Dover to Brighton – UFO’s, satellites and shooting stars

Today I waved goodbye to the east coast, not knowing when or if I’ll be sailing back up that way again.

I came down Friday night after having a minor dispute in Waitrose with another shopper. Seeing an argument in a London Waitrose is like watching two public school boys fighting with hankies.

Earlier in the day I went Bills Bait to buy some fishing tackle. Bill told me the Disney cruise ship was coming in on Sunday, and that mean’t the pier would be closed for 2 days. The pier is used by up to 300 fisherman, which apparently is not the sort of greeting Disney passengers should be subjected to. Consequently, Disney request the pier to be closed when they come in, much to the suffering of the local businesses. I can’t imagine a few fisherman on the end of the pier is really the biggest eyesore in Dover, but there you go.

Excalibur was moored up in the Wellington Dock, which only opens 1 ½ +/-  HW, which is annoying as you need to leave 3-3½ before HW if you’re aiming for Brighton. Because of this I had to use one high water to move the boat into the tidal harbour, and then wait for the next one to take the boat to Brighton.

Ruth and Andrew were to join me for this overnight trip, and turned up at 5. We had a bit of dinner and set off at 20:00. HW was at 23:30, and I expected to arrive at 09:30 the next day.

The forecast was another windless night, with a slight possibility of a north, north-west breeze.

We pottered out and had a very mesmerising sunset.


Poor Ruth caught became seasick. The rolling, undulating motion of the sea combined with my Mexican chicken concoction was to blame. There’s no shame in being seasick, we all get it at some point and its rubbish!

I feel terribly bloody guilty when I have a man down due to seasickness.

“Hey! Why don’t you come on a 14 hour ride through the night, puking your guts up and feeling bloody dreadful, instead of sleeping soundly at home in a nice warm bed!”

Being seasick sucks, all the usual tricks of helming, downing fizzy drinks, distraction word games failed. All we could do was to harness Ruth up and wish for a speedy passage.

Me and Andrew took turns to grab some shut eye.

Fishing trawlers caused a bit of a stir as we passed Dungerness. Lit up like bloody UFO’s, it’s very hard to work out which way fishing trawlers are heading. We had one close shave, and made sure we stayed well away from the rest.

Twice we saw what looked like a red and blue (perhaps also green) flashing light in the darkness. We inadvertently came close to one of them as the flashing light was quiet weak, so in the darkness it was quite hard to judge the distance. I think it was a marker for night time diving.

Andrew saw shooting stars and satellites. I saw one satellite whizzing across the night sky.

Oh and Andrew dispensed some interesting celestial facts. The first stars to appear in the night sky are called ‘fast stars’, and are the ones that sailors use for celestial navigation as they’re easier to identify before the other billion stars come out to adorn the midnight sky. Good fact!

In the darkness it was impossible to tell whether an approaching dark mass threatening to engulf us was fog or torrential rain. So we zipped up and hunkered down. No rain came, just a bank of fine mist. The night grew cold as we approached Beachy Head, which was hidden by mist.

Daylight came around 3/4am and the night seemed to suddenly disappear, at the same time the white cliffs of Beachy Head became ever so faintly visible through the mist.

Spirits lifted as Brighton came into view, and the sun came out!


After an entire night of feeling rotten, Ruth was at least greeted with a beautiful morning.

I switched the engine off about 5nm from Brighton for half an hour as we had arrived at low water, and didn’t want to get grounded in the marina on such a lovely day.  The fishing rod came out for a little while.


I wondered if Liz and Patrick were walking Henry along the coastal path, but instead they spotted us out of their window 🙂

An hour later and we were greeted by Patrick, and were safely moored up after a bit of faffing around on my part.

For any St Kats people reading this. I spotted Woodpecker in Brighton, looks like the delivery skipper made it down there after all!

I waved Andrew and Ruth off, watched the taxi swing around the roundabout and come back my way. Standing patiently I went to wave again a second time, but Andrew and Ruth appeared to have been replaced with two very tired souls with the expression “get me home as quickly as possible”. Very reminiscent of when me and Oliver waved Will off in the taxi in Gijon, after a post Biscay crossing drinking session.

Thanks once again for joining me Andrew and Ruth, and also to Liz and Patrick for P’s space.

Oh and thanks Henry’s for the wake up call. Very amusing seeing Henry pottering around Excalibur looking slightly confused 🙂


Author: Tim Butler

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