Playing Chicken in the Thames Estuary

In the event , the fog at Ramsgate only delayed us by 12 hours. This is now an extremely busy port serving the wind farms which are spreading like a rash over the Thames estuary . At one time I counted 30 big catamaran workboats in the harbour , and there is seldom a moment , day or night , when one or more are not entering or leaving. Looking at the AIS tracks they think nothing of zapping along at 20 knots in the fog ( the radio traffic reported it as 30 m visibility)and it is this traffic , rather than the wind farms themselves , which is the major risk to shipping. Mind you , it is only a matter of time before some vessel , big or small , comes a cropper by straying into the path of the monster windmills themselves and all in all , crossing the Thames estuary is now quite intimidating.

I visited the main offices of the London Array ( the latest and biggest wind farm ) as I would like to have gone through Foulgers Gat, which cuts through the middle of the wind farm, and wished to get the latest information on what was happening there. I was directed to the “maritime movement “ office where two master mariners informed me that officially it was open , but was currently criss crossed by an armada of cable laying vessels , unmarked anchor buoys and kamikaze work boats driven by crazy Danes at 30 knots , “because they can!” Apparently this office sit and watch everyone bash into each other , helpless to prevent the mayhem. Perhaps they exaggerated, but it did the trick and we went outside the lot!

There seems no end in sight of the Northerlies , and they appear particularly strong near the SW tip of Norway ( we have personal experience of that from our last trip!) so our current thinking is to stop here on the Orwell for a few days , spend a day or two with Bryony , and then head for Holland and the Baltic , from where we can do the windward work in short bits rather than bash on in the open sea. Well , that may well change if the weather system evolves into a different pattern, but for the moment , here we are in Sufffolk , waiting for the Sat phone , and enjoying the weather like the rest of you.


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