Friday 18th and a decision on which of my route options to take.
I decided on the Dover rather than Boulogne route as it offered a shorter distance given the wind forecast did not favour either destination. I opted for the 08:00 lock out from Sovereign Harbour and was underway for Dover by 08:30 on a course of 080M, with yet another motor-sailing session ahead due to an easterly F4 wind, which was also raising a bit of choppy sea with the wind against tide for the first few hours. At least it was pleasantly warm although hazy. Through the haze I did spot what appeared to be a wind farm off Winchelsea but I could find no mention of it on the charts or in the pilot books, maybe me seeing mirages!
At 14:15 we rounded Dungeness on a slackish tide, with only minor tide rips/overfalls. I had been looking forward to the wind freeing off as forecast and also due to the change of heading. Once around the point onto the new course of 050M sure enough we had a SSW F3 wind to blow us along. Engine off, a cuppa and relax. By now it was decidedly hot in the sun and with no bimini I took to raising the golf umbrella as the helm's sunshade. By 15:30 the wind had shifted to dead astern so back to manual steering and not long after the wind dropped to around F2 and left us making only 2.5kts over the ground. Back on with the engine. The view of the coast along this route is very pleasant particularly on a sunny day and compensated for the lack of sailing..
By 17:00 we were approaching Dover so sails dropped and as required I called up Dover Port Control when 2 miles off requesting entry to the Marina via the west entrance. There were no restrictions on entry and I was requested to call in again when 200m from the entrance which I duly did and was given clearance to enter, no stooging around in the swell. There was still a fair tide running and, for those that can relate to it, passing through the entrance was a similar steering experience to going through Hurst Narrows on full flow. I had requested a berth in the tidal harbour as the other marinas have restricted tidal entry/exit times and was able to have one, so no issues with locking in/out. Moored up and tidied by 18:30.
Dover Castle seen from the tidal marina.
Later in the evening the sky darkened rapidly, visibility suddenly reduced drastically and a dust storm hit as the prelude to a massive thunderstorm. Winds increased violently and Harbour Control were reporting winds of 50 knots, pleased I managed to get in prior to that!