26 nautical miles – about 49 km
We leave Erith under a cloudy sky: Shortly afterwards it rains. We travel fast, by using both the Mainsail and the Mizzen, keeping a seven-knot speed. The stream kindly gives us three and a half of them.
The Thames is now magnificent, wide and powerful. We are approaching the estuary and the landscape feels of North Sea.
The wind gets stronger and so we reach 10 knots, 4 given by stream, under a dazzling sun that opened a breach through the clouds.
We are happy: In just four hours we travel 26 miles. When we get to the Isle of Sheppey, we plan to enter the Meadway to moor in Queenborough, but the last mile of navigation have in store a different story for us.
The wind changes, hitting our noses, and the sea gets bigger. We try to pinch for about an hour, gaining half a mile: Then the stream changes and the wind gets stronger yet.
We double-reef the Mainsail but we’re still wrapped. After nearly capsizing twice (Jacopo’s hair are straight despite the buckets of water he keeps getting on the face) I decide to turn back to the Thames, direction Sheerness.
I know there is a Sailing Club on the beach, safe from further troubles.
In a few minutes we are landed. James Bell, the Club’s Commodore, with a few fellows come to greet us with great kindness, offering to moor Clodia to a close boa. I go alone: Jacopo will come to pick me up shortly afterwards, aboard a little dinghy.
It’s sundown. Wind: 20 knot, southwesterly. Air temperature: 12 Celsius degrees. Water temperature: very cold. Not my idea of a nice bath.
When Jacopo comes, he tries to approach the boat facing a very strong wind: He pushes the oarlock a bit too far and it crashes. I see the dinghy capsizing and Jacopo falling under it.
In a blink of an eye, Jacopo re-emerges, swearing as I never heard him before! He’s so upset that he turns up the dinghy by sheer anger, and swims toward me pulling it. I come close to let him get aboard Clodia (hypothermia is not unlikely under these conditions), steering with an oar towards shore and towing the dinghy full of water.
Wait a moment: A life raft from the Club comes to rescue us.
We’re safe! How kind these British people are!
We’re invited to sleep in the Club overnight, and Jacopo takes a hot shower straight away. Tim is fantastic like all other members, Mark makes us a coffee as hot as hell and I’m relieved that all went well…
We sleep as children, then in the morning Tim wakes us up (please watch and vote this video) and shows us a place where we can have breakfast.
There we meet Sue & Sue that take care of informing people about the many advantages of breastfeeding.
The social Club where they work is wonderful: It makes you feel at home. We wait for the high tide and get ready to leave.
Thanks Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club. You are our friends.
We set off by sailing, from the boe. A 15 knot tailwind will take us to Withstable in a couple of hours: There a surprise awaits us…