Even though we set out from Ireland in October last year, this week felt like it was the re-beginning of the adventure. I’d like to say that we left late in the season, but really the season was well and truly over by the time we left. This induced something of a race to find a comfortable winter port for Faoin Spéir and her crew. We found this in the form of the excellent Gillingham marina. It genuinely had every conceivable facility that a boat owner could want and was just 45mins by train from the centre of London. Oh! The luxury!
So much happened over the winter and spring, too much to go into here. Things like overhauling the rudder after quick lift for inspection and Mary’s week in the hospital in Ireland with a dose of cellulitis. But, here we are, anchored in Stangate Creek in 22°C of sunshine, just 8 miles from the marina, and it feels like we’re a world away.
We selected Stangate Creek on the Medway river as our first stop as it is renowned as a safe and easy anchorage. Although we have a thousand miles under our keel, this is our first time anchoring and as with all things ‘Faoin Spéir’, there was some learning to be had.
We arrived on a good tide in the late afternoon on Monday, found the spot that I had marked on the charts, right up at the end of the creek. With Mary at the helm, we drifted into the wind and as our momentum dropped to nothing, I released the anchor. Mary reversed and I paid out the chain. At the 30m mark, I locked it off and expected the boat come to a stop as the anchor dug in. 40m, 50m, 100m, still no sign of the anchor digging in. With a sand bank drawing ever closer behind us, Mary popped the boat into forward, and I hauled back in the anchor.
Motoring back to our intended spot, I had a look at the anchor to find a barnacle encrusted inner tube hanging from one of the flukes of the bruce anchor. Repeating the whole cycle again, this time without the offending inner tube resulted in a secure and steady boat for the week. This did not stop me from getting up every couple of hours to check the position of the boat, something that I have heard many other boat owners talk about on their first night at anchor.
Yesterday included a trip to the store. This involved paddling a kayak for a mile and a half to Lower Halstowe, followed by a mile and a half walk to a village called Upchurch. Then back to the boat with a bag of shopping on my back. The paddle back involved a little wind over tide causing standing waves and a soggy shopper 🙂
The weather is set fair for the coming week, and so we expect to be in France this time next week…watch this space….