19th September 2013
We dashed down to Gillingham after our Residents Meeting in the hope of getting Sumara out of the locked basin before the tide slipped away. Helped by the new HS1 speedy train service we arrived in the early afternoon with a few hours to spare. Poor old Sumara had weeds around her waterline and I felt very guilty for her neglect. After an hour or so we had the sails hanked on, the waterline scrubbed and the engine fired up. I was pleasantly surprised at the invoice we had to cough up before exiting the lock. Obviously they had kindly charged monthly rates, unlike some marinas. I rather like Gillingham, the staff are friendly and on many of their berths you moor bow to between wooden withies. Although it means you have to climb over the bow, the poles do secure the yacht so you need not worry about fenders jumping out. As it happened there was also finger pontoon alongside my allocated berth.
It has to be said that the weekend we chose to sail up the Thames was not chosen on the basis of weather but simply it was an available weekend. The forecast was for wet and blustery winds starting from the south but gradually working their way west. We slipped out of the lock into the Medway and motored past a small cluster of racing yachts before hoisting the yankee. As we drew away from the hills behind Gillingham the wind increased and soon we were sailing at 6 kt under foresail on an ebbing tide. An hour or so later we rounded Queenborough Spit cardinal buoy and were motoring hard into the wind to pick up a buoy for the night. There weren’t many yachts around, a couple from sailing schools still braving the elements and the odd yachts on a mission. It wasn’t the weather for a pleasant weekend sail. We used the Daveys bronze boot hook to grab the buoy against a strong spring tide and tied off with two stout warps and went below to heat up some pies and carrots. We found an opened bottle of red wine that we bought in France and it still tasted ok. After a warming meal we worked out the best time to leave in the morning and went to sleep. At slack tide the Good Ship decided to sail forward and bump on the buoy, I strapped the helm over and it stopped for a while only to recommence at the next slack in six hours time. Nevertheless a pretty good nights sleep was had and we were looking forward to an exciting trip up the Thames.