Departed Lowestoft 9th June at approximately 9.30am bound for Ramsgate, forecast wind NE 4-5 occasionally 6 in south. The usual challenge of leaving the berth, and armed with a plan of exiting parallel to the berth and then moving sideways until there was room to manoeuvre, the good lady decided to show she could do the unexpected and turned perfectly to present her bow in the direction we wanted to go – nice to have some good luck.
The exit from Lowestoft was lumpy, the crew was, reluctantly, put on the helm. It never ceases to amaze me how 9 tons of boat can rise and fall on the waves seemingly without effort. I pronounced with my best reassuring voice, ‘It will be better when the sails are up’. The response was ‘your not going up there are you, can’t we motor all the way there’ ? It was good practice and lovely to have the boat turned into the wind at the right moment to get the sail up, and of course with the wind on our quarter the boat settled as promised. Moreover, we made good speed with just the mainsail up, I am guessing the sea was slight to moderate. Warm food makes all the difference to a passage and our oven is shown bellow on the primus:
Cooking pasties or chicken pieces has the advantage that there is now boiling hot fluid to spill on you if you do not have your full weather gear on, which I did not.
After the food it was clear we were going to make Ramsgate quicker than I had anticipated, and perhaps before midnight, in the dark. The contingency had been to sail on to Rye bay and anchor if the entrance to Ramsgate looked challenging. The plan was flawed, as late afternoon the Coast Guard put out a Gale warning force 8 for Dover. The prospect of experiencing our first gale near shipping lanes, a busy port and with the relative close proximity of land from all directions except from the direction from which the wind was blowing, focussed the mind. The pilot book said Ramsgate could be entered in most conditions except for storms from the east.
The wind had been a constant force 6 / 7 but seemed to drop to a force 5 which was welcomed, although the sea remained ‘bouncy’. The practice on the helm earlier paid dividends when it was time to get the main down – and we did so at sea. An easier option might have been to sail into the outer harbour and then pull it down, but there is always the chance of something going a miss and then plastic may meet stone so to speak. We were given permission to enter the harbour and that left the task of the fenders and ropes. Fenders were deployed, now where should we berth, in the dark it is difficult to see . The outer break water offered an easy berth, which we took mindful of last years experience on the other breakwater. Lines were mad fast and safe arrival drink rewarded.
Today we have taken the punishment of the easy berth, but rationalised it was the right thing to do as we live to tell another tale.
Our track should be shown below: