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October 2012 - England, France

UK | England | London | Tower Bridge by St. Katharine Docks

October 30, 2012

Hi Everyone, Great first week in London. What a fabulous location. St. Katharine Docks is just below the Tower Bridge and Tower of London. So easy to walk the river front or hop on a bus or train. We've mostly been trying to get Artemis settled for the winter and getting our bearings. We've done lots of walking and only been to visit the London Museum so far. It's a great free museum displaying the history of London from pre Roman to modern day. We've walked both sides of the Thames as far as Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, The Eye, Piccadilly Circus, St. Paul's Cathedral. Beautiful parks are spread throughout the city. But it was a bit cold for our picnic last week:-0

UK | England | London | Tower Bridge at night

We've been told it's been unusually cold 40-50 alternating sunshine, clouds and rain all in a day. We did buy a desiccant dehumidifier and keep our heater running so we're always toasty warm on Artemis. We also covered the louver doors on our chain locker and companion way. Dick and Ginger recommended a product from Ship Shape Bedding to put under our mattress as a moisture barrier. We have all the sails put away and some of the V berth/lockers organized. Al has the new staysail furler put together but we haven't found the right moment to install it.

There is just so much to see and do it's hard to know what to do first. We have coffee on Thursday mornings to share up coming events, ask questions etc. Last week we had about 12 people. Friday evening we went to the London Cruising Association's meeting and listen to a talk about cruising the Baltic to St. Petersburg. We're already thinking that's where we'll head next summer. Today we went to a free lunchtime concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields featuring a trio, soprano, violin, and guitar. Quite enjoyable. Then Al and I walked about Piccadilly Circus and down to Buckingham Palace. Tomorrow we have flu shots scheduled and Al has a loose filling to take care of. (Not a fun day) Happy Halloween and we hope hurricane Sandy isn't causing to much havoc. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

UK | England | Dover | view from Dover Castle

October 18, 2012

Hi Everyone,

Last Thursday the marina helped us off the dock in Gosport with their harbor dory. Wind and current would have taken us onto the boat next to us. We had good winds to Brighton but straight behind us for 42nm. Too rolly to safely set the pole so we kept changing course to keep the sails full. We're working on easier ways to handle our big whisker pole. Can't complain too much as we didn't have to motor and still arrived sooner than anticipated. Whoa! When it was time to enter the harbor it was narrower than expected in the dredged 2m channel, and we had 1.5-2m seas built up across the entrance. Glad to have friends on Alchemy to take our lines on the pontoon. We celebrated Dick and Ginger's 37th anniversary and a safe passage with a bottle of wine.

UK | England | Brighton | Royal Pavilion

Friday we had beautiful sunshine and walked 2 miles into Brighton center to visit the old Brighton Pier (now a gaudy amusement park)and the Royal Pavilion built by King George IV. The Royal Pavilion was well worth the admission price. We had audio guides so we could pace our visit and take time out for a pizza lunch. The Royal Pavilion exterior has Indian (India)style domes and Moorish minarets. But inside it is lavishly decorated in an oriental theme. It was an extravagant entertainment palace with beautiful entry way and reception areas, gorgeous dining room, huge kitchen, music room... Was a long rainy walk back to the boat thus is England. Sunday after mass Al and I happened upon a motorcycle exhibition with more than a thousand motorcycles and hot rods. LA Chopper would have been impressed:-)

UK | England | Dover | view of Dover harbors and town from castle

Monday we had another great sailing day. We left Brighton 0600 in the dark for Dover (65nm). This time we were able to get the whisker pole set before the wind and seas built. So it was a more pleasant sail until we arrived at Dover. We didn't have time to notice the castle or the "white cliffs". We had 2.5+ seas as we entered the Outer Harbor tossing Artemis about and then 40 mph gusts while we put the pole away, hung the fenders and prepared the mooring lines to enter the marina. Fortunately we arrived before the locks were closed so we could motor straight through into the marina. We were happy that the high walls protecting the marina gave us an easy landing into our finger berth.

Tuesday we climbed the hill to Dover Castle and had a fun day exploring with friends on Alchemy. The wind was very much like what we experienced at the Needles. It nearly blew us off our feet so we choose not to walk the cliffs of Dover and visited the underground tunnels instead. These tunnels were the command post for the Dunkirk rescue and other World War II operations.

UK | England | Canterbury | Cathedral

Wednesday we took a train with Ginger and Dick to Canterbury. We had a nice day wandering around town and visiting the Cathedral. We had an excellent tour guide at the cathedral. We had a lovely English menu lunch (another great Lonely Planet find). Then went back to wander on our own in the cathedral. We walked the old town, past the abbey ruins, gardens, castle ruins before catching the train back to Dover.

UK | England | Ramsgate | tidal harbor in Ramsgate

Today we left Dover and sailed 15nm to Ramsgate. Seemed like a quiet easy downwind sail until... You guessed it! Our arrival was wilder than any before. This time we had tide rips and current rushing 3kts across the entrance. We had to motor full power 90 degrees to the harbor entrance in order to get in! Wild! Glad to be tied off on our pontoon. Wandered about town for a couple of hours but will take more time tomorrow. No wind in the forecast tomorrow. We plan to stay until Saturday or Sunday so we can sail the 40nm to the River Medway anchorage. Next stop after that... LONDON! Have a great weekend. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

UK | England | Solent | Bucklers Hard

October 9, 2012

Hi Everyone, We had another couple of nice days at Buckler's Hard up the Beaulieu River. It was a sunny day on Friday so Al and I hitched a ride to the Farm Store to buy fruit and vegetables. Then we walked back home along the river. Lots of pheasants, geese, swans and mallard ducks along the way. Saturday Lord Ian and Gillian picked us up at the marina and took us to their home for lunch. One of the best things about cruising is meeting new people, swapping histories and cruising stories. We've met many fun interesting people while cruising which I'm sure our paths would never have crossed otherwise. Even more fun is when our paths cross again and we renew our friendships. Lord Ian and Gillian we met in Turkey the first time and we hope to see again in London.

Sunday we motored up to Portsmouth area and entered the Gosport Marina. Our friends on Alchemy are here also so we've had fun exploring the museums together. Portsmouth Historic Boatyard is an amazing site. It cost 20 pounds to get in but the ticket is good for a year You have two ships The HMS Victory the worlds oldest commissioned warship, and The HMS Warrior (1860), plus several museums and a harbor boat tour of the modern Royal Navy warships up close.

Monday we spent the afternoon taking the harbor tour and visiting with Fred a volunteer who showed us some restored naval launches and then took us into the workshop to look at other boat restoration projects. Very interesting. We were quite impressed with the knowledge of all the volunteers we've met at the museum and their enthusiasm in sharing their British Naval History.

Tuesday we visited with Tony the knot expert before heading to the HMS Victory for our morning tour. HMS Victory is the famed Flagship of Lord Nelson used in the important Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 stopping Napoleon's hope of invading England. Although the ship will never go to sea again and is in drydock, HMS Victory still has a Lord Admiral living aboard and his flag flies from the mast. Again great volunteers were on had to answer all our personal questions. We like off season museum visits as the attendants have more time to spend with you. After a tasty lunch at Boathouse NO. 7 we spent the afternoon aboard the HMS Warrior. The Warrior was the first iron hulled warship powered by a steam engine as well as by sail. She could turn about in 20 min. as opposed to the 4 hours of previous warships thus changing naval warfare forever. The Victorians called her The Black Snake and were terrified of her. We also visited the Mary Rose exhibit and movie. She was Henry VIII flagship and she overturned and sunk. She was discovered in the Solvent and excavated. They found her entire starboard haul intact including all artifacts and bones of the sailors. The silt stopped the decay of this wood ship and it's contents. We were able to see some of the artifacts but the museum built around her hull won't open until this next year.

Yesterday the sun came out and we went back to Portsmouth in time to witness a ceremony where HMS Victory was formally handed over to the first sea lord. Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope hoisted his flag taking full command of the vessel from the second sea lord. the second sea lord title no longer exists thus increasing the duties of first sea lord in running of the Royal Navy headquarters in Portsmouth. The Victory traditionally has flown the current admiral's ensign since 1778. We visited the National Museum of the Royal Navy. Then Al and I walked out to Spice Island, Old Portsmouth, walked the towers and walls, had lunch and visited the cathedral. Today was another drizzly day so we caught a bus to Lidl's to buy groceries. If the winds cooperate we'll sail to Brighton (42nm) tomorrow. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

UK | England | Solent | Bucklers Hard | Artemis on pontoon mooring

October 3, 2012

Hi Everyone, Well we decided to go to Bucklers Hard on the Beaulieu River. (long u Bulee) We had a great sail with just our jib. Artemis was going 9.5 kts. Our departure from Yarmouth was a bit hairy. We've some lessons to learn dealing with currents. No disasters yet but some not so pretty departures. The sail over and the motor up the Beaulieu River was quite pretty. Several spots with moorings along the way but very pretty marshland and undeveloped river's edge. The river is privately owned by the Beaulieu estate controlled by Lord Montague. This family has controlled the development of the river for 4 centuries which they bought from the Beaulieu Abbey in 1538. Very pretty here with lots of water fowl and birds singing. Lovely Maritime museum depicting the history of the ship building between 1744-1805. Models of warships built for Nelson's fleet at Trafalgar built here. World War II sections of the Mulberry harbor were built here and hundreds of craft sailed from here to Normandy. We took a dingy ride up the river and on the next bend from Artemis we discovered another Mason 43/44 Constance. Discovered it was just shipped from America and is owned by the writer of our current cruising guide "The Shell Channel Pilot" by Tom Conliffe. Now to have one Mason on the River Beaulieu is unusual but two!!

UK | England | Beaulieu Village | Free range animals walking around town

Today we walked with our friends on Alchemy 2 1/4 m to Beaulieu village along the river footpath. We only had a few sprinkles the rest of the day was sunny and quite lovely. Beaulieu is a picturesque village with a palace and Abbey. The cars give way to cows, donkeys, horses and pigs wandering the streets keeping the weeds and grass down. Evidently the animals are owned but allowed to free range to keep the roadsides clear. Pigs are allowed free range in the fall to eat the acorns but I must admit we didn't see any pigs. Cows, horses and donkeys yes. We wanted some fruit so the shop keeper said just walk up the road about half a mile past two thatched roof house, a field of sheep and take the lane gate on the left that runs parallel to the road to the Farm Store. Hmmm. Well the directions seemed clear and we followed them closely but after a half an hour of hiking, looking beyond a cornfield, we gave up and went back to town. Of course the shop keeper said if we had just pushed on another 60 meters it would have been on the right:-) No fruit tomorrow!!

As we hiked back into town a car slowed to let us cross and suddenly waving arms and shouts told us we know these people. Lord Ian and Gillian Strathcarron are acquaintances from Kemer, Turkey. I had just emailed them as the harbor master at Bucklers Hard said they use to moor their sailboat Vasca da Gama there. Otherwise I'm sure they would never have put two and two together as we crossed their path again. Lord Ian was writing a book when we were together last called Joy Unconfined Byron's Grand Tour Re-toured (the poet). He wrote a modern day version of Byron's Grand Tour while following his path aboard his own boat Vasca da Gama. Then he wrote another book retracing Mark Twains Holy Land adventure. We've been invited to lunch on Saturday so are looking forward to catching up on their adventures.

The wind howled early this morning when a front came through. But the day proved not so bad. Some rain but we still got a nice walk back from Beaulieu through the New Forest. Someone at the marina took us to buy fruit and vegetables at the Farm Store and then dropped us in Beaulieu. Luckily we reached Artemis before the real rain set in. Hope everyone has a nice weekend. We do have good internet from the marina and we were able to skype Al's mom and my dad yesterday. So hopefully we'll catch the kids this weekend. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

October 2, 2012

Hi Everyone, We got our new Facnor Flat Deck furler as expected last Wed. but thankfully Al decided to check the new baby stay. He pulled it up alongside the old stay and discovered the new one was considerably longer. The chandler sent a rigger up and they got a proper measurement and remade the baby stay. Thursday the winds came from the NW so we decided to take a bus to Chateau Ravalet and enjoy the lovely grounds and garden paths.

We left Cherbourg France early last Friday. We had SW and then WSW winds and a variety of speeds so it was a day of many sail configurations. When we arrived at the Needles (narrow entrance behind Isle of Wight) the winds were blowing 30+ from SW. We decided to take the North Channel rather than chancing getting too close to the Shingles reef. We later learned another boat went aground there early Saturday. The entrance between Hurst and Wight Island was exciting. The water was churning. One standing wave came over onto the deck and into the cockpit. Things settled down as we approached Yarmouth. We tied up to the pontoon about 1830 so in all it was an 11 hour sail. The longest we've had in a while without running the engine.

UK | England | Isle of Wight | Newport | Guild Hall

Saturday we had a nice bus ride to the island's capital in Newport. It takes a bit getting use to people driving on the "wrong" side of the road and driving on the "wrong" side of the car! We got our cell phone sim cards and internet but no skype. We'll have to figure out something once we reach London as Skype is our lifeline to US. We rarely get emails so between Facebook and skype we've been able to keep up on things.

UK | England | Isle of Wight | Needles Park

Sunday we visited our friends on Alchemy for a few hours before they headed out to take there son back to mainland. Monday's rain kept us aboard Artemis doing some boat chores and reading our Kindles:-) Today we took a bus to Needles Park and walked out to the Old Battery museum. Great views of the Needles where we came through last Friday. The wind was blowing 50+ at the point. Al could almost lean against it like he did last year at Port Vendres lighthouse. This is where UK did their rocket testing for the Space Race during the Cold War. We had our picnic and then decided to walk the Coastal Path back to Yarmouth about 8 miles. Unfortunately our first hour the skys opened and we got drenched. Glad for the raincoats and hiking boots. The sun came out and we walked along the coast and through country lanes. The last bit of the trail took us through Port Victoria Country Park. The sign posts gave information about each of the planets of the solar system. We almost made it back to the boat before another downpour drenched us again. Warm and dry aboard Artemis we crawled into bed to read our Kindles. We may move in the rain tomorrow to Cowes up the River Medina to "The Folly's". We've heard the pub food is good and they serve a great beer. Hope all is well. Love and God bless Sally and Al

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