Monthly Archives: August 2015

Log Entry 26th August 2015

Déjà vu , comes to mind sat here in Ramsgate in high winds and unsettled weather – August seems to have been a bit of a wash out. Yesterday we took a look out past the harbour and saw a couple of yachts setting off in what looked like pretty challenging conditions. One then returned and made an undignified attempt at berthing – which left his partner on the pontoon and young son on the deck, whilst he made a second attempt – oh the memories. Fortunately a number of people rushed to his aid.

The day before the ‘harbour masters’’ man, suggested we might be better on an inner berth where it would be more settled – I asked if the current berth would be uncomfortable or unsafe – he declined to answer and left the decsion to us. I explained the concept of a long keel and going astern to the chap – who looked bemused and I could see his mind thinking ‘poor workman blames his tools’. I tentatively asked if we took an inner berth, taking the berth bows to, could we have a push on the bow with his work boat when it came time to leave – again he looked like I was a mad man, and said – ‘I would but I may not be here’ I wanted to say, what are you the only person that can take charge of the work boat. I bit my tongue reminded myself we were in a marina run by the council and this chap had the intent of helping. Also taking into consideration a potential discussion with the insurance company if we suffered damage after declining advise from the marina – we elected to accept the offer of moving and having our lines taken from the helpful chap.

The berth offered was a straight run in, and then a departure astern, or take the berth astern and then have a more or less straight run out. There was little wind so we made our first attempt astern – awful, so we went round for another go. This time it was as perfect as it gets, a stern line was passed to the helpful chap …. unfortunately the bow now was pulled off with the wind, but we fended off . I passed a bow line to the chap which he dutifully pulled on as hard as he could …. I calmly said if you make this bow line off on that cleat there, I will then use it as spring and the engine will pull the bow round. There was a look of disbelief in his eyes, but he did as asked and the bow came round as promised, I wouldn’t say he was impressed, but perhaps I was one step closer to being judged sane.

Ramsgate

The compressor for the fridge failed, fortunately we have the portable strapped in so all is not lost.

The forecast tomorrow is better, allowing for a departure bound for Lowestoft – we feel privileged, however, to know we can wait if necessary.

Sailing memories 

just a few memories from this year from the crews prospective.

Left Grimsby in some bouncy seas, so as ever I (the crew) went to my bunk for the majority of the sail to Lowestoft. I went on the helm whilst the skipper went up to change the sails unfortunately a sheet knot came adrift and I was unable to stop the block damaging the wood on the rubbing straight, the skipper came to help and for his trouble got a cut hand, some tlc and a plaster helped. The block will need to be replaced. The skipper then fed us and I returned to my bunk( this is a recurring theme).

Some shopping in Lowestoft and a meal out was lovely.

Left Lowestoft on more bouncy seas. On th helm as skipper put up the sails was quite an experience and I was not in a hurry to repeat it, a good sail followed and after sleep I came back into the cockpit to find a force 8 had been on the radio and we were going into Ramsgate. It was pitch black with what looked like a hundred lights to try and find the enterence I was on the helm whilst skipper took down sails, it certainly focuses the mind when all you have to rely on is each other getting there bit right.  Then I put fender and ropes out while skipper motored into our new berth. A couple of beers were downed in relief of a safearrival,

More shopping ensued and washing to be done then off again… Had the odd ice cream and cake

After anchoring made it to Brighton only to find diesel in lockers and bilge, a major clean up was needed.

I made use of the sewing machine by making a new flag and cover for the Dan bouy.

Then off again to anchor in and about the Isle of Wight.  

Waist lines seem to be increasing, oh well worry later

Now in cherbourg, arrived at night, next day off to the shops, got nail varnish,  wine and cake just the thing for crew. 

Bordered by the French customs who were very pleasant but still a force who would get what they wanted regardless. More washing and shopping. Skipper worried about the Alderney races, but as I slept through them I thought they were fine..

Off to the Channel Islands to a beautiful anchorage of havelet bay. Dinghy used to get ashore. Slight problem with skippers computer and beer – they don’t mix. Swam in the bay whilst skipper sat on the slipway. Sea was soooo clear but cold..Bad wind was forecast so we went into the marina which was chockablock. Went out for pizza, pandora shop no longer open. More ice cream and cake consumed. Good job we had spare computer.( nothing to do with me!

Alderney was lovely,took up a mooring bouy against another boat due to leave as it was packed( Ann and Nick off sing in the tide) dinghy ashore to shops most days had a few beers in the pub and sailing club. Went on the old train which is a converted underground carriages. Bad storm blew up so boat bound for a couple of days, then the sun came out. Saw a new anchorage when leaving maybe next year….?

Left Alderney for Portland, motored all the way, arrived again at night with the help of the marina night staff and his dog, small scratch on hull from pontoon,much to skippers annoyance but we were safe and again beer was consumed.

diesel was required, so a rather long walk up a hill was necessary leading to ablistered toe for me. A bus trip to Weymouth and the pandora shop was open.

Painted rubbing straight to cover up all the wear and tear. Met a lovely couple from theboat Starburst they keep on the Orwell river who told me all about the tradwind owners association on Facebook who is a friend of theirs.

Anchored again in the Solent, it now feels like we are on our way back home.

New marina for us in Gosport at Clarence, took the ferry across to Portsmouth did some crew  retail therapy .

Did some more washing at £1.40 it is the cheapest found so far. So I washed everything… Only trouble was I melted a sleeping bag in the dryer. Had a lovely meal out at the. Castle tavern.

Left gosport with the pink sail for Brighton arrived at night with the help of the marina staff – no scratches. Skipper collected his new. Computer.

Polished all the push pit and tided up, skipper trying to make new computer work like the old one with all the sailing software, I stayed out of the way. Met Richard (wife Claire)who was very chatty about all his sailing experience from Grimsby (G&Cyc) to the Caribbean and back… Their boat is phalarope.

More washing and shopping done.

Read loads of books and embroidering a lighthouse picture also downloaded a jigsaw app on iPad.

Anchored for the night near Dungeness and settling down for the night, and in the pitch black and miles from anywhere there was a knock on the hull and 2 burly cusoms officers came aboard, looking for migrant being smuggled into UK after channel tunnel closures and added security. They checked the boat and took all our details, then they left, we went to bed slightly unnerved.

 More escapades soon x

Log Entry 20th August 2015

We departed Gosport as planned on the 15th August, bound for Brighton. The winds this year seem to have been fickle and challenging for the forecasters. We had the opportunity to try out the new double Yankee – which was effective but very heavy to hoist – and more practice is needed to use twin poles. The wind dropped and so we even tried to use the cruising chute, not even enough wind to fill that – but the practice was helpful. The engine was started, then some wind came from behind again – it started to get stronger so a preventer was rigged by the crew to avoid unwanted gybes – the work on the foredeck for the crew was a challenging experience. The wind then picked up some more so a couple reefs were put in the mainsail …. we were not cracking along which was good and bad, good because it was nice to be sailing bad because we would not get to Brighton in time for the last opportunity for entry before low water and would now have to wait three hours for sufficient water. The wind dropped again and we effectively arrived at Brighton on the first opportunity to enter after low water, we radioed up and made our way into the entry into Brighton .. as we were making our approach so did a lifeboat towing another Yacht. The lifeboat was actually making better progress against the tide than we were with the tide and a potential collision situation arose … the lifeboat had right of way under the collision regulations, and they took that right of way with 5 blasts on their horn to indicate they were unclear of our intentions. Altering course to starboard avoided the collision and put us uncomfortably close to the wall, at least the lifeboat was near. We managed to swing back round into the channel to enter the channel again … the life boat had now stopped to bring the yacht along side it rather than towing, so there was no room to pass we just had the little challenge of standing off whilst they sorted themselves.

In contrast to last year, Brighton had staff working at night and we even had someone help us into our berth – which was much appreciated. They had also taken delivery of a new notebook computer.

We departed Brighton on the 18th bound for Rye, and once again the Marina staff excelled and kindly offered some help from their work boat to nudge our bow round when exiting from the berth – I still can’t believe the customer service, in contrast to last year – well done Brighton.

Now, before setting off to Brighton the Notice to Mariners were consulted, and it was noted a dredger might be working in the marina advising mariners to pass on the correct side of the dredger. To be honest I had to check the correct signals carried by a vessel dredging, I drew a picture in the logbook, two diamonds by day and two green lights by night indicate the side you should pass on. So as we were exiting the marina and found a dredger in the fairway I felt relived to see two diamonds and with confidence made a course for that side of the dredger, it felt uncomfortably close to the edge of the channel, but diamonds it was … we came abruptly to a halt as we went aground. No worries we were trying to get out as early as possible and we were on a rising tide. Another Yacht approached to exit, strangely they went the other side and got through. A wave of shame passed over, I must have got it wrong and all these on lookers would know. I looked up and saw two green lights on the other side and remembered green for go, the crew then kindly said you have a lot to work out on each passage – comforting words but it was a knock to the confidence. The crew then said we just needed to remember balls are round and you go round – brilliant. We continued on our passage, again not the wind forecast but we pressed on. The shame was still taking its toll, and I went to check the log book, I had even written diamonds down how could this be, I cant even transcribe information now. I checked the Reeds almanac, and my heart lifted, you should pass a dredger on the side showing diamonds. Now for anyone disbelieving take a look at the picture below.

Dredger

We were bound for an anchorage either on the West or East side of Dungeness depending on the wind. The wind did pick up and we had a nice sail and happily rounded Dungeness in the dark perfectly to find some shelter off Lade Bay, the anchor was dropped and it was time for some sleep. It’s a lovely feeling to drop the anchor in the dark and look forward to the curtain of darkness to be lifted revealing the shore, even better if some sun shines – we felt chilled. The crew took to their bunk and I did some final checks on the tides for the following day, I heard a sound like a rope falling on the deck and thought shall I take a look – and decided against and carried on working. Now hold this thought its pitch dark, your in the middle of nowhere, when several load knocks are heard on the hull … I muttered several expletives along the line of ‘ what the heck is that ‘, I rushed to open the hatch to see two well built men dressed in black with storm trouper helmets on …. ‘Hello’ one said we are border control – the voice was friendly but the attire was not. You have to appreciate these men were already on board and had not waited for any invitation; they searched the boat looking for migrants. I found some amusement seeing them man handle the sails looking for anyone hidden – I took some relief they were not using a pitchfork for the task. Passports were checked and questions asked and answered – they made every effort to be friendly and polite. I thought about the two lockers in the cockpit that I often have to climb into to get at wiring etc, these were unchecked, but I thought better of making a clever remark such as you haven’t checked everywhere.

Their visit was a timely reminder that we live in a world with only a very thin veneer of civilisation to it.

Yesterday we sailed up to Ramsgate with the promise of a fair and strong wind which never really came. A warm welcome from the marina at Ramsgate, with the greeting of welcome back to Ramsgate from the berthmaster.

Log Entry 14th August 2015

The long motor from Alderney meant we had used some diesel and even when we topped up with the remaining two spare cans the tank was not full. The UK still sell red diesel but other countries don’t and if you get caught with red diesel they fine you. That coupled with the fact that the engine runs cleaner on white diesel meant we had to find a garage as the marina only sells the red stuff. The magic of a smart phone told us we has a two mile walk – so off we set with the trolley. We confirmed directions with a local, who said its up there but I would not like to walk … off we plodded. It was a long walk up a hill but there was a reward of a lovely view.

portland sml

The garage was found and the cans filled, a strange look from the cashier and payment offered … I didn’t have the exact change, and as a result even got the diesel cheaper .

With the tank topped up we were ready to depart for Studland bay anchorage on the 9th, with some more light winds. The ‘ghoster’ sail was hanked on the night before – now this sail is very large and very pink – the compromise at the time of purchase being the boat could have a new sail if the crew could chose the colour – it never fails to attract comment. Moreover this sail took us on our way at a very healthy 4 knots plus the tide – that was fast considering the trip from Alderney. Studland anchorage off Poole harbour was pretty full but as the day drew to a close many people left leaving us on the outer perimeter for an easy escape in the morning.

We departed Studland bay on the 10th bound for the Solent – there was a slight problem in the fact that some strong winds were forecast from the NE later in the week. We didn’t have a known anchorage for those winds, so we booked a marina berth for 11th – 13th at the Royal Clarence Marina in Portsmouth. We spent the night of the 10th in a Practical Boat Owner free parking anchorage called Stanswood bay – it was sheltered and calm.

The following day we made our way under engine (no wind) to the marina. The Almanac made it clear which route needed to be taken, and noted that if the instructions were not followed a vessel would be considered as ‘hostile’ by the Royal Navel base … all adds to the excitement. We arrived safely though the Port is busy with both pleasure, commercial and Navel vessels. The following day we took a ferry across from Gosport where the marina was to Portsmouth for a day in the shops, always good to keep the crew happy.

We have extended our stay until the 15th as fog is forecast today and that didn’t sound like fun given the shipping density. We aim to depart on the 15th August bound in the direction of Brighton.

portsmouth sml

Log Entry 4th August 2015

With a good forecast for wind for Monday 3rd August we departed Alderney for Portland.  Despite the calm of the morning we had been promised a force 4-5 occasionally 6 from West to South West. The long and the short of it was the wind did not arrive and it was a long motor across the shipping lanes – sole destroying in fact at only 3 knots.  Next was the Portland tidal race to negotiate – the new paper tidal atlas paid dividends and with a bit of luck we would not hit a foul tide.  Of course as we approached Portland harbour the wind came, having heard another forecast of 6 -7 winds, a couple of reefs had already been put in the main – so that eased matters.  It was now dark, and there was a couple of strange red and green lights behind us, not on the chart nor on the AIS – and then woosh we were buzzed by a helicopter  – It surely provided amusement to see us jump from our seats and look above – this and the warship that kept appearing and disappearing on the AIS kept us on our toes.

Thank goodness again for chart plotters which made it easy to find the North entrance to Portland harbour.  The wind now was quite strong and the wonders of the electronics was not reporting either its direction or strength correctly – a timely reminder that electronic aids are not fool proof.  The buoys were picked out for the approach to the marina and a call put out to enquire for a berth.  The microphone in the cockpit prevented any useful communication so the crew volunteered to have a go from the chat table and contact was made and instructions given by the berth master.

The wind was quite lively and we were able to pick out the berth master who had kindly offered to take our lines, the only problem was in his kindness he was waving a torch to highlight the berth – in doing so he shone it straight at us which meant the night vision was destroyed. The first attempt was aborted as we came dangerously close to lots of expensive plastic – the berth master was reasonably understanding, and offered assurance such as the wind is on your starboard quarter you should just get blown along side.  Such words of wisdom and if that had been the wind direction it would have been a simple matter.  We made a second attempt but my calculation was the wind was anything but in the direction purported – anyway we eased in and the berth master shouted ‘turn the bow in’, mmmm, okay lets go for it, and then followed the words ‘straighten up’ – he clearly did not know how a long keel boat handled.  Fortunately he then had the challenge of pushing off the bow to straighten us up –  along with a push at the stern and we were in.  Upon reflection it would have been better to anchor off Weymouth and wait for daylight – that said the winds today are even stronger so different challenges would have been faced.  Its becoming increasingly apparent the best part of sailing is tying up safely along with the safe arrival drink.  

Log Entry 2nd August 2015

The sun is still shining, which was encouragement to take the Alderney train to the other side of the Island.  The train ride was surprisingly fun, and views spectacular – the anchorages looked good and were a clear invitation to come back to Alderney again.

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It is now ‘Alderney week’ and the theme is cowboys and aliens – we have not seen much of the activity but heard a party from the shore until 5.00am this morning, every one was obviously having fun.

We hope to get ashore to get provisions for a return passage to Portland – possibly Tuesday with the promise of a fair wind.

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