A couple of weeks ago, I arranged a day charter; a cost effective way to get on the water, hone some skills and build up my skippering experience. The sun shone, but the wind was non existent. All in though, it was a great day.
I was joined by 4 friends. Two landlubbing friends, and two whom I met through sailing (ladies from my Jan sailing weekend). With us, we also had a member of the Elite Sailing Club who wanted a day on the water. It’s always nice to sail with new people.
Arriving at 8am, we joined our Sun Odyssey 35. The tides and wind unfortunately were not to be our friends today. Low tide was first thing in the morning, with high tide at lunch time, and low tide again in the early evening. This meant that as we left to head down river, the tide was flooding in, and as we made our way home the tide was ebbing (and against us) – on Springs, which effectively means that the tidal range is high and therefore the tidal flow is very strong. The wind also failed to materialse, but with a massive high pressure system over the UK it did mean that the sun was shining.
With the wind and tide in mind, I planned a day which would give the crew everything they wanted in the conditions – a drills and skills day. We headed from Chatham to Gillingham Reach and anyone that wanted to, had a go at getting the boat on to a mooring bouy. We then went further downstream and where the channel widened we took turns at drilling for ‘man overboard’. After that we had a lunch stop on an anchorage down Half Acre Creek.
Half Acre Creek, is a small channel which branches off from the Medway, near Gillingham. It is very narrow and fairly tricky to navigate, there is a very real danger of going aground in this area. Unfortunately we witnessed another boat do just that. But it does make for a nice challenge, and is a beautiful place to drop anchor.
After lunch we played with the radar, practised reefing, and rigged a preventor (which some hadn’t done before), before heading up to Rochestor to see the former prison ship and historic dockyard, which the crew were interested in. It made for a nice end to a lovely day on the water.
On the way back in to Chatham, I had the tricky job of negotiating the 2+ knots of tide which was ripping out of the river. But the lock entry went smoothly, and as I crabbed my way in and moored up, it was time to reflect on a great day.