by Julia Jones
Louisa and Ned, Visiting from Berlin
It was June 4th the Saturday of the Platinum Jubilee Central Weekend – a bright but extremely blowy day on the River. My brother and I had hoped to take his seven year old daughter out to sea on Peter Duck but it would have been her first time and we didn’t want to put her off. So, while we waiting to go ashore and join the Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club celebrations we went for a walk to Bawdsey beach. We followed the path from the dinghy park, behind the bushes and through the dry, shrubby area where rabbits nibble and wild flowers spread. Continue reading
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
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.
by Claudia Myatt
Every spring and early summer there is a conversation between River Deben sailors that goes something like this:
‘Have you been over the bar yet?’
‘No, but I’ve got the chartlet, hoping to go round to the Orwell next weekend’
‘What’s it like this year?’
‘Shifted a bit in that storm I hear – quite narrow now. Wouldn’t risk it until after half tide with my draft’
‘Deepest water is usually close to the beach but the tide runs hard there….’
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
From his family and from the Waldringfield History Group. Presented by Gareth Thomas (former chairman WHG)
Captain Joseph Christopher Clark, who retired from the Merchant Navy in 1992, passed away peacefully at his home, Woodside, in Waldringfield on Sunday, February 20th. 2022, following a long and debilitating neurological illness. Throughout that illness he had been cared for, unstintingly, at home, by his wife, Kit, his family and a magnificent team of carers.
Joe was the founding Chairman of the Waldringfield History Group and, as his immediate successor, I have been given the honour of providing for the RDA Journal a tribute to this kind, unassuming, dry-witted gentleman, this stalwart of Waldringfield. Continue reading
By Liz Hattan
The East Anglian Daily Times recently published an article on sewage overflows into Suffolk rivers (October 26th 2021), highlighting those rivers with the highest number of spills in 2020. The River Deben had 40 spills at its Deben Road overflow, totalling 18 hours. Other rivers such as the River Thet fared worse with over 1100 hours of spills at Badwell Ash, and some sites in the other parts of the country have seen thousands of hours of spills (see Rivers Trust interactive map for local data ‘Is my river fit to play in?’ https://arcg.is/19LiCa). Nationally, the number of spills is high with over 400,000 monitored spills (around 3.1million hours) in 2020 into English rivers and many more unmonitored ones.
So why are there are so many spills, why does it matter and what is being done to address the problem? This is a high profile issue with considerable political, media and public scrutiny. This article looks at some of the challenges. Continue reading
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
By Sue Ryder-Richardson
Rivers. The lifeblood of communities for generations, the Deben, from source to mouth, is one such. The river and its tributaries nurtured villages, gave grist to many mills, and fed and watered the all-important abbeys. Explorations around Wickham Market have revealed Paleolithic, Bronze Age, Roman, Anglo Saxon, and medieval relics. Both the tidal flood of this river and its inland arteries have supported this lineage of settlements.
A ramble around Wickham Market and Campsea Ashe  offers an insight into the generations that have lived, and worked alongside the Deben, from the C18th Rackham’s Mill, through the ancient, coppiced woodland ‘The Oaks’, alongside medieval fishponds, beside ‘Ashe Abbey’ which stands on the ground of the C12th Augustinian Priory of St Mary’s, but mostly walking over water-meadows that have brimmed and supported life for centuries.
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.