Dick Durham mulls the algorithm of a pint ashore while anchored in this River Swale creek on the East Coast
South Deep on the River Swale is as near perfect as an anchorage gets.
To the north you have a marshy islet, home to breeding pairs of wildfowl, to the south a lonely sea wall where the only sign of life is a handful of dozy sheep cropping the sweeter grass on the seaward side.
Westward lies the drying end of the Ray: never deep enough to produce seas to worry about even in a stonking sou-wester.
And to the east is the all-tide entry, but even that is hooded by distant Sheppey, whose slopes at Harty Ferry act as a spoiler for Mr East Wind.
As for the holding on this part of the River Swale… well you’ll find out how good that is when you retrieve your anchor.
It will be black with the estuary ooze which planted you to the seabed overnight.
The trouble is the thought of a pint.
If you didn’t know it was there the Ship Inn at Conyer would not play on your mind. Perhaps that’s the best way: come with liquor in the locker and sup safe in the knowledge you are in Abraham’s bosom and don’t bother trying to get ashore.
My problem is I do know the Ship Inn is there and a very fine tavern it is, too: always friendly, always pumping real ale from clean pipes, always serving ace food.
Try, though I might, to fight off that description, it has a way of manifesting itself within the low wooden walls of my cabin as I stare at the fiddly Primus stove: a fleeting spirit of good cheer that I know is only a 20-minute stroll away through the lovely fields of England’s garden.
That’s the easy bit; it’s the moat between me and the sea wall that’s the difficulty.
The pilot books will say there’s no landing, but with a dinghy, which I rarely sail without, there’s always landing, that is to say you can always get ashore, but not always in a fit state to be ashore.
You have to weigh it up: should you go in when the flood is high enough to access the concrete land drain and moor to its steel railings?
One of the great pleasures of cruising the waters of the British Isles are sailing wildlife encounters. The diversity of…
Uncertainty about sailing overseas due to COVID-19 will see many of us cruising closer to home this season. New experiences…
This Northumberland outpost offers rich history and plenty of wildlife experiences, says Alastair Buchan
Not only does this anchorage offer good holding but stargazing, birdwatching and a beautiful sandy beach, says Alastair Buchan
That means by the time you return the dinghy will be floating out in the stream and shoes, maybe even trousers will have to be discarded to retrieve it.
Alternatively you could go in on the ebb.
Then, like as not, you will face an obstacle course of weed-covered rocks once used to hold back the deluge from Kent’s cherry orchards.
To alleviate worries of the return while dining ashore, I have tried trip lines on dinghy anchors, lazy stern lines, all run ashore. I’ve heaved the dinghy to the top of the sea wall, or thrown the anchor out in the stream.
I’ve always managed to get back aboard.
But I’ve never managed to make either the bar or the boat without looking like I’ve been dragged through a muddy hedge backwards.
But, like I say, it’s a good anchorage: for the boat that is.