Dick Durham's East Coast cruise draws to a dramatic close


‘I’ve hardly been ashore,’ reported Dick Durham, YM’s features editor, as he phoned into the office to update us on cruise of the East Coast. ‘You can get quite introspective on a boat.’

But Dick hasn’t had too much time for soul searching as he’s been visiting a river a day on his late summer sail.

He decided against the tricky Deben entrance on Monday and made for the Orwell instead, spending the night at Pin Mill. Next stop was Colne, up Pyefleet Creek. It’s the favourite anchorage of YM cartoonist Mike Peyton and Dick revelled in the solitude.

Hauling up the hook he left Pyefleet and headed for the Medway. The forecast wasn’t too good but with neap tides and wind working in the same direction (against him) at least he knew the seas wouldn’t be too large.

‘The Contessa 32 is a fabulous beating machine but after hours working to windward I got tired and a bit fed up so I put the engine on,’ explained Dick.

‘The wind was blowing 25 knots so I was motoring hard into it when a warning light came on and power dropped.’

‘I worked out later that not enough cooling water was getting in, but at the time I just switched it off and put up the No2 genoa again.’

Dick was beating into the mouth of the Medway with 33 knots of wind over the deck when there was a tearing sound. Looking up he saw a great rip in the clew of the headsail.

With no engine and not wanting to be blown out to sea he hoped for the best and eased the sheets but continued to beat into the river’s entrance.

The sail ripped across to the first seam but then held, and eventually Dick made it to Queensborough where he picked up a mooring with relief.

‘Another yacht was coming in at the time and I think they hung around to make sure I was OK. So thank you to whoever you were,’ said Dick.

The intrepid reported set off again at 0400 to return to his mooring at Grays.

Next stop will be St Katherine’s Dock where he’ll be joined by his daughter Emily who’s coming up to town from native Leigh on Sea as a birthday treat.

A new river a day, peace, quite and varied cruising. It looks like Dick’s love affair with the East is still going strong.