The Battle for Dover

Dover. East entrance visible.

A long post for not many miles covered.

Background: very windy from the NE.

The previous evening I had walked up the white cliffs and seen how the coast bends round. Ahead, it looked like close in to the cliffs there was some shelter and it was probably sailable.

Morning looked a bit less windy. I left Kingsdown beach at 7am (beachstart could easily have gone very wrong, but just made it).

Fell after about half a mile. Fell maybe 15 times more covering a not very large distance. Just way too windy for going downwind.

Eventually Dover harbour wall came into view. At same time the stay inshore strategy started to work and I could kind of hold it together for longer periods. Still measuring the periods on seconds though.

Flaw in strategy became apparent: harbour wall goes out to sea about a mile. Not really possible to sail out there.

Ferries coming in and out. Wind and tide taking me down to the wall. In a gap between ferries I went to cross the entrance and head out to sea. Fortunately I didnt get far. Changed strategy: daggerboard down, and headed for a pile of shingle at the bottom of the cliffs, 200m east of wall.

Beached, got my breathe back, phoned bro to discuss strategy, consumed energy gel.

A few specs of rain and the breeze moderated a little (maybe). Snap decision to radio Dover Port Control and request permission to sail past the port. DPC eventually locate Windsurfer Phantom and request I stand by for their support launch.

Support launch arrives on cue, rain long gone and windier than ever.

Confident I could manage to get washed past port but very unlikely I could sail past it. Not sure DPC would approve of drift past strategy. Best option seemed to be to find out.

I launch and fall off 4 times on way past first entrance. I suggest to guys on launch that I use ferry entrance. They have obviously picked up that I am struggling and immediately agree.

Manage to hold it together for long enough to get through entrance. Launch accompanies me to beach. Land. Very knackered.

Guy from DPC comes up to me on beach. I am expecting a ticking off but he is very happy I followed correct protocol and had a (ahem) passage plan.

My thanks to Standard Horizon for the VHF that worked flawlessly despite spending half the morning underwater.

Staying at Dover until wind moderates. Nice folk at Dover Seasports providing kit storage, hot shower (that was bliss), and a boat to sleep under tonight. Thanks guys.