Our first offshore passage across the outer Thames estuary to Lowestoft, the most easterly point on the British mainland. We’ll be going past a number of wind farms and some significant sand banks , it’s predicted to be Force 3 gusting 4 rising to Force 5 later, but we should arrive in Lowestoft before the 5 kicks in, but we are going to have a stretch of wind against tide in the first hour or so. That will probably be the ‘moderate’ bit of the predicted ‘slight to moderate’.
We need to refuel and whilst having to tread water awaiting our turn on the fuel barge it’s very noticeable that the wind, even in the harbour, is a bit stronger than the 3/4. We fuel up and ask permission to leave the harbour which is granted.
There are swells in the outer harbour and we can see beyond the harbour walls significant white horses riding the waves. Well beyond what one would expect with a Force 3/4, even against the tide.
We discuss the possibility of it smoothing out a bit out to sea and decide to carry on up the track (still showing 90° out re the plotter problem) I kept the helm on manual however to try and dodge some of the biggest waves.
We plug on, by now at displacement speed, beyond the famous North Foreland Lighthouse but it’s obvious that we are not going to spend seven hours with this sort of sea state to contend with. We definitely think it’s a straight forward Force 5 gusting 6 with steep short waves, like a Solent chop on steroids. All I had to do was turn around and go back to Ramsgate. Easy to type but not easy to execute.
Nigel ( a life long rags and sticks merchant) thought that like sailing boats it would be a good idea to slow right down to 5 knots or so from our 10 knot displacement speed……… so we had our first discussion about the size of rudders and the necessity for power and speed to have steerage on a motor boat (with very small rudders) versus a sailing boat and its usually very long rudder affording good manoeuvrability at very slow speeds.
I’ve only had the boat a year but have 30 years of motor boating experience in all sizes of boat. The Rhea 850 has legendary sea keeping capabilities but we still have to execute a 180° turn without broaching.
The moment was chosen and she went round in steady order , well done Start Me Up.
An uncomfortable lumpy ‘following’ sea back to Ramsgate and back on our berth.
Where are the beers!