Week 20 - Dover to Portsmouth 

13th to Thursday 18th September


140915 1 A visit from Martin and John Koerner

The highlight of our visit to Dover was having John and Martin Koerner drive across from Portsmouth to spend the day with us. Initially the plan had been to have them onboard and to sail to Brighton with us but unfortunately the reality of time constraints with John only being over for just on two weeks from Australia meant it wasn’t possible - next time. Still we had a great day around the boat with them and an enjoyable lunch at a restaurant overlooking Dover Harbour.

140913 6 Roman Lighthouse remains and St Mary in Castro Church 1100

We spent a day walking up to the impressive looking Dover Castle which had as much to see above ground as it did below. The first surprise in the grounds of Dover Castle were the ruins of a lighthouse that dated back to the Roman era - 43AD - still standing looking out to the harbour. It stood beside the Saxon church St Mary de Castro built originally in 1000Ad and heavily restored to its former glory throughout the early 1860s. It has and continues to serve today as the church for both the local people and the soldiers of the the Dover Garrison. 

dover castle underground hospital - Google Search140913 15 Dover Castle Display in Great Tower140913 12 Dover Castle Eagle and Handler in conversation

The castle itself has many underground tunnels built during the the Napoleonic wars (1803 - 1815) and apparently at their height of use accommodated up to 2000 people. Given the ventilation system in existence at the time I think it would have brought a new meaning to smelly socks. The tunnels apparently were abandoned after the wars and lay unused until the Second World War when they were reopened, modified and turned into both an underground hospital and a defence operation centre. The most significant act carried out in these tunnels was the organisation of the British and French soldiers rescue from Dunkirk in May 1940. (Tunnel Image is from HeritageExplorer.co.uk as photography was not allowed in the tunnels.) 

Above ground the castle - which apparently is England’s largest - has been set up with projections to bring the rooms of the Great Tower to life. A few rooms are furnished with an interpretation of furnishings from the period in which Henry II would have built the castle. Add to this the smell of burning wood in the rooms, the wafting smell of baking from the kitchen and the Falcon handling display that was on on the day we visited, the castle certainly held something for everyone.

140917 5 Brighton Pier140917 8 Royal Pavilion Brighton 1815140918 7 Sunset over Portsmouth Spinnaker Tower

From Dover we sailed for Brighton - a definite seaside town with its very famous Pier. The beach is not what we would be use to back home - more therapeutic if you are into lying on stones (perhaps thats why the locals all had chairs) but the town itself was alive with tourists and locals and sitting in a coffee shop people watching was certainly entertaining with the cast passing by dressed in anything and everything one could imagine. Brighton is also known for its lavish Royal Pavilion - a grand home built for George Prince of Wales in the late 1700s to accommodate his lavish lifestyle and partying. Having been in a few castles of late we opted instead of wandering the rooms to wander the gardens instead. 

From Brighton we moved onto Portsmouth arriving on Thursday in rather unusual conditions. Our engine had failed on leaving Brighton but given the conditions we felt confident to sail and whilst underway for Andrew to resolve the issue. Umm - no such luck - so as we have a sail boat and we had a little breeze we literally sailed into the busy harbour of Portsmouth crossing the channel to avoid traffic and dropping our sail literally at the doorstep of our pontoon. 

Happy to be alongside with a beautiful view of the Spinnaker Tower at our back door - literally. First job on the list of repairs - engine!

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© SV Katherine 2017      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Faro Portugal with Askari of Australia