Thursday, July 07, 2005

Thursday, 7th July

Sailing boats have always been subject to the weather, primarily the wind. If the wind is strong enough to drive a boat over local currents generated by the tide, the boat is free to go anywhere in that region. Today is a point in question. ‘Bumper’ needs to go northwards around North Foreland against the tidal flow, but the wind is coming from the north. Put the engine on, some would say, but that does not take into consideration the strength of the wind. ‘Bumper’s’ maximum speed in choppy sea conditions is around 4 knots, simply not enough for significant progress. Even if she managed to reach a point north east of North Foreland, the forecast indicates a force 4 to 5, occasionally 6 can be expected from the North West, which would mean beating along the north Kent coast in restricted waters owing to the sandbanks; add a recipe of rain and showers makes the prospect not good.

The skipper of ‘Bumper’ is not alone in his thinking here at Ramsgate; not a single yacht has left the marina, but a sea and wind-battered crew have just arrived in their fabulous yacht, saying conditions ‘out there’ are ‘diabolical’.

Listening to the Coastguard weather forecast at 1015 brings a little encouragement for the outlook; northerly winds will decrease in strength to Beaufort Scale 3 or 4; that’s between 7 and 16 knots, or 13 to 30 kilometres per hour.

Perhaps tomorrow, there will be an opportunity for progress towards Burnham-on-Crouch, although the route could be circuitous, maybe along the north Kent coast before going north east by the southern edge of Maplin Sands, and finally a leg westwards into the River Crouch. That could take two days or more, depending on tides and wind.

Meanwhile there are the usual routine tasks aboard, not unlike ‘housework’ at home, but with additional elements such as updating the tidal flow atlases, examining the charts, checking everything, including rigging and the engine. Has the fuel been topped up, and is there enough water aboard?

A day spent at Ramsgate will not be wasted; I’ll be able to visit the bank, do a little shopping, have a look around the town and take a walk for some exercise.

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