Brighton to Ramsgate

We had it in our heads that it was about 65 miles to Ramsgate, but it seems that it's actually 80, Dover is 64, so we planned to sail to Dover on Friday. An early start, alarm set for 5.40am. Up and off, not much talking at that time of day. We know what to do, Chris takes Bliss off the pontoon, I do the warps, including a catapult type of manoeuvre to launch the bow away from the pontoon, against the tide, all done with hardly a dozen words exchanged.

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Unfortunately at Beachy Head the brightness was disappearing over the horizon and the cloud and rain were catching us up.

It was dry, but low cloud threatened and the news on the radio was reporting flooding, thunder storms, general chaos. We had a favourable tide for eight hours and made terrific progress, as we approached Beachy Head the rain caught us, Chris went below, there's no point in us both getting drenched. I helmed for a couple of hours in torrential rain, it was a broad reach, not too uncomfortable and cracking along at eight knots was ok. The only problem was that the rain was running down from my hands and into my sleeves. I tried to hold the wheel with my hands down but kept forgetting and at some point I had to reach up and the accumulated water ran down my back, yuk. The wind started flicking around, it went round from starboard to port and we gybed, then we were on a dead run with not much wind, all a bit unpleasant. Chris had managed to doze, despite the chaos going on up top, he then took over for the next four hours. By this time we were close-hauled, had fully reefed the main, reduced the genoa to a small handkerchief but were still making eight knots.

The standard of catering on board has been, I must admit, pretty darn good. Today, by 3pm, I accepted we needed something to eat, but food prep at 45 degrees with unpredictable lurches is tricky, cup-a-soup and a plain cheese roll has never tasted so good.
As we approached Dover, we had made such good time there was no stopping us, we knew that Saturday's forecast was not favourable, and by reaching Ramsgate on Friday, the chances of crossing the Thames estuary on Saturday were hugely increased, we were already soaked...push on. It was horrible, the tide turned, gusts up to 39 knots, the only way I could helm was with Chris standing in front, just up wind of me, his back took the worst of the rain and spray and sheltered work! We reached Ramsgate at 6pm, 11 and a half hours, 80 nmiles, only 45 miles from home! Great work. Exhausted.