by Rob Palmer, leader
Bawdsey Sailing Camp
The Summer season was nearing an end, but the Sea Scouts had time for one more sailing camp, camping in the grounds of Bawdsey Manor and using the Bawdsey Quay Water Sports Centre for our sailing programme.
Nick Powell, a newly-qualified dinghy instructor and helper at Sea Scouts, took on the job of organising the camp, along with the help of former Sea Scout Tom Duncan.
Fourteen Sea Scouts, with almost as many team of leaders, left Sudbury Scouts Headquarters for Bawdsey, near Woodbridge. Once we arrived the Sea Scouts quickly set up the camp site and leaders made a start on rigging the sailing dinghies.
Saturday morning everyone was up and about early. Things happen pretty quick on Sea Scout camp: things like breakfast, lunch cleaning up dishes and getting washed and ready to go afloat all happen at the same time as leaders put the finishing touches to the sailing dinghies and launch the safety boats.
One of the first jobs for the safety boat crews was to run a team over to Felixstowe Ferry to collect the 2 Suffolk county wayfarers and return them to Bawdsey beach. Aiming for a 10 am start we had all five sailing dinghies on the beach, Nick made time for a briefing of both sailing and safety boat crews. The weather forecast was for winds of force 5-6 and building up in the afternoon !
With that in mind he made a decision to sail in the River and not to head out to sea like we had first planned .
After the briefing Nick took on the role as officer of the day and left Alisdair in charge as beach master before joining Nick Pitts on the Groups safety boat 'Johnny Rescue'
Other safety boats that were on duty that day were: one small rib on loan from Bawdsey Quay Water Sports and one owned by Jeff & Tracy, friends and helpers of 3rd Sudbury Sea Scouts that goes by the name of Rib TC.
We also had two other instructors helping on the Saturday. All sailing boats left the beach and sailed up river, out of the Felixstowe ferry moorings and heading round to Ramsholt. From there we ran a good sailing session with sea scouts doing much of the sailing ! Before long it was time for lunch and time to start making our way back to Bawdsey . As we got closer, we started to experience challenging conditions and a decision was made to ask all sailing dinghies to pick up moorings.
This proved to be more of a task then first thought, after a bit of a battle all boats and scouts were safely on the beach - cold and wet, but thoroughly excited . After lunch and a chance to change out of their wet clothes, they were kind of ready to go again!
In the afternoon we were joined by two more people; RYA coach Mark Orin and senior instructor Alan Rutterford.
The plan was to run the afternoon session in a similar way to the morning session, with the only difference being that one of the other instructors was being assessed The weather had got worse over lunch, the wind had increased as predicted, but everyone was up for it so we set sail just after 1400hrs.
Within minutes of the start of the session we had two dinghies stuck on a lee shore, making a recovery quite difficult. The safety boat crews worked hard and successfully recovered the dinghies. But at the end of the day the elements got too much, we brought the session to an end, hoping that tomorrow would be a better day.
That evening we had a barbecue at the sailing centre and exchanged tales of the day.
Sunday morning, after a hot breakfast and discussing the up to date weather forecast for the day, we made a decision to sail, again in the river . We towed the boats up river to the end of the moorings, once all boats were happily on the moorings , we released the boats one at a time. We had four out of five Dinghies sailing.
Tom Duncan the helm of the Sudbury Wanderer, had broached taking on a boat full of water, moments later they were on the mud! Not a problem, Johnny Rescue was on to it. Recovered and taken to a mooring.
It was during the bailing out of the Wanderer, that Rib TC called on the radio say that we had a dinghy with a broken mast! It turned out that Explorer, one of Bawdsey Quay's Wayfarers had snapped a shroud . The mast lent over on the starboard side and bent over in the Tabernacle before jamming at 45 degrees.
It would appear that it was not going to be our weekend, and after the news of a broken mast we made a decision to end the session and return to Bawdsey Quay beach. All boats were back on moorings at this point.
The sea scouts were taken back by safety boat and, once safely on the beach, crews returned to the sailing dinghies and towed them back too.
A great weekend was had by all, Sea Scouts and Leaders were tested for the whole weekend. We all worked well as a team and on more than one occasion put into action what we had be taught on our RYA training courses.
Many thanks to everyone to helped make this camp possible, without your continued support we would not be able to run these type of activities at Sea Scouts.
Two years ago we ran our first canal holiday at Sea Scouts under the current leadership team at Sudbury. It was a great success, but as always there is always room to improve!
So on July 22 we put in to action the plans that we had been working on for the last year. We had booked two canal boats from Willow Wren, based at Rugby Wharf. The boats were the same two boats that we had used two years before; Teal and Moorhen . One issue that we had on the last trip was that we were very keen to get moving on the first day, and failed to check the boats over properly before leaving the boat yard!
This time we checked it over and loaded the food on both boats correctly. The other change we made referred to the transport arrangements. On the 2004 canal holiday we had hired the mini bus from the upper school in Gt Cornard and we also had the need to run two other cars one of which was towing a trailer. However on this year's trip we booked a coach with Felix of long Melford.
The leaders along with the other helpers, Explorer Scouts and Network Scouts met at the Sudbury headquarters at 08.00 hrs on the Saturday morning and breakfast rolls were handed out shortly after. Before long the Sea Scouts started to arrive along with our coach from Felix.
All our personal, and some domestic kit, was loaded on board . We departed Sudbury just before 0900 hrs and headed off to Rugby. We arranged with Felix to stop at the Tescos near to the boat yard to stock up on food for the first few days. The weather was fine as we loaded up the boats, but was we moved out of the boat yard the clouds turned black and the heavens opened , great start! Four hours in the pouring rain and over 20 miles to cover on the first afternoon.
There was just one lock to work on Saturday,we made very good time and arrived ahead of schedule at bridge 29 at Hartshill. Sunday morning we were up and cruising by 06.45 and heading to Cheatles farm on the Birmingham & Fazeley canal we covered over 17 miles and 16 locks. The Sea Scouts also cooked a full Sunday roast with all the trimmings.
Monday morning, with no need for an early start because for the good time that we had made the day before, we had a leisurely breakfast on what was set to be one of our hardest days of our trip, with over 15 miles and 36 locks that included Aston flight and Farmers Bridge in the same day. It was important that we got to Gas street basin that night as we had booked up a visit at the sea life centre the following day.
Sea Scout crews made light work of the locks, for some of the crews this was their first canal boating experience. Tuesday morning we made the short walk across the bridges to the sea life centre. They had just over 2 hrs in the sea life centre, of course this ended in a gift shop / coffee shop . After buying some post cards to send home we returned to Teal and Moorhen . Around lunch time we set off again this time heading to Lapworth locks , heading passed Cadbury World we covered over 12 miles before arriving at Lapworth that evening.
Wednesday day five of our trip around the Warwickshire Ring, the plan was to get up and moving by 05.00hrs and within a few minutes we were. There are 18 locks at Lapworth and we had finished all of them and were on our way to the grand union canal before breakfast at 0700 hrs. Once on the Grand Union we headed for the next set of locks at Hatton.
A flight of 22 locks and much bigger than the Sea Scout crews had been used to. But when we arrived we were met by a member of staff from the British water ways, who told us that the right of navigation had been closed since yesterday due to them finding a man's body in one of the middle locks. Police divers and investigators were coming back this morning to remove the body after the coroner had given the ok. After nearly two hours of waiting we were given the go ahead to slowly start making our way down through the locks.
We quietly passed the point that the body hade been removed from with now only a small bunch of flowers to mark the spot. The boats we passed on our way down had been held up since lunch time the previous day. Even with some hold-up we made good time and by the end of the day we had covered 9.5 miles and 37 locks and that included taking on water at lunch time and time more a much earned drink at a canal side pub (The Cape of Good Hope) before stopping at Tesco's to stock up for the barbecue that evening.
It was now Thursday and the Sea Scouts were soon to be put to the test, with 17 miles to cover today and 23 locks both boats got to lie in because of the very long day on the Wednesday , which seemed so long it was like two days in one.
Leaders and helpers helped with the first two set of locks at Fosses and Bascote. Come lunch and a stop at the Blue Lais pub sounds like a good idea, a nice big play area for the Sea Scouts and cold drinks for those that wanted. Then we had another idea, why not let the crews from both boats complete the next set of locks at Stockton, eight in total.
So that's what we did, after briefing them and leaving only two Explorer Scouts to help them , keeping a safe distance away we watched in amazement as they worked like a well oiled machine through the lock and out the other side.
Teamwork at it best.
As promised, we moored up that evening next to an ideal place for a wide game, part of the programme that the Sea Scouts had been looking forward to all week. Friday, just 19 miles from Willow Wrens boatyard, we had to make a unplanned stop at another boat yard.
One of the toilets on board Teal was dangerously close to overflowing and was in need of a pump out. This did not hold us up that much and once done we could turn our attentions to food and lunch. We completed the last three locks of our trip before stopping again for lunch and taking on more water, a daily task as the weather had gone from heavy rain to blue sky and hot sunny weather.
All through the canal holiday the Sea Scouts crews worked hard at driving the boat, operating the locks, navigating and cooking three meals a day so for them to finish off the driving was not a problem. They got to Rugby Wharf, turned the boat around and moored up ready to drive straight in to the boat yard in the morning.
A spot of fishing before dinner and after the last night in a beer garden at the edge of the Oxford Canal. They talked about what they had achieved over the week and for some the disappointment that things were coming to an end. We all had a great time and came home safe and sound but ready for the comforts of being home.
I would like to thank everyone who made this camp a great success.
On the May bank holiday early this year the sea scouts set out on their first sailing camp of the year. We all met up at our Sudbury headquarters on the Friday evening, some of the leaders had already been very busy moving the sailing dinghies in to position at brightlingsea sailing club during the week.
We were soon loaded up and everyone headed over to Brightlingsea, the sea scouts along with their leaders and helpers camped at the lakeside camping and caravan site next door to the sailing club in brightlingsea. On a very well-kept camp site they pitched the tents before going to help getting the boats stored for the evening.
The Saturday started early after having breakfast and making the lunches for the day we all went over to the sailing club and finished get the dinghies ready for the day sailing. At the same time as the dinghies being prepared the crews for our safety boats were to getting ready to launch.
We had two safety boats over weekend, our own rib Johnny Rescue and a second rib on loan to us from 17th Colchester scout group.
The sailing dinghies launched about half an hour later. Into a strong tide and bad weather, in all we had six boats on the water and it wasn't long before the safety boats were called in to action, the introduction of the topaz boats proved to be quite interesting with the crews needing to be towed out of the creek and into the main river.
Once all our boats were away, the safety boats worked very hard to keep the group together and safe. We sailed from 10.30 in heavy rain and strong winds the safety boats changed the crews on the sailing dinghies throughout the day and by 1500 hrs we decided to call it day everyone was cold, wet and hungry. We returned to camp to have hot drinks and a late lunch .