Back in the deep south

Whitstable is a very pretty, if slightly unusual seaside town;  it’s not a Margate or Clacton, but even in September it was full of people. They still come for the town’s traditional fare – oysters, cockles and winkles; to stroll along the prom (actually known as the ‘Street’) overlooking the steep shingle beaches; to squeeze themselves down the old smugglers ‘ alleys; and the pub on the beach must definitely be worth a visit at high tide! Even the modern architecture reflects the familiar black weatherboarding – still much in evidence. There is also a very big, active sailing club – my how they must enjoy pulling those trailers up the shingle beach after a hard day’s racing!

Handy though Ramsgate was as a refuge from the gales, after 5 days we were glad to be moving again – even if it was just a beat down the coast to Dover. It was a relief to be finally rid of sand banks, after we had passed the Goodwin Sands. In many ways navigating our way down the east coast has been the most difficult of the whole journey. South of Wick most harbours are very tidal, often with narrow windows either side of high water; there are very few places to anchor; and there are innumerable areas of shallow water, often with shifting sand banks, sometimes quite far offshore.

The distinctive white cliffs and the non-stop ferry traffic make Dover everything we’d always imagined. The port authority were very obliging, slotting our passage into the harbour between the ferries. In retrospect I think Dover would have been a safer refuge than Ramsgate, but we had been persuaded to stay in the latter by several locals who clearly had a very low opinion of Dover. Interestingly this feeling was heartily reciprocated in Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club, in Dover!

From Dover we were bound back to the south; as I believe Dungeness to be the most south-easterly point of mainland Britain – the 4th corner! Needless to say the 45 miles from Dover to Eastbourne turned out to be a beat – 15 – 20 knots, and a sharp chop (leftovers from the recent gales?), together with the constant fog patches made it a completely unpleasant day. Shortly before nightfall we limped our way into Sovereign Harbour at Eastbourne, tired and salty! Again, it looks as though we could be here for a few days as the forecast is not good – is this more fall-out from hurricane Katia? Whatever; we are thumbing through the tourist attractions of east Sussex. Also here are a couple we first bumped into at Wick; Alison and David in their Contessa 32, also doing the round trip – and it’s just amazing how similar our experiences have been; quite spookily so in some instances; so we can spend the next few evenings reminiscing quite happily without the fear of of ever being boring!

More photos posted.

Having (more) windy fun.

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One Response to Back in the deep south

  1. Steve Walker says:

    Looks like you’ll be home in time to be guests of honour at your local boat show!

    I seem to remember having seen smacks appear in an old Beaufort Scale somewhere.
    Something like, Force X: Smacks seek shelter.

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