Other PicoMicroYacht

Sunday, 24 May 2015

London by the Sea

23rd May 2015

More training for the next adventure, this time the South Coast and Brighton.

Brighton is a  50 minute train ride from the capital and considered as a place to go outside London if you want to stay in London but be by the sea.

The sea here is quite docile if you pick your moment.

Brighton doesn't have a port but is flanked by two very commercial ports, Newhaven to the East and Shoreham to the west, a 15 mile distance between the two.

Setting off from the marina in Newhaven, 'traffic' lights opposite the marina were signalling. Vessel movements are controlled by the Port Authority 'Newhaven Radio' on channel 12. A pilot boat was also on station to warn me that the ferry was about to enter. When the ferry arrived I realised why they take port control so seriously.

A sailing boat had made the mistake of entering after the ferry and too soon. A man appeared on a wharf and whistled loudly for it to stop and it was made to loiter even though the ferry had now docked.

Further down the coast was Peacehaven, originally developed for retiring World War I veterans to help them to escape and recover from the effects of the war. Development was piecemeal and not so attractive over the years.

I was then opposite Brighton, with the piers, one now a fun fair and another burnt down.

I drifted lazily on and listened to Channel 16. A 40 foot yacht had fouled its propeller and it was drifting. There seemed to be communication difficulties with the yacht and the coastguard was trying to coordinate a rescue using nearby ships.

I managed to confuse things by radioing my arrival off Brighton and got the following message "PicoMicroYacht this is Coast Guard. Thank you for your offer of assistance for (name of yacht); please report your position."

Soon I was in Shoreham, the distance gobbled up by a favorable tide and a following wind.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Unfinished business

PicoMicroYacht has still to finish it's Thames adventure and so continued down the river.

The river was surprisingly rough as the west wind played against the last of the flood, with the Queen Elizabeth 2nd bridge in the distance.

 Soon PicoMicroYacht was under the bridge and I was looking upwards, the tower blocks in the distance providing scale.

I had to look out for river traffic and keep my station.  A  ship was creeping upstream with two tugs huffing and puffing to keep it in the right position for docking.

 A solitary yacht came past under genoa, keeping the speed down so as to arrive at Gravesend at a particular time.

Soon I was passing the wharves at Gravesend, as the river  accelerated. I was now drifting down at six knots, with the greenish brown water in boiling turbulence around me.

I made my approach, readying PicoMicroYacht for the only slipway.  A Port of London Authority launch made a beeline for me from across the river, wanting to quiz me about my intentions. After a brief chat, PicoMicroYacht was on it's way.

Gravesend Sailing Club kindly agreed to store my boat for a few hours. A chatty friendly group of sailors greeted me.

They conquer the mud in dinghies by going out at high tide and using the crane to launch.

Their friendly welcome made me almost want to join the club there and then, but PicoMicroYacht must continue onward.