Meteorological Vacillations

Its time to wander the seas again. We have run out of reasons to stay: the new hip is in place , racing obsessions are firmly under control, winter work is over and suddenly even the weather has relented . Last year we visited friends on the West Coast of Ireland on our way to Scotland. This year we fancied visiting friends in Norway , and the weather there is currently stunning so why not sail straight there?

Well several reasons actually . First we need to regain our confidence that the bionic hip is up to foredeck work and so would like to sail ourselves in gently . Secondly stunning weather in Norway gives NE winds in the North sea, which is upwind. It also brings a lot of fog at this time of year so that playing the meteorological shifts can make the difference between a pleasant passage and a nightmare.

At first it looked simply horrible, so we hatched a plan to go up the Irish sea , revisit some Scottish haunts and go round the top via Shetland( theoretically propelled by Westerly winds to the North of the high). But that is a lot of extra miles , and so when there seemed a chance of some nice dry ( ie not foggy) Easterlies to take us North from the Dover straits we began to look at the Easterly route once more. On Monday night we were finally ready , boat stuffed to the gunwales with food and charts for absolutely everywhere, but still no decision as to which way to turn at Calshot.

Many years ago on Polly we decided for our summer holiday to go whichever way the wind blew . After much perusal of the wind charts we set off East under spinnaker, safe in the knowledge that it would be downwind all the way to Holland . Just past Portsmouth the children pointed out several boats under spinnaker , coming the other way. Sure enough , the wind came ahead and we beat all the way there.

With this record we didn’t have much confidence that we would make a better decision this time , but with an hour to go before the tide turned east I opened up the met charts for the final time. Neither option looked good , with fog at each end of the channel , an initial beat to the West followed by fair winds verses a run up Channel but a difficult North sea scenario.

With minutes to go we plumped for an Easterly route , figuring that if the dice did roll our way we would stand a better chance of getting to Norway , and if they didn’t we will get to know the North sea ports a lot better and perhaps spend some time with Bryony.

Well 24 hours later , after a delightful warm downwind dribble, we are in Ramsgate , still looking for our weather break and trying to solve the mysterious reluctance of the satphone to work. This is our source of weather information at sea , and it would make our N sea passage much more difficult if we cant get it to go . Still , the old N sea smacksmen never had this information so I dare say we will cope. Without it we don’t have e-mail capability either so you might have to wait until we get there to find out where we got to !

Meanwhile we are sitting in hazy sunshine staring at the harbour entrance and the thick fog beyond. In a few minutes we will have missed our tide so it is time to go and explore inland until Neptune and the wind gods deal us a better hand.

But we have at least started.

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