On Sunday, when the tide was right (around 11am) we left the mooring at Pin Mill for ‘sea trials’ i.e. to check that the new rudder (built and fitted by Chris) & everything else, was ship shape and in Bristol fashion. Didn’t need any nasty surprises in the channel. We motored up and down for a couple of hours and then ‘picked up a buoy’ in the river Orwell to await high tide so we could set off for Calais early in the morning.
It was rather pleasant sitting in the middle of the channel in Butterman’s Bay watching the world (and quite a few sailing boats) go by. The wind did seem to get up a bit and caused the buoy to knock on the hull quite loudly at times. But we had dinner and settled down for the night leaving the final decisions to Chris. It was his call ……..
And today’s New York Times Wordle was FLOAT!!!
Chris was keeping an eye on the forecast, particularly the wind, so it was not certain that we would, in fact, set off early in the morning as per his plan.
But at 5am Chris woke us all up, slipped us off the buoy and we were away. Down the Orwell past Felixstowe docks Margate and away!
Somewhat chilly at that time of the morning, but the weather remained kind to us throughout the day. The boat was a little rocky at times depending on the wind direction but nothing to concern us. Helen was the ‘hostess with the mostest’ providing sustenance for us all throughout the trip – she even cooked some cup cakes (iced and decorated of course!) as we motored along! How did she manage that!
Both Adrian and I took a spell at the helm but I found it too difficult with the roll of the boat and trying to see where we were heading around the mast. Adrian did better. Helen took the helm frequently, particularly when Chris was plotting and checking our course.
We steered a course avoiding the infamous Goodwin Sands, which can cause big problems for th unwary, & we passed huge wind farms. We even picked up a couple of hitch hikers for a while ….
And then there was the crossing of the shipping channels as we approached France. Huge container ships and ferries in a virtually continuous line. They crack on at quite a speed ( 25 knots-ish to our 4 knots-ish) and they don’t take no prisoners. Small pleasure boats just have to keep out of their way! Chris, our excellent Captain and navigator, ensured we did just that. Adrian commented that it’s a bit like crossing a motorway on a bike with two flat tyres.
The approach to Calais seemed to take forever! But we eventually came into the harbour. We headed to pick up a buoy in the outer harbour to wait for the tide before heading through a couple of locks & onto the planned, free, mooring. The buoys were all full so we tied up to a wall reserved for fishing vessels. A port official soon came round to tell us we shouldn’t be there and should have waited outside the port for the tide. He said we could remain for the 1 hour 10 mins til the tide was right. We had dinner (already prepared by Helen) and waited for the tide.
Finally we were able to go through the locks in the dark and to tie up at the mooring at around midnight!
The crossing itself took about 15 hours and was around 60 miles as opposed to the Dover Calais route which is around 23 miles.