Corinthian Shoal Draft Fleet visit to Wakering Yacht Club - 25th September 2022

On the pre-planned day of our visit to Wakering Yacht Club most of the shallow draft fleet were already committed to other engagements.  Only Drascombe Emily Jane (with Tom Keeper and Steve Barham aboard) made the passage all the way up to WYC, at the limits of navigation at the head of the Roach.  The weather had hints of autumn but was sunny with a variable north westerly breeze, just enough wind to enable us to make the whole journey there under sail in a respectable two hours.  Steve produced a short pilotage and passage plan, which calculated a runof 8.6 NM from our berth at Rice and Coles to our destination. We had already been warned that the pontoons at WYC dry out, with limited navigable water only available for an hour either side of high water. The information was proven correct when we touched bottom as we turned into the tide,on our approach to our designated visitor berth, at just about 45 mins before high water. Having lifted our centre-plate we were able to tie up at one of the clubs impressive array of pontoons and walk ashore to the clubhouse.  A few of the club members met us and we were able to get drink at the bar, which had just opened.  It was very pleasant to sit in their garden overlooking the various riverside facilities, chatting to two of their members; fortunately for me they were both called Steve, so with three Steves and only one Tom at the table remembering names wasn’t a problem. One of the WYC Steves owned a Dunkirk Little Ship which he was rightly very proud to have restored to its original condition.  He was extremely knowledgeable about war-time vintage craft and it was very interesting to hear about the other boats of that vintage that he knew of in the area.

WYC seems mainly to cater for motor cruisers, with some very interesting older wooden craft amongst those moored to their pontoons and just a few sailing boats and dinghies, the drying nature of the Roach at that point really dictates the range of boats that find it a pleasant home. Given the limited tidal access it is surprising just how much commercial boat maintenance also takes place at that end of the Roach. Although the tidal conditions are a limiting factor there, the proximity to the Havengore lifting bridge makes it relatively quick and easy for boats to access the cruising areas of the Thames and Medway, as well as the Crouch, although there were complaints about how frequently the Havengore Bridge seems to be out of action. The Club undertake all their own building, dredging, and maintenance of their extensive range of riverside facilities. They are just about to start replacing all of their pontoons, which have water and power facilities for most berths. It shows how dedicated their membership must be to be able to undertake this work themselves.

All too soon we had to leave to avoid drying out. We motor-sailed back to minimise the journey time as the wind was mostly on the nose. It had been a great trip and one I will certainly repeat. I hope Steve will keep the lid on my very inelegant arrival at my R&C berth with the wind and tide behind me. Luckily there was only one witness on the Pontoon as I crashed into it, and he is no longer a member of the RCYC so he is unlikely to tell anyone (he was also called Steve by the way, I hadn’t realised it was such a popular name).

Having never been that far up the Roach before I found the trip very interesting, there was lots of bird life along the route, lots of good flat Essex Scenery on the 3 NM section between Pagelsham and Wakering, and a lot of riverside history associated with the area.  A very rewarding day out.

Tom Keeper