Peter Howard reports…..

Chatham and Ramsgate   4th July to 10th July 2023

Well, a truly memorable cruise, fine weather with plenty to see and do at the two destinations.

Whilst the flotilla only consisted of France and Malcolm Manning in PEG LEG and Paula and I in FOO, the small number, nevertheless, was none the worse for that, with plenty of bon-ami between the boats! Because we were a yacht and a motorboat, departure and arrival times were staggered as each vessel obviously travelled at their own speed.

Tuesday dawned fair, overcast with sunny intervals and a 10 to 18 knot breeze. PEG LEG wisely left early and took advantage of the tide whilst FOO’s crew couldn’t get up and paid the price, (quite literally), by plugging the tide out to the Whitaker. Both boats taking the Middle Deep and Swin channels, crossing the Thames to the Medway and upriver to Chatham where we locked into the Chatham Maritime marina, approx. 46 miles.  Of course libations were offered to Neptune for our safe arrival in true RB spirit!

Wednesday saw the crews visiting the Historic Dockyard which took all day, due to there being so much to see.  A meal ashore completed an interesting and absorbing day. Thursday we visited the shopping centre, lunched aboard PEG LEG and in the evening took a taxi to Rochester Castle for the ‘Nile Rodgers and Chic’ concert which was fabulous. Even the supporting bands, The James Taylor Quartet and Incognito were first class.  A truly great night.

The trip to Ramsgate was memorable for clear blue skies, flat seas and a nice 10 to 15 knot breeze, each boat choosing different routes for draft constraint reasons. Day’s run for FOO was 43 miles. It was great to be back in Ramsgate again with its vibrant water front and busy harbour with both commercial traffic, (mainly Border Force and pilots) and pleasure boats from Holland, Belgium, France and the U.S. As tradition dictated, further gins were quaffed to celebrate our safe arrival, (I hope those deities appreciate all our efforts to appease them!).

We kept an eye out for the Narrow Seas contingent of which there was no sign. We had arranged to meet up but It transpired that their cruise had been cancelled earlier! In the evening after a little rest we walked up the Esplanade to a pub which was recommended on trip advisor and which didn’t live up to its reputation!

Another fine day on Saturday, and we sauntered around the fleshpots of Ramsgate looking for an art gallery which was closed and ended up in a church fête, where Paula bought a frock and France, after trawling every charity shop in Ramsgate, bought a jacket for 50p! Money’s no object when you’re cruising!

It gets worse..... the next day I bought a tatty old wooden stool for £15. We wealthy boat owners know how to spend! After so much stressful shopping, we were treated to a fine lunch courtesy of France and Malcolm. That evening, after a little rest, we had a delicious meal at a Greek harbour side restaurant.

Sunday was miserable, squally rain showers all day, putting paid to our plans to paddle in the waves on the beach. However, the day wasn’t wasted as it gave me a chance to plan our route home on our chart plotter, which, up to then, I was unfamiliar with. Actually, I’m still unfamiliar with it, although the inputted route did get us home!

After the rain during the day the evening turned out fine and, to satisfy Malcolm’s craving for noodles, we went to a Thai restaurant, which was excellent and watched the sun go down with a grand rainbow. A fitting end to the cruise.

Monday, and another fine morning, but with the wind getting up in the afternoon. With an early start, PEG LEG made the most of the ebb tide, followed by FOO a couple of hours later. Our routes took us through Fishermans Gat, across the Sunk Sands, up the Barrow Deep and across to The Whitaker Channel. With the freshening breeze, PEG LEG made good time entering the Crouch before FOO caught her up. Both boats safely in the marina by 1400 before the wind speed picked up to 23+ knots. Days run 43 miles.

A most enjoyable cruise in good company. I hope my missive may be of interest and encourage other members to join us on future cruises. They are good fun and, for those with less experience, a chance to gain confidence cruising in company.

Regarding the scheduled cruise to St Katharine’s Dock, Unfortunately, Havana Papa has engine problems so Russ Cashel will not be making the trip. Good luck with the engines Russ.

Our next event is the trip to Brightlingsea and the evening fireworks 22/23rd July. Those interested please give me a call 07775 753880

19/20th August we are having a jaunt up river to Fambridge for a barbecue at the Fambridge Yacht Haven. I am struggling to get anyone for the sea shanties, so if anyone has any ideas I would love to hear from them. Otherwise, I’ll have a go myself and if that’s not an incentive to get someone in, I don’t know what is!