If you are an avid watcher of the weather reports as I like to think I am the following lesson will be a salutary reminder of Murphy’s Law
The morning of the 3rd May started out well bright skies, soft breeze (F3) from the southwest and a warm sun, perfect just as forecasted. Alan, Jamie, and myself slipped mooring lines after going over usual checks and started our trip to Dover in high sprits and a falling tide at 08:30. All going well down river, time for breakfast and to run through the boat with my son and grand children. Once passed the clear watermark the Genoa is raised and we set course for Dover on a beam reach, which sets a good turn of speed all is looking well. Bill and Jo joined us just north of Deal still looking good to be in Dover by midday, but the wind is turning and we are having problems keeping a weather helm without being pushed out towards the Goodwin’s and the wind is getting stronger. So down with the Genoa and on with the iron topsail, we won’t let this stop us, pulling in the Genoa the reefing line has bird nested over the drum.
Just south of Deal the tide has turned and the sea is getting a bit of a chop. Alan has long gone but is having trouble getting passed South Foreland as the wind is now head on and increasing to F6/7 in strength and the sea state is also getting chopper. Bill and Jamie are making good way, By this time my speed has dropped even with the tide with me and South Foreland is not getting closer and the kids are looking a little green around the gills and are very quite but safe in the cabin. I call Bill, Jamie and Alan to let then know that I’m turning back to the bay and wish them speed to Dover and maybe I’ll see them later that evening.
On turning back we picked up speed and with less rolling the kids perked up but the weather was still getting worse! If I can get into the bay Ill wait for the tide and be out of the swell and reasonably comfortable. With my depth sounder showing 13 ft things looked ok. Just outside the north cardinal mark we ran aground Oh sh1* but the depth sounder was reading 13 ft and we only draw 6ft. I try to pull myself off and turn around and only succeeded in turning into the wind, so out with the anchor and sit this one out uncomfortable but safe.
Meanwhile Bill, Jo, Jamie and Alan were having troubles of their own. The wind and sea had got up to F7/8 from the South. Bill and Jo had shipped a lot of water when their fore hatch popped opened. Jamie also found the trip less then happy sailing as did Alan who also had shipped a few green ones only to fine that he had to wait 45 minutes in Fan bay until 3 ferries and a cargo boat had cleared the Eastern entrance.
Back in Sandwich bay we were all entertained by the kite surfers scooting passed and jumping around the boat while we waited for Chris and Paul to crew me into Ramsgate, (neither Oliver or Mary were confident enough to get the anchor up). Just then my Genoa blow out as I had untangled the reefing line, so I had to drop the Genoa from the forestay and tie it up on the forepeak.
As we watched Chris and Paul’s heroic efforts in getting to us I for one felt bad for the mess that this day that started out so well had ended so badly.
Chris took the anchor as Paul drove the boat in the direction given by Chris. As it was I had to cut the chain from the locker in the fore peek and leave the anchor as it had snagged and would not leave the seabed?
As we sailed towards Ramsgate the wind started to subside with the rising tide and once in Paul took my passengers home to clean up and then back to the club to get them home dishevelled and tired but safe.
Chris and I took Flying Tabnab back on the high tide about 20:00 the Genoa taken off and with milk and vomit inside it took a bit of cleaning. As a side note while Chris and I waited in Ramsgate we noted the inshore lifeboat going out it turned out to be the kite surfers, at least in a boat we were warm, dry with tea and cake.
My thanks go to all involved in this rather miss judged adventure.
So what do I take from this?

 1/ Well the weather may start good but it can change in hour’s nay minutes and a forecast is still a guide not a guarantee. We should have got an update just before we sailed not the night before.

 2/ Equipment however well maintained is NO substitute for a well skilled crew and that includes the skipper.

 3/ Keeping in contact with and letting people know your plans and the plans of others helps to get help quickly. Communication is key

 Finally my thanks go to Chris and Paul who went well beyond the call of duty in getting to us in conditions that were poor to say the least and with equipment that was not up to the job.