During the trip from Amsterdam to the North Sea we prepared for the forthcoming swell and the next night trip. Rice pudding was precooked and the fruit bowl was placed on the floor.
The swell was as high as expected and again there was a lot of movement in the waves. Iris lay on the couch in the living area. There the ship movement is the least and one can sleep well. Mathias tried to get proper turning angles and to stay as close to the course against the wind as possible. I wrote, as reported, on the bed at my blog. Around 11 p.m. the ship became very slow because of the current so we took the sails down and continued under engine. When my watch started, I was surprised that I couldn’t look through under the sail anymore. We had only taken the mainsail down to the third reef, because no one was supposed to climb around on deck at night to tie up the mainsail. (see below and picture) Torch light revealed that the mainsail cover was dangling down from the beam on one side. That can only happen if the rope that supports it is torn. In fact, there was a torn end!
At first we didn’t mind, so, the folded sail lies a little on its side. But little by little it unfolded and Iris and I woke up Mathias. Together we tied the huge sail up. On the upper deck we wore our Lifebelts and hooked in. The whole thing took place during the up and down of the swell and in a lot of wind.
Due to these unfortunate circumstances we gave up the idea to sail all the way to Dunkirk and went to Zeebrugge instead. There we arrived around 10 a.m. Iris’s daughter, who followed us via AIS track, sent the following picture with the comment: “Apart from the fact that you drove over the harbour wall, very determined”.
The damage was inspected and Mathias went to buy a new rope. Afterwards we had to catch up on the missing sleep and in the afternoon the repair began. Mathias hung half way up in the rigging and threaded the rope:
After this unplanned stay in Zeebrugge we set off the next morning. Still against the wind, but this time it wasn’t as strong and the ride was almost uneventful when suddenly a loud noise was heard. Hm, well, it will soon turn out what that was about. Seemed to be something inside the ship. Indeed, the next time we went into the bathroom, a ceiling panel blocked the way. It had come loose in the swell and had fallen down. It’s easy to click it back in, so no harm done.
The next big step was crossing the traffic separation area in the English Channel. I missed this event completely, because I had lain down on the sun deck to enjoy wind and sun and had fallen asleep. Mathias reported that he had beared off a bit in the traffic separation area, so he had picked up speed and were able to cross through in 1.5 hours. So everything went well. Only Dover was still a long way and we did not want to arrive in the middle of the night. Therefore we decided to drop anchor in the Thames estuary in order to be able to sleep in peace and to arrive at Dover during the day. First Iris and I suspected Mathias that he just wanted to try out the anchor, but the place was quite nice and we were also happy about a night without wakes, so it was a really good idea.
The next day there was enough time to reach Dover, but the weather forecast announced a gale and issued a warning. The English weather report announced that the storm would be “soon” in our sea area. Well, that could mean anything. Far from it! In the Reeds Nautical Almanac “soon” is defined in weather reports and means in 6-12 hours. We should be in Dover within 4 hours, and we made it before the storm. The weather remained with 20 to 25 knots wind and 2-3 m wave height throughout the trip.
If you want to enter Dover, you have to contact the Port Control by radio and ask for permission. We were ranked between two ferries. A big P&O ferry passed us and and we followed. Because the next big ferry was already rushing in, we had to turn to the side immediately. In the harbour basin we took the fenders in, which would have been much too rocky outside the harbour entrance. At the marina one first moors in front of the administration building (super maneuver driven by Mathias in tiny space), then gets assigned a place and has to wait for the opening of the lock. The berths are located behind a lock because there are large differences in the water level due to the tides. The lock only opens around the high tide. We were lucky and only had to wait an hour before we could enter. We moored the ship properly and were very happy about the sheltered place when later and especially in the night the storm went through, the wind howled and it rained down heavily on the ship.
Of course we used the day in Dover for repairs again. The newly installed cleat at the stern and the base of the shortwave antenna were not sealed well enough, which led to water in the garages. The brackets of the fresh water pipes needed tightening. Mathias was tinkering with the ship again. Iris and I took care of the shopping and the laundry. At noon we set out to climb up to Dover Castle and hopefully get some nice views of the roaring sea. But the castle was closed for visitors because of the storm. Was there any danger of being blown off the wall? Or could a stone fall on our head? We only could look at the castle from the outside. Had we been at home we would probably not have gone out of the house at all with the wind, everywhere there were fallen branches on the way. Iris comment: “The brittle branches are all already blown off”. That’s probably true, the weather had been prevailing all night. We went to a small museum called “Roman Painted House”. There the remains of a Roman house were shown, in which many well preserved wall paintings were found. It was built on top of an older Roman house and later partly built over by a new fortification wall, partly buried under the rampart.
In the evening the wind ceased a little and we once more could hear the traffic on the road that runs right next to the marina. A new marina is being built in Dover, a poster states that it will be supported by EU funds. Whether that will still happen….
When we wanted to leave Dover Marina, the harbour master said goodbye with the words: “I will open the lock for you, but it is still rough out there”. And so it was, after the storm the sea was still churned up and the waves were still 2-3 m high. The trip to the west went again against the wind. But with 2 reefs and the jib we didn’t mind the 25 knots wind and the swell couldn’t shock us. Meanwhile the chance that the sea would calm down during the day was enough to cease excitement and tension. We made 6-7 knots of speed through the water, but the current pushed us back and so we only came slowly closer to our destination.
For those of you who follow us on the AIS Track: The detour in front of Beachy Head is due to the fact that I sat at the wheel in the morning and that I had the not so good idea to avoid a rain cloud. Unfortunately I hadn’t informed myself about the upcoming wind-shift in the morning and so it happened that Mathias had to use all his skills to beat against the wind to make up for the lost distance after he had taken over.
The harbours along the coast here fall dry, or have long entrance channels, Southampton was still quite far. So we decided to drop Iris off in Brighton. Brighton turned out to be a cute little harbour. As it is tide nipp time at the moment, the harbour has sufficient depth for us today and tomorrow*. When I called to inquire, they were just waiting for the depth measurements. After every storm, they measure here and dredge the channel again. At the entrance we were accompanied by the local lifeboat and were filmed by mobile phone. Larger yachts don’t seem to come here too often 😉
*In the Nipp time the high tide is lower and the low tide higher, i.e. the tide differences are not as big as in the spring time.
Since we were in Brighton, we had to walk to the pier. First we went shopping again. Here one can buy Alpen Cereal in kilo bags: I had to stock up!
The way to the pier was quite long. We went along the beach. The beach consists of pebbles, you stay on the path. Near the village there were minigolf courses, an open-air cinema and some snack bars. All in all not a pretty walk, the way back along the road running on the cliff was nicer.
The pier is more like a fairground, at the end there are amusement rides, at the beginning you can walk through a gambling hall (or walk around outside) and there are several small food stalls. Shortly before the rides there is a restaurant with burgers and fish and chips on the menu. There we stopped for a bite to eat. The fish and chips were quite good and we were happy to experience an English cliché: Fish and chips on the Brighton pier ☺
On Monday Iris left the boat. So crew are just the two of us again. How could it be otherwise, our way led against the wind. At least the sun came out and in the beginning there was very little wind. We had given up trying to reach Southampton.
Current location is the Isle of Wight, where we are anchored in Sandown Bay. It is reasonably sheltered, only the waves can still reach you. The boat is always lightly rocked. On the agenda is another repair job, the top batten of the sail has come loose from the runner. We will have a look at it when the rain stops…..Translated with www.Deep