Ditch-crawler mused over wood in Wivenhoe recently…

My dear wife and Whmbrel’s Mate had given up her place to allow my sister and two friends to sail aboard the good ship and one of the places we wandered into was Wivenhoe, a place I’d not been to for some while, favouring Rowhedge!

We’d spent the night in a quiet little spot beneath the woods beneath Marriages and pottered up as soon as sufficient water allowed. A boat was leaving so we slid alongside in its wake. I took the crew on a wander through the waterside town, where stores were procured, before finding ourselves upon the waterfront. From the water this village is pretty, but ashore it has secrets galore.

The Nottage Maritime Institute was open and we were allowed to wander around the downstairs workshop. Above some filming was taking place ┬ásomething to do with fabrics, so we conversed in hushed voices…

The Nottage Institute’s headquarters in its prominent position on the quay facing the water.

The Nottage Institute has been operating for a jolly long time and was set up to further the education of maritime people. A job it continues to fulfill in many ways, including running boat building courses. A boat building course runs on Saturdays and it can take students around four years to complete.

In the workshop were a plethora of dinghies in various stages of completion.

Ah yes, wood, glorious wood…

I chatted to the chap who let us in, Barry Crickmore, who talked me through the dinghies in the various stages of build. ‘Some,’ he said, ‘were a little over built…’ having scantlings and such large enough for a Finesse 24, I thought. But, oh such beautiful craftsmanship.

I loved this one…

Leaving, we all had a coffee, except my pal, Steve: he said it was lunch time, so enjoyed a beer!

Around the waterfront are a selection of craft in various states of preservation. A number of vessels are clearly loved and regularly used, but others are sadly neglected. Some are in such a state as to wonder how much longer it is before the mud around them swallows their creaking hulls.

There is a smack with a broken or cut off mast which I’ve seen year by year sailing by. Around are dinghies, little launches and yachts. Three of which I felt saddened by…

Here, grey wood beneath peeling paint and a cockpit showing signs of weather damage due to ill fitting cover…

This little ship, once sweet and graceful, looked as if the tide was creeping in and out … I looked and walked on.

This yacht, similar in hull shape to the above but larger, showed signs of some activity: rusted tools lay around the cockpit… My friend muttered something in Welsh, being a son of that land, and although not translating, I understood his feelings!

As I walked through a lane bedecked with floral displays in a host of summer colours, I mused upon the new and old, wondering perhaps if one or two of those Nottage students would be inclined to use learnt skills to save an ‘old gal’ for beneath the grime and peeling paint a pretty little thing is crying out for a new dress…

 

 

 

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