Wed 12 Aug 2009 17:20
Alongside Dieppe, France
Weather: Overcast, mild
Day's run: 80
Something happened to help me make up my mind, a breeze arrived. An hour before I had been motoring around looking for a sandbar to anchor over, it was there on the chart, the north setting stream had pushed me close, very close past the south cardinal mark marking it's southern end - which is what prompted me to look for it, but could I find it? The echo sounder was obstinately stuck on 20 meters so I gave up on anchoring and continued to drift, then . the wind came. At 6.30 pm our sails were up and we were close hauled on the starboard tack heading south, the wind was of coarse a headwind.
We continued overnight, I caught snatches of sleep as I could, no more than 15 minutes at a time if it all looked clear ahead. With the wind from the southwest we were being slowly pushed into the eastern end of the English Channel. At 1.35 am I tacked and was disappointed to realize that we were making very little ground to windward, it was going to be a long night. There were a number of trawlers about which were all very courteous, some passed quite close but basically all altered course and stayed out of my way, a nice change. Heading out towards the major traffic separation scheme I saw a rapidly flashing light ahead of us, in fact two of them. Initially I thought they must have been buoys but as we go closer it sidelights revealed themselves and it became apparent that these were vessels underway. As the night wore on, I realized there were several of them and they were all in the vicinity of the edge of the traffic separation scheme. I concluded that perhaps they were patrol craft guarding the traffic zone, but on reflection that seems a rather incredible overkill so it is a mystery.
At about 5 am the black night softened as twilight gathered momentum into dawn and then the sun rose, her first rays cracked through the seas barred horizon, I felt my bones soaking up her warmth. Chalky white cliffs appeared in vertical columns before us, their folds broken white and black by the suns horizontal rays. And Sylph's proud bows were pointing directly at a dip in their skyline, the port of Dieppe. By this stage I was getting pretty tired, the forecast was for more headwinds and we were making rather slow progress. Reading the compact but very informative Cruising Association's guide, it sounded like a straight forward entrance, too good an opportunity to miss, so we continued on and by 8.30 am were secured alongside the Port de Plaisance marina. After paying the fees and enjoying a very welcome shower, I returned on board and there crashed for four straight hours.
Thomas! Would you come and get Elbourt please, you brought him here in that nice red suitcase of yours didn't you.? Am I to be the burden of this poor lost soul's neurosis? Isn't it enough that I am responsible for the mental health of a living being and not this dark creature of the imagination also. Last night he disturbed my sleep again, I asked him whether he was responsible for the weather recently but he denied that his powers extended that far, really he could only help natural process along their way a little, a bit of moisture in a wire, was his speciality. I thought this poltergeist is sounding a little pathetic, no wonder he ended up on Sylph. Maybe Thomas thought I could cheer him up a little and help send him on his way. I wonder if skipper Bob has any books on existential therapy for the non-being on his shelves. I am clearly going to need to gather my strength for this one, so if you will excuse me .. Zzzzzzz.