DAY 19 – Sunday 8 May 2022 – Brighton to Sovereign Harbour (Eastbourne)

Miles logged: 20
Total miles logged: 594
Days since leaving Fleetwood: 19
Days at sea: 13

Our stay at Brighton was enjoyable for me especially as my wife came down to visit and my sister lives there. On Sunday morning I took my sister for a two-hour sail off Brighton in perfect conditions. The weather was warm and sunny and the winds light, all ideal for a pleasure trip. On the way back the wind-speed rose to 14 kts and Bubble sailed beautifully. It was a great pleasure to have a good sail in good company after so much motoring.

Having dropped my sister back at the marina Mike and I set out on our next leg. We needed to get to Ramsgate but that was too far to do in one go so we decided to make the short hop to Sovereign Harbour at Eastbourne, from which we had more options for a comfortable onward passage.

The Seven Sisters
Looking back at Beachy Head with its lighthouse

This was the first leg since leaving Fleetwood which I really did not enjoy. The scenery was magnificent – we passed the Seven Sisters, Beachy Head and miles of monumental chalk cliffs, but the conditions were terrible. The wind which had begun to increase around lunchtime had reached in excess of 20 kts and the sea had built into a very uncomfortable chop. Worst of all, the wind had veered and was now dead on the nose as we attempted to make for Beachy Head from Brighton.

Wanting to sail as much as possible I headed out close-hauled for a few miles then tacked back to meet Mike, but he had progressed further under engine alone. So I joined him for the rest of the blessedly short trip which was a miserable, uncomfortable slog into the waves with lots of spray and with the boat lurching up and crashing down with dramatic plumes of water and foam all around.

As we approached Sovereign I called up and, as I suppose I might have predicted, I was advised that entrance to the harbour was impeded due to the presence of a dredger in the entrance. We were told too that navigation through the shallow outer harbour would be tricky due to the removal of all of the lateral buoys as part of the dredging operation. I made it clear that we were very uncomfortable out at sea and were anxious just to get in to the harbour and, happily, the berthing master was very understanding. With Eastbourne to port we approached the harbour entrance and saw the dredger coming out, presumably in order to dredge the approach channel. A quick call to her cleared us to pass her stern and we were soon tied up in the entrance lock. The arrival process is very slickly organised at Sovereign so we were soon berthed in the visitors’ area and were given our access codes for the excellent facilities.

The locked entrance to Sovereign Harbour. We were desperate to reach the tranquil waters within

All was peace and quiet inside so, to a large extent, we were able to put the discomfort of the last few hours behind us and plan ahead.

Conditions are expected to improve tomorrow so we will try to make for Ramsgate or Dover. It will not be long before we are planning our passage across the Thames estuary.

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