We Should Have Turned Left

At the end of the Orwell and Stour rivers, we should have turned left. We’d have had excellent winds for sailing and would have likely rounded the Hebrides by now. Instead we are battling to sail westwards with strong headwinds making progress arduous. On Tuesday we ventured forth into the English Channel and ploughed our way through a heavy confused sea around Beachy Head towards Newhaven, the wind blowing us inland at every opportunity and waves crashing over our bows. Distant Drum felt safe and solid, as if she was enjoying the experience. It is boring though when we have to have the engine running and cannot make any headway with our sails unless we tack out to the shipping lane and back, which would make a normal three hour sail into about twelve.

Windsurfer in our wake off Eastbourne

Windsurfer in our wake off Eastbourne

Beachy Head

Beachy Head

On reaching Newhaven we had to stand off for about twenty minutes whilst a Newhaven Dieppe ferry backed out of the river mouth. Once in past the harbour wall, calm descended and we progressed to the small marina on our port side, scrap heap on our starboard side, being met by the smiliest marina staff we’ve encountered, Gaz and Theresa who rafted us up to a large yacht which hadn’t been off it’s pontoon for over a year. They gaily assured us we’d be left in peace on this spot for as long as we liked.

The next morning at 9am, we were stunned to find the owner’s skipper of the large yacht wanting to go out for a sail. We duly moved to the outside of the visitors pontoon, where we could remain undisturbed, hurrah.

The weather continued to blow a hooley in the easterly direction until Friday when it turned westwards and chucked it down with rain. We’d decided by this time to stop for a week as we needed to get back to Harwich to collect Boris the Morris from his MOT in Ramsey, and sort the cottage out for new Airbnb guests. By this time we were feeling like locals. We’d made friends with Shem and Liz at The Hope, a pub down the lane towards the harbour mouth, lost dramatically at the pub quiz. We also met Matt working on a neighbouring yacht, who normally lives on his yacht in Fox’s Marina in Ipswich, where Distant Drum had all her renovation work done. So we were already east coast neighbours! It’s a small world.

What do you get when you cross an English Mastiff with a Standard Poodle... Pip, the welcoming pooch at The Hope

What do you get when you cross an English Mastiff with a Standard Poodle… Pip, the welcoming pooch at The Hope

By Friday evening more yachts were coming in to take shelter from storm force gales, including six soggy Dutch sailors who’d been racing in Saint Marlo (where they came third!) and were heading back to Holland. The Dutch are such cool sailors, they sweep in like nothing is ever a problem, moor up without a worry in the world, and are just so damned nice. The only problem I find is I get a cricked neck when trying to talk to them because they’re all so tall!

Clive in sou'wester heading into the rain on Friday

Clive in sou’wester heading into the rain on Friday

The Ferry at Newhaven is a huge RoRo (roll on roll off) which comes into the harbour forwards and reverses slowly out about three times every 24 hours. The noise reverberates though our steel hull to such a volume you can detect the fourth piston misfiring in the third engine. When there is a strong gale out at sea, she has to turn in the river right opposite our mooring. Matt emailed this picture he took last night as the ferry did her river spin, with her bow only 15 metres from Distant Drum. Yikes! Luckily we were by this time languishing back in Harwich.

Transmanche Ferry coming in to harbor. Manche is the name the French have for the English Channel, meaning sleeve

Transmanche Ferry coming in to harbor. Manche is the name the French have for the English Channel, meaning sleeve

The Ferry's bow just 15m from Distant Drum's starboard side yesterday

The Ferry’s bow just 15m from Distant Drum’s starboard side yesterday

We had a bit of a sticky journey home, got ourselves in a jam so to speak which was jarring to say the least….. remember that lovely strawberry conserve I made a week or so ago. We decided to bring a jar back to Harwich with us on our long train journey yesterday. Newhaven to Lewis, change bump bump stairs, Lewis to Victoria, change bump rumble bump bump more stairs, London Underground Circle Line to Liverpool Street, change bump rumble bump, train to Mannigtree…. I reached into the convenient box on wheels to retrieve a bottle of water to find our beautiful jam everywhere but in the jar. Aaagh! We’d been trailing drips of the stuff across London. At one stage I was walking behind Clive in Victoria and noticed splodges of red on the ground and thought ooh dear, it looks like someone’s bleeding – very strange looking blood, a little light a gooey. Didn’t occur to me what it actually was. Clearing up was messy, it had already got everywhere and then went further still, over Clive’s trousers, my dress, up our arms. A sticky situation!

Back in Harwich the beer festival was in full flow at the Redoubt Fort and the Sea Festival was getting going for today. Radio Mi Amigo 106.8fm is broadcasting from the Lightship at Ha’penny Pier until the 2nd August (there’s a link to the broadcast at http://www.lv18.org/mi-amigo.htm) and today it’s belting down with rain. Oh joy!

Our plan is to drive the van back to Newhaven on Tuesday or Wednesday, all jars stored upright in double sealed containers.

Things learnt this week: On the east coast we have a tidal range of around 4 metres which we think is quite enough. On the south coast it’s 7 metres.

Bog watch: Newhaven gets a 2, 1970s and tired though functional, and would get more if the thermostats on the showers didn’t veer from cold to scalding with no warning, and if there was anywhere to put your shampoo and soap.

Until next week, hasta la vista!

Cpn Jack & Fergus astride the boom in Newhaven with the RoRo in the background

Cpn Jack & Fergus astride the boom in Newhaven with the RoRo in the background


3 thoughts on “We Should Have Turned Left

  1. Patsy Cooke

    Ahhh .. more memories (I won’t say ‘nostalgia’ !!). Whilst we’ve never put into Newhaven, much of the rest sounds SO familiar .. yacht-ownership is just so very GLAMOROUS & sailing off into another life is SUCH a romantic notion …. to non-yacht-owners 🙂 That said, it does have its moments of joy and wonderment now & then! P xxx


  2. Nico Shipman

    Hang in there! Get the Channel out of the way and those prevailing winds will (fingers-crossed) be more favourable… he says!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s