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1948 Holiday on the River Nene 1949 Peterborough to Leigh-on-Sea 1949 Building the Ninx 1949 Leigh on Sea to the Medway  

1950: A ‘Local’ Holiday

Leigh-on-Sea and Benfleet

This is another Seafaring Epic:

As time went by, Geoff. and I got used to boating and sailing and realised that “The Ninx” wasn’t large enough for our needs. It was now used mainly for towing and rowing purposes. So, having seen a second-hand, clinker-built yacht equipped with a built-in auxiliary engine advertised, we decided to buy it. David said, "Why not name it “Puffin II”?

For our next holiday, we decided to remain in ‘home waters’ as a means of getting used to our new craft. We sailed as far as Benfleet or over to Canvey. The yacht had no cabin but did have quite a large foredeck on which Geoff. and I were able to construct canvas sleeping accommodation. This proved to be perfectly adequate and comfortable enough for nights afloat.

The first night of the holiday was most exciting. As darkness fell, the tide was ebbing fast and we were left with precious little water in the creek. its we made our way towards Benfleet, somehow or other, our boat became separated from David’s. The darkness was most eerie - objects look so different in those circumstances. Even with the aid of torches we were unable to locate “The Puffin”. Geoff. got out of the boat, took the tow rope and walked carrying the boat along in the few inches of remaining water.

I was oblivious to all of this: Having made my bed under the canvas shelter, I was soon asleep. Not a lot of company and of no help at all! After a while, I was awakened by David’s bright torchlight and, having met up with each other again, we moored in the creek between Hadleigh Castle and Benfleet. We all awoke very early next morning to a great deal of splashing from a herd of cows swimming across the creek towards the Castle fields.

By now, the tide was on the turn and the sea ‘coming in’ fast so we weighed anchor and proceeded in the direction of Benfleet. How we all enjoyed our cooked breakfast. Everything seemed to taste so much better in the open air.

As we approached the bridge at Benfleet, David told us to tie a saucepan to the top of the mast to indicate to the Bridge-keeper that we needed him to open up the bridge. In those days, there was just the one road off the island so a seemingly endless queue of traffic quickly ground to a halt while we sailed from one side of the bridge to the other. I felt sorry for the stationary motorists but, secretly, I believe that ‘the boys’ enjoyed those few minutes of our voyage.

Further up the creek, towards Pitsea, we found a good place to berth, accessible to the tow-path and handy for visits to the small shops in Benfleet village. We decided to stay here for a few days.

Here I must digress from my memories (but still of relevance to this particular holiday) as I have recently received a letter from my cousin Miriam in which she enclosed a letter Geoff. wrote to her over forty-five years ago. In his letter he gave her directions as to how to visit us at Benfleet. We presume she was staying with my Mother at the time. Geoff’s instructions include the times on which the Green Benfleet bus left Hadleigh Church for Benfleet and “Do not bring the pushchair as the path is very uneven (Miriam’s daughter was about three years old) but, on no account to forget to bring the BACON" (!)

None of us can recall the BACON or why it was of such importance but we laugh now at Geoff’s instructions. Probably my Mother had cooked a joint of bacon for us to enjoy on our boating holiday.

No doubt, our week passed all too quickly and we then sailed our way back to Leigh.

Soon afterwards, we sold “Puffin II” for considerably less than we paid for it! Geoff., of course, was working and had little time to maintain the boat during the winter months. We were sad to part with it but David was delighted to have Geoff. back on “The Puffin” as FIRST MATE.


Go to Allan's Page Our Home Page Canals Home Page 1940's Home Page Go to Deb's Page
1948 Holiday on the River Nene 1949 Peterborough to Leigh-on-Sea 1949 Building the Ninx 1949 Leigh on Sea to the Medway