Friday, January 20, 2012

Cruise of the ‘Aziz’ a Pioneer 9 Part 3

Mooring Receipt at Brighton

Please bear in mind that I am writing this account of my attempted cruise to the Azores 14 ½ years after it took place; therefore I can only rely on my actual log for the basic facts. Details are entirely down to my memory of events, and over time my recollections of them may differ to what actually occurred. I may also incorporate a little artistic license for the sake of the story.

Well, I’ll continue with the morning of Tuesday, 1st July. You’ll remember that ‘Aziz’ was snugly berthed at Dover Marina. At 0810 we left the western entrance of the Outer Harbour where the water was decidedly choppy on account of there being a contrary south-westerly wind of Force 4. The objective was to reach a point a mile or so south of Dungeness, and from there to continue further to the west for Beachy Head, beyond which was Newhaven or Brighton where I could rest.

Tacking against the wind was a slow and uncomfortable business. Each time after tacking one hour on the port tack and another on the starboard I would measure the distance made good by reading the ship’s position from the GPS. That would be about one mile in the right direction. At that rate it would take over 60 hours to reach Brighton! Therefore I turned on the engine for a spot of motor sailing.

Mostly ‘Aziz’ could hold a course towards the first waypoint off Dungeness. The Nuclear Power Station there is such a mammoth structure that when there is good visibility it can be seen from a distance of 20 miles. Now that’s very handy for steering a course. You need line up the dot on the horizon with the forestay and keep heading in that direction. An occasional glance at the compass will confirm that you are not being set off course by the tide or because of leeway or both. You may then have to compensate by steering to starboard or port. If the bearing of the distant mark remains constant, the yacht is adhering to the desired track.

After seven hours of slogging to windward, we eventually rounded Dungeness, but this was not achieved without trauma, because I discovered oil sluicing around in the bilge. At first I thought the engine’s crankcase had split, but close inspection revealed that the filler cap had come adrift; thus lubricating oil was spattering all over the place making the most unimaginable mess. I could not find the cap, but I knew it was under the oil in the bilge, and as very little oil was left in the sump I turned the engine off. From there on I would have to sail the yacht to Brighton or bust. I didn’t fancy heaving to and sorting out the mess, because I reasoned it would be far easier done in the calm of a marina.

At least, the weather was consistent. There was no change of the wind in force or direction, constantly from ahead.

By midnight we were only three miles from Beachy Head. To the north were the lights of Bexhill and nearby to the south was the piercing flash of the Royal Sovereign light. As day began to dawn we were making our approach to Brighton Marina and I was pretty knackered, but there was no ducking what must happen. I had to prepare for every contingency because we would be going in under sail. I hove to and set fenders and mooring lines on both sides of the yacht. Fortunately the wind was perfect for entering the narrow entrance. Only in the lee of the west wall was there an element of doubt, but the yacht continued way as the top of her mainsail found sufficient wind for continuing into the Marina where I brought her round head to wind at the visitors’ pontoon. All went without a hitch.

I summoned enough energy to report to duty staff before returning to the yacht where I fell asleep and woke that same morning of Wednesday, 2nd July at 1030.

Text for the Day

2 Corinthians 3:5 ‘Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God …………………………..’

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