Well, the weather forecast was not quite accurate, the high winds were supposed to be at their peak at midnight dropping to Force 3-4 NW for Sunday Morning, when we all got up ready to depart it was pretty obvious that it would be completely stupid to set off in the conditions that we woke upto which were Force 7-8 Winds approx SW. We decided therefore to wait until 2pm to depart giving time for the winds to drop, which thankfully they did.
So 2pm arrived....... eventually, and off we headed to the Marina all in our gear, just got the rib packed and ready for sea, when 8 Customs "Duane" officials make us empty the boat, all our gear, unpack all our bags, ID checked, SSR etc checked, ICC checked, sniffer dog had a walk around the rib. All as we expected was fine and verified, and allowed to carry on as we were. Andre did his best to sell them a rib, they went away happy complete with Parker Rib brochure......
We managed to get under the road bridge, notified Calais of our departure and headed over across to Dover to hug the coastline to try and shelter from the winds, being NW 4-5 helped out. The seas off of Calais were HUGE, 2-3'm cresting swells, the rib was outstanding, we were doing a reasonably comfortable cruise across the top ranging from 24-35 knotts. After we got across the TSS we tucked in and managed to cruise back averageing 30 to40 knotts across the top. The Baltic absolutely loves the chop, Andre said it would eat it and would come into its own element, and true to his word it did. Everyone on board was in agreement how solid it was. The only time we slowed down was across Brighton to L'Hampton where we really lost the light and could not see the dips swells from the sea so that last leg put us at an average of 14 knotts which just seemed to take forever.
After I eventually got used the the lightness of the Verado throttle box and just how trigger happy those engines are, I relaxed. They really are amazing engines, with the Super Charger running constantly you get sooo much torque, which just surges the Rib forward. Big Grins all round.
Soooooo, we arrived at Littlehampton, thank you to Tony, Steve & Lukasz from Pontoon Talk Ribsters, who came out and welcomed us just off of West Pier the pictures below are from Lukasz, much appreciated, and off we went upto L'Hampton Marina. Think the the phrase of the night was when I asked Andre what the speed limit was to be told 6 knotts but you are ok at this time of night, (I was doing 8 knotts) and that there was no-one patrolling and would be fine........literally 2 mins later, this Delta Customs Rib Customs, pulls up alongside my Rib, customs officials climb on board. Looking up in the sky we had 2 Helicopters hovering above, there was also 4 police cars up on the quayside, Police Spotter Plane...... WOW!!! At least our customs guys are doing their job, keeping Pirates, Drug Traffickers, Illegal Imigrants at bay.
Again, boat was stripped down, all our luggage searched, all our paperwork was looked at, YES THE VAT WAS PAID ON THE RIB, checked and verified of my SSR No, my new company business was checked at Companies House, and VAT ref for the company checked. Sarah my otherhalf who had driven over to collect us as it was our intention to go to Port Solent but we were too tired and worn out, had her car impounded, mobile phone taken away, they even phone her DAD to verify who she was as it was the last number dialed on her phone, whilst they searched the car and questioned her.
I notified Port Solent Marina that we would not be arriving as planned and that we had stopped at L'Hampton for the night.
Fuel used was very good, taking into account we were throttling a lot on the way back, we used 148 litres of fuel per engine to cover 129 miles so that is 1.147 litres per mile per engine.
I have probably missed out some other great highlights of the trip back, thank you to Paul, Kathleen, Andre, Mike C and Simon, great bunch of people.
Hoping to bring the Rib back tomorrow to Port Solent, hopefully without air cover and ground support crews