We feel as if we have ‘done’ Eastbourne and its environs now, and are just waiting for the winds to die down so that we can push on. The north-easterlies that we had for much of May and early June due to the large anticyclone over the UK have well gone, and we have had day after day of strong south-westerlies brought about by Atlantic depressions passing to the north of the country, which admittedly are the predominant winds for this time of year, so we shouldn’t really be surprised. We know all about them just cycling into Eastbourne along the seafront from the marina.
At last however, although the direction doesn’t change, they do die down a little, and we decide to have a go at making it to Brighton. We clear the lock out of the marina at around 1100, and try and set off into the wind. It’s difficult. The tidal stream is still against us and will be for another couple of hours, so we try tacking this way and that battling our way down to Beachy Head, but progress is slow.
We do eventually make it to the precipitous cliffs of the Head, but just at that moment the fog comes down, and we lose sight of everything. Only our GPS and radar instruments tell us the direction we are heading, which is just as well as my natural inclination would have been to head directly onto the shore. Fog is really disorienting with nothing to see as a reference. Ethereal in one sense, dangerous in another.
We decide that discretion is the better part of valour and to motor, at least until we are out of the fog. We plough on, the visibility down to 100 m or so at times, with the waves catching us on the beam and making Ruby Tuesday pitch and wallow. From time to time on the radar we can see the shapes of other boats passing in front and to the sides of us, but we can’t see them in reality. We just hope we can trust the instruments or that none of those fast ferries sneak up on us from behind and run us down. A seagull follows us for some time, but eventually disappears. The hours pass, it’s lonely and cold, and we keep ourselves warm with cups of tea and coffee.
Then suddenly the fog thins and we see the hazy shape of the wall around Brighton marina looming in the distance. The fog thickens again, and it disappears, but we know that we are on the right track and that we are nearly there. A few minutes later, the fog lifts completely and we can see clearly the marina and Brighton town behind. We have made it!
We slow down to tie on the fenders and ready the mooring lines, and then negotiate the shallow entrance to the harbour. The whole harbour is constantly being silted up, and it is a constant battle against nature to dredge it to provide enough depth for keel boats to come and go. As it is, we have been told not to try and enter it between two hours before and two hours after low water.
Another boat suddenly appears out of the fog and follows us in. We call the marina office and are allocated a berth in the visitors’ section. It is a linear berth between two boats already there, and there is not much space between the one behind and the one in front, but with luck more than good management, we somehow manage to wedge ourselves in with a few inches to spare at each end. It’s beer time!
We have arranged to have our mail forwarded to the marina, and after a few palpitations due to them saying they have not received anything for Ruby Tuesday, a bulky envelope is found under the desk, and we spend the rest of the evening reading what we have been sent. We are learning to appreciate simple pleasures.