6th of July 2008 - London
|Crew :||Brian, Pamela, Irene, Les, John, Helen and Andy|
|Destinations :||Chatham, St Katherine Docks, Harty Ferry, Bradwell.|
|Distance :||256 miles|
6 th July Shotley
After only weekend sailing since last August, today marked the start of a 3 month holiday for me. For the first week Andy would be working for Britannia skippering on a Dutch Cruise and I was joining him on this before we set off alone for the West country. After settling ourselves on the boat during the afternoon, I then sat in the Shipwreck watching the mens Wimbledon finals between showers. Nadal won!! The crew joined the boat around 6pm and after supper we all watched the end of the tennis.
7 th July Shotley-Levington
A short sail today. We hoped to head off to Roompotsluis in Holland today. Sadly the weather for the North sea was forecast as Force 6/7 occasional 8s for the next 24 hours so it didn't make sense to head out in the North sea. We stayed in the river after an initial introduction to the boat from Andy. We then sailed up the Stour and Orwell for a short time, anchoring for afternoon tea in the Orwell before berthing in Levington. Sadly the pub was closed so we had an early night. As the weather didn't look set to improve for a few days we decided to head for Ramsgate the following day with a diversionary port of Burnham should the Black Deep appear too rough. Les volunteered to plan the passage and navigate.
8 th July Levington-Burnham on Crouch
Today again the forecast was for Force 7 and 8 in the North Sea with slightly more settled weather inshore. We set off at 08.30am deciding to assess the situation once we got out into the Thames estuary. It was pretty windy and by the time we had reached the Black Deep one of our crew had succumbed to sea sickness and another was on his way so we headed toward Burnham, bashing into the wind with the motor on for most of the time, which wasn't very pleasant. We got to Burnham around 17.00. We now faced the dilemma of what to do for the rest of the week as the forecast was for two more low pressure systems heading toward the UK.
We had some discussions about whether to stay put in Burnham for the day on Wednesday, heading for Ramsgate on Thursday then Dunkirk on Friday, or stay inshore and go to The Medway and London. In the end we decided upon Chatham and London to ensure an interestine week. To make it worth going to the continent we would have to go to Ramsgate on Wednesday and would risk getting stuck there or Dunkirk if the weather got worse. Many of the crew had already experienced Ramsgate on more than one occasion!
9 th July Burnham on Crouch-Chatham
A very very wet day! Leslie navigated and managed to spend most of the morning down below staying warm and dry with Irene. Crossing the shipping lanes with the radar on meant we felt fairly secure, but passing the HMS Montgomery, when Brian threatened to light a match, made us a bit nervous. We got through the lock in Chatham only to be given the smallest berth in the marina. Not to miss a challenge Andy and I were convinced we could squeeze in despite protestations from the rest of our ship mates. Anyway we were far to big and Leslie and I were left stranded on the pontoon as Andy and the rest of the crew found another, larger, berth. By the time we got to them Ocean Mist was securely tied up. We managed to find some food in various places in Chatham and Gillingham and made plans for London the following day.
10 th July Chatham-St Katherine Docks
We mainly motored into the wind today, although for the first time the sun shone. We were well in time for getting to Tower Bridge for 18.00 when the first lock was due. Just as we arrived Tower Bridge opened to welcome us. They let a couple of narrow boats into the lock first as they had been waiting outside for the whole day. Leslie and Irene decided to go home, so John and Brian tossed a coin for the fore-cabin and we spread out a little. I had a lovely meal with Steph who was able to give us some advice about the sulphurous smell in the boat. She joined Andy and I in a hunt for groceries and disinfectant for the bilges. Unfortunately by the time we had eaten in 'Ping Pong' Waitrose had closed so our selection of bread and goodies was limited.
11 th July St Katherine Docks-Harty Ferry
We had a fabulous journey down the Thames. Once the river stopped winding we were able to run with the wind behind us. As we got along the north side of the Isle of Sheppey it was fairly choppy and windy. However, Andy was getting excited, having persuaded everyone that anchoring was the thing to do. We arrived at our anchorage around 19.00. The evening was glorious and the bumpy water settled down during the night, although it had picked up again by morning with high water. Of course a night at anchor was made even better by the new wind generator. At one point Andy was noticed by Pam to be staring lovingly at it from below decks. I, of course, had assumed he was looking at me and was bitterly disappointed!
12 th July Harty Ferry-Bradwell
John navigated us from Harty Ferry. We managed to sail off the anchor at 09.46 with John at the helm. At 10.00am we had run aground so our quiet engine free beginning was scuppered. We managed to get off Horse Sand and make for slightly deeper water around the wind farm and Shivering Sands fort. With expert navigation, we arrived with plenty of water to cross the Swin Spitway and get into Bradwell Marina in the river Blackwater. Brian managed to get over 8 knots through the water under sail. We all had supper in the Green man, well known to Andy and I, having been storm bound there on more than one occasion.
13 th July Bradwell-Shotley
A lovely sunny day. We were able to use the cruising chute briefly but eventually the wind died and we motored and sailed up the coast to Harwich, arriving in Shotley at 15.00 where we filled up with diesel and tidied the boat before returning home. We were sad not to have made Holland, however, looking forward to returning after Andy gets his car MOT done and we do some washing.
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