning with the description of the fish itself:  dark steely blue backs to camouflage themselves from seabirds hunting from the sky; silvery-white bellies to appear as part of the sky to predator mackerel and haddock looking up from the sea bottom.

A crew of ten would leave in the afternoon to catch the herring as they rose to the surface to feed off of plankton, catching the mature fish in the nets while the younger ones would swim through. The boat would return the next day having been gone roughly 18 hours.


Since herring don’t keep well, it was a mad rush back to port to offer the freshest fish on the market.


The boat’s owner would get 57% of the revenue, the skipper 8%, and each subsequent crew member getting various smaller percentages based on his position.


Photos accompanied the explanations, one showing the fish being pushed into the hold and then into barrels for lifting onto shore. I can just imagine the slime and the smell coming off these fishing boats. Fortunately, it’d been awhile since this boat had gone fishing, and I really appreciated getting a glimpse of life aboard on of these boats. I also appreciated the ability to be on deck in the fresh air.


We stopped for a bite at the East Coast Cafe then headed back to the water front.


We found the Nelson Museum and peered at the exhibits this small building housed. The first floor was dedicated to Nelson’s naval battles


while the second floor covered his personal life.

Some of his furniture was on display, such as a table used for planning one of his famous battles,


even some embroidered bed curtains.


Having read a bit about this man’s victories and tragedies from our time in Portsmouth last summer it was still amazing to realize how Nelson (1758-1805) became immortalized. From his contemporaries’ descriptions Horatio Nelson was an unlikely naval hero.


The museum also asked visitors to decide if Nelson was ‘a vain, conceited attention-seeker, or a humble man overwhelmed by his fame’. Frankly, he was human; and, I think he summed it up himself in a letter to his wife after the Battle of Cadiz in 1797: “I have had flattery enough to make me vain and success enough to make me confident.”

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His personal life was a true mess, eventually leaving his wife, Fanny, and daughter to live with Lady Emma Hamilton (April 26,1765-January 15, 1815) and their daughter Horatia (January 29, 1801-March 6, 1881).

Upon his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and despite Nelson’s personal plea to the British government, Hamilton and Horatia were refused a pension. However, Nelson had bequeathed her their home, Merton Place, and an annuity. This inheritance along with one from her first husband, Lord Hamilton, should have been enough. But she lived way beyond her means, eventually being arrested for debts in 1813. She fled to France in 1814 with Horatia and died January 15th, 1815.

What is really bizarre is Lady Hamilton’s refusal to acknowledge she was Horatia’s mother. Evidently she gave birth to twin daughters. Horatia was given to a foster mother, Mrs. Gibson, while Horatia’s sister, called Emma, was given to a nurse. The nurse was instructed to send Emma to the Foundling Hospital at Holborn after two months. The pretense by both Nelson (he alluded to Horatia as his god-daughter, adopted daughter, and sometimes his child) and Hamilton (Horatia’s guardian) was pretty stupid and didn’t fool anyone, but knowing society’s condemnation of children born out of wedlock, this blatant deceit allowed everyone to pretend not to see.

You couldn’t make this stuff up. And, I felt this small museum gave me a much better picture of Nelson and his family than the much larger one in Portsmouth we visited last summer.

Back outside we hurried to one of the Row Houses on exhibit.


Unlike the sites we’d seen earlier in the day this one was pretty disappointing. It was set up as a WWII home but not much was there.

One interesting display was the rations allocated per family of four.


However, we did see where the Herring Girls, Scottish lassies who followed the herring trade in the late 18th-century, might have rented a room from the earlier owners of these row homes.


Unfortunately, we were only able to tour one of these 17th-century properties since both closed at 4 pm and it was 3:30 by the time we reached the first one; but, we still thought we might be able to get in.


Our last visit was a ship, Kamper Kogge, that had pulled in while we were below Lydia Eva. We had stopped off to ask about it


and were invited back after the captain and crew had a debriefing of their passage over from the Netherlands (approximately 100 miles from Great Yarmouth).


The Kamper was a reproduction of an old trading vessel, the kogge. Ships such as this one plied the waters between Northern Europe carrying herring, cereals, timber, beer, wax, tar, pitch, copper, furs, and amber. These goods would be traded with Western and Southern Europe for salt, wool, wine, cloth, oil and coal. An international league of merchant associations called the Hanseatic League became one of the most powerful trading forces during the 1200 to 1500s.

A wreck discovered in 1980 provided the model for this kogge’s construction. Beginning in 1991 with a foundation this reproduction was built over five years, from 1994-99.  It had a high, fenced-in platform over the stern, which we were told served as a look-out and defense from pirates who roamed the waters (we saw this design on other ancient ships).


Below it was pretty sparse but was outfitted with some minor modern conveniences; yet, you could imagine how cold and damp it could be. When building this ship they kept to what they think was the original construction, meaning no insulation and some rather large gaps where water could seep in below. Like the LYDIA EVA I knew I would not have particularly enjoyed roughing it on either of these two boats in spite of some modern comforts.



Thanking our crew guide, we headed for our bus stop. Seeing one as it was leaving, we ran but missed it. However, while we were looking around for the bus stand, a young boy came up to me saying that bus you were running for just stopped over there. With that I whistled for Max and we ran to hop on. Thanks to that young man we didn’t have any wait at all for our trip back to Lowestoft and JUANONA.


A wavy morning

Friday, May 1st

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We’re off!

After checking winds, tide, and weather we decided to leave this morning for the start of our summer cruise. Although, calling this summer is a bit of a misnomer considering it’s technically spring and yesterday we were wearing down vests and hats.

As Max unplugged our shore power I quickly hied it to town to grab some bananas along with some other provisioning top-offs (more lettuce, etc.) while we were waiting for the free-flow at the lock (two hours before high tide the lock is kept open; this means we don’t have to deal with the lock doors opening, boats entering & tying up to pontoon, doors closing, flooding of lock, doors opening, boats untying and exiting).

We announced wanting to leave, and the kind lock-keeper came back with a hearty good morning and said to wait for two yachts coming in (red light on the lock) and then leave on the green.

As we were going past s/v BELIEVE (Rick & Julie were making their own preparations for departure. Unfortunately, they’re taking a right turn out the Orwell to head towards Dover while we’re turning left.

We got waved by Julie…

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and then Peter.

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No surprise to see Peter. He’s always ready to give you a hand, and, sure enough, he was helping BELIEVE off the dock. He and Anne made Ipswich much more of a home for us. Consequently, we’ll miss them and our get-togethers, both impromptu and scheduled.

Looking aft we said good-bye to Ipswich Haven Marina

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as we headed towards the lock.

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We breezed through it and waved good-bye to the keeper whose voice we got to know well after hearing him announce entering and exiting boats over the past eight months. Then waved to two orange-suited workers, and whoosh, we were on our way down the Orwell.

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Taking turns at the helm as Max checked the engine for any oil or transmission fluid leaks, we quietly motored past the alternating green and red channel markers dotting the river’s surface. (I had to remind myself before we left that in Europe the red and green buoys have opposite meanings from in the U.S.:  it’s not ‘red right return’ meaning red buoys should be on your right as you enter a port, on your left as you exit. Why, I don’t know except probably the same reasoning for why they drive on the left, we on the right. I think it’s something to do with Romans and horses’ butts…)

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The day was bright with puffy clouds and a stringent breeze. We both gasped when we spotted the intense limey-yellow of blooming rape seed fields as we followed the green-red buoys down the river. The scenery was a perfect harkening of spring and a reminder of our trip to Harwich last Sunday with Anne and Peter.

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About six miles down and close to the mouth of the Stour (where we were last Sunday) we picked up a mooring and are now settling in to wait for good winds to leave the Orwell (Sunday? Monday?) and turn left for our hop-scotching along the UK coast.

BELIEVE anchored just north of us and are prepping for their 3 a.m. departure tomorrow to catch the best currents to Dover.

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We’ll be toasting them later that morning in our v-berth as we sip brewed java from our pals at CoffeeLink, Glenn and Juan (Pictured below).

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A bit later we exchanged waves with Jo and Terry, some boating neighbors on our recent pontoon, who passed on their way to a sailing destination.

As we scanned the banks we recognized landmarks from last September, such as the stand of trees on the north river bank.

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I remember snapping pics of them when we first moored on Orwell heading to our winter port September 18th last year.


Being free from dependence of land feels heavenly as we’re gently rocked by the wind and current with bold sunshine highlighting the shores and water. Now, brewing some green ginger tea, diesel heater is lit, and I’m getting ready to join Max in reading.

Life is brilliant!