May bank holiday seemed a good day for a sail to make sure the gear was OK after the winter. All the running rigging gets taken down from the mast when we lay up for the winter and then gets re-rigged in the spring. So the first sail of the year often brings a few surprises and tangles aloft that need to be untangled. It was blowing a blustery SW force 5- 6 , but I had a reliable crew ( Allan) so off we went. We had a brisk sail with fair wind and tide as far as Herne Bay pier, then a rather longer and wetter tack back into the Swale.
Herne Bay Pier was built in 1896, the third on this site and one of the longest in the world. As so often with piers the maintenance was difficult and as it aged the pier suffered from quite a lot of storm and fire damage. It never really recovered from having a central section blown up by the army during World War II to prevent it being used in the event of an enemy invasion. About 30 years ago the pier was derelict and almost all of it was demolished, leaving only the landing stage and pavilion at the end, as seen in the picture. These now stand in isolation, looking sad after decades of neglect and more than half a mile from the shore to which they were once joined. There is talk from time to time in Herne Bay of rebuilding the pier, but the likely costs seem to be escalating more quickly than the enthusiasm for doing something about it.
We returned to the Swale and decided we had given the gear a reasonable test. Nothing much had gone wrong apart from some floating debris in the bilges blocking the bilge pump.
Planning is well under way for the summer cruise. Bonita's furthest venture East so far has been when we visited Enkhuizen in North Holland. We may see if we can do better this year.
See our brisk sail and (magnified) view of Herne Bay Pier remains (click for larger size):