18th to 26th of August 2007 - Not Quite the Channel Islands
|Crew :||Allan, Allan, Andy, Helen|
|Destinations :||Ramsgate, Eastbourne, Portsmouth, Shotley and Havergate Island.|
|Distance :||388 miles|
18 th August 2007 Shotley-Ramsgate
After briefing the crew the previous night we were able to get up and lock out early heading for the Isle of Wight! Motor sailed for most of the day due to south westerlies. The Thames estuary was very choppy and unpleasant, which wasn’t a great start. Helen succumbed at some point to sea sickness which was not going to pass. As the sea was pretty unpleasant Andy decided we should go into Ramsgate for the night. Andy loves Ramsgate, indeed he visits there at least twice a year, even when it is in the opposite direction to where he wants to go! (see Dutch Cruise). All the crew were relieved to be in the calm of the marina and have a hot shower.
19 th August 2007 Ramsgate-Eastbourne
Had a civilised start around 0940hrs. We started the watch system at 1200hrs. We had a two person watch system with Helen and Andy up for 2 hours together, then Helen and Scottish Allan for 1 hour followed by the two Al(l)ans for 2 hours then Andy and Geordie Alan for an hour before starting all over again. Again we were aiming for an overnight passage. It rained and rained until Andy went off watch, then the sun came out for a while. The wind picked up and it remained fairly uncomfortable sailing so we decided to go into Eastbourne for the night.
20 th August 2007 Eastbourne- Portsmouth (Haslar Marina)
Another reasonable start. The wind was again coming from the south west, making for another tiring day. We decided to go into Portsmouth rather than Bembridge or Poole, our other options, as the weather didn’t look like it was going to improve and it was getting late. We got into the marina and berthed next to a boat with about 20 children on board. The parents were very pleasant and directed us accurately to the local fish and chip shop and off license. As we were now getting to know each other and it looked like we might be spending more time in the marina we needed to stock up on wine and beer.
21 st August 2007 Portsmouth.
Storm bound in Portsmouth. Andy, Helen and Alan took a ferry across to Portsmouth and visited the Docks. Portsmouth is definitely a grand place to be storm bound. HMS Victory, Warrior and the Mary Rose were brilliant! Included in the ticket was a trip around the harbour to take a closer look at the battle ships. It was very windy out there. Force 8s were forecast and it was starting to look like we might be here for a bit longer. We heard over the VHF radio someone requesting help, as they had run aground on Bramble bank, we did not envy them.
Once back to the boat we were relaxing down below when Andy came down with a very grim look on his face. He had been walking around admiring and checking the beloved Ocean Mist when he noticed that the stem head fitting for the forestay had a crack in it and the stainless steal plate was bent. Who knows when this had happened, but it was clear we wouldn’t be able to sail back Shotley as any strain could cause the whole mast to collapse into the cockpit. Initially we thought perhaps we could get it fixed in Portsmouth, but this was likely to take some time. We had visions of catching a train back to Shotley. Fortunately our skipper was not to be defeated. He decided we could make the mast safe by reinforcing the forestay with all the available halyards and taking the genoa off. At least then if the stainless steel plate broke completely the mast wouldn’t collapse on top of us causing any injury. It meant that we would have to motor sail home and not get to the Channel Islands, however the weather forecast was making it unlikely that we would get out to the West of the Solent anyway.
22 nd August 2007
Storm bound for another day. After some provisioning in Morrisons Andy and Helen went back to make the most of their tickets for the Docks and found a pub for lunch, leaving the two Al(l)ans to relax. In the evening we had supper in a pub recommended by Tom Cunliffe. He wasn’t there, but I’m sure had he been he would have known what to do about a damaged stainless steel plate!
23 rd /24 th August 2007 Portsmouth-Shotley
After filling up with diesel we left Portsmouth Harbour around 0900hrs. We quickly got into the flow of our watch system and the weather looked promising, although the wind was more or less on our nose again. We had a good night sail. Fortunately Andy was on watch going past Dover. The ferries appeared to have been waiting for us as we passed around 0200hrs however, we missed them and headed on up to the Thames along the Kent coast. The mast stayed put and we arrived in Shotley around 1500hrs. We changed over to another of the school’s boats, Audere, and made plans for the next day, which looked set to be sunny and warm.
25 th August 2007 Shotley-Havergate Island (River Ore)
An early start, to get the tide and cross the bar at Orford Haven. We sailed onto the anchor for lunch at Aldeburgh and had a very relaxing afternoon watching the dinghy sailing. We then tacked back to Havergate Island and found an idyllic anchorage. After numerous attempts and various fiddlings with two anchors, neither of which worked initially, we were eventually at peace and secure enough to start eating and taking photos of the sunset..
26 th August 2007 Havergate Island-Shotley
Out of the Ore and a lovely sail down the coast and a bit of tacking before returning to Shotley. A beautiful ending to an eventful trip!
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