The Red Sand Towers
One of the three ships heading southwest
'Ladybird' at home
My long summer cruise is finished. ‘Ladybird’ is back at her Rice and Cole mooring. She voyaged from the River Crouch to Falmouth and back in less than two months.
Conditions were ideal at the beginning of today as we left the River Swale moorings. The wind was from the NW, which meant we could lee-bow the incoming tide northwards to the Red Sand Towers. We had first to pass to the west of the East Middle Sand Beacon which marked the clear water there. The Kentish Flats Wind Farm to starboard was a magnificent sight - row upon row of enormous wind turbines.
Immediately to the north of the Red Sand Towers there is the Owers Deep shipping Channel and as we were crossing it, one ship was going along it north-eastwards and three were going to the southwest. There was ample time to cross the bow of the ship from the west, but not enough time to make it beyond the buoys marking the northern side of the Channel before the other ships would have passed our bow. I therefore had to bear away under the stern of all three vessels.
We continued northwards toward Maplin Sands, but before reaching them we bore off slightly to the SW Barrow Buoy where the incoming tide was very strong, reducing our speed to only 1.5 knots; however, the wind on the new course was directly from astern, which was a great help. We very, very slowly ran up the West Swin along the edge of Maplin Sands. The Firing Range was active and the guard boat crossed rapidly north astern of us. At first I thought she was heading for ‘Ladybird’.
At mid morning we were invaded by a swarm of those flies that look like miniature wasps. They kept landing on my hands, which was a bit annoying. Even now as I type, there are one or two flying around the cabin.
I did my usual trick of cutting across the northern end of Maplin Sands a half-a- mile beyond the extremity of the Firing Range boarder. I could do this because it was high water and there were nearly three metres of clearance under the transducer.
There was a tiny glitch near the Buxey No 1 Buoy because the wind increased in strength and I couldn’t shorten down the sails as I needed to steer the boat to keep her moving. Later when the boat was in clear water I reefed the mainsail and that made all the difference. We were just able to lee bow the out coming tide so that we could motor sail into the River Crouch. The further we went into the River the smoother the water became and the faster the boat went, until we were doing a reasonable 2.5 knots against the ebb.
We arrived at the Rice and Cole pontoon at 1820 after a really good day’s sail. Then, all of a sudden it dawned on me that my summer cruise had come to an end.