Kim Hollamby, Sarah Mitchell
From: West India Dock, River Thames, London.
To: Calais, France.
Port engine start hours: 563.2. Finish hours: 569.9. Hours run: 6.7.
Stbd engine start hours: 562.2. Finish hours: 571.0. Hours run: 8.8.
Log start: 6578.2nm. Log finish: 6678.7nm. Distance run: 100.5nm.
Navigation log (full commentary follows below):
0640: lock out. Call Woolwich Radio and get permission to proceed through Barrier.
0655: C span Thames Barrier. Sp 7kn.
0855: wpt 130 W Blyth. 51 29.80N 000 29.10E.
0910: wpt 131 Mid Blyth. 51 30.00N 000 32.50E.
0930: wpt 132 E Blyth. 51 29.70N 000 37.90E.
0937: speed to 22kn.
0941: wpt 133 W Nore Sand. 51 29.30N 000 41.80E.
0948: wpt 134 Nore Swatch. 51 28.20N 000 45.70E.
0951: wpt 170 Medway No10. 51 27.60N 000 47.00E.
0952: wpt 137 Medway No8. 51 27.80N 000 47.70E. Wind: light, variable. Sea: smooth. Vis: 15nm .
1007: wpt 138 Spile. 51 26.20N 000 55.80E.
1020: wpt 139 0.5nm S of Spaniard. 51 25.70N 001 04.20E.
1036: wpt 140 East Last/Hook Spit. 51 24.00N 001 12.50E.
1043: wpt 141 S Margate. 51 23.80N 001 16.80E.
1100: just off Longnose PHM
1115: inside Ramsgate breakwaters waiting for Dutch flotilla to clear.
1124: alongside fuel barge. Diesel 342lt ‘82.08.
1217: departing Ramsgate.
1225: B2 SHM.
1235: off Deal Pier.
1305: entering lanes 3nm SE Dover behind MBM Cruising Club fleet.
1330: 50 58.23 001 32.73E (in NE-going lane of TSS). Port engine failed; cause unknown but something mechanical and nasty. Summon MBM Control Boat Castaway for escort and proceed on starboard engine.
1435: wpt 173 N of CA5 50 58.00N 001 46.00E.
1458: entering Calais Harbour.
1510: through swing bridge into Bassin de l’Ouest.
1530: alongside visitor mooring pontoon rafted three out.
Kim Hollamby reports:
Reader Sarah Mitchell joined Missing Link direct from the Association of Thames Yacht Clubs London On Water rally where she had been placed as second highest female skipper and 12th overall in Sunday’s boat handling trials, a good result. But neither she nor I were aware that the theoretical situations presented in competitions were about to become a very real practical problem out at sea.
The day started in an excellent way, albeit slightly early. Locking out of West India Dock without fuss and immediately obtaining permission to proceed through the Thames Barrier, I settled Missing Link down to a cruising speed of 7.5kn on the ebb tide. This was, in part, to enable a lazy start to the morning given that we had time in hand to catch the MBM Cruising Club fleet at Dover, and partly because we were loosely tagging along with a mini flotilla from the Albany Club down to Sea Reach.
The miles passed easily, boosted by as much as 2.5kn of current. Sarah was soon in charge at the wheel, which left me free to get on with some work and to deal with the important subject of breakfast. In the end we were well out along Sea Reach before I finally decided that the chores were complete and we could open Missing Link out to 22kn.
Talking to readers at London On Water, I had been surprised at how many were fearful of the inshore route across The Cant and Four Fathoms Channel, having never used anything else myself when transiting between the East Kent ports and the Thames. With the warnings of groundings and near groundings still in our ears, Missing Link’s crew kept a particularly careful eye on the depth sounder as we headed across parts of the chart that, admittedly, can look a little intimidating, especially the part marked Overland Passage! But we saw nothing less than 2m depth under the keel and often a little more along a track I have used many times. Perhaps we have been carving out our own channel across the shallows?
Strangely enough, the only problem we encountered was when running through the much