|The Skipper happy to be underway|
So having motored out of Langstone Harbour on a grey mid-morning on Wednesday 12 June to take the tide "up" the coast through the Looe Channel off Selsey Bill we soon found the wind building, not unpleasantly so and behind us. An hour or so later the batteries were fully charged and there was sufficient wind to make sailing faster than motoring so Temptress' big genoa was partially unfurled. Broad reaching, almost running before the southwesterly wind the mainsail could have been a hindrance with the boom liable to swing around in the already lumpy seas and anyway it would not have increased our speed through the water much so was left tightly stowed on the boom.
|First Mate enjoying the sailing|
|Beachy Head making its own rain cloud|
Sailing downwind in a near gale, tide with us is one thing but in worsening conditions with the tide about to turn to make the sea state rougher a safe harbour is a much better place to be. One other boat joined us to lock in, a racing boat that had been out for some evening crew training, they looked like drowned rats and presumably so did we, a torrential downpour had soaked us all in the last few miles from Beachy Head. A makeshift supper of potato wedges, onion quarters and chipolatas baked together in the oven was served with a tin of Baked Beans eventually.
|Wind blown wave tops - definitely F7 according to Beaufort|
|Our scrap of jib viewed through the sprayhood|
|Two metre waves rolling in from behind us|
At some point, whilst the First Mate was down below on hands and knees by the companionway steps retrieving a tin plate from a locker to use serving our porkpie lunch, there was a huge roar followed by a lot of seawater tumbling down on top of her. Shaken and soaked she scrambled up the steps to see the Skipper still gripping the helm grinning hugely, he'd been up to his knees in water as the cockpit was filled by a rogue wave that broke into the boat from behind. Temptress had been pooped for only the second time in our ownership, in much the same conditions as the first time back in 2001 off the Portuguese coast. The aft heads was drowned as water flooded in through the open porthole set low in the forward edge of the cockpit. We congratulated ourselves on having the foresight to move the drying laundry to the forward heads be setting off. The water poured away through the large drainholes at rear of the cockpit almost as quickly as it had entered. The shower pump dealt with the water in the heads and the saloon floor could be mopped with fresh water when we were in port, it needed a wash anyway!
|Soggy Saloon Floor|
You can't just enter one of the busiest ferry ports in the world, first you have to call from 2 miles out to ask permission to enter stating which entrance you intend to use, either the South (the more westerly one) or the Eastern entrance. The latter is used by a near continuous stream of cross channel ferries. The former by cruise ships. Both entrances are easy to spot from a distance even on a miserable grey day due to the large white light tower atop each of the pierheads. Dover Port Control said to call again 500m from the entrance so knowing we'd be busy handing sails and starting the engine the handheld VHF joined us in the cockpit and in fetching it the companionway hatch got left ajar.
|Entering Dover in Confused Seas - |
taken by fellow cruisers who kindly shared thir photos with us
Confused piles of grey English Channel rose up and broke on either side of the bow simultaneously, tumbling down the side decks, under the false deck on the cabin top and entered the cockpit by any means they could. Large quantities of grey wet stuff found its way onto and into the boat in the final few hundred metres of our approach. Then suddenly apart from a large swell it was over, the calm waters of the harbour were reached and the wind could whistle all it liked in the rigging, we and our boat were safe. Quickly the jib was furled away and the engine took over. The little VHF radio, binoculars and the crew were soaked as was the floor at the bottom of the companionway again and later we discovered that down below our once almost dry laundry wasn't much better as water crashing over the deck had found its way in through the airvent in the forward heads hatch. Ah well we'll treat ourselves to a session in a laundrette somewhere further up the coast.
Next time too we'll try to remember to put the plug in the heads airvent before we sail and perhaps even close the companionway hatch properly even putting the single 6 inch high washboard in place to seal up the saloon before tackling our next rough port entry. For the one thing that is certain June 13's dramatic entrance to Dover will not be the last we'll experience. For now though the forecast has improved and we await a fair tide northwards. North? Yes we've made the eastern corner of England, from here on our course is mostly northwards to Rattray Head when we'll turn west and then a bit south towards Inverness.
Southsea to Dover via Eastbourne - 102.5nm logged