News from the Noughties, Part II

by Bertie Wheen

This is the second part of the second post in a series (in which I’ve been sharing a few of the things I’ve been finding while I’ve been going through our magazine archives). The first post was Once Upon a Time… (which covered the 1990s), and the first part of this post was News from the Noughties, Part I (which included roughly the first half of the 2000s). I’d recommend reading those before this (which, unsurprisingly, will feature the rest of the 2000s), but much more than reading any of these, I’d like to recommend going directly to the source, and having a leaf through some of the old editions (available on our magazine page).

This is what the RDA Newsletter cover looked like between 2004-2010. The font choice is a bit questionable, but I’m a fan of the drawing – though I’m not honestly sure which stretch of the Deben it is… looking upriver from the Rocks, or perhaps the Tips? Anyway, I do know that it was drawn by Ron Wragg, thanks to Nick Wright’s inaugural editorial in Spring 2004 (#28, the last issue mentioned in the previous part of this post):

“I would like to make a special mention of Ron Wragg who has donated the art-work which decorates the cover and punctuates this Newsletter. I hope that contributors will forgive me for occasionally replacing their excellent photographs (which do not reproduce well) with his sketches, some of which are based upon them. This represents a lot of work for Ron. I appreciate it very much.”
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The Curlew

by Sally Westwood

Curlew (Numenius arquata)

The tide was ebbing, almost at low tide, it was about an hour before sunset. The Deben was embellished with a clear, magical light that appears just before sunset and sunrise. Such a light produces enhanced clarity of detail in everything visible to the eye. Two Curlews1 landed on the mudflat, one each side of a gully of water draining into the shallow channel of the river.  Curlews are the largest waders in the UK, with a streaked and barred plumage, long legs and a distinctive down curved bill2, see image above. In flight, it shows a white section on the rump. The Whimbrel3 by comparison, is a similar bird to the Curlew, except it has a shorter, thicker bill, with a narrow stripe on the crown and is smaller than the Curlew, see image below. In flight, it shows a white section on the tail and back. I was alerted to the Curlew’s presence from their distinctive “Curlew, Curlew’’ calls made when they were flying. It is a call I regard as haunting in the cold, overcast days of winter. They also have a trembling, evocative bubbling call, that ends with what may be described as “dude” which carries some distance. One Curlew joined the other, on the other side of the gully. They immediately started squabbling, poking their long slender, down curved bills at each other, raising their wings slightly. Moments later, the set too ended when one returned to the other side of the gully and started searching for food, poking its bill, deep into the mud. The other Curlew started bathing and shaking out feathers, as in the image above. They may have been a pair, or an adult and youngster, however, research on Curlews has indicated that the latter relationship may be unlikely4. Since Curlews in England and Wales are in decline and such decline is driven by factors occurring during the annual breeding season.
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WSC Cadet Development Squad 2022

by Frank Thorogood

The Waldringfield Sailing Club Cadet Squadron has long been a source of pride for the river. As well as giving a lot of young people a great deal of fun over the 70+ years of its existence, it has also launched many into lifelong sailing careers and underpinned success for some at international level. Former Waldringfield Cadet sailor Daisy Collingridge is currently part of the British Olympic squad sailing a Laser Radial. Six of the ten boats who will be competing in the Cadet World Championships in Australia this winter will be from Waldringfield.

Cadet sailing is age-dependent. Its essential feature is two young people sailing together: a ‘helm’, typically aged 12-17, and a ‘crew’ who may be as young as 7. It’s obviously important to keep the youngest children coming in but also to support the transition period between crew and helm. Here, RDA and WSC member Frank Thorogood describes the Cadet Development Squad programme, which was conceived as a response to the impact of the pandemic on this process, and which has also succeeded in reaching out to a group of new sailors and bringing them in to the Cadet ‘family’.

The pandemic only saw relatively short periods of the cadet sailors at WSC being completely kept off the water. With a mix of single handing, sibling sailing and “Better than Nothing” racing we kept going whenever the rules allowed and had some great competitions along the way. The 2021 Nationals in Brixham got by with minimal covid impact and will be long remembered by everyone there, especially for the two days of big wave sailing when easterlies piled into Tor Bay. Continue reading

You Too Can Go To Sea: River Deben support for Suffolk and the Sea Day

by Julia Jones

I was sitting on a bench overlooking Suffolk Yacht Harbour at Levington and the River Orwell beyond. It was a lovely afternoon with a breeze just getting up and some classic sailing vessels on the river, contrasting with the more modern yachts moored near me and the towering cranes of Port of Felixstowe downriver. I was trying to explain to a friendly cameraman the ways in which I felt there had been such a profound shift in Britain’s attitude to her maritime heritage during my lifetime. His name’s Jon Swallow and he’s volunteered to come and record some of the sessions at the forthcoming Suffolk and the Sea Day (Felixstowe Book Festival ‘fringe’ sessions at Trimley St Mary, June 25th). We had met to discuss developing the 5th session, entitled You Too Can Go To Sea, into a film which the organisations supporting Suffolk and the Sea day could send out to schools, youth organisations, clubs, support groups. It would aim to explain that sailing and sea faring is not an exclusive activity but can be enjoyed at many levels. We want to kindle an interest and excitement in sea-going opportunities, remind people that we are not only land dwellers.

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Is sediment increasing in the River Deben?

by Robin Whittle

Low tide adjacent to Sutton marshes

The Deben became tidal at Felixstowe Ferry about 6000 years ago.  Today the river is tidal up to Ufford, two miles upstream of Woodbridge.  During this period sea borne sediment has built up the saltmarsh in the lower reaches to a depth of 12m.

Over the last 500 years river walls of mud and clay have been built along both sides of the tidal estuary to create arable land and grazing marshes.  Since then, sediment has continued to build up the saltmarshes and mud flats lying in front of the river walls. However, saltmarsh is now under increasing attack from wave action and shore crab burrowing. Continue reading

One Man’s Life: Another Man’s Memory

By Julia Jones

Gunboats at dawn, painted by Peter Scott.

I’ve recently completed a study of some of the yachtsmen who volunteered to serve ‘in an emergency’ in the years before the second World War. From December 1936 the Admiralty issued an invitation to ‘Gentlemen interested in yachting or similar pursuits’ to put their names forward for ‘executive’ service. These men formed the RNVSR, the Royal Naval Volunteer Supplementary Reserve. In the process of research, I have been fortunate to have met some of the descendants of these men. I’ve been glad of their help and have also found that they share my feelings of respect and heartfelt gratitude for the way in which their fathers, uncles, grandfathers chose to put their normal lives, pleasures, careers on hold, committing themselves to serve wherever they were sent. Sometimes the jobs they were assigned to do were tedious, more often they were terrifying. Continue reading

Our birds on the Deben – what can we do to help them? Focus on the redshank

By Sally Westwood

In 2021, Suffolk Coast & Heath Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) selected the Redshank1 as their flagship bird as a part of their Nature Recovery Plan2. Commendably, they called for volunteers to help with the project of protecting the Redshank including their nesting habitat. Redshanks are present on the River Deben but I have only ever seen one feeding along the river’s edge, on my river walk. I thought it might be interesting for the reader to have some insight on the background of Suffolk Coast & Heath AONB’s Nature Recovery intervention and the plight not only of the Redshank, but as we might have suspected, a considerable number of species of birds, that visit the Deben. It is not a comfortable read, however, the good news is, steps are being taken to stop the decline in species.

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International One Design

By Matt Lis

Photo courtesy of Charmian Berry.

An International One Design is not a typical Deben boat. The International One Design with its long keel, deep draft, powerful rig and sleek lines was actually designed for the waters of Long Island Sound and Bermuda, with one purpose in mind: to race. International One Designs, IODs for short, are now found all over the world. The design was quickly popularised after their initial build in 1936 and spread across the United States. Soon fleets sprung up in Norway and at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, too. To give some more local context, in 1936, whilst Bjarne Aas was designing and building the first IODs at his yard in Norway for the class’ conceiver and driving force Cornelius Shields, in Woodbridge Everson & Sons were building the penultimate Deben Cherubs and Whisstocks Boat Yard was building the first of the Deben Four Tonners.

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How Can We Do Our Bit to Help the Climate Crisis?

By Gary Rogers

In the light of COP26 we should all be questioning our energy use. As boat dwellers we aren’t eligible for government grants and feed in tariffs but that shouldn’t stop us taking steps to a more sustainable energy use.

As an Electronic Design Engineer living afloat for the last 30 years, I have inevitably tried and tested a multitude of off grid solutions, some more successful than others.

Tijdstroom, the Dutch barge Gary and his wife Bev live on, during the 2020-2021 winter

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