Cruising 1934 Style



Clifford H Wright

(Robert C A Wright)

This is an extract from the log book of a cruise from the Ferry in August 1934 made by my father and his friend John. My father was one of the very early members of the club.

The boat that they completed their epic journey in  was a 16or18 foot ( there is no mention anywhere in the log of the actual size) clinker built, half deck sailing dinghy with a gunter rig. The name of the vessel was Seabird.

The only picture that I could find was a line drawing which is flying a Ferry burgee.

The first entry in the log is “The Ships Inventory”

  • Two large boxes of food           
  • Two 2 gallon cans of water 
  • Two gallons of petrol
  • Two gallons of paraffin
  • Primus stove, kettle etc.
  • Electric lamp
  • Two kit bags of bedding etc.
  • One 4 HP outboard motor(known as Coughing Kate)
  • One Gramophone & 24 records.

Saturday 4th August pm

6.30      Left Felixstowe ferry with all supplies on board

7.10      Stopped at Ramsholt for a drink

8.00      Entered Kirton Creek-No wind so we rowed

10.00    Anchored for the night 7 had supper(sausages and beans) &  then turned in.

Sunday 5th August am

2.50      John the first mate awoke & found water rising in his bed; he retired to the

             stern sheets after falling over or otherwise dislodging half the supplies and

             spent the rest of the night admiring the moon. We had moored in shallow

             water and as the tide went out the bilge water got into his bed when the 

             boat heeled over on the mud.

4.30      Woke up and started the gramophone going.

5.30      Breakfast (eggs bacon and sausages)

7.45      Left Kirton Creek. Hardly any wind

8.15     Passed Ramsholt. Wind freshening.

9.15     Reached the Ferry and carried on out of the river for Harwich as there was

            plenty of wind.

9.30     Cleared the Deben. Wind & tide dead against us & sea somewhat rough.

10.30   Passed Cobbolds Point & were overhauled by a 14ft dinghy who however

            found things a bit to hard &soon turned back.

11.30   Passed Felixstowe Pier-”Seabird” started putting her bow into the bigger   

            waves & we took a lot in solid over the fore-deck.


12.30  Reached Landguard point & landed under the lee of the breakwater for lunch.

1.00    Took a reef in mainsail & entered Harwich Harbour. Nasty following sea made

            things very uncomfortable.

3.00     Passed Pinmill & made cup of cocoa.

4.00     Reached Ipswich Dock. Decided to run the engine back to Pinmill so we 

            dropped our hook & stowed the sails. The filler cap on the petrol tank refused

            to open but was eventually removed after much hacking with a hammer & 


4.30     Left Ipswich for Pinmill after catching on the anchor what the first mate 

            thought was a dead body but turned out to be a particularly malodorous

            rotten tree trunk.

5.30     Reached Pinmill & dropped our hook for the night & had a good dry out &

            went ashore.

9.00    Turned in for the night & hauled down the burgee at sun down-Wind dropped 



Monday 6th August am

2.45     Woke up a found the boat rocking like smoke & nearly rolling her gunnels 

            under-thought that we had slipped our anchor &drifted out to sea-Had a look

            outside & found we were still in the same place &the crews of several boats 

            had turned out to see what was up- went back to bed again & soon went to 


6.30    Turned out for breakfast-Foul morning;raining hard.

9.00    Left Pinmill with engine running-Head wind & tide & heavy rain-soon got 

           soaked to the skin.

10.10  Reached Shotley Spit-Pouring with rain & very rough sea in Harwich Harbour.

           Decided to run into Felixstowe Dock for shelter-Sea getting worse.

10.30  Taking water solid over the bows. Too rough to make Felixstowe Dock so

           turned tail & ran back up the River Orwell- Explored Levington Creek.

11.30  Anchored for a dry out opposite Pinmill & retired under the cover for a cup of

           hot tea.

11.45  Looked outside & found that the tide had turned & we were stuck on the mud.

           Doesn’t matter much as it’s raining hard & there’s plenty of food on board.


12.30  Had lunch(hot beans& corned beef & pineapple)

1.30    First mate asleep & snoring loudly.

2.00    First mate still asleep.

5.00    Still on the mud-Rain stopped -Gramophone going

8.30    Afloat at last- started engine & headed for Shotley.

10.00  Arrived at Shotley & dropped the hook close to Shotley Pier.

           As soon as we had turned in we were nearly rolled out of bed by the wash 

           from the steamers leaving Parkeston Quay-It seemed as if every confounded

           steamer in the harbour had decided to move.

Tuesday 7th August am

6.00   Turned out for a cup of hot tea & stowed all the gear ready to get under way

          Another foul morning, high wind a& slight rain.

6.30   Weighted anchor & started the engine &plugged out of the Harbour against

          a head wind & tide

          Sea very choppy& everything soaked in a few minutes. Hoped to reach

           Brightlingsea today but it doesn’t look as we shall.

7.00    Passed Dovercourt Jetty & stood out to sea for Walton-on-the-Naze. Sea 

           getting worse & wind just off aft of the port beam. Too late to turn back now.

7.30    Dare’nt hoist the mainsail too much wind so set jib as a storm trysail to stop

           her rolling as much as possible.

7.40    Shut off engine & ran under trysail alone.

8.00    Sea getting worse still but not breaking at all yet. Sighted a buoy right ahead

            which proved to be the Pye End Buoy marking the shallow water over the 

            Pye Sands. Decided to start the engine again & run  bit closer inshore as we

            are about 2 miles out(rather a long way to swim!)

8.20     Passed Crab Knowle Buoy. Terrific sea running now in the shallow water over

            the sands- Nearly swamped several times- If the engine breaks down know 

            we’re scuppered as the sands are right under our lee- shipped quite a lot of

            water,seas breaking all around us.

8.40     Sighted buoy marking entrance to Walton Channel. The water question is 

            serious now as there is about 10gallons of water in the bilge & we dare’nt

            stop to bail out-The gramophone at the moment is floating about & a lot

            of the records have fallen out & broken.

9.10     Passed Island Point Buoy & entered Walton Channel. Landed under the lee

            of Island point for a dry out & a hot breakfast of eggs,bacon,fried bread &

            tomatoes & cocoa- First mate dropped his kit bag in the water but managed

            to grab it before it sank.

9.40     Started off again & had a nice quiet run up to Walton-Rain stopped & sun


10.20    Anchored opposite Walton Yacht Club & went ashore “to see the sights”.

            Had first shave for 4 days & went to a theatre in the evening.


            Spent the afternoon on Walton Boating Lake- John & I hired two Prahm 

            dinghys fitted with sails & spent the time racing around the lake- Wind  

            Easterly & blowing nearly gale force. The bloke in charge got rather annoyed

            when we started gybing round a post in the middle of the lake & several

            times nearly dismasted the dinghys;in fact we nearly got “ordered off the


10.00   Went on board & had a spot of bother finding a spot to moor up for the night.

             Everything went wrong,it was pitch dark, the engine refused to go properly &

             the anchor would not hold in the high wind & we careered about for about

             half an hour to the accompaniment of every known swear word & several 


10.40    Snugged down at last.

Wednesday 8th August am

08.00     Woke up  & cooked breakfast(at least the first mate cooked it while the

              skipper was still asleep.)

11.00     Hoisted sail & got under way-nice steady breeze-beat down Walton Channel

              & explored part of Twiyyle Creek on the way.


12.30    Made Island Point & landed for drinks at Island Point Marine Club.

1.00      Started back & dropped the hook for lunch opposite the entrance to Twiyyle


1.30      Skipper went to sleep.

2.45      First mate woke me up with the news that a yacht”The Heron” EYC had

             run aground near by. Tried to tow the yacht off stern first with the engine

             running full out but could not move it. They tried putting their kedge anchor 

             out were stuck too hard.

3.10     Stuck on the mud ourselves but managed to get off by going overboard &


3.30     Had a swim to remove the mud. “Herons” crew “ abandoned ship” & rowed

            off to Walton in their dinghy.

4.00    Tried to get back to Walton but the tide was ebbing& the channel got narrower

            until at last we stuck fast & could not go forwards or backwards. Good spot to

            stick; right opposite Walton Yacht Club!

5.00     Still on the mud-Had tea & regaled the people on shore with a concert of

            gramophone records which did not seem to be greatly appreciated.

6.30    Tide turned & water rising(slowly)

8.30    Afloat at last- cleaned up boat.

9.30    “Herons” crew returned & we offered to tow them back as they had two miles

             row against the tide. Started up & promptly retired onto a mud bank again

             much to the amusement of two ladies of “Herons”crew bur managed to push 

             off with an oar & get the tow rope onto the dinghy & tow them back 


10.00    Returned to Walton & went ashore.

             Walton Channel seems to consist of a narrow channel about 10feet wide

             winding about like a drunken snake & surrounded by mud flats covered

             with about 6 inches of water- Its not so bad at high tide when there is about

             5 feet of water everywhere.


12.00     Returned to boat & started up the engine. It was pitch dark so we had to

              run dead slow & take soundings with a oar every few minutes. Marvellous

              sight-water very phosphorescent & there is a trail of fire in our wake.

1.30     Anchored off Twiyyle Creek for the night. A can of petrol fell over & about a

            quart ran into the bilge which did not exactly smell too good when we put

            the awning up & got to bed.

Thursday 9th August am

8.00     Turned out-had breakfast & cleaned up.

10.00    Weather looks very bad &looks like a gale shortly so we decided to make a

              dash for Felixstowe while the going is good.-Very strong wind so we decided

              to run out under storm canvas i.e. two reefs in mainsail & only about 2 sq 

              feet of jib. We usually carry about 125 sq feet of sail & now we are reduced

              to about 60sq feet- Said cheerio to the “Heron”.

10.30     Passed Island Point & stood out to sea followed by another yacht.

11.15     Passed Dovercourt,wind nearly dead aft,fairly tearing along at about 6.5      

               knots most of the time.

11.30      Passed Landguard Point. The yacht is now about a mile astern.


12.00     Reached Felixstowe Pier with wind lightening.

12.15     Hove-too & shook out reefs-Had a cup of cocoa each.

12.45     Becalmed off Cobbolds Point- Set spinnaker to help thing along.

1.00       Wind freshening again-took in spinnaker

1.15       Entered the Deben again- plenty of wind,came in in the same way as left

              i.e. what is vulgarly known as in a b….y rush.

1.30       Anchored in the Ferry for lunch.

              The “Water Gipsy” a 14 ft boat tried to pass across our bow but caught his

              mainsheet on our bowsprit & nearly upset our lunch- We pushed him off & 

             the first mate proceeded to tell him exactly what would happen if he came

             within 10feet of us again.(the first mate always gets annoyed if his feeding

             operations are disrupted.)

2.30      Our friend “Water Gipsy” capsized after colliding with another boat this time;

              her owner managed to jump onto the he hit fortunately. We were on the 

              beach at the time & grabbed the first dinghy we could find and rowed out

              to him after nearly getting a ducking ourselves launching the dinghy in a 

              hurry. Got a rope across to the capsized boat & managed to beach it by

              warping it from boat to boat moored in the river.

5.30       Went home for a bath & shave.

9.30        Went aboard again & turned in for the night.

Friday 10th August am

8.30      Turned out & had breakfast. Cleaned up ship & did a few repairs.

              Wind blowing half a gale at times, too rough to put out to sea, even the

               river is quite choppy.

11.30     Borrowed a 12ft Racing dinghy & spent the morning sailing in the river,

              The dinghy was a dirty little devil,it threw gallons of water over its

              weather bow 7 soaked us both in about 5 minutes- Great fun anyway.  


2.00      Had lunch & went ashore.

             Decided to pack up and go home.


As written by CHW,

How cursing has changed over the last 86 years with boats having modern technology, equipment and facility’s, Also in the log there is no indication as to what sort records they played. Was it classical,jazz or modern music of the time. 

By Robert C A Wright