Went 14 Nautical Miles in the old Mirror on Friday. Up from Orford towards Snape with all my camping gear and a boat repair tool kit (the mast came down last time I sailed it). It was blowing up just nicely as I surfed downwind on a slack tide to Aldebrough and we did 4 miles in 75 minutes. The next hour was increasingly blowy and challenging on broad reaches while trying to work out which withies were marking port and which starboard. Fortunately I could pull up the daggerboard and try again when I got it wrong - unlike the poor bloke in a cruiser who was stuck on the leeward mudbank looking a bit sheepish about calling up a tow off on his VHF radio.  When I got to Iken Cliff I was faced with a long beat up a narrow channel and decided to turn turtle and head back to Orford before the tide started to flood in earnest and I had to stay the night in Snape. The thought of company and a warm bed spurred me to head for home against the tide and wind. It took 3 1/2 hours and a sore backside from sitting on the gunwale in a wind that had a force 3 - 4 feel about it.

Sunday/Monday saw me on a 41 foot yacht sailing from Chatham to Dover. We stayed on the pontoon at Queensborough
 overnight, went to the pub
 and were welcomed by the locals who seem to have a strange tradition of painting upside down
. The following day we enjoyed fair winds and fair tide all the way from Queensborough to Dover. We made roughly 50 miles in 8 hours an average of about 6 knots. The sea wasn't exactly flat while I made chicken sandwiches and washed the inside of the fridge for my lovely hosts. The helm was light and responsive and the company good. I leaned lots and particularly liked our navigators calm style. He plotted a fix on the paper chart from the GPS and gave the helm a course to steer and distance to the next buoy. This was repeated every five minutes when we were close to sand banks, and every 20 minutes when the going was easier. The buoys came up like clockwork but it would have been very easy to have picked up the wrong ones if John hadn't been constantly checking the chart. It's so easy to assume the buoy you are seeing is the one you want and not to have noticed a buoy just off your course which marked a sunken wreck isolated shallow. At one point I was helming for the gap between a red buoy and a green fishing boat until we noticed a more pointed green buoy closer to us.

Both trips had their hazards and challenges. Both were fun and gave me a sense of achievement and both could have become very sticky if things had gone wrong. !0 feet? 41 feet? Both good!

Next week it's 200 feet from Dartmouth to Poole.