Arriving at Fambridge on Friday was always my plan, however, that didn’t happen until gone 21:00 hrs bst as work got in the way. So basically I dumped all my stuff on Pleinair (my boat) and joint the crew of Pagan for a late beer.
Up the following morning and grab some stuff I needed from Pleinair, a quick breakfast at the Roundbush and a shopping trip to Maldon and we were basically ready to go.
Which we did……… on Sunday.
We left Fambridge around 04:00 on Sunday morning, after very little sleep, with a view to getting to Dover. Idling down the River we were able to raise the sails around the entrance to the River Roach, and finally (40 minutes is 40 minutes too long) we were able to shut down the engine. Pretty uninteresting trip really other than the ship on a collision course with us as we approached Fisherman’s Gat. Fortunately he turned before we got to him anyway. The wind got up, the boat speed increased and the first reef went in. Bruce had wanted to test a theory out and dropped the mizzen, this restored the balance of the boat a little and we tore off down towards Ramsgate. Unfortunately the sea state became somewhat uncomfortable and so, a few miles from Dover, the engine went back on.
Contact with Dover Port Control was made at the relevant point and after an amount of bouncing around outside Bruce lined us up to follow one of the ferries in through the Eastern Entrance of Dover. Hooray, it was a little bit calmer inside the harbour walls and we made our way to the marina having contacted them via VHF and been allocated a berth in Granville dock. Its such a shame that this is all going to disappear when the western dock revival is complete but the new facilities look fairly good, although I suspect rather character less. Harbour stow completed and we were off to Cullins Yard, a favourite watering hole and a beer excursion well worth waiting for. Dinner was also partaken of at this time.
Our track and key events. (taken from SV Pagans own Blog)
Due to the weather forecast it was decided that we’d stay put for the next 24 hours so we spent a good few hours on Monday just whiling away the time. Rik and I went for a wander to obtain some milk and duly came back with not just milk and bread but a full 2 course dinner which I duly prepared and vanished in minutes. Another visit to Cullins Yard and although not much beer was partaken of we still seemed to hit the sack somewhat late.
I really didn’t feel like playing when I woke up today, so I went back to bed. Bruce also went through the same scenario. Eventually we left Dover around 13:00 to aim for St Peters Port. It didn’t take us long to realise that Sovereign harbour at Eastbourne was where we’d end up, even though that decision wasn’t made till sometime later. The sea state and general weather today meant that the ride was extremely uncomfortable with us being thrown around in all directions. By the time we arrived at sovereign harbour and entered the lock (around midnight), we had all just about had enough. My muscles ached and I’m sure I found muscles Id forgotten Id got and not used in years. We covered a little over 47 miles today and it took us 12 hrs to do it.
The weather forecast today looked pretty much the same as yesterday so a decision was made on Tuesday to stay put for another 24 hours. I was woken that morning by the RNLI engineer starting the twin caterpillar 850 engines of the Eastbourne all weather lifeboat that we just happened to be tied up adjacent to. Hey Ho. Another day of not actually doing much except ache. Peterhead AWB also tied up alongside on route to Poole for maintenance.
Once again Rik and I went off in search of supplies and raided the local chippy on the way back for dinner. A pint on board and an early night ensued.
We slipped the lines around 09:00 and headed for the lock, which we duly shared with Peterhead AWB, another yacht, a fishing boat and a baby seal. Today was the day we’d all been aiming for, head to St Peters Port no matter what. The weather indicated a small drop and shift to the north so we’d hoped to be sailing for a fair amount today and to be fair, we did, for a while right up to the point where we wanted to cross over the traffic exiting the westbound Dover Straight TSS. Wind on the nose suddenly meant we were back on with the engine and down with the flappy things. Motoring into a south westerly yet again.
This continued for some hours until the wind shifted, very gradually at first round to the north west and by 21:00 UTC the engine was off and so were we. Bruce went below for sleep and Rik and I took Pagan for a 7.2 Knot ride across the channel, watching the AIS and Horizon intently for anything that might get in our way. We also enjoyed a rather nice sunset sunset, mid channel.
This wouldn’t last and by the time Bruce came on deck Rik was tired and duly went off to sleep. Meanwhile Bruce and I played Dodgems with the eastbound traffic in the channel to try and find a way through, once we’d decided how and where this was going to happen, the engine went back on, certainly for an hour or two before we were able to settle down to sailing again between the ships and french coast. Rik reappeared and I decided that a sleep would be favourable and so headed off for a good hours snoring. And that is about all it was, an hour. Bruce decided to try again and left Rik and myself to continue on our way, shortly after this we spotted the end of the french coast and the Island of Alderney in the distance, and Bruce rejoined the land of the living. Not long after passing Alderney we spotted a vessel on the AIS, crossing our path and doing a casual 35 knts. This was the Poole to Channel Islands ferry run by Condor. She appeared, she passed, she disappeared, almost in the blink of an eye.
Bruce had already decided that we were entering Port of Guernsey by rounding the Casquets and this was duly achieved, although there was a bit of a ‘race’ on here and we ended up motoring round them. An hour or so later and we were entering the Port of Guernsey with our quarantine flag flying. Making our way to the waiting pontoon we were met by the one of the harbour master dory’s and allocated a berth. Another quick harbour stow and three very tired people stepped ashore and headed for a beer. One followed another and we all bottled out of a third. A quick tidy up on board then off to ‘The Terrace’ for a Thai meal. Which even in my tired state I thoroughly enjoyed and wouldnt hesitate to recommend. I think I’d retired by 21:00.
According to Bruces blog we’d covered 147 nautical miles in just over 28 hrs, with an average speed of 5.2 knots. We arrived within half an hour of our ETA and covered 78.5 miles under sail.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip, never touched the kwells all week and on the last leg of 28.5 hrs slept for 1 of them. Would I do it again????
Too damn right I would. The sea state might have been awful but the company made up for that, I hadnt seen Rik in three years and it was good to catch up. As for Bruce, well!