The engine drive belt had been shedding bits of rubber, as it had loosened since the engine had been serviced the week before we left. So we refuelled and tightened the belt while waiting for the lock to open and we could continue our progress to Brighton. This was only a short run, but the girls wanted to get their nails done! The wind was blowing Force 3, but straight on the bow for most of the trip, so we weren’t able to get much sailing done again. On the way we heard someone on the radio reporting a floating hot tub as a hazard to shipping. It must had been a very good party! Just after we tied up in Brighton, Pete Smith and Ed from the East Anglian Sea School at Levington hailed us. They had heard us on the radio as they were taking their new Beneteau, which they had collected from La Rochelle, back to Suffolk Yacht harbour. Pete’s parting word of advice was, “Don’t do what we did in the Chanel De Four,” a particularly nasty piece of water in N France. “Do what it says in the book. We went through with wind against tide and it was horrible.” Sound advice for when we were across the Channel.
We left Dover in sunny weather intending to run along the south coast to Brighton. The wind was blowing force 5, occasionally 6 but we had a lovely view of the Kent and Sussex coasts as we made our way with the tide flowing with us. Unfortunately, when the wind changed the sea developed an uncomfortable chop with Synergy burying her bow in one wave, rearing up over the next and slapping down hard on the peak of the third. After a couple of hours of this treatment, we had had enough and decided to run into Eastbourne. The entrance was through a lock and into a modern marina with all the facilities. We had a pleasant meal at a Thai restaurant in the marina.
We left Ramsgate at 1pm and had a gentle run in sunshine and light winds, motor sailing, on the short 23 mile run to Dover. We caught the rush hour and had to wait outside the East harbour entrance while 3 cross channel ferries went ahead of us. We were then permitted to cross the commercial harbour to the marina where we met a couple who had a berth only 20 yards from us at Levington. It’s a small world! We ate our evening meal at Cullins Brewery, a great place backing onto the inner marina.
Accompanied by our friends Peter Sadler and Ali Sanger who were to be with us for a couple of weeks, we left the River Orwell in nice weather and light winds and followed the Medusa Channel (named after one of Nelson’s ships) heading southeast across the Thames estuary. The numerous sandbanks are a hazard, but all are well marked with buoys. A fairly gentle run to start with enough wind to get the sails up, but then we had to change course into wind, so down came the sails and on came the engine. Had lunch as we passed one of the huge wind farms, but Jac became seasick and was quite unwell for while. Passing out of Fisherman’s Ghat, a gap in one of the sandbanks, the wind picked up and left us rolling and pitching badly so it was a relief to reach the shelter of Ramsgate Harbour. While looking for a berth we managed to get stuck on the mud; the harbour was supposed to be dredged to at least 2 metres, our draught, but we had found a shallower bit. (And I was congratulating myself on my ability to keep the boat steady in one place!) Ramsgate was very pretty but most of the restaurants were shut as it was a Monday. We did however find a good Italian called La Magnolia and had a lovely meal.