Deadlines and salt water

There has been much discussion about the loss of the £300,000 J133 on the north Kent coast which was featured in the April issue of Yachting Monthly, but one thing which might have been overlooked by those wishing to organise the online lynching of skipper David Ballantyne is the issue of the lee shore.

While it is true to say the boat was actually wrecked on a lee shore, her passage – the controversial part of it – was under a weather shore. Margate Sand is high and acts as a breakwater even on the top of the tide. So to be on the downwind side of it is to experience its protection especially when Mr Ballantyne was there  – well before HW – when he would have had dry terra firma  to windward.

For my money where the error was made was in approaching the Last Sand swatchway too early on the tide. It might have been more prudent to have slowed the boat down, hove-to under the sand, or even better anchor under the sand and get below for some  rest and warm food while waiting for more water.

But Mr Ballantyne had given himself a deadline: the lock-in time at St Katharine’s  Dock and sometimes a deadline gets branded on the psyche. I know it’s happened with me and I’ve returned to point A in soaking wet clothing, with a rent in the headsail having failed to make my destination, with pages of new charts unturned, and great relief that the only thing I’d dented was my ego.