Saturday, 3 August 2013


We left the Swale in light winds and partly motored, partly sailed down the Kent coast and round the North Foreland to Ramsgate. Ramsgate harbour is always a favourite, full of interest and history. The town has a separate life of its own.

Ramsgate RNLI station
Ramsgate inner harbour is the site of an excellent lifeboat station designed by our sponsors Beckett Rankine. They tell us that the RNLI are an interesting client to work for as they require their facilities to be designed with a 120 year design life. To provide such durability in a maritime environment is not easily done and most commercial port clients are unwilling to pay the premium for it. The inshore lifeboat is stored inside the building and the design brief for the building required the large door to be able to be opened in any weather since there is no upper wind speed limit for an RNLI launch. The building has a substantial steel frame designed to withstand the uplift forces which would result from opening the large door during a south westerly hurricane!

We had a fair amount of manoeuvring in marina berths but eventually Bonita came to rest without damage in the heritage section of the inner harbour. There are several other gaffers here and the whole weekend has been ably organised by Rob and Jan Holden. Their lovely little cutter Emanuel, which once sailed the Atlantic, is here too.

Dunkirk Little Ship Sundowner
The second picture shows Bonita astern of the motor yacht Sundowner,which has an interesting history. Originally built in 1912 as an admiralty launch, she was converted to a yacht for Charles Lightoller. He was the second mate on the Titanic and the most senior officer to survive her sinking; he subsequently gave evidence at the official enquiries. Between the wars he cruised extensively in European waters in Sundowner, and in 1940 took her to Dunkirk, filled her with 130 soldiers from the beaches and bought them all back to Ramsgate. She survived multiple attacks from the air during the journey as well as the hazard of wash from fast moving Destroyers. It is very appropriate that she is preserved and on display here  in Ramsgate.

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