The weather seems to be taking a turn for the worse over the next few days. So we decided to press on yesterday (Wednesday 24th) whilst the sun was still shining and before the wind increases too much. That meant another early start; we left Brighton at 7am and sailed under the chalky cliffs towards the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head. Nova sailed fast – 8-9 kts upwind, with only 12-14 kts of wind. The cliffs are impressive – last time we sailed Nova past this coastline, we were in fog and didn’t see a thing. The wind strengthened and we reefed, with no reduction in speed. Off Beachy Head we rounded the Royal Sovereign Light, a strange square platform on a single pillar rising out of the ocean (marking a shoal) and on towards Dungeness.
Dungeness is a strange, bleak place – a long low strip of sand, with pylons marching along it from the tip towards the land. Huge square industrial buildings sit at the sea end, almost in the water, and along the edge of the beach are old boats (many of them apparently unused, rotting away). Not a beautiful place, we thought – then as we passed the headland, a group of porpoises popped up to escort us round, nature surprising us with something delightful.
The wind strength was still increasing, so we put in an additional reef and settled down for a rather uncomfortable downwind sail into Dover. Dover is a tricky harbour to enter – first you have to get permission from the port control authorities, who are juggling the movement of ferries, cruise ships and fishing boats as well as yachts. The tide is very strong at the entrance and there is a lot of turbulence; once inside it is calm, so we got the sail down and made our way into the marina. A long sail today, so planning a day off tomorrow, and hoping the weather will improve later in the week.
- Distance: 74 NM, 10.5 hours, mostly sailing
- Wind: F3 E, rising to F5, gusting F6 SE