Yet another great sunny day....but we knew from the
forecasts that it would be the last for a while, and could break towards the
end of the day. We decided initially to play safe and head for the Medway, on
the S side of the Thames. As will be seen we ultimately decided to head for
Burnham on Crouch, which would get us north of the Thames.
We slipped lines at 0715 and got permission from the harbour
master to leave the harbour, amongst the mass of wind farm service boats all
heading for all the new wind farms, and in particular the massive London Array
which is currently being built. All these boats were high speed catamarans
which must have been using tons of fuel a day, particularly having learnt that
when they park up at a turbine tower they just leave the engines at power all
day to hold in position. As Mark observed, the windmills need to be efficient to
make up for all this carbon being used in their construction and maintenance.
As we were leaving the harbour we were passed by one very
speedy boat off to meet its favourite windmill, only to hear it call the
harbour 5 minutes later to ask permission to turn round since one of its men
had left his tools behind.....just proves its all simply a bigger version of
the electrician coming to fix your cooker and having to go back to B and Q for
a plug. Sailing around the Kent coast
and Thames Estuary really gives you a sense of the scale of the offshore wind investment;
the combination of London Array, Thanet and Gunfleet Sands wind farms result in
windmills as far as you can see.
By 1100 we had made good progress along the side of the
Princes Channel, which is for big ships making for the Thames...taking care to
keep out of the channel itself. Since the weather was still fine and we still
had some flood tide left we decided to change plan and head north for Burnham
on Crouch, thus crossing the estuary.
Some fun navigating around the various sand banks, although we were on
an almost full tide and could probably have gone straight across with a bit
more local knowledge. Certainly felt
that we were drifting into E Coast sailing as we got used to single digit
depths on the echo sounder, and the sight of brown water indicating sand not
too far below.
We finally lost the flood tide as we started to sail north
up the West Swin, which was ok since the ebb now helped us...if we had actually
pre planned this we could have taken credit for the almost perfect use of tide
on this stretch. We finally paid for it going down the Crouch Estuary and
river, where there was no way out of punching the ebb tide coming out of the
river, which slowed us down quite a bit.
It was during this stretch that we heard the most amusing
VHF Channel 16 message yet...although we subsequently learnt that it had a
rather unhappy ending. We heard someone
who sounded rather like Mr Godfrey from Dads Army calling Thames Coastguard to
ask for their help, since he had run aground just outside his marina, and could
not raise the marina office for help. Remember that Thames Coastguard are rather
more concerned with ensuring that LNG tankers heading for the Medway and big
shipping generally goes where it is supposed to . The poor stranded mariner
could not switch his radio off Ch 16 so we heard the very patient CG try to
help, but ‘Mr Godfrey’ finally stopped answering after he declared that he had
an idea as to how he might get back afloat....very mysterious.
The mystery was resolved by Mark, who later tracked down a
local paper on the internet, to learn that the emergency services had to rescue
a mariner who had run aground just outside his marina after calling Thames CG,
after he had got in the water to try and free his boat = cuts and hypothermia. Moral
of story....thin line between funny call and a real problem, therefore treat them
Not long after this radio drama we were approaching the
Burnham on Crouch Marina, passing all the yacht clubs at Burnham on Crouch, which
is very much a yachting mecca. We were soon tied up at berth D36, and based on
the weather forecast we were likely to be here for some time.
I am writing this on Friday, the day after arriving. Last
night was very exciting...easily gusting F8+ and regular checks on lines.
Fortunately we are moored (by chance) on the downwind side of the pontoon
finger so are being blown off. This means that our fenders are not bashing the
pontoon finger, but the problem arose when the wind came round a bit and
started to push our bow close to the main pontoon. Fortunately we had spare lines and simply
added new lines and made tight, since I certainly did not want to release any
of the existing lines in the strong winds. It is incredible that this wild
weather is forecast to last through the weekend..in June!