I can’t believe it; the boat is steady and on an even keel, despite the force 5 north westerly wind. Yes, you may have guessed, ‘Bumper’ is snug in Ramsgate marina.
Our 15 mile trip from Dover was quite exciting. First, we had to have permission to leave the eastern end of the harbour and we were told to make our way to the Knuckle Light where we were to call Harbour Control for permission to leave. Several other yacht skippers had the same idea, but one of them nearly allowed her boat to collide with ‘Bumper’ because the lady was operating her VHF set from inside the cabin and couln’t see where her ship was going. Needless to say, I had to take evasive action by changing course.
After a cross-channel ferry made her departure, we were all given permission to leave the Harbour. There were five of us in all, and as usual ‘Bumper’ was the baby among them; therefore after a short while we were all alone; the others could be seen on the horizon.
On rounding South Foreland, one gains a sense of scale. The white cliffs of Dover are gigantic by comparison with the ‘toy’ yachts that make their way around this natural headland. Passing northwards, within the first two miles, from seaward one can see two old lighthouses, the village of St Margarate’s Cliffe, a memorial and the Coastguard Control, Dover Patrol.
When we were clear of South Foreland and sailing northwards, I could see Deal Pier. As we were on the wind towards it, I could see the red can buoy named Deal Bank, which we left to starboard. There were threatening dark clouds to windward, and soon the wind that they heralded came in the form of strong gusts, but I held on to the sail, by spilling wind until each blow was over. With a fast ebb tide pushing us northwards, and ample wind, we made over five knots most of the time.
Because it was high water I took a course I’ve never done before -by simply sailing due north from Deal, over the Brake Shallows we arrived at Ramgate Harbour. On the way, in between the showers, there were some excellent navigation marks, namely the three cooling towers north of Sandwich, and buoys to seaward, such as Downs and South Brake. The sea had no swell, but was like one of those Dutch oil paintings, a turquoise green, flecked with white breakers.
Finding Ramsgate Harbour was easy, because the huge ferry preparing to leave towered above the harbour breakwater. Behind it, on a hill, were the buildings of Ramsgatr town.
Entering a commercial harbour such as Ramsgate, one always has to ask permission of Harbour Control, but often the go ahead is delayed, because a large vessel is about to leave or enter. Such was the case today, but as soon as the three entrance lights changed to green signifying the go ahead, ‘Bumper’ made her way to the Marina. There permission was sought for a berth; then having an affirmative I went through the usual rigmarole of setting up fenders and warps for a specific pontoon berth. I chose one that allowed me to take the boat into the wind so that the manoeuvre was not difficult.
There we should have a quiet night’s sleep, providing no rowdy drunks return to their boat in the early hours of the morning.
Well done Bill. Crossing the Thames soon! The weather promises to be better for us - I hope ot os for you!
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