Monday, April 07, 2008

The Cruise - Part 3

Cruise Part 3

Sun 6th April – continued

After MacDonald's I went for a walk along the Marine Parade where there was an excellent view of the sea which looked uninviting, particularly where the dredged channel led to the Harbour entrance causing the north going ebb to bring about nasty looking breakers – just the thing to avoid in a small vessel such as 'Faith'. Sleet was falling from heavily ladened black clouds and under those circumstances I was amazed to see two scantily clad young girls sat cross legged on the wet pavement behind the sea wall; they were engaged in a loud conversation, none of which to me was intelligible. Further along the road there were children dodging the waves as they broke over the barricade.

On arriving at the North Breakwater I discovered several fishermen and a women hopefully waiting for bites; one fisherman had caught a dogfish and he informed me it was a member of the shark family. I must admit it looked a bit like a miniature shark, except the upper fin was not at all prominent. At the extreme end of the breakwater there were several excited Japanese youngsters who repeatedly took photos and videos of themselves with their mobile phone cameras. They giggled loudly when viewing the results.

As I donned my 'oilskins' to protect myself from drizzle mixed with sleet, the ferry the 'Euro Enterprise' entered the Outer Harbour. The whole operation was skilfully carried out when she reversed into her docking station. Berthed at the North Breakwater there was a bulk sand carrier named 'Black Deep'. At first I thought she was a dredger, but as far as I could ascertain she did not have a dredge.

The Maritime Museum has a few vessels on display in the Inner Lock Basin; one of them is 'Emanuel' built my Capt Anderson back in 1926; she is a counter stern gaff ketch in restored condition rigged with galvanized steel standing rigging. Her varnished box cabin complete with brass ports and teak laid decks make her a very attractive classic vessel.

Back at my faithful 'Faith' by mid afternoon I made a welcome cup of tea and I was thankful I had not arrived later because the sleet became persistent.

Mon 7th April

As soon as the 'Europa Endeavour' had entered Ramsgate outer harbour I sought permission from Port Control to leave. The time was 0700 and 'Patsy Rye' followed but a short distance. I made full sail in the shelter of the harbour and cut the motor. I laid a course to South Brake buoy, a distance of 4 miles with the wind on the nose, but the flood tide more or less eliminated any leeway whilst adding to our speed giving on average 4 to 5 knots. 'Nancy Rye' motored close inshore to avoid the banks, but I took advantage of the full current. The sailing was brisk and as the sun shone between dark clouds 'Faith' dug her lee chine in deep; spray spattered my spectacles. Well ahead I noticed South Foreland was covered with snow and the wind was bitingly cold; I was grateful I was wearing my thermals as the occasional snow flurry speckled the deck.

A sinister stealth military vessel held station to seaward and a rib was launched from her before racing to a beach north of Deal. After quarter of an hour the speeding boat returned to her mother ship. I can only suppose the crew were practising for when they may be on active duty.

At Deal Bank buoy the courses of 'Nancy Rye' and 'Faith' converged so that we were able to speak. The ancient Walmer Castle of Deal clearly stood out as it was highlighted by the eastern sun; abeam there was another castle and a small lattice pier. No doubt vigilant observers at Dover Patrol, high above and close to the edge of the perpendicular chalk cliffs monitored our progress. Here the current was edging 'Faith' east of her intended course close inshore; therefore I started the motor and took in sail. Shortly afterwards the engine ran out of fuel, but it was not too difficult to refill the tank.

Entering the eastern entrance of Dover Harbour was textbook; fortunately there was no ferry activity and getting into the tidal part of the Marina was routine. There the facilities are good, except for the scorching hot showers.

Maybe tomorrow the weather will be suitable for proceeding westwards.

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