Nights getting longer


According to my diary Autumn began on Sunday and Mother Nature’s timing was perfect. I had spent the day in shirtsleeves helping my second cousin move into his new home in Burnham-on-Crouch and settle his bermudian gaff cutter, Almita, into her snug winter creek at Lawling off the Blackwater.

But by evening the night raced across the estuary in a massive sheet, bringing wind , rain and a hunt for a thicker duvet. As I lay in bed listening to the wind rattling the window panes I realised I had been tricked by the Indian Summer into forgetting about my own fleet: down below the house in Sea Reach my 12ft dinghy would have been skating around on her exposed summer mooring. At Grays, the Contessa 32 would have been doing the same in the ripping tide of Northfleet Hope.

Putting the boats on their winter moorings, or lifting them into their winter cradles is one of the most satisfying moments of the season. Just as lifting them back to water in the spring is one of the most promising.

I’ll have one more week’s cruising though: to move my boat to new pastures in time to meet the migrating geese of the Russian Steppe.