Delivery skipper Max Liberson warns of a silted up channel south of Margate Sand

Yachting Monthly reader Max Liberson, a Yachtmaster Offshore certificate and commercially endorsed Cruising Instructor, contacted us with the following story warning of silting in the channel used as a short cut from North Foreland to the Thames and Medway rivers.

‘I was delivering a 27ft Seamaster (draught 5ft/1.5m) up the Thames Estuary on Sunday night 26 July. We had left Eastbourne earlier that day and had an excellent sail up to Deal when the wind fell off. The weather was calm, but the forecast was for a rainy morning and brisk westerly winds, so the owner and I decided to forgo a nights sleep in Ramsgate and crack on to Thurrock Yacht Club near Tilbury while the conditions were still benign. This meant stemming a foul tide for a couple of hours as we were off the North Foreland at 2000hrs.

‘In Reeds Almanac the note on North Foreland to London Bridge states ‘For vessels drawing less than 2m (6ft 6in) the most direct route from North Foreland to the Thames and Medway is via South Chan, Gore Chan, Horse Chan, Kentish Flats, Four Fathom Channel and Cant’ I had worked out low water to be approximately 2245, The plan was to get the least tide in the shallow water then catch the flood up the rest of the estuary.

‘It went well until we ran aground just after Hook Spit starboard buoy. We were well in the channel in fact directly between the red port buoy that marks E Last, and yet we were aground. After some attempts at getting off, I threw out an anchor and my mate cooked some bacon butties. We were still munching these when we finally swung to the hook, but that was not until 2325. I can only assume that the channel has silted up.

‘This could well be a hazard to small vessels. The Hook spit is usually where one runs out of ebbing tide, get a decent westerly wind behind you and running aground there could be a real problem. I have used this channel many times over the years and never run aground there before.’