We are sailing on eerily calm blue-gray seas some miles off the north Norfolk coast. There isn’t any sand visible. However, underneath us’ hidden banks are written in the surrounding water within the shape of ripples, white strains of surf, and patches of smooth water. These treacherous shallows own romantic names on the sea charts – Pandora Sand, Thief Sand, Stubborn Sand – however, sailors’ lives depend on warding off them.
The captain of Salford, our beautifully restored whelk boat, is attempting to do the opposite, however: he’s looking to run aground on one. Our depth gauge drops from 6.9m to at least one.4m. We prevent and anticipate the tide to seashore us. Will we soon discover pristine golden sand?
Picnicking and gambling cricket on sandbanks at low tide become seemed like a grand day out with the aid of hail-and-hearty Victorians; however, messing around on shifting sands isn’t always favored in our hazard-averse generation. When a BBC film group staged a cricket fit on the notorious Goodwin Sands within the Channel some years returned, the in-speeding tide became their boat over, requiring a lifeboat rescue.
So, the choice with the Coastal Exploration Company’s aid, a band of succesful mariners who take visitors to much less-well-known spots at the north Norfolk coast in vintage cruising boats, to restart holidaymaking on sandbanks looks a touch reckless. But I had to deliver it across.
Dom, the skipper, steers our 30ft boat thru Wells-subsequent-the-Sea’s pretty harbor in the morning sunshine. Our plan: breakfast on the boat, whilst we sail west to reach Wash at low tide and “discover a pleasing little sandbank to dry out on,” as Dom places it – for lunch and cricket. “Any waves could choose the boat up and slam it onto the sand, but these situations are quality and calm,” he says.
Wells’ straggly line of colorful beach huts framed by way of white sand and darkish pines slowly diminish as we head into the North Sea. The calm sea can be safe for us, but it isn’t enjoyable for sailing. Luckily, Salford has a new engine that purrs as we potter along the coast at 4 knots.
The seas here are shallow and studded with sandbanks, many of which now residence offshore wind farms. It was once Doggerland, or even today, it now and again seems like you can stroll throughout Wash from Norfolk to Lincolnshire at low tide. I’m astonished to study that this top-notch expanse of low water also contains a segment called The Well, that’s 47 meters deep.
“Everything approximately the water is risky,” warns Charlie Hodson, our day trip chef, and previous lifeboat guy, that may are available accessible. “It’s about how you recognize that water in go back.”
Charlie offers this caution as we skip the black silhouette of a shipwrecked on the sands beyond Scolt Head Island. This vessel becomes deliberately scuppered and packed with explosives to forestall German invaders getting into Brancaster harbor; however, we skip more proper wrecks visible on the great sandy shores of north Norfolk.
Despite the intensity gauge analyzing 1.4m, the sandbank above which we first go with the flow doesn’t appear whilst low tide nears. So we sail further alongside this wild, tranquil coast of dunes, windmills, and flint church towers and around Gore Point. Ahead shimmies a gold line: Sunk Sand, rising around meters out of the water on the lowest tides. Cormorants stand at the bank, drying their wings like substantial bats; on the long way facet front room, the banana shapes a dozen gray seals.
Slowly, cautiously, we head towards Sunk Sand. Just past 1.5m, we run aground. The water around us is still chest-deep, so we blow up an inflatable dinghy to hold our lunch. I leap in and swim “ashore,” which is not as glamorous because it sounds – it’s simpler to wade inside the shallow water.
We step onto our own fully otherworldly, (extremely) transient island. We can see Hunstanton within the distance to the south and Skegness to some distance north; however, there’s not anything else, and nobody else, for miles around. The sand is clean, moist, and scattered with large starfish and dozens of sea urchins.
Abruptly, the solar vanishes, and a murk creeps in. Charlie hurriedly lights his range, showing us how to fillet the seabass within the shallows. As he rustles up lunch, we word his pop-up kitchen is getting closer to the water. The tide is coming in already. Our sandbank island is shrinking.
We pass the kitchen 50 yards from the ocean. It handiest gives us 10 mins. The tide seeps over the sand, and Charlie blowtorches the regionally stuck seabass for his tackle “fish and peas and ham with a Masala flavour.” It’s scrumptious, and there is just enough time for a fast recreation of cricket. Salford is afloat once more, and all at once searching a long way away. Storm clouds construct inside Wash’s large skies.