Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Wednesday 23rd October 2013 Back to the UK.
Dover - like that flag!
Sunny, mild but windy. Up at 7.30 am, threw all the stuff back into the bags and Mike gave the cardboard key back to the woman who was busy doing breakfasts and we left at 8.30 am. Straight to the port as we’d already topped up the fuel tank. Dover Seaway was just docking as we arrived and we only had time to change time zones and money before the ship started loading cars while lorries were still coming off! Mike bought us both breakfasts, which cost an enormous £7.95 each and they were not very good and not very hot either. He couldn’t get the coffee machine to work so, after we'd eaten, I got the job of getting two coffees. 
Ferry boat being positioned by tug
The Polish guy from the checkout desk came and worked the temperamental machine for me and when it short measured the amount that went into the cups he came and added another shot of expresso coffee into my Capuchino and Mike’s Latte - no decaff - so we’ll be running on rocket fuel and definitely not nodding off! Modern technology, he said and charged me £4.80. It was pretty windy once we left the shelter of the French coast, waves crashing over the bows and rocking the single curtain-sided lorry on the bow deck. I spotted a very neat looking DFDS house flag flying on the bow and said that would look nice on our mast. Mike went to see if he could obtain one from the guy on the desk. He was interested to know that we had a boat in Germany and used their services regularly to go back and forth to the UK, but said he had no flags and maybe we could get one from their online shop or maybe their shop on board had one. 
Mike went to look, nope, he asked the shop assistant, she offered him a lighter! Won’t fit on the mast, sorry. As we approached Dover we could see another ferryboat in front and a voice on the tannoy said there would be around a thirty minute delay. Then the ship turned bows into the wind coming up the Channel while we waited for the P&O ferry to dock. We could see there was a tug standing by as we entered the harbour, sliding sideways into the gap with the wind and tide – reminded us of getting into West Stockwith lock on the tidal Trent (people don't realise, but there is nothing like that that we've come across in navigating the whole of Europe). 
The whole journey - 1400 kms
The ship turned to reverse into its berth and the tug (DHA Doughty) came and attached a line to the ferry’s bows (to our right) to assist it by pulling against the way the wind was blowing the bows so it could manoeuvre safely into its berth. Most of the passengers came up to the bow windows to watch the procedure. I took loads of photos with the phone camera as we hadn’t brought the proper camera upstairs with us, it was still in the car. We were about fifty minutes late landing in Dover but were soon out through customs and off up the hill out of the town. It poured with rain as we went over the North Downs, then we were back into sunshine for most of the run North. Paused at Warwick services to use their facilities then on into Stourbridge. Arrived at home at 4.10 pm after a trip of around 1,400 kilometres. (Excuses for lousy phone photos - it was pouring with rain)

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