Another early morning, I am beginning to feel that work was easier than sailing. We departed Dover on a very settled morning at 05:45, slightly later than expected but tea and cigarette (need to give up) later we were on our way and into a quite English Channel. We had a lot of miles to cover today so I was eager to hoist the gennaker and see what speed Troskala could accomplish with light breezes.
My gennaker dream was short lived with it constantly backing, but it was good to test it out and get some practice in handling it. So, after a while in went the gennaker and on went Bert (our Beta 30 engine). From 09:00 to 10:15 we motored with Carlos (the Auto Pilot) keeping a good course of 220 degrees. At around 10:30 a brisk North Easterly kicked in giving us the power we needed to give Bert a rest and sail around Dungeness with its pretty lighthouse and huge power station.
Trying with the Gennaker
Our progress increased as we continued with Troskala making a good 6 knots over ground at this point the decision was made to continue Brighton as it is only around 15 miles extra from Eastbourne and it made sense to clear Beachy Head in calm conditions.
Had a curry for lunch (from Iceland) that went down well, we were now in confused waters nearing Beachy Head and could not see the point until we were 5 miles up on it. After this point the view changed as the renowned lighthouse came into view with the Seven Sisters lifting up from the sea and basking in the afternoon sunlight. As soon as we rounded the headland our wind died and we motored the final 7 miles in Brighton Marina. We arrived in Brighton at 19:08 – sorry to my previous collegues who will be in Brighton next week and good luck with your sales meeting, I just made it too early.
We managed to at least have a small rest in the morning, not having to wake up at 06:00 in the morning.
The weather is great but still no wind so it looks like another motor trip down to Dover. We did not need to leave Ramsgate until 11:30 at 08:30 my Dad and me found ourselves in ‘Ship Shape’, a small breakfast café located on the marina front. If you ever go to Ramsgate this place offers a great breakfast for only £4.00. We took a walk into town to have a look around, I do think that Ramsgate seems to have more £1 shops than anywhere else I have been too and as I am no longer working I took complete advantage, whilst in the £0.99p shop I even managed to talk to two OPS’s about the extortionate prices of coke in Asda and Tesco compared to £1 land; I guess I am already turning into one of these people.
So we departed Ramsgate at 11:30 in glorious weather to complete the 16.7 miles to Dover, our last South Eastern port.
As expected it was a complete motor but at least the scenery improved as the white cliffs emerged from the sea. Pretty uneventful in all apart from dodging some lobster pots. We arrived in Dover at 13:45 and used the tidal harbor, as we needed to depart at 05:00 the next day. We spent the afternoon walking around the town; the beach was packed with locals and tourists alike – a very British scene. I do not want to offend any reader but I do find Dover Town very depressing. The town in run down and in much need of re-development although it did have an Iceland so off we went to stock up Troskala for the next 4 days and walked the two miles with bags full of wine and cheap produce; I even managed to stock up on some Fray Bentos before Carlotta come back to join.
After a nice lunch and an hours sleep we were ready for the off. The tide was turning and if we wanted to make full use of it down the estuary and around North Foreland we needed to leave around 15:30. Luckily the harbor staff had not charged us so I saved some money there.
It the end we departed at 15:25 and managed to do a few minutes sailing out of the River Medway, but that was all it was; a few minutes, we again suffered from little wind so motored all the way down.
The weather was yet again favorable with no wind but a slight haze, it seemed to take forever to finally loose the power station chimney on the Isle of Grain. We passed Red Sands Towers and the Kentish Wind Farms for the last time. As we rounded north Foreland we were med with a fantastic sunset. After spending 18 months with high buildings you do tend to forget about sunrise and sunset, but here it was, one of the best I had seen for a long time.
Dusk fell around 21:00 but by this time we had the channel leading to Ramsgate fixed. We arrived in the Port of Ramsgate at 21:30. After being told by staff that the marina was quiet we struggled to find a place and with little maneuvering capabilities it was a slight challenge, but we got in, showered and had a good dinner by 22:30. It does feel great being in a marina by the sea with the gentle rocking as you sleep and the familiar noises associated with marinas such as creaking pontoons and late night conversations. Thank God we have a lie in this tomorrow morning. Sleep well to you all.
So the time is approaching and the stress and nerves increasing. The final week at work is up on me quicker than I had thought and there has still been so much to do with completion of work projects and Troskala projects.
A new cost has arisen with a new mast being needed that we had not thought would need to be replaced but as it is an original and we had to have a new boom anyway it seemed wise to complete the lot at the same time and it is a much easier project. Unfortunately we had not calculated this cost and at £3,900 it has eaten some of our trip money, but there is little we can do at this point and to be honest I would rather spend the money now then have to do it in some remote island in the South Pacific.
We have now decided to move Troskala to Chichester for the haul out; I really do not know what we had in mind going to Ipswich but it seemed a good idea at the time. At least going to Chichester means that we have most of our south coast journey ticked off by the time we are there which makes more sense and saves some days. The second benefit of Chichester is the fact that the same riggers (Holman Rigging) fitted Troskala’s rig 12 years ago and thus have kept all the measurements, which makes life easier.
So our date to leave is the 24th July from St Katharine’s. My Dad has offered to crew for the journey down to Chichester so at least now I do not need to find anyone until we leave.
On a final note, thank you to all friends, family and work colleagues that have supported our dream, we are nearly there.
St Katharine’s to Queenborough (Goodbye London) – 24th July 2012
We left St Katharine’s at 06:00 with a lovely farewell from Emma & Tim, Paul from Double Dutch and a wave from Kat from Baleen. The weather was lovely with some much-deserved sunshine at last. We needed to get stocked up with fuel so made a quick stop at the fuel barge. Unfortunately the staff did not turn up until 06:45 so we had to wait for an hour, which meant an hour less of tide to push us down the Thames.
We finally set off at 07:10 and with no wind to speak off it was a slow sail down the Thames but at least it was not raining. I would like to say that I was sad to look back at Tower bridge and leave London behind but I was not and although it has been a great home to us for the past 18 months it was certainly time to move on.
We had a pleasant motor down the Thames, nothing out of the ordinary occurred although we have a small vibrating noise coming from our stern gear that will need to be lucked at.
We arrived in Queenborough at 13:00. Now we have to wait for the time to turn before we can set off over to Ramsgate.