Gathering in Ramsgate: 4 August 2013

This weekend, most of the Round Britain Challenge fleet are in Ramsgate for another celebration weekend, joined by several more East Coast boats on passage to Cowes. We bring news of the welcome party, passages from Brightlingsea via Chatham and the Swale, two Dutch boats completing their circumnavigation, not forgetting counter-circumnavigator ‘Snoopy’ and ‘Annabel J’ on her sojourn in the Channel Islands.

Ramsgate Harbour
Ramsgate Harbour

Moon River‘, the single-handed circumnavigator in a 23’ Yarmouth gaff cutter from Shoreham-by-Sea, reaches Ramsgate first, having departed Ipswich earlier last week. On Thursday, several boats in Brightlingsea and Ipswich take advantage of more favourable winds to start the passage south to Ramsgate, several stopping in the Swale for the Smack and Barge Match to enjoy the weekend’s celebrations which include a reception in the quayside marquee hosted by the Viscount De L’Isle, the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, and by Laura Sandys the local MP with the leader of the District Council and local OGA member Robert Holden who organised the weekend’s activities. Saturday evening finds the OGA having another party as guests of Royal Temple Yacht Club.

Now that ‘Bonify‘ has completed the Round Britian Challenge, her skipper and crew take to the smaller 21 footer, ‘Victoria’, to follow the fleet to Cowes. Having scrubbed her hull on the posts in Brightlingsea and undertaken a few repairs, the skipper and crew continue to await favourable winds to cross the Thames Estuary. Built for the Colne River Police (largely funded by the oyster industry), ‘Victoria’ was originally a clinker open boat. In 1902 a cabin was added and a few years later her hull was doubled and made carvel. She has a heavy iron centreplate, taking her draft from 2′ 8″ to 7′ 8″.

‘Bonita’ completes her circumnavigation on the Swale, her home port, where she departed 26 April. This remarkable boat celebrates her 125th anniversary this year and has completed the Round Britain Challenge, including the Outer Hebrides and Orkney, in 97 days. Read her excellent blog for more details of the circumnavigation.

‘Windbreker’ also completes her Round Britain Challenge, after a lovely sunny sail from the Swale she returns to Ramsgate, from whence she set out in April – there’s bubbles on the pontoon to celebrate! She’s joined by ‘Vlieter’, another of the Dutch fleet completing her circumnavigation, having first made landfall in England at Ramsgate 25 April. ‘Vlieter’ stopped at Chatham before reaching Ramsgate, and has found some interesting information about her previous visit here, in 1967.

Witch‘ joins ‘Capraia’ in Ramsgate, after braving a ‘shortcut’ through the wind farm in Foulgers Gat. Winding her way past the turbines, her skipper doesn’t recommend this route, and is forced to motor-sail most of the way to arrive in time to enter the inner harbour.

Toucando‘ takes a different route across the Thames Estuary, down Black Deep and through Fisherman’s Gat. There’s certainly some wonderful names for the banks and channels of the Thames Estuary, steeped in history. We illustrate this extract with a painting of the pier and lighthouse, easily recognisable by today’s visitors, which has hung on the skipper of ‘Toucando’s parents’ wall for many years. The artist is unknown . . .

We hear the unfortunate news that Round Britain Challenge boat ‘Greensleeves’, skippered by Roy Hart with Ian from ‘Pintail of Mora’ crewing, was forced to retire from the Swale match on Saturday with a broken rudder. Dutch Round Britain Challenge boat ‘Raven’ paused on her way to win her class in the Swale Match, narrowly beating fellow circumnavigator ‘Cygnet of London’.

Robinetta‘, one of the East Coast boats joining the fleet to Cowes, reaches Ramsgate, motor sailing from West Mersea to the Swale on Friday, often in glassy windless seas, following the Swale Match out and hitting 7.5 kts fully reefed by Reculver on the way round to Ramsgate from the Swale.

Other members of the Round Britain Challenge fleet and East Coast boats arriving by Saturday include: ‘Transcur’, ‘Syene’, ‘Morgaine’, ‘Raven’, ‘Cine Mara’ and ‘High Barbaree’.

‘Snoopy’, Dutch counter-circumnavigator, makes passage from Falmouth to Brixham, departing the River Fal in heavy rain and thunder, she sails 75 miles in a south-westerly force 6, averaging 4.8 knots.

‘Annabel J’, having completed her Round Britain Challenge, is visiting the Channel Islands and French coast for the Paimpol Festival, before returning to Cowes for the OGA party in two weeks time.