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OGA50: first three boats in Ramsgate, April 2013

As OGA boats prepare to depart Ramsgate for the OGA60 Round Britain Cruise, 1 May, 2023, we look back ten years to OGA50. The first three boats participating in the OGA50 Round Britain Challenge spent their first night in Ramsgate, having departed Heybridge Basin on 21 April, 2013. Sailing by’ will be following the OGA60 fleet. Meanwhile, browse the OGA50 tag for the 2013 story.

Under sail at last, the first three boats, ‘Witch’, ‘Bonify’ and ‘Mary Ritchie’ set sail in beautiful sunshine and light winds. They’re escorted by Classic Boat, who will be featuring ‘Witch’ in the June 2013 edition, and the West Mersea Lifeboat. In very shallow waters, ‘Mary Ritchie’ spent a couple of minutes on the Blackwater mud just outside the lock and ‘Witch’ had an unplanned ‘cuppa’ whilst crossing the Thames sandbanks. With little wind, the boats had to motor much of the way after leaving the Blackwater. Over the Wallet Spitway, the trio of boats safely crossed the Thames Estuary, motoring most of the way, although a wind piped up on the nose just past Margate, according to SY Bonify on Facebook. The boats finished the first day at Ramsgate.

Towards the Solent: 26 April, 2013
With more boats preparing to depart from the Netherlands and another joining the fleet from the Swale, the fog-bound crews in Dover set sail on the early tide, heading west, while one East Coast boat has taken a detour to Dieppe to find the sunshine. At last, the fog lifted over Dover enabling ‘Witch’, ‘Mary Ritchie’ and ‘Vlieter’ to depart on the early tide at 0400 on 26 April. ‘Witch’ had intended to push on west towards Newhaven, or even Brighton, but after trouble with the gaff saddle and loss of the halyard they had to go into Eastbourne under power, where they join up again with ‘Mary Ritchie’ and ‘Vlieter’.

Whilst they were fog-bound in Dover, ‘Bonify’, on her French sojourn, was enjoying sunshine and porpoises, but sadly no wind. Whilst motoring the 50 miles from Boulogne to Dieppe, across a sea calm as a mill-pond, skipper and crew are able to don shorts and tan their lily-white legs. Skipper and crew are enjoying a few days exploring Dieppe. We hear another English boat has joined the fleet. ‘Bonita’, built at Arnside in 1888, set sail from the Swale at 0600 on 26 April and, after a fast sail to Ramsgate, lay becalmed between the notorious Goodwin sands and the Kent coast before sailing on towards Eastbourne.

Across the North Sea, ‘Windflower’ and ‘Windbreker’, two more Dutch boats, are preparing to leave this weekend. ‘Cine Mara’, ‘Morgaine’ and ‘Raven’ also plan to leave Flushing in company with ‘Leonora III’ departing Stellendam, all heading for Nieuport, Belgium before crossing to the south coast of England.