Day 77 – Dover to St Kats

I had a days rest yesterday and did all my usual pre-trip stuff like filling up on fuel, water, food supplies, double, treble check the weather, tides and pilotage.

I picked up another handheld VHF as I wasn’t confident that my fixed VHF was working properly. I decided to do a non-stop passage from Dover to London. I know the stretch of water pretty well now, and I just couldn’t be bothered with pulling in at Queenborough. The autopilot does the lion share of the donkey work, so I did all my prep work and made sure my lunch and dinner was a simple spag bowl which I just needed to reheat.

I aimed to leave at 12pm and arrive outside St Kats for 3:30am. I eventually departed at 12:40pm.

My outs were Ramsgate, Queenborough, Gravesend and Erith. Should the weather turn, or I suddenly get the need for a kip, Queenborough, Erith and Gravesend would be my likely stop off points.

I had a total brain meltdown when leaving Dover, gave the wrong entrance that I was leaving from, had to ask harbour control to repeat a few things. I basically left looking like a right muppet. Fortunately that was the last muppet like incident of the day.

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I can’t remember if I mentioned I managed to trap my thumb in the main companionway hatch (if thats the right terminology). That thumb took months and months to heal. I ended up picking the dead nail off where the blood blister was, and then pulled the rest off. It took some time, but my clever body grew a new thumbnail, and it looks lovely.

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Night closed in and I was around North Foreland and heading along the Princes Channel. I was making good time.

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I think the prospect of being back home in familiar territory kept me going.

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At 03:27 (my estimated arrival time) when I was approaching the Thames Barrier, I got a message from dad “Hey hey well done I think ur nearly back, will speak later,take care ur a chip of the old block working to this time of the morning. all the best dad”.

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It’s true, like father like son we seem to share the ability to pick an arrival time, however far away we are, and be there spot on time. Well I was 25 minutes off (and I had departed 40 minutes late), but I made excellent time, zipping along at 9.5 knots nearly 10 knot at timess! (the Thames tide may have had something to do with that though).

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I’d forgotten how amazing London looks at night. I’d been devoid of neon city scapes for 3 months.

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I spent most of the remainder of the journey at the bow, occasionally readjusting Alfred the Autopilot, and took in the familiar sights of London, and enjoying my peaceful ninja like return under the cover of darkness.

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I finally picked up a mooring at 03:55am, 77 days and 605 miles later, boat and skipper back in on piece.

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I set my alarm clock to go off 1 hour later at 6am for the first and only lock until 4pm later. I also left my VHF on in case they radioed me. I was told that I had to be ready as soon as the one and only boat left St Kats.

At about 5:50am the marina staff radioed me up telling me to wake up. I had fallen asleep in the cockpit. Quick smart I fired her up and got into the lock, not wishing to stay out a minute longer.

I found a easy berth, and soon fell asleep.

Trip Stats
Miles: 90
Total Miles: 691

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