The gales in Lowestoft kept us in port for 4 days. I gave the engine a semi-service and replaced the impeller. There was also time to p,an the rest of the trip home.
The next leg would hopefully would get us to the English Channel. This is a rather complex area with shipping lanes, massive sand banks which protrude far out to sea, wind farms, traffic separation schemes, massive boats going to and from Harwich, Felixstowe and London, and the relative narrows of the Dover straits.
We cast off at 0430hrs and headed out of Lowestoft. This we had been told was always a bit lumpy due to the narro channel and ground swell. It wasn’t at all, the wind was coming off the shore and the sea state was rather calm. Once clear we headed SSW hand railing the coast and were soon making good speed at 6 knots. Past Sizewell and on to Orfordness. Here I turned due South to avoid a TSS going into Harwich. This took us back out into open sea.
I had planned to stop at Burnham on Crouch to visit friends but this would have cost a further 2 days and meant going back on myself. There was now not the time to spare as the extended forecast was not brilliant and I had now been away longer than I had anticipated.
The passage seemed to run completely to plan, we negotiated our way around all hazards and once past the Thames estuary and west of the Thannet Array wind farm the coast of Kent appeared on the horizon. 18miles to Dover.
I was worried about Dover. Here the seas pick up and together with the ferry traffic, its a place that need careful planning. The tide was giving a a good push in the right direction and we were doing 9 knots. About 2 miles off port I radioed Dover Port control and was instructed to proceed through the West entrance. We waited for a ferry to depart, got chucked around by its was
h and then entered the west end of the port.
Once in I radioed the marina and asked permission to berth. They gave us our worst spot yet. It was down a kind of narrow maritime cul-de-sac between 2 very expensive french boats. Tongareva does not go well in reverse due to her long keels and also being of a rather heavy displacement she carries a lot of momentum even when at less than 1 knot speed. As luck would have it, a french lady from one of the boats either side was on hand to take a warp and help maintain control in such a tight space.