Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday, 25th July

Looking toards Dover Castle
Hint of sunrise
Gaffer leaving Soveriegn Harbour

I couldn’t sleep from two-thirty this morning. I awoke and started thinking about the day’s sail from Eastbourne to Dover, a distance of 35 nautical miles. ‘Ladybird’ had to be in the lock by 0450, and it took me from 0300 to have breakfast, visit the toilet, prepare the boat, plus motor her to the lock.

Out on the water the scene was rather leaden, but a beautiful gaffer brightened the scene. She was powered with an outboard, but because of her long waterline length she very soon left us behind, and motored ahead with two larger yachts. Soon they were tiny dots on the horizon as the sun briefly showed behind cloud. There was hardly a breath of wind. When we were off Hastings I caught my first glimpse of Dungeness Power Station, unmistakeable very large buildings on the horizon. From there on the steering was visual - I just pointed the bow directly towards the smudges in the distance until they became larger when our course was refined for rounding the headland itself.

Wildlife was in abundance. A mile to the northeast of Dungeness I had the privilege of watching small black porpoises, the likes of which I have not seen before. Porpoise are usually grey. Gannets were diving for fish, and even swallows passed nearby. A handful of rod fishing boats were drifting on the tide; their occupants were oblivious of our passing them. Other yachts overtook us. The wind picked up and I cut the engine. Like yesterday, the strength of the wind increased until I had to reef both sails. Off Folkestone it blew its strongest, but not as strongly as yesterday when I severely reefed the sails.

Fortuitously, ‘Ladybird’ arrived at the western entrance to Dover Harbour shortly after the departure of a merchant ship. With permission from Harbour Control via the VHF radio, I anchored the boat in 3.8 metres of water where the chart showed 1.7 metres at low water. I think I have the best place in Dover - here all by myself in the lee of the Harbour wall. Yes, the boat is rolling, but there is no fee to pay and there is no noise, except for the sound of water and the mewing of gulls. The views are stunning, particularly towards the elevated Dover Castle.

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