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Cornwall to Scotland days 8 and 9

Day 8 – The occasional nugget of feedback we get from followers of this blog is always welcomed here on board Cirrus. And we now know that there are those that are following not just our progress but also that of the weather fronts as they move across our sailing area. So the sudden change between yesterday’s weather and today’s – a complete reversal of wind direction, sunny skies to heavy rain, shorts and T-shirt to jumper and cagoule – prompted some alarm amongst our readers, concerned that we were might be swept right back to the West Country again. Fortunately, being an island race for many centuries does have some advantages, not least of which are that safe harbours litter our coasts and keep out the nasty seas associated with some of our nastier weather. Brighton marinaBrighton marina is one of these although it has not, as it happens, been around very long. It is a very safe haven and tucked in as we are beneath the ‘Frankie & Benny’s’ and the ‘Pizza Express’ with a floating Chinese restaurant almost close enough for us to reach out for a chop suey, with the marina-based housing development behind this then higher still, a flank of chalky cliffs, we could not be more safe. Although we are still floating on the sea and rising and falling with the tide there is not a gale that could touch us here; but thank you all for your concern.

We take advantage of the day off sailing by meeting with family who live not too far away, this being part of the reason for our passage around the coast in this direction. Our eldest, Tony, pops over to stay on board for a couple of nights and, it being my mother’s 89th birthday, I hire a car to drive to Ticehurst and surprise her. (I will not dwell on the navigation difficulties I encounter on this short journey, the absence of road signs at junctions where they might have been useful to me, although I did speculate that perhaps in preparation for an invasion the signage has been deliberately removed. Have I missed this particular piece of news?) Happy Birthday Mum.

Evenings at the marina are when the starlings return. Great flocks of them come sweeping in, swirling around in a spectacular air display of synchronised flying then dramatically swooping down to disappear beneath the piles of the West Quay where we assume they must roost. They are noisy beasts and once they are gone all is quiet for a brief moment, until suddenly they appear again, as if from nowhere, to perform an encore for us. We feel like applauding, but we restrain ourselves.

Day 9 – On the move again, we wave farewell to Tony and leave port, this time to hop along the coast to Royal Sovereign Harbour. This is not just a man-made harbour, it is a town constructed out of nothing, which lies close to but yet separate from the town of Eastbourne. From the sea (always a different viewpoint) we can compare and contrast the two places. The sea front at Eastbourne is typically Victorian, blocks of four and five storey terraced houses all painted white or magnolia, presenting their faces to the sea. This grand facade is a land of hotels and guest houses with amusements along the promenade that have been entertaining visitors for years.

Turn the head and focus upon Royal Sovereign, a settlement of separate brick-built dwellings with steep pitched roofs done in a modern style. We know, from having been here before, that the marina complex lies at the centre, a network of waterways and lagoons connected by walkways and bridges which lift to allow boats to pass. Unlike Eastbourne, Sovereign looks to the marina, not out to sea. There are even boats offering trips around inside the harbour so visitors can gaze up at the surrounding apartments, brick-built with their little balconies, as they pass by. Beyond this the town’s suburbs start but there are shops galore, supermarkets and all the rest all within a short walk, making this place totally self sufficient, needing nothing from its larger neighbour.

So you can take your pick. There are those that would find Sovereign too much for them, too modern and contrived. Equally there are those who would see Eastbourne as a relic of days gone by. There’s no accounting for taste.Yacht off Beachy Head

Our wind is off the land now, a stiff breeze which whisks us on towards Beachy Head at great speed. The sea is nearly flat so the sensation of movement is almost absent, only a shushing noise from the stern alerts us to the movement. The lighthouse beneath this grand cliff is a relic too now, no longer does it shine out. It has been replaced by a building high above on the cliff top and its bright paintwork is beginning to show evidence of neglect already.

Here we turn a corner (left again) and motor the last few miles into port, finally passing through the lock into the world within a world of Royal Sovereign.

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