Even in the protection of the harbour the ferry was swaying dramatically from side to side and the staff had to be very careful about getting vehicles on board. One driver in front lost his exhaust as the boat pitched at the wrong moment and metal ramp reared up and attacked the underside of the car. Richard got us onboard safely and the green Escort was directed to a perfect place where we sure to drive of first in Newhaven.
On board we went to the bar, found a seat and ordered beers and settled in ready for the four hour crossing. Even though we were in the harbour the boat was already pitching from side to side which made walking with a pint of beer in hand a little bit difficult but we really had no idea what was about to happen. A member of the crew told us that there was a force seven gale and if it reached force eight that we wouldn’t be sailing anywhere.
Wind speed is measured on the Beaufort Scale that was developed in 1805 by Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort who divided weather conditions into twelve categories for the purposes of reporting consistency. Force seven is a near gale, force eight is a gale and so on all the way to force twelve, which is a hurricane.
The ferry cast off and now that there was nothing to hold it to the land it immediately started to roll even more dramatically. Anthony was the first to go and without an explanation he left the lounge in an almighty rush and that was the last we saw of him for the entire journey. Tony was perfectly alright but Richard and I felt a bit queasy so we finished our drinks and went outside where we hoped the fresh air might be beneficial.
Conditions were really bad and things didn’t look good and the ferry was finding it difficult to even get out of the harbour but when it did then matters took a turn for the worse. Officially, according to the Beaufort Scale, in a force seven, sea heaps up and white foam from breaking waves begins to be blown in streaks along the direction of the wind. Well, it was certainly heaping up today I can tell you and spray was coming up over the sides and once outside the protective walls of the harbour the ferry started to bob about like a helpless cork.