Ocean Mist Ship's Log

19 th of May to 4 th of June 2006 - Not the Isles of Scilly - Boulogne

Crew : Helen, Andy, Sam and Margaret
Destinations : Shotley, Bradwell, Brightlingsea, Queenborough, Ramsgate, Boulogne and Harty Ferry.
Distance : 312 miles

19th May 2006

Andy and I went down to Shotley to prepare Ocean Mist for her trip to The West Country. A new speed and depth tridata was duly connected and I shinned up the mast (actually using the mast steps and harness) to attach the new lazy jacks to their new shackle and blocks, making getting the mainsail up snag free. 

Margaret and Sam joined us on the boat in the evening. 

20th May 2006 Shotley-Bradwell 

35.4 nautical miles  

Up for a leisurely breakfast with plenty of time for safety briefing and boat preparation. With a series of fairly deep low pressure systems passing across the south of England, weather was, and will continue to be, a significant factor determining where we get to each day. We locked out of Shotley at 1040 and managed to sail all the way to the North end of Black Deep, one of the main channels into the Thames Estuary. Unfortunately the waves were getting bigger and squalls were coming straight up the channel making our going pretty uncomfortable. Skipper Andy decided it was time to turn back at 1310, and we were in agreement. 

We all agreed that despite wind against tide and wind up to 35 knots we would head for The River Blackwater and Bradwell. This was quite tough going, but slowly the waves got smaller as we entered the Blackwater Estuary and saw the power station in the distance. We berthed alongside at 1830. 

Our maximum speed was 9.3knots with me at the helm! ( The record to date). We had waves of 2 meters in Force 7. 

21st May 2006 Sunday

Spent the day in Bradwell 

22nd May 2006 Monday

Inshore Waters Forecast: 0500 UTC
24 hour forecast: Wind: S/SW to NW 5/7, backing W overnight. Visibility: moderate/good Sea state: moderate/rough
Following 24 hours: Wind: W/SW 4/5 occasionally 6. Visibility: Good. Sea state: moderate/rough
0346 Gale warning: Gale 8 soon
0725 Gale warning: Gale 8 to severe gale 9 soon

Spent another day in Bradwell. Andy and I walked along the sea walls to the little Saxon chapel of St Peters. Very windy. We met Sam and Margaret on the way back and agreed we would spend another night in Bradwell. We had food in The Green Man that evening. Fortunately for us Sam has a good selection of jokes to keep people happy and we all learned how to play Uno to pass the time. Weather forecast was suggesting a window which might mean we can go to Brightlingsea for a change tomorrow morning. 

23rd May 2006 Tuesday

Bradwell-Brightlingsea 12 nautical miles.

Left Bradwell 0830. Sam then Margaret at the helm. Winds force 3-4 in a NW direction. A nice sail to Brightlingsea before a couple of afternoon squalls. Andy itching to get the cruising cute up given the light winds, but they remained a bit unpredictable so we made do with taking out the reefs from Saturday's sail. 







Arrived in Brightlingsea for lunch and hit the town in the tender as the water taxi service only runs at weekends. As I predicted, the outboard wouldn't start, not due to the lack of petrol but the need for a new spark plug! Andy and I took it in turns to row, which I'm sure took a lot less energy than trying to start the outboard. Bought some more provisions. Very friendly Harbour Master gave us the synoptic charts for the next 3 days. They suggest low systems continuing to bring strong winds from the south west for several days making a south west passage not very inviting. We are starting to consider other options for our trip such as heading north along the coast.

24th May 2006 Wednesday Brightlingsea-Shotley

24 nautical miles

Very windy overnight which has continued through the morning tide. We decided to wait for the evening tide to take the ebb north back to Shotley..Moored next to a lovely boat. An old Smack called Bona. They are going to head up to Shotley tomorrow after deciding against Oostende. 

We left Brightlingsea with a good wind at 1930. We had a run up the coast in the dark, cold and rain with the wind becoming rather unpredictable. Arrived Shotley 0120. I had a personal conversation with Thames Coastguard, who were not able to help us enter the lock at Shotley. (OOOPS and sorry) Straight to bed on arrival

25th May 2006 Thursday

Beautiful weather, blue skies and sunshine! I went home for passports and money. Sam and Margaret went home to pick up Euros, leaving Andy to sort out the boat , do some laundry and work out alternative plans. Possibly going to Oostende although this seems unlikely as we probably need to stick to day sails until Margaret grapples with going down below underway. After some discussion and a look at the weather it does seem a trip to Ramsgate might be possible after all, followed by a crossing to France. Andy takes the car back to Cambridge once more to pick up sailing certificates needed for sailing in France. I went for a lovely run along the Orwell.

26th May 2006 Friday Shotley-Queenborough

31 nautical miles

Left Shotley at 0600. By late morning we decided to head up the Thames and diverted to Queenborough and the entrance to the River Medway. We had a lovely mooring buoy with Sheerness Power station as our backdrop. The winds seemed to drop off slightly and we had a nice evening on Ocean Mist. 

27th May 2006 Saturday Queenborough-Ramsgate

45 nautical miles

Sam navigated us out of the Medway and down to Ramsgate and we had a nice afternoon sail, arriving in Ramsgate for supper at 1800. Quite crowded in the marina, but Andy squeezed us into a berth at the inner end of the end pontoon by the steps. Some concern from passers by as to whether we would get out again. 


28th May 2006 Sunday Ramsgate-Boulogne

34 nautical miles

Left Ramsgate at 0500. I decided to navigate today. We had a lovely sail down past Goodwin Sands and across the channel. This is the busiest shipping lane in the world apparently. We arrived in Boulogne at 1200 so had plenty of time to explore. In fact, we were to find that we would have lots of time for exploration!Andy and I had fish fondue for supper. 

29th May 2006 Monday

Weather forecast not good for a trek along the coast. We had thought Dunkurque might be promising and Sam had planned a passage to this end. However it was not to be. We spent another day in Boulogne. 


Andy and I picked up groceries and then went on a long walk to the Colomn de Napoleon. This was erected to celebrate Napoleon's invasion of England. He was getting ahead of himself! Sadly it was closed by the time we got there so we didn't get to climb the hundred's of steps to the top. We could still see England from the field next door though. 

30th May 2006 Tuesday 

Another bad forecast and another day in Boulogne. Sat in lots of cafes and Andy and I got our Moules Frite for lunch. 

Sam and Margaret explored the local shops and fish stall. We decided we should go back to the UK tomorrow as the winds looked less of a concern. 

31st May 2006 Wednesday Boulogne-Dover

28 nautical miles

Left Boulogne at 1115 although had to hang around until the lights changed. Very bumpy going around Cap Gris Nez. One big wave at least 3 metres high left us with no electronic compass and we suspect dodgy wiring to the coach roof instruments. It was rather like helming us along a big dipper, exciting and scary at the same time. 

Things definitely got better as we got nearer to Dover and we berthed at 1730. We found a restaurant for supper to avoid cooking. 

1st June 2006 Thursday Dover-Ramsgate

23 nautical miles

I had taken on the task of navigation to the River Swale. We had thought a circumnavigation of Sheppey might be interesting. However, timings were tight. By the time we got to North Foreland it was clear it would be getting close to midnight by the time we got to Harty Ferry where we were headed. I didn't fancy getting there and anchoring in the dark, so we did a 180° turn and went into Ramsgate for a second time. 

2nd June 2006 Friday Ramsgate-Harty Ferry

26 Nautical miles

After a morning wandering around town we had a lovely sail with the north Kent coast on our left and the cruising chute flying for most of the afternoon. On occasion the wind died meaning we did use the motor occasionally. We found a lovely anchorage with a breeding ground for black headed gulls next door. Margaret took a couple of hours before being convinced the anchor wouldn't drag. I believe she had had some dodgy experiences with anchors in Greece. It was another lovely evening with sunset and sky galore! 

3rd June 2006 Saturday Harty Ferry-Woolverstone Marina

50 nautical miles

Left Harty Ferry at 0500. Beautiful misty morning. Anchor came up without fuss as there was little tide. We took the ebb out of the river and headed north . Sunshine for the first time. 

It gradually got warmer and the cruising chute went up. As we headed for Harwich, yachts were out racing and we had an exciting time crossing the paths of the racing yachts with Sam at the helm. We got to Woolverstone in good time to walk to the Butt and Oyster for our last supper together. (No sign of the propeller!). 

4th June Sunday Woolverstone Marina-Shotley Marina

7 nautical miles

Tacked up the Orwell in sunshine. Gave Ocean Mist the once over and said goodbye to Sam and Margaret. 






Obviously we were very disappointed not to get as far as the West Country. Gradually our expectations were reduced as it became apparent that the deep low pressure systems were not going to stop heading our way. We got to know Boulogne which is definitely worth a visit and is a pleasant place to hang out. I learned more about the weather and sailing than I could possibly have learned from reading my books or studying it in class. We hope that Sam and Margaret enjoyed some of the experience and weren't too disappointed with not getting to our planned destination, but hey that's sailing. Andy and I are definitely going back to The Swale. For me it was my first time in the River Blackwater and we are going back there for my birthday, hopefully to anchor this time, which is my favorite past time. Andy may get to The Isles of Scilly in July and who knows maybe I will sometime.

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