Saturday, 22 September 2018

Weather Bound

 For four days and nights the south wind howls and shrieks. Sometimes down to force 7, one night up to storm 10, mainly  it's around gale 8. I pace the Ramsgate waterfront, weather bound.

Fishing boats remain in port. The 'windcat,' windfarm service fleet, briefly set off on the first day but return en masse and remain in harbour for the week.

Only the stalwart pilot boats venture out, in clouds of spume.

The intrepid crew of, the ocean crossing, 34 footer 'Zen Again' arrive reporting only a "fast passage" up from Cowes. There's a team that's been some places and has some stories to tell.....  

The talk on the pontoons is of weather windows. We all have our favourite forecast sites. Most point to a westerly 5 on Saturday, followed by another gale within 12 to 18 hours (take your pick).

I set the alarm for 03.00 Saturday. The harbour is silent when it wakes me. No groaning of mooring lines. No howl of wind. I rig Stargazer and radio for clearance to leave port. We reach north, past the light house, up to The Foreland. The inky darkness turns to an indigo pre dawn twilight.

By sunrise Stargazer is hard on the wind in 18 to 20 knots of breeze. She tacks west with the Thames flood helping her to make ground.

We thread our way through the shoals off the Reculver Towers, helped by a lucky wind shift.

The breeze picks up to 22 knots as thunder clouds roll in. I tuck in two reefs.Stargazer shoulders her way, tack by tack, past the Whitstable wind farm...

.....and into the Medway. We ease our sheets. The water flattens. The wind stills. Ripples from our bow wave run musically aft. A curlew calls from the uncovering mud flats. I belly Stargazer's sails, to make the most of the fading evening breeze; and let it slowly carry us upriver over the ebb - delighting in the soundscape of our river.

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