Saturday, 21 March 2020

London to Gosport

Hi everyone,
For more than nine months we've been planning to spend a year based in Gosport from this April.  With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic we thought hard about whether to stay on in London or proceed.   We decided to proceed.  There are few better places to isolate ourselves than on our wonderful boat!

Our original hope had been to cruise to Gosport over a week or so.  Given the pandemic situation it became a delivery passage.  We departed St Katharine's Dock at 0800 on Wednesday and arrived in Gosport at 2100 on Thursday. Here's our track...

Zen Again Track
And here are the usual statistics...
  • Distances/Speeds
    • Route Distance = 193nm
    • GPS Distance = 194nm!
    • Duration = 37 hours
    • Average ground speed = 5.0 kt
  • Weather
    • Minimum wind speed = 0 kt
    • Average wind speed = 10 kt
    • Maximum wind speed = 16 kt
    • Apparent wind angle range = 45 to 170
    • Seas up to 1m
    • Partly cloudy on Wednesday.  Overcast on Thursday with drizzle in fog.
  • Engine
    • Total = 24 hours
    • Driving = 24 hours
    • Charging = 0 hours

We were up and ready to go at 0730.  We departed SKD at 0800 and high tide was at about 0830.  On exit we gave Zen Again a last look at Tower Bridge before setting course down river.

Entering the SKD lock
Outer lock gate going down
Zen Again paying her respects to Tower Bridge
Through the Thames Barrier
We had a nice SW breeze of 10-15 knots to take us out of the Thames Estuary.  We set sail at Tilbury where the river's meanders lessen.  The clouds were slowly dispersing.

We sailed close past the Red Sands Sea Forts which I used to race to with my uncle and cousin in the 1980s.
Red Sands See Forts (WW2 Anti-Aircraft Platforms) 
A great sail out of the Thames Estuary
Our new kit performed very well.  The wind data from our Airmar 220WX seemed accurate.  SaiLog displayed the data nicely.  And iNavX worked nicely on the iPads in their Armor-X cases and mounts.

iPad Armor-X mount and case working well
By Wednesday evening we were around North Foreland and approaching Ramsgate.  We'd had a fantastic sail all day, some of it in glorious sunshine.  The breeze was cold though.

Passing Ramsgate the wind fell very light and the engine went on.  Sadly it didn't go off until we arrived in Gosport Marina.  We motor-sailed for several hours until the wind was too light.  A weak warm front was passing over us, bringing a NE wind perfect for our passage west.  Sadly it didn't arrive until Thursday afternoon.

The night was overcast and cold - down to about 6C according to the 220WX.   Many layers, thick socks, scarves and hats were applied.  We discovered ugg boots are excellent dry-weather winter sea boots - toasty warm!  The traffic in and out of Dover seemed as busy as ever.

Wednesday morning delivered a low overcast which descended to become fog for several hours.  Visibility was less than 1/2nm.  Our nav lights stayed on all day.

Fog along the south coast
In the afternoon a flock of small birds decided to circle us.  At least four landed aboard and scoured the boat for insects.  One of them seemed very weak and stayed with us.  One of its pals came back and seemed to console it but then flew off.  Sadly our little pal passed away and we buried it as sea.

Stray bird and Ugg boots
We entered the Solent at twilight.  There was a steady stream of large commercial vessels entering the Solent.  We kept outside the main channels and communicated with Southampton VTS and the Queen's Harbour Master (QHM).  Small craft enter and leave Portsmouth using the far western side of the channel.

Route into Portsmouth Harbour and Gosport Marina
Arriving in an unfamiliar marina at night is always interesting, especially in tidal areas.  GPS certainly helps.  The marina staff gave clear directions as we crept into the marina dead-slow and berthed without incident.

We're currently in the far NE corner of the marina.  From our berth we can see the nightly light show on the Spinnaker Tower.  We can also see the RN's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

In Gosport we hope we'll be able to go sailing frequently - if only for day sails in the Solent initially.

This afternoon we checked out the local supermarkets.  Like those in London there were many bare shelves.  We always keep Zen Again well stocked but hopefully the panic buying will settle down soon.

Trust all's well where you are!


  1. Glad you arrived safely, keep well

  2. Great to hear of the relocation to gosport. Hope you get some stocked shelves again.

  3. If you need beer Fallen Acorn are just round the corner and very much recommended.. the bar will be closed but they'll be doing take outs..