RBC 21. Leg 1. 22nd - 26th May; Gosport to Harwich, 47 Regt RA
Crew list is:
Col Jules Facer (late AAC) Skipper
Capt Graham Stephenson RA Mate
LCpl Peter Cavendish Int Corps Comp Crew
LBdr Charlie Guppy RA
LCpl Lewis Clayton RE
Saturday, 22nd May
Slipped this morning at about 0930 and after some beat up training, we had a great sail down the S coast towards Eastbourne - now a couple of hours out.
Crew all finding their sea legs (there's been quite a swell), and are bedding in nicely. Looking forward to a great week ahead.
Sunday 23rd May
After a great sail up the Channel, pulled into Dover by 1800 for overnight.
Sunday 23rd May
Going strong and Dungeness
White Cliffs and going strong
Monday 24th May
Set off from Dover Marina at 0700hrs, amongst the frequent passenger ferries to Calais, navigated along the south east Kent coast, arriving to Queenborough Harbour at 1700hrs, covering a total of 45nm.
The changing weather conditions and point of sail required hoisting and striking the headsail, and putting in and shaking out a reef on the mainsail. The repetition served as excellent practice handling sails, despite rogue waves over the bow drenching the crew.
Repositioned onto a mooring buoy in anticipation of poor conditions in order to set off promptly the following morning.
Tuesday 25th May
Slipped our lines at Queenborough Harbour on the Isle of Sheppey at 0500hrs, navigated up the Thames Estuary in conjunction with the tidal currents and high water to aid our progress, arriving to St Katharine Dock Marina in the shadow of Tower Bridge at 1300hrs, covering a total of 46nm.
Due to the direction of the wind and frequent squalls it was not practical to sail this stretch so motored up the Thames Estuary, which afforded the opportunity for the crew to appreciate the Capital from a new perspective, and identifying links to British maritime history such as the Cutty Sark clipper ship.
A restful evening should stand us in good stead for tomorrow's night sail.
Wednesday 26th (Night Sail)
The 42 ft sailing yacht departed St Katharine Docks Marina at 1300. Slightly earlier than intended with the intent of sailing back down the River Thames heading towards Felixstowe. Due to this there was scope to take some excellent photos around Tower Bridge, The Cutty Sark and The Millennium Dome. The weather was glorious, the sun shining and spirits amongst the crew were high!
This is my first sailing expedition and ultimately so far a great learning experience and has definitely been challenging at times. This highlight today was being able to experience handling the boat under close supervision. Listening closely and taking in the knowledge and guidance from the Skipper. The sailing conditions taking into account the wind and tide allowed me to gain the highest speed over ground of the week of 11.6 which was a great accomplishment for a novice like me.
Moving on through into the evening dinner was cooked and a list put together determining who was on watch throughout the night. It is hard to describe the feeling of being at the helm during the dead of night. Navigation is now so much more complex. The chart plotter and radar become your new best friend as you follow a compass course into the distance.
Thursday 27th May
As the clouds start to clear the full moon makes an appearance illuminating the surrounding area. At times this provided a nice distraction from the slow moving speeds as the tide pushed against us. Alas we finally made it to the desired destination just off the coast to Bawdsey Manor that stands at a prominent position at the mouth of the River Deben close to the village of Bawdsey in Suffolk, about 74 miles (119 km) northeast of London. Formerly owned by Sir William Cuthbert Quilter and sold to the Air Ministry who used it as a research station working on the development of radar.
After having the morning to relax it was then time to lift the anchor and move up the River and settle for the evening opposite the Ramsholt Arms where we will have the opportunity to have a farewell meal together and reflect on some of the highs and lows of the week.
Now with the boat at rest on a buoy on the River Deben, It was time to have some rest and a chance to have a meal and drink at the Ramsholt Arms pub. First thing that needed to happen was to prepare the small dingy boat on board. Once ready we were ferried across in the capable hands of Graham, the Mate, at the tiller.
We very much enjoyed our meal with a good view and friendly staff at the pub. The evening was meet with a stunning sunset and still water that looked like glass.
Overall this was a great start to the Royal Artillery Round Britain Challenge.
Friday 28th May
On Friday we were able to enjoy a slower start whilst waiting for the midday high tide. We awoke to the sound of sizzling bacon being lovingly prepared by Peter. At high tide we slipped from the buoy to make it over the sandbanks at the mouth of the river. A short trip took us around to our final destination at Shotley marina. Once in, it was time to clean and prepare the boat for the next crew from 4 Regt RA.
Now on our journey home for the Bank Holiday weekend we can reflect on what has been a great and challenging week. We have worked hard and learnt a lot and seen some awesome sights along the way. We thank our Skipper Jules Facer and Mate Graham Stephenson for their skill and knowledge, But most of all, for making sure we were safe and had fun on the trip.
For the log, We sailed 314 nm over 7 days (incl one overnight passage), with a max wind strength of F6 and routed Gosport to Eastbourne to Dover to Queenborough to St Katharine Dock (Tower Bridge) to Ramsholt (River Deben) to Shotley (Harwich).
We wish all other crews on the subsequent legs aboard St Barbara all the best and fair seas for the remainder of the Round Britain Challenge. Leg 1 signing off.