And so we begin a new year. It’s been a gloomy month, filled with dank dark days. Grey clouds and rain have held the light back making the river dull and uninviting. The wind has blown hard but not full blast. Squally gusts closed the Orwell Bridge three times and got yard hands scurrying out to secure boats and tarps on the yard, while whistling winds sang, slapping halyards to punctuate the storms.
Nights dominated by large moons, made night time seem brighter than day. These Phoebe filled nights were accompanied by high tide predictions. Tidal highs and the lows are dominated by forces that scientists still cannot precisely fathom, yet the river men who work on her daily, know her well. ‘The River… It’s my world, and I don’t want any other. What it hasn’t got is not worth having, and what it doesn’t know is not worth knowing.’ (Kenneth Grahame). Secretly, the river rises and falls; a reliable element and indicator of passing time on the yard. This month water has crept steadily up and flooded our quay with no warnings, while at others the media have filled heads of land lubbers with flood alarms – but none came – well a bit of water at times but nothing of note. Flash flooding seen on other stretches was due to surface water not the salty brine that fills our basin daily.
The arrival of a new barge destined for Bass Dock, Woodbridge has filled our quay and large workshop this month. After blasting on the quay she was moved inside for epoxy coating, and finishing with gloss on her topsides. With her hull now in gloss black she shines new, awaiting a few warmer days before her decks can be prepared and finished. In the smaller workshop two 20′ launches have completed their restoration and repair work and are ready for their new season’s work.
As the month ends, the yard quietens and thoughts turn to dredging. Silt delivered by winter tides must be sucked up and used to maintain the saltings opposite. The unique Deben wildlife rely on this annual task to secure their feeding grounds and each year flock in to check progress and feast on freshly dredged crustations.