Sunday, 3rd July
Brighton from Chichester is about 40 nautical miles over the ground, but when a boat has to plug a tide for a good six hours, the distance is somewhat more, especially when the favourable tide is not so strong or does not have the same duration as the adverse tide. Although ‘Bumper’ was sailing for twelve hours before arriving at Brighton, she had to sail against a strong ebb tide around Selsey Bill.
When first looking at Selsey Bill on the chart it doesn’t seem much of an obstacle; however, a closer inspection will reveal 0.8 metres at low water near the Owers Buoy to the south east, where the underwater extension of Selsey Bill finishes. Much of the water from the huge bay between the Bill and Beachy Head, to the East, has to ebb around Selsey Bill. The vortex effect is like water flowing through the spout of a kettle; as it has to rise over the underwater obstruction and be deflected by the headland, causing it to accelerate. You can imagine what that does when the wind is against the ebb, as it was today, when we arrived at the Owers. The waves had some curlers on their tops, and there was a bit of a swell from the south west.
Our average over the ground was five knots, due in the most part to the strength of the wind at the outset and until we had passed the Owers. At mid-afternoon the tide turned in our favour, and with a following wind we zipped along. ‘Fred’ the self-steering did splendidly well, helming the boat most of the way. He never gets tired, never loses concentration, does not require food, and he continues to work as well and hard whether the sun is shining or if it’s raining, or if it’s hot or cold. This slave never needs incentives and never asks for money - he even works without lubrication or maintenance.
Four larger yachts than ‘Bumper’ overtook us between the Bill and Brighton; apart from them, the only other human activity observed by us was the work being done by crab and line fishermen. Oh, yes, I forgot the RAF refuelling jet that kept circling overhead when we were at the Bill. Visibility was too poor for us to see the coast until we drew abeam of Littlehampton when it was about seven miles to the north.
Our arrival at Brighton went according to plan, but after I booked in for the night I was asked to move ‘Bumper’ to pontoon 17, berth 36. Unfortunately, the berth was occupied, so I informed the office by VHF and I was redirected to pontoon 12, berth 09. That was better, because the boat faced into the wind, and apart from the sound made by the warps as they rub the fairleads, it is very quiet.
Maybe, I’ll spend tomorrow at the Marina for some rest and to sort out odds and ends.