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Magnetic Attraction
Roger and Margaret Pratt
Wed 10 Jul 2013 20:51

10 July 2013 – Outside the Wellington Dock, Dover Marina




A wonderful sail from Breskens.  The alarm went at 4.30am and we were en route by 0450am.  The tide had already begun to run and we carried the tide all the way to Dunkerque Ouest.  It was a broad reach with 15-20 knots of wind and we stormed along, reaching Calais just after 2.30pm.  Bright sunshine until France, then back to woolly hats and oilskins – without the sun the wind is COLD!

The arrangements for Dover Coastguard have changed over the past couple of years.  Now, each ship has to register its entry into the Traffic Separation Scheme.  There is a checklist of questions: what is your last port of call and destination? Are you carrying dangerous cargo and if so, what are the units and weights?  Does the ship have any known defects?  How many people aboard?  To the last question, the response was usually a number (including the master.) But the memorable response was: 22 persons aboard; and me, I am one.

There was a glitch crossing the southbound TSS off Dover.  Three ships were coming down together, all of which could have been a collision possibility to us coming across at right angles to the TSS.  The automatic identification system  (AIS) signals gave answers that were, by inspection, incorrect: and we’re not sure why.  Roger had to do some deft manoeuvring to stay safe.

There was a strong wind warning for the Dover strait – always a risk as the wind funnels through.  As we took the sails down inside the harbour the wind reached 25 knots and it was all a bit of a scramble.  We just missed the lock gates by 20 minutes or so.  The gates open again at 10.30pm: but it isn’t worth the pfaff of going in to leave again at 5.30 tomorrow morning.  The harbourmaster has agreed that we may stay where we are; and the cost is £21.20 for the night (no electricity, water of wifi included.)  But I cooked spaghetti, and we’ll sleep very well tonight!