Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Cruise

The Cruise

Wed 2nd April 2008

After launching 'Faith' at the Hullbridge Ferry Road slipway and returning the trailer to my home I set off down the River Crouch under power. Just before Fambridge I made sail. By 1250 Essex Marina at Wallasy Island was abeam to starboard. The sun shone and there was a gentle wind from the west which gave me a fast passage to the River Roach where I anchored close to the north bank to be out of the wind. A dominant male goose left the flock which alighted on the water nearby and did his best to chase me away; eventually it gave up and joined the others as they took to the wing. After the evening meal I noticed a large grey seal was taking an interest in the boat. His curiosity lasted for a long ten minutes and after realizing 'Faith' was not a threat to his territory or a potential mate he submerged never to be seen again.

Thur 3rd April

By 0715 the Honda 3.2 outboard was purring away. The bright morning sun blinded me as it reflected off the mirror-like water. About an hour and a half after leaving the Roach I topped up the engine with petrol. This was much easier than I thought it would be. Over time I discovered that a full tank of one litre lasted for two hours at an average speed of 3 knots. Apart from an inconsiderate fishing launch that passed only a few yards abeam I was completely alone until after mid-day when a rather stunning white ketch with tanned sails came near on her way towards Burnham.

The wind sprang up briefly, but after hoisting sail I had it down within ten minutes. Crossing the Thames from the southern side of Maplin Sands was a matter of ferry gliding to combat the ebb. Several ships were at anchor not far from Shoebury. Before arriving at the Columbine Spit Buoy at the entrance to the River Swale we sailed to the Red Sand Tower and to the west of a large wind farm. The size of the wind generators is quite staggering and there are at least 30 of them in regimented rows. They towered over several passing ships from the upper reaches of the Thames as they proceeded seaward with the ebb.

There was still no wind as we entered the Swale, but by that time the flood tide helped us along to an anchorage close to the southern side of the Isle of Sheppey, north of Faversham, where the anchor was set in 5 feet. On the way I was pleased to see a number of seals on the muddy west bank.

The evening was overcast and a light easterly wind brought a chill dampness. I very quickly snuggled into my sleeping bag in an effort to keep my toes warm.

Fri 4th April

A good SW 4 to 5, occasionally 6 was forecast, but at the time of leaving the anchorage at 0640 there was a dead calm. During the first few hours the scene was of greys and silvers, but thereafter the sun shone shafts of gold to illuminate the sea. On the whole passage I only saw two small sport fishing boats and the Ramsgate pilot launch.

While rounding the white cliffs of North Foreland the wind sprang up from ahead and although the tide turned in our favour I left the engine running, as it was only a matter of a couple of miles before Ramsgate where we arrived at 1345 and berthed at West Marina, G9 pontoon.

After a welcome shave and shower I met Nigel Davidson who owns a Hilyard 4 tonner, one of only two built of teak. He intends working to the west in 'Patsy Rye', but before doing so he wants to Explore Ramsgate.

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