Cornwall to Scotland days 10 to 12
|17/07/2011||Filled under England, England east coast|
Day 10 – All it took in the end was one longish day at sea, with an eight o’ clock start, to complete our passage along the south coast of England and turn the next corner (left again). Favourable winds came our way yet again making this a fast passage, past Dungeness with its multiple lighthouses (the sea deposits more land out into the Channel every year leaving the old lighthouses behind and requiring a new one to be built further out) and past the floating drilling rig ‘Rambiz’ which, once we were past it, seemed to follow us around the coast like it was attached by a long piece of string.
The actual corner of the British coastline came just after we had dodged our way through an almost continuous line of cross-channel ferries going into and out of Dover harbour (a stressful little moment on a small boat). It is a simple matter of following the curve of the crumbling white cliffs to move quietly from the English Channel to the North Sea, a place where at first the water is tinted turquoise by the chalk dissolved from the cliffs then, as we close Ramsgate Harbour, it begins to assume the pale brown colour of the silt from the Thames estuary. Nine hours and sixty-four nautical miles after we left Eastbourne we are tying up to a pontoon and we can finally relax. An average speed of seven knots is fast for any sailing yacht of our size but we would not have achieved this without the fair tide running our way for much of the journey.
We are stopping for a while in Ramsgate taking the opportunity to catch up with a few friends and relations and also to let some wet and windy weather pass us by. We do try to avoid deliberately flirting with inclement sailing weather.
Day 11 – The long sea swell on which we were rising and falling at sea yesterday creeps into Ramsgate Harbour to disturb our sleep. Cirrus surges back and forth making a sort of grunting noise each time one of the mooring ropes becomes tight. Sometimes the motion in one direction is reversed so rapidly that our sleep is disturbed, but only slightly, just enough to produce strange dreams.
In the morning my cousin Chris and her husband, also Chris, cycle over from Broadstairs for a visit and we chat on like long lost friends until hunger drives us ashore. They are both boat and ship fanatics who take a keen interest in the comings and goings of vessels passing through the Dover Straits – and what better place to live for this. They insist on photographing us and Cirrus, so naturally we photograph them too.
By evening we are visiting old haunts in Faversham, first the Elephant then the Phoenix (most pubs here are named after animals, mythical or otherwise), for an excellent evening of ‘craic’ with our friends.
Day 12 – We stay the night with friends Rich and Gerry then meet up again with the same crowd for a long lunch with Richard E. in celebration of his impending retirement. This was originally planned as a ‘Retirement Regatta’ involving lots of messing around on boats in the sheltered waters of the Swale but the weather scuppers these plans by raining for most of the day and keeping us indoors. By evening the the rain has stopped and the sun is out and glinting off the cherries in the orchard back at Rich & Gerry’s place. Rich has to have firm words about pushing over trees with a black sheep called ‘Hot Horns’. The reasons for the name become obvious when you grab him by the scruff of the neck– the horns are indeed surprisingly warm to the touch.
There is plenty of wind about just now, a little too much for us to be venturing out on Cirrus. Through the Internet we are able to access weather forecasts for at least five days ahead and this gives us a possible sailing windows for the coming week so that we can make our next big jump, crossing the Thames Estuary to Suffolk. Despite the variability of British weather these forecasts have proved to be surprisingly accurate at predicting wind speed and direction and giving us warning of the conditions we are likely to encounter.