An invitation from the Deputy of The Cinque Port Libert of Brightlingsea

Brightlingsea’s Blessing & Reclaiming of the Waters

Sunday 1st June 2014 

INVITATION FROM THE DEPUTY to all Smack owners/captains

The Deputy of the Cinque Port Liberty of Brightlingsea, invites you to attend & take part in Brightlingseas’ Reclaiming of the Waters event that will follow the historic Brightlingsea tradition of Blessing of the Waters. A picture above shows the event at Brightlingsea Hard in 1924, with the then Deputy, Harry Chamberlain, in the centre with the service of Blessing being conducted by the Bishop of Colchester on Ascension Day.

The Blessing of the Waters, fish & boats will take place this year on the nearest Sunday to Ascension Day, Sunday 1st June, as part of Brightlingsea’s Regatta & Boat Show. The Blessing will take place in the early afternoon at the Hard on board “Pioneer” and will be relayed by loudspeakers from the front of the Colne Yacht Club so that everyone at the Hard will be able to hear. The Blessing will be given by the clergy of Brightlingsea led by Rev Anne Howson.

A group, including the Deputy, from the service on the ’Pioneer’ will then be ferried to meet and go aboard the Smack Flotilla.

The Reclaiming of the Waters, will be a procession of the Flotilla of Brightlingsea’s historic Sailing Smacks along Brightlingsea Creek, from Flag Creek along Brightlingsea Creek (historically known as Borefleet) in convoy past the Hard (to the accompaniment of cheers and much noise!) and on past the Sailing Club and the Promenade beach huts to beyond West Ness (the old name for West Marsh Point).

Ascension Day is a traditional time to Beat the Bounds, and Brightlingsea’s historic fishing fleet of smacks parading along Borefleet (Brightlingsea Creek) re-asserts Brightlingsea’s rights to its own waters.

Brightlingsea joined the Cinque Ports over 650 years ago to gain support to counter challenges to its rights on its waters. Across many centuries Colchester & Brightlingsea claimed a different location for West Ness the limit of the borough’s Colne fishery. As a result of the long determination of Brightlingsea’s oystermen, protective actions of Lord Wardens as Admirals of the Cinque Ports plus those of particular Lords of Brightlingsea manor, Borefleet remained the only independent fishery connected to the Colne.

What had been a matter of heated dispute became an issue of the past when Colne oystermen and the borough came to co-operate with a company that regulated with agreement the oyster industry of the Colne. Since then the collapse of the industry pushed past grievances further into history.

In “Reclaiming the Waters” we will with pride, and a positive perspective, be beating the bounds of Borefleet, and keeping alive the rights of Brightlingsea to its use of the waters in its Liberty.

It will be a great way of showing off Brightlingsea’s historic maritime heritage of her fabulous fleet of smacks to an appreciative audience as a central attraction of the Regatta!

The Smack Society chairman has advised it is best to assume smacks will be dressed and not under sail for the procession, unless it turns out conditions are perfect!

If you would like to take part in your smack in this splendid event please contact the Deputy on 01206 306900 or inform the chairman of the Colne Smack Preservation Society. High tide on 1st June is due to be at mid- afternoon, so the event will be taking place from earlier in the afternoon on (Further details will subsequently be provided by the Regatta Committee).

Roger Tabor, the Deputy, is a descendant of the Brightlingsea oyster dredging family that worked oysters in Borefleet back into the 1600s.

The event has the support of:

The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
The Deputy & the Cinque Port Liberty of Brightlingsea The Mayor & Council of Brightlingsea
The Brightlingsea Boat Show & Regatta Committee The Colne Smack Preservation Society
The Pioneer Sailing Trust
The Vicar of All Saints & St James, Brightlingsea
The Commodore & the Colne Yacht Club
The Commodore & the Brightlingsea Sailing Club Brightlingsea Harbour Master 

Nicky Ennion

Nicky Ennion has reluctantly decided to stand down as chairman due to ill health. In the mean time Robin Page the Race Secretary will be acting Chairman.

The AGM is on the 16th November see details here

** Christmas Cards and Calenders **

Smack themed christmas cards and calenders featuring pictures from the Pin Mill Match are being produced by Gill Moon a local photographer


Richard Pattison

Member Richard Pattison has temporarily gone north for the summer to skipper a Herring Drifter in the Shetlands. "Swan" launched in 1900 is a 67, 65 ton ketch based in Lerwick and today has a simi;ar role to "Pioneer" Boath boats are iconic of their region and fishing heritage and today provide opportuinities for youngsters  (and others!) to benefit from an understanding of their nautical heritage as well as developing as people. Richard is writing a blog of his exploits and while no exclusively  about sailing may be of interest to members.

11 © Mark Wakefield 2012