This was our first trip without crew, just us, off to explore and see how we did as a family en voyage. Fortunately, the weather was as kind as it could be, and we arrived at the boat on a beautiful sunny day with the wind and tide carrying us gently out of our berth.
Off we set down river, Mummy hoisted the mainsail, and the Issie and Max kept themselves busy pulling on unimportant bits of rope.
We meandered down the river and made our way out to sea, then turned into the Walton Backwaters. Any Swallows and Amazon fans will recognise this as Ransome's 'Secret Water', a beautiful area of creeks and islands. we were looking for a place to anchor overnight. On the way, Max found my hat and sea boots and decided to try them on for size. A few moments later, he'd also found a snorkel mask, and the combination looked great. Ready for anything.
We made our way up river and anchored in a calm stretch of water to make dinner and watch the sun go down, which it did, obligingly. As the day ended, we managed to get the kdis to bed and sit out with a glass of wine, enjoying the peace and quiet To our delight, there were seals playing in the water nearby, and we could watch them through the binoculars as they hauled themselves across the mudflats and off for an evening dip. The water was not inviting enough for us to join in. Issie was trying to avoid going to sleep using her usual subtle tactics such as going to the toilet every ten minutes, but this time we relented and she came on deck to watch the seals, which she found fascinating, as well as another perfect excuse for staying up.
Sunday was Father's Day, so I got a lie in, breakfast in bed, waited on hand and foot and ... well, no, actually I got up at 6am to check the anchor but I did get given two lovely cards and a big hug from my beautiul kids. We had a nice breakfast in the cockpit as the day was already sunny and warm, and then we rigged up the dinghy to go for an explore.
Gesa stayed on board, as Issie, Max and I pootled off across the river and up a little creek where the tide was slowly covering the mudflats. As we crept up river,looking out for seagulls and the marks in the mud where the seals had wriggled into the water, we found a couple of seals out basking in the sun.
Round another corner, and over 20 of them were out enjoying the warmth. We stopped the engine and drifted about 100 yards away, and they eyed us cautiously. After that, we headed back to the boat, picked up Mumy and sped off to a nearby beach where the kids could paddle and collect shells. This was a lucky find, and we must come back, but time was ticking on so back to the boat, anchor up and hoist sails to drift home in the very light breeze.
Gesa made the most of the sunshine and hung out on the foredeck where Issie and Max came to join her from time to time. After a couple of hours, we were nearinghome when the wind died away so engine on, fenders out, lines ready and near perfect berthing rounded off a near perfect weekend.
Next week it's a trip up the Thames, with crew, to enjoy a river cruise and a night or two in Docklands.....