going to the races

a sail with a picnic is proposed, which mutates to a motor, as the wind is freshening up to 25 mph, and indeed later gusting to 35 mph. the sky is intensely blue and the wind merely a little breezy as we leave Bale.


the tide is still coming in and the the wind deceptively slackening at Morston. it is the weekend of the Cockle Racing World Championship, and cockles all along the creek are getting ready. (there are only two cockles in existence outside North Norfolk).


we are all going in Elsie, as it’s a smallish shortish tide, Elsie’s mooring gives her more latitude.


here goes George’s yacht, which is used as the starter’s boat.


the cockles racing have enough expertise to manage their boats with the strong wind; we don’t. the outboard is filled up with diesel and started and off we go.


here comes Sandpiper, zipping up the creek, faster than us, the wind south south west, behind her.


we motor out and turn into Blakeney harbour to check out a friend’s very impressive vintage motor cruiser.


some cockles are moored out in the pit, and are having trouble getting sails up; a lot of flapping. some have reefed their sails, but the boldest and best don’t bother.


here come two, sails bellying wide.


this is a smart little fishing boat I haven’t seen before.


Elsie’s skipper is relaxed – “just driving” he says.


it’s quite choppy – the wind is in opposition to the tide.


we land on the point and leave an anchor in the stones and sand of the beach. the cockles are milling around before the race, getting the feel of the conditions.


this sailor seems to be having a bad time, he’s lost his crew, his boat wants to blow across onto the mud, and he can hardly hold onto it in this wind.


the cockles bunch up for the start –


and they are off. I brought my little telescope but the view through it is very two-dimensional; it’s hard to see where the boats are in relation to the course, especially when they tack.


quite a lot of heeling and sitting up on the rail; stealing each other’s wind, and similar tricks. fun to watch.


the seal boats are landing people to spend an hour or so on the point, and others have come to spend a few hours. we decide it’s not a comfortable place for a picnic out here – the wind is getting up, and Elsie will be hard to get off in this rough chop.


so the bags all go back on board and we get her off with difficulty, the wind pushes us back onto the beach.


the cockle race is over and everybody sailing back now. packets of water come aboard and the waves are quite big; some of us get rather wet.


trundling safely to the head of the creek we find those without motors having to tack into a strong wind.


some spectacular manoeuvring going on


with a casualty – the laser on the left – and crikey, that looks scary ….


we are told to keep out of her way as she shoots from one side of the creek to the other


unlike Wiveton Belle, who make longer tacks, under better control,


looking thoroughly seaman-like



Shokanawe narrowly missing them and the moored boats, but it turned out that they had a lot less control due to the fact that the hull was damaged and the buoyancy chamber was full of water, so were doing well to get  back under sail.


in a flurry of booms and long tillers crisscrossing


having managed to avoid collision Elsie is put to bed safely


and we have a peaceful picnic, although the awning wants to play sailing boats with us.


  1. Wonderful pictures!! Looks like a good day except for the wind and th eyahoos not knowing how to sail!! (((Jane)))

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