50:48.62N 00:06.13W First things first, to stop raised blood pressures and worried phone calls, we are safely tied up in Brighton marina; how we got here is another story. The forecast for North Foreland to Selsey Bill at midnight was NE 4 or 5, occasionally 6 in the east. We felt that Eastbourne was far enough west in the region for the wind not to be a problem so we caught the 0400 lock just as the sky was lightening nicely. Out into a benign sea with an apparent wind showing 12 mph behind us and the tidal stream with us – perfect. We tried full headsail only but that wasn’t enough so we decided to put out the main sail with one reef, allowing for the true wind to be higher. By the time the crew (me of course!) had faffed about getting things ready and we turned head to wind the true wind was clearly 20 ish so out came the main with two reefs. About 15 minutes joy but the wind was clearly building so we reduced headsail. Wind still building as we approach Beachy Head and we decide to put away the headsail but now this is difficult because the sail is well powered up. Things then go horribly wrong with an accidental gybe (when the boom shoots across the other side out of control) and the main sheet catches Gordon’s face as it whips over. No injury and no damage but we’re now charging towards Beachy Head lighthouse and the wind is so strong that Juniper can’t be pulled out of it and is starting to roll. The engine saves the day and we only catch the outside edge of the overfalls. When we get the chance to look at the wind speed it’s registering 35-40 and so it continues on a pretty constant basis. We have bolt holes lined up but the wind eases a little as we approach Newhaven so we decide to carry on to Brighton. We’re hoping the wind will drop as we approach land but it continues apace and we shoot through the harbour entrance on a 38 mph gust. Even inside it’s no fun, and we moor where we can and then move into a berth when a marina person comes and takes our lines. Littlehampton or beyond will have to wait for another day.
Now we’re in we’re hearing other people’s stories, sails have been ripped, an anchor lost and a cleat pulled out, so Juniper has again done well to come through unscathed, but it’s a timely reminder not to be complacent about the wind and the sea state it produces – we remember that we’re amateurs at this game.
One interesting navigational thought – we crossed the Greenwich meridian on our passage this morning, so instead of our longitude being X degrees east it will now be Y degrees west – more evidence that progress is being made.
Photos: Beachy Head, seas building and view from our Juniper (yes, it’s another Juniper just opposite, a Bavaria 32).