A Trip At Last!

Having suffered Covid-19 lock-down in St Osyth for months just as the weather warmed up, Endeavour came home to Leigh Marina for the final stages of repairs and painting. Almost every event planned for 2020 had been cancelled or postponed.

Then the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships invited us to join them at St Katherine's Dock.

A list of members to join the trip upriver was assembled for September 4th with the return on the 11th. Two day before sailing came the sad news that 20 odd little ships from the upper Thames could not join us because the river under Hammersmith Bridge was closed to traffic due to the bridge's unstable state. It was decided to go anyway.

Skipper Paul Gilson and Cameron McGregor were the heroes of the day, taking Endeavour out of Leigh Marina to a Ray mooring in the small hours and then picking up members from Holehaven slip at 0830. The weather was fine but breezy and the passage upriver on the flood tide was enjoyed by all.

We arrived off the dock at 1345 and waited until the lock opened at 1430. Endeavour was given a prestigious berth near the bridge into the city. She was dressed overall complete with the Little Ships’ jack. An interpretive board was left in full view, plus after an inspiration from Rob Everitt, an enlarged QR code to allow the public access to the Endeavour website.

Also on board were Paul Burden (an addition to Endeavour's register of 'skippers') Chris Burls, Mike & Sam Shelley (from the www.leigh-on-sea.com web site) John & Tom Savill, Mark Steen and friends Clare Warner, Glen Jones and Eddie Barnes. A good time was had by all!

The trip home, which had been scheduled for the 11th had to be brought forward to the afternoon of Sunday the 6th. This decision was brought on by a combination of the lack of other little ships and the marina fees.

Unfortunately those members, who had opted for the 11th were unable to change their plans, so it was with Allan Barttram skippering and Rob Everitt and Chris Burls as crew that Endeavour had an idyllic run back to Leigh on a lovely sunny afternoon and evening.

New member, Mike Shelley reflected: "You hear that it is a small boat but you don't really realise how small until you have to get on it. It was very cosy on deck with around 10 other people. The boat was built around 1926 and is not ideal for long distance travel (it would roll about hard every time another boat went past). Travelling to Dunkirk and back is not an easy journey in peacetime, let alone in 1940 where it was rescuing troops and being fired at by aircraft.

"Even though you’re the smallest thing on the water, a lot of landmarks don't look as imposing as they are when you’re on land; Tower Bridge isn’t so big when you approach it and, while the Dartford Crossing feels massive when you’re going over it, its comparatively dinky when you go under it.

"Granted, the boat would rock every now and then when something bigger passed us by, but it was mostly smooth sailing (smooth enough to make a few rounds of tea which was surprising). It's only when you get into London that things start to feel unsteady as you feel the wash from other ships keenly when in the narrower part of the river."

Chris Burls and Mike Shelley

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