Saturday, 13 August 2005

Ramsgate to Ipswich

The alarm woke us unkindly at 04h00, and we arose to a clear night sky, and perhaps about 8kts of wind..... After a quick coffee, I ran through the usual list of jobs neccessary to the safe departure of a boat, I fired up the GPS, tested the instruments, disconnected the shore power, turned down the fridge a little, and then fired up the engine..... After checking the water was flowing out of the exhaust, we quietly slipped out of the marina at 04h30, to a quiet and beautiful late night/early morning... it was still pitch black, so full lights, and follow the reds on the Ramsgate channel. This was very easy as there was no backlight of any kind, and the sk was clear.... We motored out of the channel, and at a suitable distance offshore to clear the shallows, we turned East. The tide was flowing easterly by this time.... contrary to normal wisdom about stemming the last of the tide round North Foreland, we had decided that an 01h30 start wasn't on the cards..... so we had a fast passage under engine to near Nth Foreland, where we were lucky enough to experience one of those beautiful morning sunrises that you only get at sea... with the sun peeking through clouds on the horizon, and sharing its warmth to create a real sense of happiness and fullfilment. So, as we rounded north foreland and freed off a bit, we hoisted the sails, and switched off the engine. The wind had built to about 12kts, and we, defying the wind directions of the rest of the trip, had a fabulous reach down to the Long Sands Outer mark, showing the entrance to Foulgers Gat. This passage was made, with the assistance of the tide at between 7 and 9kts over the ground, in bright warm early morning sunshine. We had the motor sail thr 3 miles through Foulgers Gat, simply to maintain the course.. it would have been sailable in a slack tide, but the strong easterly set was forcing us to sail just a few degrees too high. However, once we were through the gat, we freed off again, and had a further 8 miles of 8kt reaching through Black Deep. Ironic really, as this was the same bit of water that we had enjoyed fast reaching conditions on the way outbound!. There was little or no traffic, so we had a free hand to set a course that suited Maggie, and she was enjoying herself! Upon reaching Long Sands Head buoy, we headed up a bit, and sailed hard on the wind across the tide, still making 5 kts over the ground.... we were going to need to tack to clear the inside of Cork Sands, but we were enjoying the sail so much that we decided to free right off instead, and sail the longer route down teh other side of Cork Sands to the Cork Sands Yacht Beacon, and then face the beat up to Harwich as the tide turned. We practically flew halfway down to Cork Sands YB, and then teh wind died to about 6kts, and with the tide starting to go slack, we wallowed..... We were determined to sail, so stuck with it, and after an hour were rewarded with a building 12kts again... eventually we reached it, probably 75% of the passage completed ny 11h30.... we however then rounded the beacon just as the wind decided to pick up to 25kts... we found ourselves hard on the wind with full sails up... Maggie was hard pressed, but to her credit, held up, and we rounded up after a few minutes and dropped a good few furls in the genny. I was worried about how she would be balanced with a heavily reefed genny, and full main, but she coped admirably. We ploughed upwind at 7kts over the ground, and before we knew it had reached Harwich. We freed off to follow the port side of the channel, the preferred yacht track, and upon finding ojurselves very overcanvassed, then rounded up again to drop the main..... I took a few turns out of the genny at the same time, and we then sailed pretty much dead downwind into Harwich estuary. As we passed the mouth of the Stour, we decided to furl the genny and motor. After 35nm of passage, an 04h00 start, and into a busy river, we were just too plain tired for the regular gybing required.... We motored the final 7nm up the Orwell into Ipswich, and locked through pretty much immediately, and straight onto our berth. Both the lock and the berth were challenging with a strong wind blowing down the throat of the lock, and blowing us off the pontoon. Our 3 months of owning and sailing Maggie showed their reward however, in that we coped admirably. Much better than the last time we faced similar conditions. We were on our berth by 15h00, and undertook a rapid clear up, and scrub down.. packing and loading, and were ready to leave by 16h00..... (SWMBO had packed the bags as we motored the last 2nm, so we had a headstart!).... So what can I say about the trip?... marvellous?... brilliant?..... well.. only a boat owner will truly understand the sense of satisfaction of making a foreign landfall, and then returning safely home under your own steam, and in your own boat... enjoy!
Miles logged today 39.8
So far this trip 182.5
So far this season 470

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