Night trip from Ramsgate to Dover

This evenings plan was to hop on a train after work down to Ramsgate, get Excalibur to Dover in the early hours, grab some sleep and train it back to London the next morning. Back at my desk for 9am, no one the wiser!

I met a Scottish chap who’s sailing to the Caribbean or the Med in the marina. Got some valuable tips on drilling through stainless steel screws. Have to love it when someone tells you “If you have any problems, call xxx and speak to young Joe, not old Joe. Old Joe’s miserable as hell, but young Joe will tell you what you need to know”

At the same time I sensed I might struggle getting out of my berth, one of the marina guys came by. I asked if he could help me warp Excalibur around to face outwards. We messed it up a bit and Excalibur came fairly close to hitting another boat as she drifted out. It really pays to know what the waters doing, and not to trust that someone who works at the marina you’re trying to get out of knows what to do. We could have done it better but hey ho. No damage was done.

The tide was really flowing out fast, and at the same time I was getting ready to leave I had a guy standing next to me giving it all the “That’s a proper boat, what is she?” I think I made a few remarks without any eye contact, he seemed pretty oblivious to the inappropriate timing of his questions, but I wasn’t rude.

I shot off under a maelstrom of gushing compliments and a thousand thankyou’s to the marina guy for his help. I need to perfect some sort of Royal Halmatic wave for occasions such as these.

With no wind to speak of, I bobbed along, and exited the outer harbour at exactly 22:30 as planned.

I practised in my mind how the radio conversation with Ramsgate Port Control woudl go, but with the best will in the world I still managed to fluff my lines. Like an idiot I uttered the words “over and out, er I mean out!” ffs! I’d make a terrible actor.

It was another beautiful night, the night sky full of stars, and the notorious Goodwin Sands lit up like a runway.

I managed to crush my thumb when closing the sliding hatch, which throbbed for a good 24 hours thereafter. Quiet peaceful night on the water, interspersed with me yelling “Ah you mother £$%&£$&”,  way to go Tim.


I started to narrate in my mind what I would write in my blog post for the trip, but then got into a right kerfuffle. If I’m narrating what I’m going to write, and I’m gong to write that I’m narrating, then I’m narrating a narration of a narration and so on. I shook my head to get out of the infinite loop of crazy talk, and spotted a magnificent red moon rising from the horizon, it was so red it could have been another planet. As the moon slowly rose it took on the familiar yellow glow we all know.

I came in through the eastern entrance into Dover that the ferries use, and this time got my lines right over the radio.

The marina put me into Wellington Dock, which in retrospect I wouldn’t recommend as you’re limited as to when you can get out.

After 3 hours kip and a train ride I was back at my desk, feeling pretty smug with myself that I had managed to accomplish a mini sailing adventure.

Next stop, Brighton!



Author: Tim Butler

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