The Downs Safe Anchorage

One thing you get to learn about fairly rapidly once you come to this place is all about the wind. When we bought these meadows a year ago yesterday, we didn’t really give the wind much thought – we were aware that it was windy from time to time but had not got an appreciation of the reason for it or the direction of it.

But here, the wind forcefully places itself in front of you and demands to be noticed.

Directly out to sea at the meadows is an area of water between the land and the Goodwin Sands known as The Downs which provides shelter for vessels from southerly and westerly winds. If there is a northerly or an easterly wind, there is no shelter here and rollers crash onto the beach and the ships need to go round the corner to find safety in the lee of those winds around Folkestone.

In fact it was because of the Downs that Deal first became established. Ships leaving London sailed out of the Thames and turned the corner south into the Downs and waited there for a favourable wind to take them off around the world. There were many hundreds of them there at any one time. Deal grew to service these ships while they waited.

It has been a lovely additional point of interest to notice what boats lay anchor opposite the meadows at night. I use an app called Marinetraffic and I can look the ships up and discover all sorts of information about them. When the winds are really strong, we sometimes get P&O ferries up from Dover sheltering offshore.

Yesterday it was fairly blustery with winds from the south west and gales are forecast from lunchtime today. We had three ships anchored overnight alongside the meadows, one flying a German flag, one Nederlands and one Bahamas .

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The Nova Cura (NL) and the Eric Hamman (DE) at anchor in the Downs from the second meadow

The Dutch ship, the Nova Cura is a general cargo vessel that has come from Rouen a couple of days ago. The German ship, the Eric Hamman is also a general cargo vessel and is going to Rouen and its previous port was Buckie in Scotland and before that Hamburg (I told you I can find out a lot about these ships..)

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The Hellas Reefer

The third ship, flying a Bahamas flag is a Reefer – a refrigerated cargo ship – whose destination is Dover. Its previous ports read as a series of unknown but exotic sounding places to me – it was last at Paita and before that at Guayaquil, then Panama, Limon Bay Ancy and Aruba.

They are always fully lit up at night, little christmas trees in a dark grey night.Presume this is to both make them visible to other shipping and so that they can watch that no small boats come alongside for whatever reason – I have so little knowledge about life at sea.

What must life be like for the crew aboard these ships as they anchor up alongside our meadows overnight, their lives co-inciding with ours so briefly?

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