Commemorative Cruise to Ipswich - Paul Gilson

Jeremy Squier, Chris Bailey and I left Leigh on Friday 24th May for our overnight in Brightlingsea in miserable weather; it was very overall grey with gales forecast - nothing new there then - for a trip on Endeavour. To add to our excitement we had a squall as we entered the River Colne; it rained and hailed, the sky went black and at 4pm lights were needed. We were soaked and were shivering - what should we expect for the last week in May - sunshine?
In the early hours the following day we made our way in convoy to Harwich. Here we picked some members up from the Halfpenny Pier and rejoined the flotilla with our extras on board. Escorted by the lifeboat and led by our commodore we proceeded up the River Orwell to Ipswich. This river is the most beautiful I know, the industry of Felixstowe with its prehistoric looking cranes soon gives way to stunning green sloping fields running to the water's edge. It is no wonder that Arthur Ransom was inspired to write when he sailed here in his yacht Nancy Blackett.

Ipswich MarinaThe peace was shattered by a panic phone call, a car had been stolen - one of our members' cars. His wife was very upset. Concerned that he was not there to sort it out the police were called and phones were getting hot from the conversations between husband and wife! Then almost as quickly as the problem had unfolded it was resolved. The car was parked further down the road than normal!!!
There were no further problems as we passed under the Orwell Bridge and soon entered Ipswich Lock and were given our berth numbers. Ipswich has changed dramatically in recent years, the once busy commercial harbour is now a huge marina with boats of all shapes and sizes with many being worth many millions of pounds.

As we entered the lock the sun came out and it remained with us for the next two days.

Approaching the Orwell BridgeWe were soon moored and the boat was dressed and looked a picture. With our friends moored around us people were soon visiting the small fleet. We were joined by our wives and other members who had travelled by road. Time passed and after checking in to our hotel Chris Bailey and I attended a Welcome Reception with the Mayor-Elect of Ipswich in the Council Chamber in the very grand Victorian Town Hall.
The next day was fantastic. A splendid Commemoration Service was held quay side and hundreds of guests visited the boats. We had 16 mayors from surrounding areas, including an ex-Southender originally from Thorpe Bay. After a couple of hours we played our trump card. Chris produced his squeeze box and we handed out song sheets. We became the Endeavour shanty folk and what happened next could not have been dreamed of. One of the Scottish pipers came and played along with us, the boats around were joining in with the choruses and if that was not enough two more came on board and sang with us; a lady and gentleman from another 'little ship'. What a great time - we met people we had not seen for years and made new friends - Endeavour brings people together, it is as simple as that.

The Commemorative Cruise Supper followed that evening with guests including the Mayor and Mayoress of Ipswich, along with the last surviving Dunkirk Veteran in the town, with Endeavour receiving mention in our Commodore's speech.

We returned to Wallasea the next day content that the Endeavour effect was working well. Now all we want is some sun and some good sailing weather to show her at her best.

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