I don’t know what it is about estuaries, but to me they seem to be alluring places to walk along, relax by, and sail in. So it’s no surprise that being brought up on the East coast of England I’ve been immersed in the wonders of what they offer.
Being born a ‘native’ of Whitstable, which sits at the mouth of the Swale Estuary, yet still being viewed as in the Thames Estuary, I’ve experienced the challenges of both tidal and wave sailing. Whilst a North Sea fetch can often kick up great waves with big winds, it’s always the summer months when the waters seem to flatten off, and sailing becomes that more relaxed and gentle affair.
As a result, Whitstable has been and remains that special place that has allowed me to craft my skills to handle and race a menagerie of performance dinghies, catamarans, as well as windsurfers, in all conditions and tidal states. It’s a place where the Yacht Club is an integral part of the town’s fabric, it has developed an attraction and reputation for racing events. Overall Whitstable is a holiday destination for sailors and visitors alike.
When the tide is out and the vast area of the mud flats are visible, you are reminded of the other craft that were part of Whitstable’s sailing history. The oyster smacks, the yawls, and the Thames barges. Most are now found up the sheltered waters and creeks of the Swale estuary to the west of the town. Cruising boats emerge out of the creek inlets as the tide rises. They glide along the flat waters aside salt marshes and quiet open fields, there is a background noise and display of protected birds enjoying the countryside.
It is this diversity of Whitstable Bay as a sailing destination that I think continues to appeal to mariners and land based visitors. It’s a special place where attractions and delights of both the urban and natural environments can be taken in at ones choosing.