YM man sees out the summer cruising a river a day on his beloved East Coast

While Yachting Monthly’s editor Paul Gelder basks in the media spotlight on Gipsy Moth IV, the magazine’s humble features editor, Dick Durham, has opted for a quieter cruise.

Dick is seeing out the last of the summer sun on board his Contessa 32, Minstrel Boy.

‘I’m going to try and do a river a day,’ he said, as he called in to the YM office to report his progress.

Casting off from his mooring up the Thames at Grays, he spent Saturday up the Swale and sailed into Walton Backwaters on Sunday.

‘I’m hoping that this will be a bit of an iconoclastic cruise,’ reported Dick, showing what a breath of sea air can do for a chap’s vocabulary.

‘People say that you need a shoal draught yacht to sail the East Coast but I seem to be coping fine with a long, deep keel.’

Dick had a cracking sail up the narrow channel off Pye Sand to get into the Backwaters.

‘I was close hauled with about 20 knots dead on the nose. Minstrel Boy was in her element and turned like a toy up the river.’

‘It was the top of the tide and I worked my way up to drop the hook at Landemere Creek.’

After reprovisioning with bacon and eggs Dick was planning to head north again on Monday.

‘It’s nine miles to the Deben and I’ll go in there if it’s not too rough. It’s not the sort of entrance to get wrong. If the wind stays sou’westerly then I should be OK, if it looks a bit tricky I’ll just turn round and go up the Orwell and spend the night at Pin Mill.’

Dick’s cruise has not been without incident.

‘My mooring at Grays lies in the lee of a grain depot and the decks get covered in wheat dust. I was motoring down the river, sluicing down the decks when I noticed the dinghy was gone.

‘Looking astern I saw it about half a mile away. I couldn’t understand how the painter could have become uncleated, presuming that I’ve learned to put a turn on a cleat after all these years!’

‘The action of the water washing down the scuppers must have worked the line free. I’ve never used half-hitches on cleats, but perhaps I will now.’

If you’re on the waters of the mysterious East then keep an eye out for Minstrel Boy and the wandering bard onboard.