Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday, 27th July

North Foreland Lighthouse
Swale mooring

When I set off from Ramsgate I didn’t know how difficult and demanding the going would be. By the time ‘Ladybird’ was abeam of Broadstairs, having travelled 2.8 miles, the engine had been running for two hours! The tide didn’t turn in our favour until we were off the Longnose Buoy, north of North Foreland. From there on progress was good along the north Kent coast past Margate until we were abeam of Reculver. The Margate Hook Sands were behind us, but the tide and wind were then against us. The rain came down and drenched everything. The wind strengthened which caused me to make full sail and start tacking to the west. The engine was ineffective because of the short choppy waves. To make things difficult the wind varied in strength and direction, causing me to make several adjustments to the sails. A bigger, more powerful yacht easily overtook us.

When Whitstable was abeam I identified the Whitstable Spit Buoy. This was no longer a north cardinal buoy because it has been substituted for a red can buoy. Gradually the wind increased in strength and backed to the southwest so that going into the River Swale, ‘Ladybird’ had to battle against it and the ebbing current. Our average speed at that point was only two knots. By following the four metre sounding line we were able to make better progress, because the current wasn’t as strong there as in the centre and deepest part of the River.

Dark clouds ahead threatened more rain, but there was a bright spot, seven seals on the mud to our starboard hand. By the time we reached Harty Ferry on the southeast corner of the Isle of Sheppey the tide slackened. A little further up the River I tied the boat to a vacant mooring. The time was at 1850. I was really pleased to have arrived in the River Swale, because the passage had been energy sapping. It had taken nine hours and twenty minutes to complete 25 nautical miles.

I have yet to work out a passage plan for tomorrow so that I can have the choice of sailing or stay put for a rest.

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