Escape with Magwitch – Hoo Ness to Darnet.

The island rises up from sea, the colour of a wood pigeons wing as I sit in the bow motoring the short distance across the main channel. The water is peppered with rain, visibility is reduced. We feel so exposed, attracting concerned looks from the few yaughtsmen braving the weather.

The fort is a squat dark stain on the horizon. It is a safe haven from the storm racing up behind us. Despite it all I feel strangely tranquil, calmed by the waves as they pass me and head towards the beach.

It is a metaphor for life, I guess, endlessly rolling on as we are caught in the tide, trying to pitch up on a safe shore.

@estuaryfestival @stephenturnerartist

When heading out to the estuary don’t forget your death bag!

“Have you got a death bag?” asks my friend Syd from Medway Watersports when I phone her on Saturday night and ask advice on what I should pack for a week boating and camping on the Medway river.

Syd corrects herself, “Oh no, I forgot, they don’t call them that any more. They are called survival bags nowadays.”

However, it is too late, I am spooked. The list goes on: an anchor, first aid kit, spare paddles, VHF radio, distress flares!

The Medway river needs respects, as someone who has been rescued from a fast rising tide by a lifeboat, I know this better than most. The estuary is not a landscape to be messed with and I am grateful for Syd’s caution.

“I can supply charts,” Syd says and goes on to explain the numbering of bouys and the system of flashes which are unique to each.

It is then that I feel the rush of excitement. This river, this landscape, is a ten minute walk from my front door but somehow I feel as if I am setting forth on a grand adventure. Less than a week from today I will cast off in Magwitch along with Stephen Turner and head out with my charts, my anchor and, yes, my death bag, for an adventure that feels every bit as exciting as a journey to some far flung destination.