West Mersea, on Mersea Island, is a nice flat-water venue particularly suitable for beginners and intermediates. It is quite a popular location, and if there is wind then there is usually someone sailing here. There is a huge grassy car park for rigging on, and a safe beach that is shallow for a long way out. There are regular equipment demos run here, as well as some informal race evenings, so it's worth checking the local store (SkiSurf) for details, as well as checking out the local club. At anything other than high tide, very sticky mud and sharp mussel beds are exposed, making boots a necessity. If you like long reaches, you can make the 2-mile crossing over to the Bradwell power station, but don't do this alone!
Flat Water: YES
Car parking : YES (£2/free)
West Mersea is located approximately 8 or 9 miles South East of Colchester. Access is via the A12 / A120 and the B1025. Cross the causeway onto the island and turn left rather than following the road to the right. Turn right into Dawes Lane when you see loads of brown "tourist info" signs, then right again at the end of the road. Finally turn left into SeaView Avenue and follow to the beach. There is a small car-park on the right, opposite The Mersea Windsurfers hut, or turn right and follow the seafront to the large grassy car-park further West.
NOTE: The causeway connecting Mersea Island to the mainland can be covered by water during some high-tide periods. You can check here to see if it's likely to be inpassable.
There is not much to be said for the sailing area itself, except that the beach can get pretty busy on a hot summer's day. At low to mid tide there is a lot of mud exposed, together with very sharp mussel beds that will cut you or your equipment very easily. A bit of a sticky walk through the mud is necessary to reach the water, especially if you have a large fin. Definitely wear boots, and try to keep the mud off your kit! The sailing here is mainly flat water blasting and racing, but it is also a great place to learn your gybes or practice a bit of freestyle.
The photos below should give an idea of the range of conditions found at this location. The larger images have a description of the conditions at the time the shot was taken. If you've got any good photos that you'd like to see here then email the site and I'll add them on if possible.
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