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Ramsgate 2nd July
2nd July, 2005
Why do people drink too much the night before they go to sea? Did I say we had two bottles of red wine with dinner last night. Well, why were there three empty red wine bottles in the cockpit this morning?
We have both felt really rough all day. We started late. We dawdled through breakfast, trying to put off the evil moment of departure. We fannied about adjusting sails, stowing things, restowing things we'd stowed moments before, washing dishes, putting on clothes and then changing them for other clothes, studying charts and tide tables.
But finally we ran out of excuses. We switched to the starting battery and kicked the motor into action. It makes lots more noise when one has a hangover. We motored north into the Medway and hoisted full sail. We then reached (not retched although it was a close call a couple of times) out into the Thames.
It has been a dull sort of a day with south to west winds varying from 10 to 25 knots. But it has made for excellent sailing with the wind on the quarter and flat seas as we made our way down tide to the open sea.
There were lots of sailboats about as we skirted the north Kent coast many going in the same direction as us and a few coming up river, beating against wind and tide. A particularly pretty Contessa came close as he sailed by under just a genoa.
As we headed east towards the Horse Channel, a Thames barge crossed ahead of us and headed out towards the new wind farm being constructed on Kentish Flats. I would not like to be at the top of that cherry picker trying to bolt on a new vane when the wash of a barge rocks the boat.
Lunch was not popular but necessary. We could face nothing more than a cup of soup, beef consommé, and some toast. There was a moment there when the wind increased and the chop nearly caused me to consign my lunch to the deep. Clive looked a little unhappy too. So dessert was ginger snap biscuits. We still felt rough.
We had decided last night, under the influence of the dark red, falling down water that we would go straight to Boulogne today, but as the day went on and we felt rougher and rougher, we decided that Ramsgate was far enough. At this rate our circumnavigation of the United Kingdom will take 3 years!
The wind increased and we rolled in a reef, not an easy job on Quintet as one has to make sure that the luff slugs stay clear of the ratchet gear. And with just one person doing it and also easing the halyard, one can (I did) get into a bit of a mess. But eventually it was sorted out and we continued on our way with a beautifully balanced helm and still doing 6 knots or so.
We finally found the marks to the narrow entrance of the Gore Channel having steered on the twin towers of the ruins of St Mary's church, Reculver for some hours, and turned due east for North Foreland which we eventually rounded at 15.35.
It was quite a shock to be on the breeze. We're a bit out of practise at this stuff. And the wind increased too. We leaned. Ooh er!
I hauled in the fishing line to discover that paravane, lure and hook were all gone. Either a bloody big fish or, more likely a snag on the bottom. Well it's an excuse to go shopping in Ramsgate.
We sailed a few miles into the North Sea before tacking for Ramsgate, and as we got to the buoyed entrance channel we luffed and dropped sails and waited for a ferry to come in before we asked and received permission to enter the harbour. Once in, we tied to a convenient, if rolly berth at the end of the outside pontoon with the help of a friendly Dutchman who was moored opposite.
Clive went to register with the harbour master while I admired the cute little Oyster 82 moored just ahead of us. Why do they bother to put winch handle sockets in those big winches? Those winches, by the way, that each cost slightly more than Clive payed for Quintet. You can see her relative size against Quintet's 40 feet mast.
We showered and changed into clean clothes (well I did). Then we headed for the bright lights of Ramsgate.
We dined in the Indian restaurant just outside the Royal Temple Yacht Club doors. We drank just water and lassi. And then we went to the yacht club where just a single beer each was consumed in its luxurious premises before we returned to Quintet's rocking and rolling mooring, still feeling nearly as bad as we did first thing this morning.
I went to sleep and dreamed strange and bizarre dreams of Ramsgate Smack Boys.