RDA Journal Update

Journal articles will be published as follows. They are usually published around 5pm on the day.

Previous articles can be found here.

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Some Suffolk Books from 2021

By Julia Jones

As well as being the fortunate editor of The Deben Magazine and The RDA Journal I have what I consider the dream job of ‘literary contributor’ to Yachting Monthly magazine. My duties every month are to select a 1000-word extract from any nautical book – old or new – which I think readers might enjoy and include it in the print edition of the magazine with a few details about the author and publisher. I also provide short reviews of three new books. They can be cruising stories, nautical fiction, instruction, advice, pilotage – or matters connected. (I’ve just selected an extract from an extraordinary book about the music of coastal foghorns for our March 2022 issue.)


Tidal flats on the upper reaches of the River Deben near Woodbridge (photo from Coatwise, published by Fernhurst Books).

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UK Heritage Harbour Initiative

Introduction by Julia Jones (RDA Journal Editor)

I have always particularly enjoyed the placards of detailed boat information that have been on display at Maritime Woodbridge but it was working with the Waldringfield History Group on their book Waldringfield: a Suffolk Village by the River Deben (2020) that made me more acutely aware how much history of many different types, is encapsulated in our river, particularly in its businesses, its boats, its people and their skills and interests.

Sometimes, the evidence around us has become so familiar that we hardly see it. An article this month in Topmasts: the Journal for the Society for Nautical Research snr.org.uk/topmast/ (p10) opened my eyes to the history of Lady Alice Kenlis, a Deben wreck about which I was previously completely ignorant.

 I’m therefore particularly pleased to introduce this article from Brian Corbett who is leading the UK Heritage Harbour initiative and makes no secret of his belief that the River Deben should be part of this. The RDA Journal, however, prints this article for information and interest – not to lobby! 

I have also taken the opportunity of adding a few photos of the River Deben’s older inhabitants to Brian’s interesting contribution.

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The Electric Mist

By Russell Read

This article is prompted by the enthusiastic piece from Matt Lis in The Deben Magazine for Autumn 2021 which suggests that there is a strong case for larger boats than Josh Masters’ launch to go electric.  Well, the 1907 26’6” Albert Strange-designed canoe-yawl Mist is one very classic yacht which, originally intended to be engineless, has already done this.

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Spoonbills in Suffolk

By Sally Westwood

Figure 1: Spoonbill. Rio Formosa, Faro, Portugal

An Eurasian Spoonbill1 was observed feeding at Lodge Marsh, Ramsholt, on the Northern shoreline of the River Deben, in early June this year, and another in July.2 Last summer six birds were seen together in June at the same marshland. I was not fortunate enough to capture an image of the Spoonbill at Ramsholt. The spoonbill in the image above (Figure 1) was taken during one of my brief winter migrations to Portugal. The area of extensive marshland at Ramsholt, bordering the river, is an ideal feeding habitat for Spoonbills.3 They feed in coastal waters, as well as freshwater and wetland4 areas. These sightings were special occasions for River Deben birdwatchers. Spoonbills are one of the rarest birds in the country. Spoonbills are newcomers to East Anglia, and England generally, following an absence of over 300 years.5 Continue reading

Deben Commercial Fishing

By Robert Simper

Tidal River Deben was never a major fishing centre. The saltings along the edge of the river were, and still are, breeding grounds for some fish, but the estuary really relied on fish coming from the North Sea. However, the narrow river entrance and fast tide often swept them past. In the past there was enough fish to warrant some commercial fishing in the Deben.


Harry Simper drift netting for herring in the Our Boys

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Lightning Craft

by Josh Masters


Photo: Claudia Myatt

Introduction from Julia Jones (RDA Journal Editor):

I am one of many river users who is currently wondering what I can do to reduce my carbon emissions. The RYA (Royal Yachting Association) has recently published their aspiration to make the UK’s recreational boating sector zero carbon by 2050 with a 50% reduction in carbon emissions from boat engines by 2030. https://www.rya.org.uk/about-us/policies/environment-and-sustainability

It’s perhaps easier to see what can be done with new-build boats than with yachts like mine, built as a motor-sailor in 1946. While I can safely undertake to use my sails as frequently as possible (that’s the joy of being a water-born hybrid) it will remain impossible to push one’s way out of the narrow Deben entrance against a spring flood if the wind is adverse. Continue reading