23. Fosdyke to Lowestoft, 11th/12th June 2011
Shipping forecast: 11th June, 12.01: Humber: mainly SW’ly 4 to 5; rain or showers; moderate or good,
Just over a year after our original departure from Dover we cast off from Fosdyke at 14.10 on the 11th June 2011, shortly after local high water, for the ninety five mile overnight passage to Lowestoft, the next all tide all weather port on the passage south.
The one other reasonable possibility en route for a boat of our size and draft is Wells next the Sea, somewhat under halfway. Access here however is much more restricted - entry by strangers is advised during daylight hours only, within an hour either side of high water on what must be a fairly decent tide. The following tide after our departure would of course be twelve hours later during the hours of darkness which would have meant us waiting until the next afternoon after that to get in in daylight. We would otherwise have quite liked to include a visit to this remote and atmospheric area on the north Norfolk coast, and Wells itself is reported to be an attractive destination.
The passage was uneventful, the wind periodically up to force six from astern in the vicinity of strong cloud development during the late afternoon and evening, interspersed with spells of light conditions requiring the engine. Overnight the wind dropped but it returned from the west before dawn giving us a good run under sail for the remainder of the passage with arrival at Lowestoft at 06.45 to await the 07.00 bridge lift for access to the upper harbour. There is a new marina in the Hamilton Dock, below the bridge, but the only fuel berth is at the up river marina site, above the bridge, so, requiring fuel, this was our choice.
Lowestoft, like some other places we saw, wears a somewhat jaded air. The two mile passage above the bridge to the marina offers a depressing spectacle of economic stagnation; disused wharfs and sheds overgrown with weeds line the river banks, these occupied by the derelict rusting hulks of various kinds of craft. Only the great god retail prospers – amidst the decay a vast new ASDA superstore glistens in the morning sun.
Wind generators like these, part of an array on the Scroby Sands off Great Yarmouth, are nowadays an ever present feature of east coast sailing south of The Humber.