A shorter leg today, and with no prospect of working the tide in our favour, I made a later start, locking out at 10.00 – with the Lifeboat! Must have been tipped off! (Despite both owners having been assisted by the RNLI with previous boats, Chime herself has so far been spared the ignominy, and long may it continue!)
The wind was westerly and so it was possible to motor-sail out past Beachy Head, but after that the genoa became redundant. The passage itself was straightforward and I arrived at Brighton Marina mid-afternoon, when things quickly went downhill. I decided to refuel and so went straight to the fuel pontoon. However, the marina was short-staffed, and I must have waited an hour – not what you want when all you would like is to get tied up get a cup of tea. The wait was made slightly more bearable by the company of another sailing boat, Spindrift, a rather strange vessel crewed by a couple in what looked like hand-knitted woolly hats.
The story behind Spindrift, I learnt, was that she is a dory, gaff rigged, built in wood by a man in Dorset, who then became terminally ill. Her current owners had bought her recently, fitted her out, and were now sailing her back to Sandwich. The fitting out had included the fitting of a Volvo Penta engine salvaged from a ship’s lifeboat, and which may have been a bit overpowered for the small yacht – more of this later. Her owners were, I feel, novices.
After I had eventually been refuelled (and promised a discount) I motored around to my allocated pontoon. Shortly after, Spindrift arrived, and the subsequent scenes were like the Keystone Cops of sailing. Her skipper had some difficulty manoeuvring her into the pontoon space (a double) and kept thrusting her alternatively into full ahead and full astern, with the prop throwing up plumes of spray. He found himself somehow laterally across the end of the pontoon finger, and instead of letting the marina staff just pull the boat around, he decided to ‘go out and come in again’, putting it into full ahead – straight at the side of Chime’s stern! There was a big collision, the force of which ripped big chunks out of Chime’s substantial teak rubbing strake. When they eventually were helped to moor up, the skipper was very apologetic, and agreed to pay for the damage to be repaired, but……
To add to the general misery, I found that the fuel tank dipstick tube was leaking even more after being filled up. The tank is in the bilge and is fed by a hose, so all the fuel still in the hose would be leaking out. Foolishly, while waiting around on the fuel pontoon, I had decided to top up the ‘day tank’ with fuel for the next day, so I couldn’t draw off more diesel from the main tank to stop the leaking. It was simply a matter of packing it around with paper towel until the next day.
Brighton Marina is, I believe, the largest in Britain, and it must also be the worst. It has no redeeming features at all, and seemed rather run down (broken pontoons etc), although there is some rebuilding going on. By this time it was too late to walk into Brighton, so I ate in the Prezzo in the marina restaurant and shop complex.