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Sheppey Cruise, 25th July 2017
On a grey but breezy morning 9 intrepid sailors gathered on the beach at Bartons Point for the Sheppey cruis - Joe, Adrian, Simon, Dave R, Chris, Andy, Alan plus new cruiser Nick Kidd and myself. The forecast was for 11/12 mph northwesterly wind and this seemed right as we launched at 10.20 and headed east along the north coast of the island, making good speed on a series of broad reaches
About half way to Warden Point we had become spread out and stopped to regroup. Chris and Andy had returned to base and Andy phoned me to say they had both retired. The wind had now dropped a bit but the sea was still lumpy, which made for an uncomfortable sail round the point and south towards Leysdown, where the support team of Norman and John were waiting.
At this point Joe also retired so the remaining 6 carried on past Shell Ness before turning west on flatter water and more wind along the Swale towards our lunch stop at The Harty Ferry. We were joined there by the support team which now included the retirees Chris and Andy who had driven down picking Joe up on the way.
After the traditional fish & chip lunch, the sun finally broke through as we launched again at 2.45, half an hour behind schedule, and beat up the Swale into a decent northwesterly wind. This was to drop off as we approached Kemsley where the Swale narrows on the approach to the old and new Kingsferry bridges. The tide was also against us and it seemed to take forever to reach the other side of bridges where the support crew were waiting with more welcome refreshments.
It was 5.00 and we were now an hour behind schedule. With Simon a fair way back but in sight the decision was made to push on. The tide was now taking us out towards the Medway and the light wind had now swung round to northeasterly, so the remaining 5 had an easy sail past Sheerness harbour while Chris kindly gave Simon a lift back to base.
On exiting the Medway to turn east the wind dropped again and we had a long and laborious beat along the seafront back to base, arriving at 7.30. We had been on the water for 7hrs 30mins. It had been a hard and eventful day, but with a sense of achievement in conquering this always challenging Island.
Many thanks to Norman and John without whom we wouldn't have managed, also Chris and Andy who joined the support crew along the way, it was a real team effort.