On Monday we left Cowes at 5am and had a brisk fair wind sail all day in bright weather. The wind petered out about midnight by which time we had got to Dungeness. We anchored for a few hours of sleep on the east side of Dungeness. This is a useful anchorage and safe under most conditions but the boat does roll around a bit on the swell. If you are tired enough you don't much mind.
On Tuesday morning we got going about 6.30 but had mostly light winds. Off Dover we saw a Channel swimmer with his escort boat. He still had another 20 miles to go. The conditions must have been right for them as Dover Coastguard were warning shipping of 'numerous' swimmers. The first Channel swimmer, the remarkable Captain Matthew Webb, of course had no escort boat or any other kind of support in case of trouble.
Later a gentle SE breeze sprang up and we sailed into the Swale just as it was getting dark.
|Bonita back on her home mooring|
And so ends Bonita's big cruise which we have been planning for about two years. This is quite possibly the farthest she has ever sailed in a single summer. She has come out of it quite well: a few harbour scuffs and scrapes, a new gearbox and lots of chipped varnish but that seems to be about all. Her old world elegance remains unruffled.
I have been asked several times how I feel about finishing the trip. To sail your own boat around Britain is a marvelous experience and one that I would recommend to any yachtsman. To some extent there's relief to have completed it: to have got back to where we started without significant loss or damage. I also have increased respect and admiration for those early sailors who made similar voyages in similar boats but without an engine or modern navigational aids.
And of course none of it would have been possible without generous support and understanding from my family, friends, work colleagues, the Old Gaffers Association, and those crew members who gave up their annual holiday to be part of Bonita's big adventure. Thank you all.