Sailing, boat owning and living on a Thames spritsail barge have coursed through the veins of the skipper's family since the early 1930s, and it instilled in him a profound love for salt, marsh and mud. In The Jottings of a Thames Estuary Ditch-Crawler we find the skipper looking at how it used to be in the early days of Corinthian sailing. Nick Ardley takes us on another series of journeys in his yacht Whimbrel, through the meandering creeks and waterways that feed into the Thames and its estuary, using his extensive local knowledge to impart a flavour of the areas he visits, with historical interludes. He also details the two craft that he has owned during a lifetime of estuary explorations, paying affectionate attention to the history of the Finesse class of clinker-built yachts of which his Whimbrel, a '24', is one. All around the Thames estuary nowadays there are passages that sailors used, but many are now long gone, silted up or dammed, while the attendant industry along the banks of these creeks and the river itself has also disappeared. The stories captured in the pages of this book will appeal to locals, sailing enthusiasts, and anyone with an interest in the history and wildlife of the Thames estuary.
Nick Ardley has spent much of his life afloat and his last book, The May Flower: A Barging Childhood, was a local bestseller in Maldon, Ipswich and Colchester. He has been an active participant at the Essex Book Festivals, talking to attendees and signing books on request. He lives in Essex.