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OGA50: Ramsgate, August 2013

On 4, August many of the circumnavigation fleet spent a party weekend in Ramsgate with local East Coast boats on passage to the ‘big party’ in Cowes.

On 4 August most of the OGA50 Round Britain Challenge fleet are in Ramsgate for another celebration weekend, joined by several more East Coast boats on passage to Cowes. Annabel J’, returning to the Hamble, completes her Round Britain Challenge and takes on new crew in order to slip across to the Paimpol Festival before returning to Cowes for the OGA Grand Gathering of Gaffers in mid-August. We hear from ‘Snoopy’, the Dutch boat doing her circumnavigation counter-clockwise, that she’s departed the Isles of Scilly and reached the Cornish coast on passage to the Isle of Wight. After the East Coast Jubilee Cruise and Race, the majority of OGA50 Round Britain Challenge vessels and those intending to follow the fleet down the coast to Cowes, are forced to remain on the East Coast due to strong southerly winds and stormy forecasts. 

‘High Barbaree’, skippered and crewed by the veterans of the fleet, Tim and Liz, ventured south from Brightlingsea for a ‘challenging sail’ on Monday, but took shelter in Bradwell Marina. They’ve now crossed the Thames Estuary with Dutch boats ‘Morgaine’, ‘Vlieter’ and ‘Raven’. ‘Cine Mara’ and ‘Bonita’ have also set sail to cross the Thames. ‘Kestrel’, one of the boats taking part in both this year’s and the 1963 East Coast Race, joins the East Coast fleet sailing south to Cowes but remains in the harbour at Brightlingsea. After a week’s sojourn in Ipswich, ‘Toucando’ intends to head south for Ramsgate on Thursday. ‘Witch’ returned to Ipswich to meet new crew and the Welsh member of the RBC fleet, ‘Capraia’, also remains in Ipswich. ‘Step back in time’, trailered to the East Coast from her home port in Grimsby is joining several other East Coast boats leaving for Ramsgate and Cowes this week including ‘Transcur’, ‘Plum of Mylor’ and ‘Robinetta’. ‘Moonriver’, 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 included a reception in the quayside marquee hosted by the Lord Lieutenant, the local MP and the leader of the District Council.

OGA50 fleet in Ramsgate, 2013 Photo: Barbara Runnalls

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 continues to wait 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, 2013. 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 details of the circumnavigation.

‘Windbreker’ also completes her Round Britain Challenge, after a lovely sunny sail from the Swale she returns to Ramsgate, from where 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 1965. ‘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 was 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. ‘Robinetta’, one of the East Coast boats joining the fleet to Cowes, reaches Ramsgate, enjoying the sail from Brightlinsea and reporting 7.5 knots fully reefed! Other members of the OGA50 Round Britain Challenge fleet and East Coast boats arriving by Saturday include: ‘Transcur’, ‘Syene’, ‘Morgaine’, ‘Raven’, ‘Cine Mara’ and ‘High Barbaree’. 

After the civic welcome, celebrations and parade of sail in Ramsgate at the weekend, the fleet remains in port to explore the historic harbour town awaiting favourable winds. There was a great turnout for the Ramsgate event with 11 Round Britain Challenge vessels, ‘Bonita’, ‘Capraia’, ‘Cine Mara’, ‘Cygnet of London’, ‘High Barbaree’, ‘Moon River’, ‘Syene’, ‘Toucando’, ‘Vlieter’, ‘Windbreker’, ‘Morgaine’, ‘Raven’ and ‘Witch’ joined by East Coast and Dutch OGA boats heading for Cowes, including ‘Barbarrossa’, ‘Black Rose’, ‘Blackwater’, ‘Emanuelle’, ‘Jacinta’, ‘Orm’, ‘Brandaen’, ‘Robinetta’,’Step Back in Time’, ‘Tab Nab’ and ‘Transcur’.

Missing the ‘weather window’ to cross the Thames Estuary, several boats remained stormbound in Brightlingsea, including ‘Great Days’ spending a couple of hours aground whilst waiting for the harbourmasters, and ‘Victoria’, joining the fleet to Cowes and catching up on her historic past with the River Colne Police. Read all about this on the Classic Boat Magazine blog, penned by Sue Lewis from Round Britain Challenge vessel, ‘Bonify’, who is taking ‘Victoria’ to Cowes. We hear from ‘Moon River’ that her single-handed skipper, Barbara, has completed her circumnavigation at 20:00 Tuesday 6 August 2013, celebrating with a small glass of bubbly with family in the cockpit at 21:00. Departing in the early hours of Tuesday morning, several boats leave Ramsgate to sail down the Kentish coast reaching Newhaven, 85 miles away, where an impromptu ‘pontoon party’ is planned. ‘Bonita’ has an eventful start and finish to her passage, joining ‘Capraia’, ‘Cine Mara’, ‘Vlieter’ and ‘Witch’. We hear from ‘Annabel J’ that skipper and crew are enjoying their visit to France, currently at Ile de Brehat, on passage to Paimpol. Also taking a detour to the French coast is ‘Toudanco’, motor-sailing to Boulogne with a blog post providing us with only a clue to a ‘mechanical problem requiring a solution’. There’s ‘Snoopy’, of course, sailing the Round Britain Challenge counter-clockwise, and having reached Brixham, takes a quick trip across to Beaucette, Guernsey, also on passage to Cowes.