Look beyond the typical South coast boating bases and there are plenty of welcoming harbours that offer some delightful experiences
The glorious Blackwater is hardly a boating secret, only 1½ hours’ drive from the centre of London, yet it seems secret, so untouched by time are these placid reaches.
The river opens into the Thames Estuary near Brightlingsea. Following the entrance buoys past miles of sandy shoals, you come in between Mersea Island and prominent Bradwell power station.
Without really noticing you suddenly feel far from the sea as low marshy shores enfold the river in a kind of peaceful contentment.
Up at Maldon, Thames sailing barges raft alongside a drying quay opposite the Jolly Sailor. But nearby Heybridge Basin is my favourite haunt.
This picturesque old shipping dock carries generous depth above the lock, so quite large boats can moor here.
The Blackwater itself has miles of protected water and beyond it lie more of those very English East Coast rivers.
Getting there: Incredibly, Heybridge Basin is only 52 miles from Trafalgar Square!