Summer Cruise: Day 1 (good sail)
23 August 2014 | Ramsgate
DEPARTURE of ship: GUAPA
Port: Suffolk Yacht Harbour
Time: 2014-08-23 04:23 (UTC)
As usual on a first night, I was awake hours before my alarm was due to go off. Got dressed at 05H00, had a quick bite to eat and cast off. Decided to let Brigitte sleep in. One advantage of being on a mooring is that I can sail off on my own. Left Levington just as the sun rose. Foot Cliff came and went - we're out in open sea now. As usual, I planned to take the 'outside route' when crossing the Thames estuary. Having been caught out once atop a sandbank many years ago, I am now less than keen to repeat the experience. The stretch from Cork Sands to Long Sands Head was somewhat uncomfortable - wind right up the chuff and Guapa tends to roll quite a bit at that point of sail. Motorsailing it was then - just the mainsail up.
Once we rounded LSH and we started to head south, the boat's motion became much more comfortable and I unfurled the genoa. Off with the engine at last. Even Brigitte made a (brief) appearance on deck. Sun's out, blue sky, nice favourable breeze and the tide to carry us... what more could a man want or need? Boulogne s/Mer certainly was on the cards.
From time to time I went down below for a bite to eat or to check our progress on the plotter and to keep a weather eye on the NAVTEX. Progress was good, we were on track and on schedule to pass Ramsgate at 14H00. Boulogne s/Mer was certainly possible before 21H00. I always try for a daylight entry. However first indications on the NAVTEX that the weather was not what we hoped for further south in the days to come. To be monitored.
North Foreland came into view in due course. Brisk breeze an d glorious sunshine. All was well aboard - for the moment. When we were off Ramsgate the shy further south started to look ominous: dark grey/black with the occasional thunder bolt. Boat motion became livelier. Snap decision: we're heading into Ramsgate. Switched to VHF14 (Ramsgate Port Control). This also brought Brigitte on deck. Furled and stowed the sails with a minimum of fuss. Alongside before you would know it. Went up to the marina office to pay for the night and to obtain codes for the toilets/showers and the gates. What a shock to the wallet that proved to be. Must be the recession.
And, as luck would have it, blue skies again with just a hint of a breeze. Why did we come in here for? Anyway, now that we're here we might as well make the most of it.
Spent the afternoon strolling through the town. Lots of changes since we were last here - some for the better. The down centre looks like it has seen better days, the waterfront (Military Road) looks like it is on the up.
As per family tradition, we had dinner at Pizza Express. Brigitte then retired to bed early and I spent the rest of the evening socialising (how unusual). When I returned aboard, only slightly the worse for wear, I once again poured over the NAVTEX and browsed the usual weather websites on the internet. The weather for Monday looked very 'unsummerly'. Twenty knots plus headwinds and rain. I guess Normandy/Dieppe/St Valery en Caux will have to wait for another year.
Another snap decision (second one today): divert to Ostend in the morning.
ARRIVAL of ship: GUAPA
Time: 2014-08-23 12:58 (UTC)