Showing posts from June, 2016

Out to grass?

Not our best ever night at anchor despite the idyllic setting:

1am - We are woken by the harsh metallic grating of chain on chain as the bobstay (under the bowsprit) saws away at the the anchor chain. The wind has got up a bit since those calm photos of the sunset last night. We get up and Howard brings the bowsprit in while I watch him from the cockpit. 
Back to bed.

3am - More sound effects, this time it's anchor chain dragging along the bottom under us. The anchor itself hasn't dragged but the wind is strong enough to blow us back over the top of the anchor and Howard notices that we are now in less than 2m of water - and the tide has 3m to fall. We have no wish to wake up later aground on a sandbank so something has to be done. We don't fancy upping anchor and moving in the dark (in our dressing gowns) so Howard has the bright idea of streaming 2 buckets out astern. They act as drogues and are enough to allow the tide to pull us back to where we should be despite the effo…

Ramsgate to home waters - Sat 4th June

Our Facebook page announced that we had made Ramsgate and friends were kind enough to send "welcome home" messages. It is certainly a psychological boost to have crossed the Channel (or North Sea) and be back in England but there remains one more significant hurdle before we can really claim to be home and that is the Thames Estuary.

There are sailors in the south of England who nip back and forth to France without a care but who speak in hushed tones of North Foreland with its rough waters and the Thames with its strong currents, sandbanks, gutways and wind farms.
And the forecast today, whilst fair in all other respects, does include the threat of fog banks.

At 10.30 am it is indeed very bumpy off North Foreland and the visibility decreases considerably until the ships anchored in the Margate Roads are only visible at very close quarters. We have electronic data (via AIS) and we have the radar but it is still very reassuring when the fog lifts and we have a proper horizon.


Back to Blighty - Friday 3rd May

This film “Dunkirk” had better be good. We hung about until 3pm waiting for the tide and then once we had cast off and were heading out we were asked by 2 chaps in a dory (scrupulously politely it has to be said) whether we'd mind just hanging around for 10 minutes while they filmed some sequence involving 2 warships coming slowly into the harbour. First the warships had to get out of the harbour which meant waiting for some big commercial traffic and then there was some continuity problem involving visible plastic (as far as we could make out on the VHF) so that the ships had to approach in the opposite order to that envisaged...

Anyway I got some close-ups of the hospital ship and of cheerful WW2 characters waving and saluting before we finally got clearance to leave at 15.45 (as quickly as ever we could, pretty please).

Once free we bounced out of the harbour and motor-sailed along in between the sand banks as far as Dunkirk West. We passed another gaffer going the other way and t…

Operation Dymano – Thursday 2nd June

When Mike put in to Dunkirk last week on his way to Ostend he was greeted by gunfire and smoke. His first thought was that the port was under attack by terrorists but a Spitfire being closely shadowed by a helicopter didn't quite match that interpretation and he soon learnt that in fact they are making a film here about the evacuation in 1940. On our arrival yesterday there were WW2 troops lined up on the breakwater and a hospital ship painted white with large red crosses lying alongside – no doubt the film, whenever we catch up with it, will shed some light on what was supposed to be happening.
The wide grey yonder marina is bustling (or bristling) with WW2 gunboats and state-of-the-art catamaran work boats rigged with complex camera equipment. Long-haired Americans with bandanas huddle in groups discussing camera angles and cursing the lighting (or so we imagine). Well, they might in fact be English, but there was definitely one long-haired American with a bandana.

There's even…

The wide grey yonder - Wed 1st June

Not a very pleasant trip south today - this is not why we go sailing, although, on the bright side, at the end of it we are pleased to be in a different port.
Early forecast says "North 4 or 5 then 6 or 7 later". So instead of waiting till the afternoon for a favourable tide we decide to get moving and, after locking out and waiting (ages) for clearance to leave the port, we motor out into the swell at the harbour entrance at about 10am. Only 10kts of wind to start with and visibility not as bad as it was in the dock. One reef in the main and both head sails until the wind picks up. Our speed through the water increases to over 7 kts so we need less sail. Howard clips on, makes his way to the foredeck, furls the jib and then wrestles another reef in. It would be easier if we hove to but we do it without changing course. Sorry - no photos of this action on the lurching deck as I need both hands for the tiller while he does it, and anyway there's too much spray. It's qui…

Still in Ostend - Tuesday 31st May

Yes, still in Ostend.This seems to happen every year we come. It's blowing 6s and 7s in the wrong direction whichever forecast we look at, and we do try a few to find one we like.
My only photos of the day show the dreary conditions:

We hope to head south to France tomorrow and friends have various plans for an early start to get their boats home to ports in the Netherlands. So it's a more subdued dinner together on the old sand barge T'ai (great hospitality!) before an early night.