Sheerness to Deal, via Whitstable, Margate and Ramsgate,

Day 81  Thurs 9 June:  In the cool light of a new day, things seemed a bit cheerier this morning. Perhaps, in my semi exhausted state yesterday,  I had been a bit negative about Sheerness. Many thanks to Mike McAllister (no relation, but a keen supporter of the RNLI) for the 100% discount at The Royal Hotel. The refurbishment is well under way and is sure to be a subtle blend of all mod cons and original character on completion.

A much more pleasant day on the road today, with some quiet country lanes, with the occasional oast house backdrops associated with Kent. Whitstable ILB Station takes centre stage in this busy sailing community. Thanks to Mike (LOM) and the many ladies and gents working in the busiest RNLI Shop and small café visited to-date. The opportunity to hug the coast along the proms and sea walls all the way to the next stop was an option not to miss.  No traffic, unless you include the occasional tricycle and baby buggy.  Even the unrestrained, free range dogs had respect for a two-wheeled juggernaut rumbling along the wide, harmoniously shared concrete path. Not a single extending trip-wire dog lead.

I had no idea of the scale of Margate.  The All Weather Lifeboat Station is hidden behind the huge modern art centre. Lots of controversial debate continues regarding planning consent for a new ALB Station. As a non resident with no say in the matter, I simply ask, what’s to lose? I can only visualise a great new facility tucked in the corner of the beach in a popular resort facing the busy English Channel, with all the advantages that a fast response new Shannon class Lifeboat will bring, combined with a new Lifeguard base, visitor centre promoting sea safety … Just let them build it.

Thanks Phil (relief mechanic from Ramsgate) and Paul (Margate LOM) for the welcome break and double chart signing. With his own crew at Ramsgate, the next stop, out on a shout many miles out, there was a chance I might not see anyone there when I arrive in just half an hour. For a moment, on arrival, I thought that was the case. But I struck lucky, the recently retired LOM/ex Cox’n Ron Cannon was there. Ron, the father of two current crew, enjoyed a long and distinguished career. He was awarded 2 Silver Medals. It was a privilege to meet him and add his autograph to the chart. Ron confirmed that the crew were unlikely to return with their trusty Mersey in the next hour or two. They were “over the horizon” making safe a motor yacht with tangled nets caught in the props. This common occurrence often ends with a long tow to a safe haven. Trying to dive in to untangle nets or ropes under a boat in the busy Channel is not a safe option.

From the yacht harbour in busy Ramsgate, along the higher promenade (above a real English White Cliff) and onto the coastal cycle route, heading south towards Deal and Walmer, via Sandwich. I was only momentarily distracted by the road signs pointing the way to a Dover Sandwich Deal. I didn’t need one. Only 13 miles to go to today’s final destination and I still have half a cheese & ham sarney and 6 more fig rolls.

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