Thursday, June 18, 2009

T.I.N.S. Continued (Updated with a couple of pictures)

The Wildebeest III had a new stern and bottom paint job and the time for getting underway was upon us. We took a train to Portsmouth and a taxi to the Hamble Boatyard. Once there, we set about preparations to set sail the following morning. After setting up charts and making a good plan we decided to do a last meal at one of the pubs by the Royal Air Force Yacht Club.

Dinner consisted of pints of London Pride Bitters and plates of steaming Lamb Shoulder with mashed potatoes. I remember this because the price was so reasonable, about three British Pounds a plate! We limped back to the boat fully gorged and ready for sleep.

The next morning, pre departure jitters.

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Reveille was at 0500, and we started the mighty Perkins 4/108 and slipped our berth about ten minutes later. We headed Southwest down the Hamble and soon found ourselves in the Solent, which is the most popular sailing region of the UK. Once in the Solent, we kept in the center, passing the Isle of Wight to our starboard heading East while passing the Napoleonic Water Forts.

I have found some photos on another website, but I am waiting for permission to use them. Once again, I was not using a camera because I was quite nervous about our journey into the very busy English Channel!

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Update on the request; I sent a request for permission for a couple of photos of the Napoleonic Forts and received this;

With respect to your request we have around three approaches every week for our pictures

I'm sorry we have had to ask for a flat fee for one off reproduction 'publication' elsewhere

You'll notice our pictures have copyright notices

We are able to keep up with demand & do not want to dilute the relevance of our own site

Thanks for your interest

Oh well. I did indeed notice the copyright and though I don't know copyright laws with respect for international copyrights, I will respect theirs. There will not be any links to the great website with possible international buyers of the various products that this nice person has for sale. I wonder why I was not given a price list? I guess three whole requests per week is causing service fatigue.

But we note, they are keeping up.

The previous paragraphs show an example of the British Shopkeeper mindset; "Sorry, can't be helped..." The shopkeeper really never gives a rat's patootie about increasing sales or moving more products. They would just rather the stranger goes away. But there are some Shopkeepers in the UK who do really care about their clients and I remember them well, but I'm talking about ten, or so.

Oh well; I can return to the UK at anytime and stay at my Club on Bell Wharf Lane and I know at least thirty boatowners who will happily take me back to the Solent for a nice daysail with my own camera.

Thanks, UK Bob; for reminding me of my insignificance.

We passed Isle of Wight rapidly, since we happened to have the tides with us. This was the first time I had ever felt real tidal ranges and the effect on slow moving sailboats. We literally flushed like a toilet into the sea. I could see Beachy Head in the distance and thought that our journey would go smoothly and fast.

Ok everyone, say in loud unison; NOT!

After passing out of the Solent into the English Channel proper, I noticed that Beachy Head was staying the same size. It wasn't getting larger. We were beginning to rock side to side from the big Southerly breeze and the nice swells that came with those winds.

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I was getting a little seasick... Ok, I'm lying. It was serious seasick and the greenness of my gills was threatening to become a "technicolor yawn"! My insides had never felt that way on a boat, maybe a little bit of queesiness, but it always went away in a few hours.

This is the voice in my head talkin'; "Maybe it's because you have never actually sailed before!"

Oh yes, I was feeling it. And I was thinking about all the years of smack talking, talkin' loudly about sailing and cruising.

Heck, it was all I could do to keep from puking.

One good thing we discovered, the Spousal Unit has the insides of IRON! She could go below, despite all the bouncing around, mark a point on the chart, get sandwiches and generally hold the crew together.

The sun was beginning to set, got a quick picture of a seasick skipper;

Brighton. Zoom in on this, it is a great vacation spot and has a beach of pebbles, vice sand.

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After about six hours, the tide literally turned and we began flying towards the East. We soon passed by Brighton, which was the last Marina opportunity until Dover. Dover is a complete madhouse of movement, with a couple of ferry companies and a Hovercraft outfit leaving and entering the Dover terminal, shooting across the Channel to Calais, Dunkirk and LeHavre.

Biggify this Dover Picture and zoom in. Fascinating place to visit and a great way to go to France. Verrrry Busy!

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The sun was setting on us as Brighton was left in our wake. I went below to snooze for a while, hoping to feel a little better. Plus, I was hoping things would settle down and maybe even sleep and wake up in calmer waters.


As we approached Dover, all hands were summoned to keep a watch for fast ferries feverishly flying for French freedom.

That was seven words starting with "F". I win!

We began a slow turn to the Northeast. That was when I was given the helm and informed that I had to keep a course to the next waypoint. The Spousal unit and our nice Crew, "Dave K." went below to catch up on their naps while I gamely kept the 'Beest on her heading.

We were using a Garmin 45XL Hand held GPS, it was the most modern small unit at the time. Very accurate and very expensive. When you set a waypoint, a specific geographical place on the globe, the GPS will show a "highway" with the miles to go and direction indicated on the top of the screen. The picture literally looks like a road, with a right and left side with a line up the middle. The goal is to stay between the lines and don't drift too far to the right or left of your road.

I got the following picture of a Garmin 45XL from an auction site Please go there and buy this item. I still love the old Garmin 45XL!

Here is a good picture of the Highway:

So, anyway...

I was diddy-bopping along, heading Northeast and feeling very tired and not so seasick. I knew I was to the right of the path I needed to stay in, but the coast of France was about ten miles to the right and Kent was about eight miles to the left. What could possibly go wrong, right?

There was no chart in the cockpit. I couldn't know that we were on a collision course with the Goodwin Sands. Right in the center of the English Channel, an idiot collector of the highest magnitude!
(Not everyone who has wrecked at Goodwin is an idiot. Just me and a few others)

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The cluebat that hit me was watching the depth meter go from three hundred feet to 45feet in moments.

Oh, and the sound of big waves crashing on something. At first, I stayed quiet waiting to see what it was. Finally though, I played it safe and called all hands on deck.

"What's the matter", Dave asked quickly.

I gave a quick, "Depth just went from 300 to 45". We are clear of land.

"What's the Lat/Long?" Dave responded.

I gave the Latitude and Longitude.

After a moment of nervous quiet I get an agitated, "Turn to 280 degrees".

I didn't quite understand the call...

"Turn the boat LEFT, NOW!!!" Was Dave's yell.

So I did. Dave brought the chart up and showed how close we were to becoming the newest victim of the Goodwin Sands. Scared the H E double Toothpicks out of me, it did!

My resolution was that I was going to do what it took to get my navigation up to UK standards. I was rebuked for not paying enough attention to keeping the position inside the "Highway".

"But I was only a half mile to the right, what's wrong with that? Look at how far we are from France", I whined.

Meanwhile, we still had to get out of this mess and it was getting to be 0300...


Buck said...

Yow! Great cliffhanger, this!

re: ... Dover... Fascinating place to visit and a great way to go to France.

Yup, again. I've done both ferries and hovercraft, and I would have most certainly preferred the ferry on the day we took the hovercraft back from France. It was in November, IIRC, and rougher than all get out. There's a reason they have seat belts in those things... I wasn't too damned sure I'd survive the experience, but I did. And yeah: I WAS green. But those things ARE fast, relative to the ferry.

Thanks for firing off the synapses.

USA_Admiral said...

Wow. Interesting post.

Barco Sin Vela II said...

Thanks, guys!

Be sure to read the next segment of our exciting serial!