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The CSPS Sail and Picnic
From the newsletter of the Colne Smack Preservation Society, Brightlingsea, Essex, UK

 


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Our Chairman, Jim Lawrence, (right) looking smooth in his fedora, facing the tough decision as to which harmonica to play.

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The fishing contest begins in earnest on the good smack Ellen. The legs of the umpire can be seen as he whips himself into a frenzy of activity and checking the quality of cloth on the jib at the same time.

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Harry 'Ancient Mariner' Bird of the smack Phantom seems to have lost his bacon sandwich. Don't worry Harry, it is being put to good use.

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What a whopper! The winner holds up a 2lb. crab lured by Harry's bacon. ( Well it seemed big to the contestants ).

§- CSPS Sail and Picnic

'Oh hello, how are you? Haven't seen you since last year.'
Such was overheard as we congregated on the Colne Yacht Club hammerhead in the morning cool, waiting to be 'told off' by Cyril Fenner to our host smacks in Brightlingsea Harbour.

Kevin's water taxi and sundry small craft were kept busy ferrying the 80 plus guests and crew out to the smacks Electron, Ellen, Phantom, Mary and bawleys Saxonia, Bona and Good Intent.

Tan sails hoisted over black and grey hulls made a striking sight amongst the rest of the white on white craft in the harbour as the picnic fleet made for open water down the Creek and into the River Colne.

As we worked into the south-something force 2, my skipper Harry Bird, aboard his smack Phantom CK175, adopted the traditional CSPS picnic mode of all skippers (and most of the crew) of sitting on the rail, beer in hand, enjoying the sun, sea, breeze and company and not touching a tiller or rope the whole day.

We let the Ellen CK222 slip through us, her decks covered with picnickers and crew, and worked out towards the Bench Head and the confluence of the Rivers Colne and Blackwater.

As tummies rumbled round the fleet, all eyes were on the Chairman's bawley Saxonia to see when she would turn onto the run and take the flood up the Colne to the picnic spot.
The Sax turned and eased sheets and as one, like a flock of starlings, the fleet eagerly followed and picked up speed. But it was a masterful feint by Jim (or the helmsman had put the helm up as he stooped to re-charge his glass) for the Aldous bawley hardened up again.
The fleet followed, setting their jibs as hard as their jaws and tightening their belts.

At last Jim finished telling his yarn and said that it was time to have our 'piece' up the Colne and with the flood under us the four miles were covered in good time till we rafted up off Geedon Creek.
As the food and drink appeared on deck we watched the Parade of Sail 2000 go past with more than 50 boats from Wivenhoe, Rowhedge, Alresford and other local ports sailing in company. They raised £405.66 for the RNLI on the day.

Ttimes are hard, so the children were forced to supplement their picnic by catching crabs. The shrieks and squeals of delight/fear as a crab was shaken off the bacon bait and missed the bucket, to then scuttle across the deck between bare toes, drowned out the Shanty Band on occasions.
The band was good and our thanks go to the musicians for a great sing-song. And thanks also to Saxonia's fisherman's hook and half inch chain that held a 75 ton raft of old fishing boats, averaging 100 years old, in place.

After a few hours of eating, drinking, singing and yarning, time came to take the ebb tide home and the end of another perfect Sail & Picnic. May I, on behalf of the guests, express their heartfelt thanks to the skippers and crews for a wonderful day out. Roll on Sail & Picnic 2001.

By Roger Walker




Thanks Roger. I see that you can still turn a good pen when forced to, being ex. Editor of this newsletter. Just donít lose the habit. Ed.
. 2001 © Roger Walker