Hello Crazysails friends. By the time you read this post we will have arrived in (and maybe even moved on from) Brighton, East Sussex. Brighton is the last port we visit before the final day of our Round Britain sailing challenge. All being well and, so long as the forecast does what it says it is going to do, we should leave Brighton at 6am and arrive at Chichester Harbour and be tied up back where we started, on the pontoon at Mengeham Rythe Sailing Club, in time for lunchtime drinks TOMORROW/TODAY – SUNDAY 17 SEPTEMBER!
It seems amazing that it was only yesterday that we said farewell to Ramsgate after a two week staycation. This was not exactly what we had planned but you don’t argue with the wind when it’s strong and in the wrong direction – nor the skipper, who has many more years’ experience that you (and a bigger beard, which makes him more of a seadog). So we stayed a little longer to enjoy the company of friends, old and new, and try out some of the new cafes and bars around the harbour and revisit old favourite restaurants such as Magnolia, Timmy Thai’s and Bonne Appetit. I had to do a quick scoot in a hire car back to Chichester to do some work on Tuesday and this gave Simon the opportunity to have a haircut (severe) and an eyebrow trim (not requested, also severe). He also had a chance to return to his past racing days when he went out with Mike and Jo Brand on their new boat ‘Foxy’. A very breezy but sunny day’s racing was unfortunately cut short due to a member of crew (not Simon) becoming ill – fortunately, she is okay.
Ramsgate to Dover Friday 15 September
We finally left Ramsgate harbour at 11.00am in soft sunshine and a light westerly wind and popped up the genoa, which filled beautifully and carried us (with some help from the motor) across Pegwell Bay past Sandwich and Deal Pier before we headed on past South Foreland and those famous white cliffs of Dover. We made excellent time and arrived in Dover just in time to ‘play’ with the ferries at the eastern entrance – 3 out, 3 in, 2 out…. we just managed to pop in before the next batch of ins and outs forced us to continue bobbing about the eastern entrance and were very happy when Dover Port Control said ‘go for it’ in their Port Control language.
Dover is not somewhere we particularly wanted to stay but an overnight there set us up well to hit the tides and get us down to Brighton. We had heard about some major work going on around the marina area and sure enough the place was like a building site – mainly because it is a building site at present, with the creation of a new marina in the bay opposite the Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club and a lot of redesign of the current marina areas to accommodate the increasing cargo that needs to use the port. The plans look impressive and in a couple of years there should be a lovely marina there, however there is currently a dispute involving ‘residents’ of Deal (many apparently with overseas addresses) who are objecting to the removal of sand from the Goodwin Sands to use in the building work – watch this space!
After a relaxing afternoon and a pleasant evening in the Royal Cinque Ports YC followed by dinner and jazz at Cullen’s Yard we retired for an earlyish night, as we needed to leave at 6am the following morning.
Dover to Brighton Saturday 16 September
The sound of the alarm going off at 05.30 was not a welcome sound but we jumped up and got ready quickly in order to catch the tide at the right point. Simon had done his calculations which showed if we left at 6am we would have a small amount of tide against us for the first couple of hours but this would be lessened by keeping into the shore. We would then pick up the turning tide and it would be with us most of the way to Brighton. This plan worked beautifully and we sped past hotels and apartment blocks lining the hillsides of Folkestone, the bleakness of the nuclear power plant against the, gaunt stretch of beach that is Dungeness, then on past Hythe, Hastings, Bexhill, Eastbourne, the majestic, stunning white cliffs of Beachy Head, then on past Newhaven, Peacehaven and Rottingdean before finally beginning to close on Brighton about 8 hours after leaving Dover.
This was about two hours quicker than we had expected putting us at the bottom of the tide, rather than on a rising tide. We were concerned about entry to Brighton at low water, having heard some horror stories about it not being dredged and therefore access being restricted at lower points of the tide. This news was disappointing as we were now back onto trusty Tom Cunliffe’s pilot books (after using many others around the UK)which clearly said Brighton had 24 hour access. However a call to the marina office put our minds at rest and we actually arrived dead on ten hours after we had left this morning, which was great timing and had no problem getting in.
When we left Dover, the light was just breaking and although there was a chill in the air it was not as cold as we had expected. Nevertheless there was a hazy autumn mist around as the light came up, which brought Keats’s ‘Ode to Autumn’ and the lines of the poem ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close bosom friend of the maturing sun’ to mind’ (‘O’ level English197xxx).
We sailed with the mainsail up in light north westerly winds and with the French coast clearly visible on our port side. The sun dipped in and out of the clouds, rain threatened but disappeared again and the breeze was steady. We cooked our last traditional passage lunch of tuna pasta salad and chatted about the best places we had been during our trip. Other than being advised to move slightly further out of the live firing range at Hythe (we only had a ‘toe’ over the line but felt it best to obey the guard boat) and seeing dolphins at Dungeness (not what we expected at all) we had a pretty uneventful trip.
As we approached Newhaven, the raindrops did start and the wet weather gear went on (again) but we are now very used to arriving at various ports in torrential rain, so were resigned to this being the case again – when it stopped – just in time for us to moor up, get sorted out and go for a shower – then it started again, VERY HARD!
Ready for bed now, before another early start, but we have managed to squeeze in a great evening with my fab nephew, Ben and his lovely fiancé, Blaize, who happen to live in Brighton and ventured out into the stormy evening to see us – really good to see you both and thanks for the Island lemon top biscuits, Blaize, my fave’s!
Photo shows Ben sharing his Ledaig whisky with an unimpressed Blaize!
So Crazysails friends, tomorrow really is the last leg of our journey, so, for tonight can we say thank you for all your support and for following us through all 45 ports we have visited and for reading our numerous Facebook and blog posts; your friendship, interest, donations, likes and comments have meant such a lot to us and your contributions to our fundraising for the National Autistic Society have ensured we are now 99% of our target, plus tax relief, plus some offline pledges – amazing and thank you so much.
Next time we write a Crazysails blog post we will be land lubbers again (well as much as we can ever be that) so for now, it’s good night, and Kairos out!