Having failed to teach The Queen’s English to those northern types who have informed us that both Hull and Hartlepool begin with a silent ‘h’, we are back down south. However they don’t speak it here no more neither!!
We are now in Ramsgate asking ourselves if it is time to take a holiday after the emotional roller coaster that we have experienced since April 1st.
Our trip from Shotley, planned to commence on Sunday, started on the preceding day with engine checks which showed that the engine did not want to go into forward gear without stalling. Maybe this was a kick back to running for 30 hours post maintenance or over-usage of the clutch during our slowing manoeuvre into Shotley lock! After twenty minutes of coaxing and checks the engine was deemed (fingers crossed) to be ready for the next foray.
Sunday morning arrived and as we undertook our pre-sailing checks the GPS plotter (which feeds GPS position to all our instruments decided that it was too old to carry on. Having done a number of simple checks to see if we could get it to start, it was obvious that it wasn’t going to play ball. Do we proceed without installed GPS and rely on good old chart work with the handheld GPS or stay in Shotley and attempt to get it fixed? Having a detailed waypoint passage plan created the day before using those good old charts the risk seemed minimal, therefore ‘bol**cks’ to the plotter – Christopher Columbus never had one and he made it to America!
Leaving Shotley was so uneventful. Funnily enough our pre-plan of what to do, how to do, when to do worked. It was only Steve who took three attempts to catch the bollard this time! I have now decided that Steve has two names – Super Skipper or Captain Chaos!
Once again the wind and tide were in the wrong direction to assist passage so we had to motor. Many cruisers, from the websites we’ve seen, do actually use far more diesel than anticipated so it isn’t just us!
We then faced our first risky part of the plan, which was to navigate through Foulgers Gat.(Last time we went through here there wasn’t a wind farm and the sea had been mirror-like). Having located the entrance buoy we needed to take a heading of 172 degrees, this was by our previous magnetic calculations assuming no tide variation. The start of the channel was the most risky as far as depth. We draw 2.2m and we were closely monitoring the depth throughout with Steve calling out the depth what felt like every 5 seconds especially as it was decreasing from 23 metres and reached a low point of 3.9 metres. I felt like I was holding my breath the whole 4 nautical miles at a speed of 6 knots!! Other than one of the new wind generators obscuring the exit buoy all went well. We then used two of the generators as a chicane to proceed to our next mark which would take us to Goodwin Sands – our next navigational challenge.
On the way we experienced wind over tide which gives you lovely short, lumpy waves. This obviously agitated our diesel tank again which necessitated the need to chance the diesel pre-filter as it became rather mucky! With this changed we continued to go to Dover as originally planned. Following another hour and a half and with daylight getting short we changed our plan to go to our alternate port – Ramsgate. The filter needed changing again and so we went onto our day tank which has a known clean supply of fuel. Entering into Ramsgate there were no issues and having confirmed our berthing position we talked through the options and entered the harbour knowing we had a short period to set fenders and lines. This took (me) longer than Steve had anticipated, which meant some manoeuvring in the harbour, where, funnily enough, they have a nice sandbank! Having encountered a similar reading at Wells Next The Sea of 0.7m, we had obviously kissed, very gently, the aforementioned sand! Boat performed and we proceeded to our berth with two, and I would use the words ‘so-called’, yachties watching and offering no form of support to help us as we were obviously short handed and fighting a bit of wind so “up yours, I got the cleat at my first attempt anyway and didn’t need your help”. After making secure a few wines and vodkas ended a great day in the office! ABSOLUTELY NO SEASICKNESS!!!!
Just before bed the inshore lifeboat went hurtling out and a short while later we saw it returning with a yacht in tow. It appeared that the RNLI were going to berth the casualty (coastguard/lifeboat terminology – as we know from previous experience!) behind us so Steve got onto the pontoon and asked if he could help by taking lines. With him receiving a positive response I joined him and we collected the necessary lines to secure the stricken vessel against the pontoon – greatly appreciated by the two gentlemen on board. We then suggested, following the RNLI ‘s departure, that a couple of beers might help! (Confirmation was received the next morning that two beers was the correct prescription).
The t-shirt says “a bad day on the water is better than a good day in the office”. However on this particular occasion, this could be rewritten as “a good day on the water is better than ***”