By Ana Grabova
Published 01 July 2012
(July-August 2012 Edition)
Mersea Island resident Juliet Doyle reports back from the nautical haven with some handy dates for the summer calendar.
West Mersea even launched its very own Royal Barge, the Mermaid of Mersea – made entirely from recycled materials by a dedicated team, the youngest of whom is 70 years old, the oldest a youthful 91.
Looking ahead, without doubt the biggest week in the Mersea calendar begins on the night of 17th August, with the wildly popular Saltdog gig at the Coast Inn. Get your tickets early! On Saturday 18th, the Mersea Carnival makes a welcome comeback and on Sunday 19th it’s the start of Mersea Week - the most successful sailing regatta on the East Coast.
Tuesday 21st sees the ‘Round the Island Race’, when dinghies circumnavigate the island, in the direction of their choice, and have to be carried across the Strood, the causeway that links Mersea Island to the mainland. The spectacle of scores of colourful small boats crossing the road always attracts a large crowd of onlookers and helpers. On Thursday 22nd it’s Shanty Night at the Coast Inn, raising funds for the RNLI – a charity very close to the hearts of all who sail the island’s shores.
This year’s special Jubilee Regatta on Saturday 25 August rounds off the week with a fitting climax. It’s one of the last traditional East Coast Regattas still taking place, just as it did over 150 years ago.
“Whilst all these traditional activities are taking place on the water”, says Regatta Commodore Chrissie Westgate, “landlubbers are certainly not forgotten! From noon until midnight there is a huge array of free, family-friendly waterfront entertainment. The day’s programme of continuous live music begins with the vibrant African drummers, One Drum. Bands, choirs, dance groups and solo musicians all take their turn on the stage, whilst stilt-walkers and story-tellers entertain the crowds. Local craft and refreshment stalls fill the car park, along with a bar provided by Mersea Island’s own vineyard. At 5 pm there’s a fabulous outdoor barn-dance and later you can dance again until midnight with the island’s Moondance Band. A spectacular firework display takes place at dusk, lighting up the entire waterfront and drawing one very special week on Mersea Island towards its close.”