Friday, 21 August 2015

Secure borders

After passing Dungeness we slowed down a bit as the wind became light; we passed Dover in the
Protecting the coast (1)
dark at around 10pm. Fortunately there was good visibility as there is a constant stream of ferries entering and leaving the harbour. There are often several in sight at once and they get up to about 20 knots within minutes of leaving the harbour. There is also a lot of mysterious activity clearly designed to discourage illegal immigrants crossing the Channel in small boats. We saw several border patrol vessels such as the one in the picture. They don't give an AIS signal but their silhouette is distinctive even in the dark.  At night we saw a helicopter hovering over the beach looking around with its searchlight. You never see if they have found anything but their presence is very obvious. The border patrol didn't appear to pay any attention to our 127 year old gaffer slowly running along the coast under full sail. Maybe they could see we were law abiding citizens, or maybe they just thought that even refugees wouldn't be that desperate.

We eventually went into Ramsgate at about 3am: tricky in the dark due to a very strong spring tide running across the harbour entrance but worked out OK with Dave at the helm and the engine on full power.

On Thursday morning we had to be fortified with a large Ramsgate all-day breakfast at 11am then sadly John had to return home by train. With Dave and Julie we left harbour around 1pm and in light southerly winds sailed along the North Kent coast to the Swale.

Protecting the coast (2)
We have seen many miles of fine white chalk cliffs on this trip and the  French have some that are just as fine as the famous white cliffs of Dover. The cliffs are white of course because the rock is unstable and the surface is being constantly refreshed as the rock is eroded and falls into the sea. White cliffs are slowly but continually receding as their the lower levels are undercut by wave action. Where this process has for some reason  stopped the cliffs soon become off- white and eventually will cover over completely with vegetation. The second picture was taken near the North Foreland. There must be many owners of cliff top properties with a fine view but an uncertain future due to erosion beneath them hoping that the local council can be persuaded to fund some coastal protection works.