The Twelve Books of Christmas

By Julia Jones

For our last issue of the RDA Journal 2022 we offer you reading recommendations from a dozen RDA Members and Contributors to The Deben magazine. Initially we just asked for recommendations (which is why the first two are quite brief) but then we began to ask people a little more about their reading habits – what sort of books they regularly enjoyed, did they usually buy or borrow books, did they use the library? Continue reading

Water Quality on the Deben – some current issues

By Colin Nicholson

Introduction

At a recent River Deben Association (RDA) committee meeting, co-chair Colin Nicholson reported back from a recent visit to Anglian Water’s Wastewater Treatment Works at Martlesham Creek. The committee felt that this information was likely to be of interest to members and should be reported back. (Minutes of the meeting will also be available on the RDA website when they have been formally agreed.)  Hence this article via the RDA Journal, which does not claim to be a complete overview of the complex topic of water quality, merely a personal update on matters of current interest and actions taken to gain better information.

As organic matter trickles down over stones it is consumed by bacteria.

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GBR Cadet Sailing Team Training at Shotley Sailing Club

By Neil Collingridge

The Cadet Sailors at the Paying It Forward event.
Adults in the photo are: Melanie More (Kestrel Liners – shipping sponsors), Julia Jones (Golden Duck – event sponsors), Lady Carla Stanley (recent Chair of GBR’s Olympic Sailing Selection Committee).
Photo credit: Kevin Ward.

The preparations for the Cadet World Team going to Australia in December have a particular interest for the River Deben as no less than seven of the thirteen boats competing are from Waldringfield Sailing Club. For the first of three specially organised training weekends they needed to test themselves in unfamiliar waters. Shotley Sailing Club offered hospitality. This is a report from a weekend that was rather special.

Thanks to Yachts and Yachting magazine for permission to republish.

All photos in this article from here onwards are thanks to Andy Stoddart.

The GBR Cadet Sailing Team gathered on the weekend of 15/16 October for the first of their three training weekends ahead of the 2022 World Championships in Australia over Christmas.

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Nancy Blackett and the River Deben

By Peter Willis

Nancy Blackett at Woodbridge.

If his log books are to be believed, Arthur Ransome only brought Nancy Blackett into the Deben twice during his four years’ ownership of her.

He kept her on the neighbouring River Orwell, having bought (and renamed) her in 1935 when he and his wife Evgenia moved to the East Coast, from the Lake District, to enjoy the area’s great potential for scenic inshore and offshore sailing. They rented a house, Broke Farm, in Levington, on the Orwell side of the peninsula between the two rivers, and it was to Pin Mill that he brought the south-coast-built 28ft cutter. When he fancied a sail, though, it was usually to the south, and the convenient and attractive Walton Backwaters that he inevitably turned. Continue reading

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