As I am meeting more and more non-German speaking people I will from now on post in English. Apologies to my German friends, that is a tribute to the internationality of my trip.
From Dover I sailed to Eastbourne and this was the worst leg so long. I started in a wind of Bft. 5-6 directly onto the nose, so it meant a lot of tacking (Kreuzen in German). I knew that but what I did not know was that it would later be replaced by a complete calm (Flaute) and heavy rain! It happened at one of the places with the worst reputation of the English Channel: At Dungeness! There is not only a nuclear power station on the tip of the land (which makes an excellent navigation mark) but also the western tides and the easten tides meet here. So here Neptun left me without wind, poured such a heavy rain over me that I could see barely more than 500 metres and lightning!. I had hoped that the wind would come back after the rain but it didn`t. As I did not want to spend the whole night out there I had already turned the engine on and continued. But there were still the waves from Bft. 5-6 plus the meeting of the two currents which made a very chaotic sea and sometimes the boat banged really hard into the waves so that I often turned the autopilot off and hand steered through the worst waves. Besides this there are also the stupid bouys of the fishermen marking where they have put their nets on the ground. You do not want to catch any of these with your keel, rudder or propeller. So I had to keep a sharp look out.
When night fell I could only hope that I would not hit any of these. Luckily I did not. One hour before Eastbourne at 1 am the wind picked up again and I could sail the last bit through the moonlit night. I easily found the harbour entrance at night and the lock (Schleuse) was already open for me. When I came through the lock to my berth (Liegeplatz) a young quite drunken couple actually wanted to welcome and help me but especially the girl was absolutly wasted and could barely hold herself on the shaky jetty. She said “ Oh, we didn´t want to be weird, we just wanted to be your friends“ and tried to give me her hand and would have hugged me if she wouldn´t have to hold on to the boat in order not to fall into the water. But she started asking questions like “ Did you pick the name?“, „Where are you from?“ and while I was busily jumping around trying to tie my boat to the jetty I tried to answer the questions. It was very nice of them but the problem was that instead of helping me they were in the way and distracting me. So when the boy asked “ Can I ask you a very personal question?“ I assertively said „NO“ because that question sounded like real trouble and at 2:30 pm, my boat almost floating around in the harbour, tired, thristy, hungry and sweating like hell in my oilskin I really could not take such a discussion. They were so drunk they just did not get that their questions were in the wrong time. 5 minutes later everything would have been fine. So when I had answered NO they retreated to their fish cutter and continued drinking until they left an hour later.
So I slept in until noon the next day and then explored the vicinity. The main advantage is that the Marina is very quiet. In the afternoon a German couple arrived in the neighbouring berth who are also on a long term trip and had started three weeks ago from Wilhelmshaven. We had a nice evening in their cockpit over beer and some nice stew.
Otherwise there was not much of high interest I have to say. The marina is a newly developed housing area with a big shopping centre like they exist all over Europe.
The next day I spent with some repairs and the day after that I started together with my neighbours to Brighton. But I was about an hour earlier in Brighton then them. It was marvellous sunshine sailing and it was a joy to live. Here is a little video: Video Eastbourne to Brighton
I had arrived just in time to be at a barbecue on the beach of Brighton with some Couchsurfers. Afterwards we went to the local weekly Couchsurfing meeting. There I met Ewa with whom I went to the art gallery the next day and afterwards we together explored the little shops and streets of Brighton.
The same evening I was again invited to a BBQ with other Couchsufers.
On Friday I sailed to Portsmouth, It was actually again a very nice day but the wind was directly from the front, instead from the side as the weather forecast had promised. Anyway, I made it there almost all under sail, only the last 10 nm I had to motor because the wind had died completely and the tide was already pushing me backwards out to sea and as it was already 8pm I did not want to spend the night at sea so close to the harbour. I went to the Royal Clarence Marina which is very calm and nice on the Gosport side. And with 18 Pounds much cheaper than the usual 25 Pounds I had paid in the other Marinas.
Also here I stayed two days. One day I replaced the halyards (Fallen) by the new Dyneema halyards which I had been carrying around for four weeks already and they were flying around the cabin all the time and lay in my hammock:
On Sunday I met my old friend Kathleen and she showed me around Portsmouth and its nice new cafes
and also the house she bought with her husband.
On my way back I came along the Portsmouth Sailing Club, which is on the Portsmouth side and saw that they have an own jetty. So I just popped in to ask at the bar whether one can berth their. And they said “Yes, it is 15,75 Pound for your boat”. “Great” I thought, it was a little cheaper than the other marina and so to say on the right side, meaning the more interesting side. What I did not know is that even at night it is a very busy part of the harbour: The Isle of Wight ferry calls every 30 Minutes, the pilot boats picks up the pilot, fishing boats come and drop crew and fish on land and some people seem to have even slipped their motor boats there at night. And during the day after school the school boys where jumping madly off the quay into the water competing who could make the biggest splash, just as we used to do at that age. They did not care about that the water was full of rotting fish and other debris.
The next evening, after I had taken a shower in the sailing club I went up to the bar and the bar keeper told me that she knows a very experienced chap who would certainly sail with me across the English Channel. I hung around to wait for him to come. His name was Chris Smith and he was really nice and by the way the compiler of the navigational information for the Cap Verde Islands in the latest Imray pilot At the same time I had already met Drew at the bar and he was very enthusiastic to sail with me, he only had to get home to make sure that he has no work obligations and of course to check with his wife. Drew called me later that he would be able to sail with me the next evening from Portsmouth to France. So Chris was not needed any more about what he was very happy because he was actually preparing to sail for a year or more himself and had to supervise repairs on his boat.
So the next day I shopped some food and got the necessary sea charts for the Channel and the French coast.
At 4:30 p.m. Drew showed up, I gave him a run through of the safety items on board and at 5:20 we left Portsmouth. Because there was literally no wind we had to motor for the first half of the crossing. Fortunately one of the electric autopilots had decided to work again so we did not have to hand stear all the time.
Drew did the first watch which was actually the more difficult one because during the time we were crossing the main shipping line in the middle of the Channel. But honestly, coming from the Elbe estuary the traffic here is quite modest, you always have enough time to figure out what kind of ship you see, where it is going and whether you are on collision course or not. In the middle of the night the wind came back and we could sail the second half up to Ouistreham. Already under engine when we were approaching the waiting pontoon before the lock a couple in a little motor boat waved their hand with a rope indicating that they need to be towed. Obviously they had a problem with their engine. Because we were the closest boat to them by we took their bowline and started towing them. I had never done this before but it worked well. Soon another motor boat came along and took over the towing. They went to the same waiting pontoon and were very thankful for the help. It goes without saying that you give help to other people at sea. You never know when you will be in need of other people´s help yourself On the pontoon we had to figure out when the lock opens the next time. So I went up to the display and thought to be happy that the next opening would be in 10 Minutes. Luckily I asked the other people on the jetty and they told me that the next opening would be at 11:45. I was irritated and asked whether there wasn´t any opening at 10:30. People looked irritated back until Drew reminded me that I was still on English time and that in France the time was one hour ahead. But the result was the same, meaning that the next opening would soon.
In the lock we went up a long way, something between 3 and 4 metres. In the marina just outside the lock we rafted up (im Päckchen liegen) next to a nice Belgian J 109 and had a beer and than another beer. After having slept not much during the last night, not eaten much and hot sun burning down on us, I got a bit dizzy. Drew had to catch his ferry in 1,5 hours so we started to walk the roughly 1 kilometer to the ferry terminal. We started in time because we knew that we might be distracted on the way. And so it was, at the local yacht club we had another drink, but for me this time only a coke. And at the ferry terminal we had another drink, again just juice for me. After Drew had left I walked to the beach but stupidly I had brought my purse and mobile phone so could not swim because I did not want to leave those things unattended on the beach. I payed a short visit to the town of Ouistreham but have to admit that besides the beach it is not worth going there.
Back at the boat I just fell asleep and slept until midnight when my neighbour come on board to stick a note at the companion way (Niedergang) saying that he would be leaving the next day to Honfleur. I thought, yes why not book off that early. I have seen it all here in Ouistreham and only came there to drop off Drew at the ferry and I wanted to go to Honfleur anyway. So next morning at 7:15 we together left the marina for the lock at 7:30. When we came out of the look we found very hazy, almost foggy weather with only little wind from the wrong direction. Oh Shit, I thought, that means motoring all the way. And so it happened. The visibility improved a little and it got really hot during the day.
At noon I was in the lock of Honfleur and half an hour later moored in the Avant port at the jetty.
I quickly tried out for the first time the sun cover for the cockpit because the sun was burning down now so much you could not withstand the direct sunlight. The sun cover turned out to be easy to set up and gives enough shade for two persons.