Archive for the ‘South Coast of England’ Category

Sailing from Dover to Ramsgate

Sunday, September 1st, 2013
Approaching Red Sand Towers

Approaching Red Sand Towers

Ramsgate Inner Harbour Entrance

Ramsgate Inner Harbour Entrance

Smeaton's Light Ramsgate

Smeaton’s Light Ramsgate

Ramsgate Harbour Wind Farm Service Boats

Ramsgate Harbour Wind Farm Service Boats

Coastguard Pub, St Margeret's Bay

Coastguard Pub, St Margerets Bay

Red Sand Towers

Red Sand Towers

24th August 2013

We had enjoyed our evening meal at The Zetland Arms in Walmer  The Zetland Arms was named after a wrecked ship but when we browsed through the various maps in the Ramsgate Maritime Museum knowing only this wreck by name we were unable to find it. More research is need here.

We were lucky in that the tide wouldn’t run North until lunchtime so we had time to organise the boat. There wasn’t much wind but with a spring tide who needs wind? Everything was shipshape ready for a bridge swing from Wellington Dock at about 1200. Dover had been quite expensive but they offer cheaper deals if you book by the month. The staff were very helpful and friendly and the boat is super safe in Dover (unlike Ramsgate).

We radioed up Dover to get permission to leave Eastern with all the ferries. It is one of the busiest ports in the world but there is no problem getting a space between the ships. The harbour welcomes yachts nowadays. I remember entering using morse from an Aldis light in the seventies. They hated yachts then but that was before they built the Channel Tunnel . Now yachts are an important part of the town’s economy.

We hoisted the sails and accelerated to about 1 kn. Just enough for steerage but with the tide we were zooming along at 4 kn. It is pleasant enough sailing slowly when you only have 15 nm to go but great care needs to be taken to ensure you don’t get swept onto the buoys. We went up the Gull Stream and soon arrived at the entrance channel to Ramsgate and found ourselves motoring hard to avoid being swept past. We entered the outer harbour and headed for the rusty drain pipe on the wall. The entrance silts up on the eastern pier head so it is important to hug the western wall. There were plenty of free berths in the visitors area of the harbour despite a large part of the harbour now being used by the Wind Farm Service Boats. Ramsgate lost its ferry service a few years back so this new work is welcome to them. There are hopes of re-instating a ferry service one day but I have got to buy a nice ship first.

I like Ramsgate. Lots of people don’t but I do! It is a real port, it has decent a swimming beach, a very friendly Yacht Club (unlike some) a selection of good restaurants, a little Maritime Museum and good access to the continent. Smeaton died in Ramsgate working on the impressive construction. It is not a great place to leave a boat unattended as the outer harbour can get boisterous in certain wind conditions and the inner harbour is now full with local boats.

We paid our £23.00 for the night and brewed up some pasta on board as we studied the slightly dubious weather for tomorrows sail.

We decided not to sail. The strong northerly would have proved a struggle to get around North Foreland. It was a Bank Holiday Weekend so we spent the Sunday savouring Ramsgate’s delights and set off at 0300 in the morning to catch the powerful tide to improve our boards as we headed North to round North Foreland. By the time dawn arrived North Foreland light was abeam and we were able to ease the sheets to head for the Princes Channel. The sun came out and with the wind abaft the beam it was a delightful run up the estuary past the old gun towers and the Montgomery Wreck into the Medway. We locked into Gillingham Marina just before high water on Bank Holiday Monday. A very pleasant sail.



Friday, July 26th, 2013
Always get suspicious when the pontoons are shaped like speed boats!

Always get suspicious when the pontoons are shaped like speed boats!

Corina en route to Dover beating Sumara!

Corina en route to Dover beating Sumara!

Boulogne old town

Boulogne old town

Philip Main relaxing on Corina

Philip Main relaxing on Corina

Safely alongside in Boulogne

Safely alongside in Boulogne

24th – 25th July 2013

Log 9,029

Boulogne certainly isn’t a destination port like, perhaps, Dieppe but it is a really useful harbour which can be entered under any conditions. Once around the starboard pier-head you should follow the wall for a short while until the white painted patch indicates the main channel taking you into the visitors marina. Poor Boulogne no longer has any ferries which is a huge shame. It would certainly make a better weekend away than Calais does. Maybe someone should start one again on a smaller scale and link with hotels and restaurants to try and make it work. Mind you Boulogne isn’t instantly pretty but it has character and at least it is a real port rather than a stereotypical marina. It does boast a great shady Crazy Golf circuit, and aquarium and, if you just walk up the hill, it has a remarkable area surrounded by ramparts and housing a grand cathedral, the Hotel de Ville and a street of restaurants.  On our first night exploring our meal out was a bit of a let down. My peppered steak wasn’t and Grit’s Gallete was deep fried! However on our second attempt we went to a bright green café called La Scala.  Instantly recognising a typical French restaurant we dived in and ate as much as we could of a splendid but stupidly massive paella. We only got half way through which was criminal really but if we go there again with more people it would be an excellent choice. On the way back we passed a restaurant selling Cous cous which looked really special. The street was Rue de la Porte Gayole and the restaurant was called Strega. I reckon it would be worth a visit if you are a cous cous fan like me.

Whilst on our regulation stroll around the marina I spotted a Vertue 11 called Corina and called across. The owner, Philip Main , stuck his head up and we had a chat. You might recognise that “Main” name as it was his father who made the Main pulleys and fittings that I still have onboard Sumara. Philip was due to sail off that morning and we waved good bye to him as he motored down the channel. A few hours later he called at our boat having quickly recognised the cold air as he made his way through the outer harbour and quite correctly diagnosed FOG. It hardly made any sense for him to sail across to Dover in the fog when he could wait a day and sail with another Vertue (with AIS!). We readily agreed to the idea and we set off together on Thursday 25th July at 1000 GMT. Philip is local to these waters as he lives and works (making Opera Glasses) in Deal. It was pretty shocking to see the behaviour of some yachts in the shipping lanes. As Corina and Sumara presented our hulls at right angles to the ships and let the tide drift us across at an angle we saw one Dutch flagged yacht actually going head on to the ships simply ploughing on in the wrong direction while on the VHF Dover Coastguard were ticking of yachts who simply didn’t seem to understand the regulations. One of which was being reported to the flag nation. It rather lets the side down when people fail to adhere to the col regs.

Luckily we had a pleasant breeze and no fog. Corina was faster than Sumara gradually edging ahead. I think we will need a rematch one day! Not that it was a race of course. After 6.75 hours Sumara moored on the visitors pontoon awaiting a bridge opening to go through to Wellington Dock where I would leave her for a couple of weeks. Ironically we had to wait for a ferry before entering the western entrance – it is rare for ferries to enter Western nowadays. We celebrated our safe arrival by all going to Cullens Yard for a great meal which we ate while wrapped in blankets.

Two weeks in Wellington cost GBP190.00. Not so cheap but I feel it is a bit safer left in Dover rather than the outer harbour at Ramsgate.



Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Grit with her new offshore sun hat

Grit with her new offshore sun hat

21st July 2013

Log 8,915 nm

Well I’m homeless at the moment having sold my flat but not having yet moved into the new house in Rotherhithe. I have been commuting for a week from London to Brighton and staying on the Good Ship Sumara. Remind me not to commute in future! I wasn’t going to get a holiday this year with the pressure of work, house move, and broken arm all working against it, but it seemed a good opportunity to sneak off for a week across to France to avoid the dreaded train to London.

I haven’t been to Fecamp for many years and have fond memories of it. Grit and I decided to make that our first port of call. One of my less fond memories of Fecamp was waking at 3am in pouring rain and strong wind and getting myself and crew all donned up with oilies. We cast off and headed towards the lock only to watch the lock keeper turn off the lights and wander off down the stairs. We circled the inner harbour, tied up and went back to bed. Never got the hang of French time.

It has been a heat wave but the day we set off to cross the Channel the forecast was for ENE F5-7 plus fog, so not exactly ideal. My grib files were more promising so we looked on the bright side and set of at 3am. Well it would have been 3am if Grit hadn’t thought we were working to BST instead of my insistence of sticking to GMT. So at 2 am GMT we hoisted sails and shot off at 6 kn through a calm sea which was soon to roughen up as we left the shore behind. As we approached the shipping lanes the fog inconveniently came down but with broadcasting AIS onboard it is less of a worry and we pushed on. We called up a couple of ships that came close and had polite and reassuring chats that we would pass 3 cables ahead (gulp!).The wind didn’t ease up as I had expected and once we cleared the lanes the idea of getting to Fecamp need reappraising. We were sailing so fast that we would arrive at low water and the wind was onshore F4-5 maybe a bit more. Not good for entry. We decided to divert to Dieppe while I still had a good cut on the wind. We sheeted in and enjoyed a close hauled bash to Dieppe harbour. The wind did die but the entry to the harbour was surprisingly rough and with the French fisherman gesticulating to get clear of their lines, it made an interesting entrance. We were allocated a berth and had a much needed shower and rest.

Journey time 16.5 hr.

Bye-bye Chichester Hello Brighton

Monday, June 3rd, 2013
Sumara moored in Brighton

Sumara moored in Brighton

1st June 2013
We had our first sail of the year and it was quite wonderful. A northerly wind of F3-4 gave us a reasonably flat sea and the neep tide let us slip out at a respectable 0600 GMT and get over the bar and through the Looe Channel on fair streams. The sun even came out. We arrived relaxed at Brighton mid-Saturday afternoon with plenty of the weekend left to finish off all those after launch tasks that never happened in Chichester.
Chichester Marina is set in quiet countryside and there are pleasant walks, or runs, through woods or along lanes to Dell Quay or Itchenor. Both villages have excellent pubs with good food. There is also a restaurant in the marina but somehow the food doesn’t quite hit the spot. It’s not bad but not as good as the local pubs. (The Pizza Pasta Pub on the road to the marina is brilliant too).
The marina staff in Chichester are first class with a very “can do” attitude. The showers are amazing with piped Classic FM and lounge areas with magazines to read. Everything is spotless. They were a bit embarrassingly smart. Whilst I was wearing my boiler suit working on my boat I felt I ought to smarten myself up before using them. I noticed a couple of planks were a little bit rotten on my pontoon and the following week with no prompting they had been replaced with new ones. My over winter charges were reasonable enough for such well-maintained facilities but of course once I was back in the water the visitor charges were a bit eye watering (although, to be fair, they all are on the South Coast).
My only gripe was with the on-site riggers who do most of the mast stepping and slipping. The person from the company that I was dealing with was so negative about absolutely everything that I eventually put my foot down and simply refused to use them. This caused a bit of a stir as the marina obviously prefers you to use the on-site riggers. However the crane is owned by the marina and they suggested another rigger who came down the following week and popped the stick in the hole in a cheery manner. It wasted a week but I hate working with negative people.
My broken arm has its ups and downs but it was good to me this weekend. I have been upping the physiotherapy and pushing my exercises to the limit which seem to help. I can winch OK and grab the handrails. I can haul an anchor but haven’t attempted rowing yet. I wouldn’t be able to climb the mast. I went for a quick dip in the sea at Brighton only to discover I can’t swim yet! I am going the BMF running club again but sticking with the blue bib for another month or so. I doubt I will be capable of full military fitness until August. I have pretty much decided against sailing to Norway this year. This may mean I miss an opportunity to sail through the canal from St Petersburg to the White Sea the following year. There is a slight chance things may get delayed allowing me to catch up. My new friend Maxine is currently sailing the route from the North to the South. They have a blog which I am looking forward to following.

Torrington Christmas Caper

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Liam and John all clean before the muddy race

The posh mansion we rented over Christmas. It even had a washing up machine!

The River Torridge was over its banks

23rd December 2012. For the Christmas period this year a group of 12 of us are staying in a mansion in Torquay. Selma managed to find the place and it is pretty swish with a billiard room, chandeliers and a sweeping staircase. To avoid the usual over indulgence is was decided that the Christmas break would be an active one with runs, walks and a “Military Fitness Style” session on Chrismas Day. We also booked ourselves into the Torrington Christmas Caper held on the Sunday before Christmas. I have been really looking forward to it because it has a reputation for being very hilly and very very muddy. Sadly I damaged my calf muscle doing a fast little run in Greenwich Park on the Friday morning and was worried about entering it. I decided to go ahead with loads of Ibroprufen gel and a compression bandage. I promised myself to run through discomfort but to stop at pain. There were 350 people at the start and it wasn’t raining, although it had rained heavily the day before. The River Torrige was in full flood.  There was a great local atmosphere with most people knowing each other and a lot of runners dressed as fairies. However even in fancy dress they did look like a serious bunch of runners with quite a few people wearing tee shirts from Ultra Races.  The start gun went at about 1111am and we seemed to run downhill for a long way. That obviously means having to run uphill a long way too. It is a bit disheartening running behind a fairy and not being able to overtake! It wasn’t long before the race began to live up to it’s reputation with fairies and Santa’s wading thigh deep through muddy flooded roads. I like these conditions and my left leg was holding up well so we continued and a moderate pace. The race is only 9.5 miles so the half way jelly babies and water came nice and early. My second jelly baby got splashed with mud but in it went in any case. The second half was more hilly and had a little sting in its tail. At a checkpoint about 8 miles in they directed us over a fence and down what I can only describe as a deep muddy gully with a mini torrent in the bottom.Then there was a pretty tough long climb over soft heavy ground. Bizzarely my bad leg was great but by now my good leg was playing up with exactly the same thing. I wasn’t sure if I could run through it but I reduced the pace a bit and carried on. It finally packed up as I crossed the finish line with John. Now I just hope it will recover quickly so I can enjoy the rest of the Christmas activities

I’m not sure what our time was because we forgot to look but around 1hr 35 minutes seems to be the nearest guess. Thanks to all the organisers and marshalls for making it such a fun race.

We ended up in the Black Horse Torrington for a well earned lunch. Little Anna (3 years) entertained the whole pub by confidently, calmly and clearly explaining that she wants a pink tortoise for Christmas. They wished her luck.

The actual result  was1hr 31min 26 seconds. There seemed to be 215 finishers so I doubt my 350 starter figure was correct.

The full results for the Torrington Christmas Caper are below:

Sumara Laid up for the Winter

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

Laid up at Chichester 2012-2013

Sumara was lifted out at Chichester Marina on 23rd November. It was my intention to get her back to London and haul out at South Dock Marina but sadly they said it was full. Strangely when I cycle past there seems to be loads of space.
My mast was accidently taken out a week too early to my surprise. I always like to be around during any lifting operation but it seemed to have taken place without mishap. The boat lift was smooth and professional and Sumara was lowered gently into a really solid cradle. The staff sometimes lift 16 boats a day which seems incredible. I was surprised to see the amount of masts left standing. That doesn’t happened in Scotland! I have to varnish my mast each year but I really believe all masts should come down each year. I remove all the rigging and inspect it from end to end. All the split pins are replaced with new ones and all the running rigging is washed. The mast is then placed on my own trestles and coved in a heavy canvas cover. You can see it just behind the boat. In effect no wear and tear takes place for four months of the year and everything is checked. That’s got to be a good thing.
The engine oil has been changed and I have run antifreeze through the block in a closed loop. I have forgotten to top up the diesel tank but I will when I go down next week. The engine block has got rather rusty mainly due to a constantly leaking water pump. It is a Johnson pump and the engineers tried out four new pumps and eventually gave up. It cools the engine fine but drips constantly. If anyone knows how to solve this I would be very grateful to hear. In the meantime I will give the engine a good going over with a wire brush and some rust proof paint. I’ve looked at POR15 but it looks over the top. I may try Brantho-Korrux “3 in 1″ and see how I get on.
The inside of the boat has been cleaned with a mixture of processes starting with fresh water, then Dettox and finally Ambercleanse Foam Cleaner. I like to have a large roll of Blue Roll to hand. The bilge is completely dry now but may get grubby after the engine clean and repaint. The aft bilges will be repainted in the spring. The whole boat is covered with a heavy cotton canvas cover. It amazes me how people buy rubbish sweaty plastic dross from BandQ and tie it over their pride and joy. In the first breeze the eyelets pull out and they flap like mad. My cover does need renewing now but it is 15 years old and has saved the boat so much wear and tear that it has been a very good investment. I use an aluminium scaffolding ridge pole as the weight of heavy snow is too much for timber sandwhich battens. Key Clamps and plastic end stops make up the support posts. It is a very tough frame and capable if withstanding storm force winds.
I will off load my wonderful Aqua 70 chain chain onto a pallet. It looks as good as new with no rust signs.
I have special winter wash board with extra ventilation holes. It means I can varnish the other ones at home and the boat is well aired. I will put a small tube heater with a thermostat on board just to keep the worst of the cold away.
Snug as a bug.

Cowes to Chichester

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012


One of the Solent’s Forts

Jet Skis frolicking while the “Strong Wind Warnings” were being issued. Hardly a puff of wind.

The Lovely Brimble off Osbourne Bay

Brawns Restuarant in Cowes with Selma and Grit

The Hovercraft off Ryde

Log ? 6th-7th October 2012
The journey to Cowes from London is rather spoiled by the poor link between the train and the ferry. I get the impression that Southampton would rather you stayed in town instead of spending your money on the Isle of Wight. In theory there is a free bus link between the train and the boat but there is no timetable to be found anywhere and even the bus drivers can’t say if the service is still running. The local taxis milk it for all its worth. It is all a bit of a shame because it adds just that extra hassle which makes leaving the Good Ship at Cowes too much like hard work. Still the boat ride is always fun. The slow boat leaves you in East Cowes, handy for East Cowes Marina, but as it takes about an hour it is only worth it during the daylight when you can enjoy the views. The high speed ferry ends up in West Cowes but costs more, actually it is really expensive. As usual there are a highly complex series of secretive deals to be had. None of which you will find if you use the automatic ticket machines. So to sum up, I left work at 1815LT and got to the rather clinical “Lifeboat” pub by the marina at 1045LT. That is an average speed of 14 miles an hour, about cycling pace.

We had a busy schedule for Saturday. I said I would look over a 38ft Swan with a friend of mine in the morning so the Water Taxi came to pick me up at 10am. A fine Swan she was too with lots of loving care put into her. The only negative bit was the mast step which is so often the case on lots of yachts. I suppose water will inevitably gets down the mast and with a keel stepped mast it is in a rather enclosed area ripe for a bit of corrosion. All repairable I am sure. Otherwise lots of new gizmos and lovely new teak deck and a new engine. My friend is now thinking about buying it!
After seeing the yacht, Grit and I went for a run from Cowes to Newport and back along the cycle path. It is a nice shady run but a bit flat for my liking. The best bit is towards the end when you can divert along a nice dirty trial by the River Medina. Our speed was pretty apalling at 9.33 minutes per mile over 7.57 miles. That would be a very slow half marathon.
We just finished the run in time to spot Brimble on the AIS entering Cowes so we waited to greet them before going for a shower. The East Cowes Marina was packed with Challenger Boats so Brimble had to snuggle in behind them. There is a bit of tide that runs through the marina and one poor yacht really fouled up trying to get into a near impossible guest berth. I felt a bit sorry for them.
Once we were showered, Selma and John and Grit and I headed to the bright lights of Cowes City Centre. As we are doing the Henley Half Marathon next week, in theory we shouldn’t be tanking back the beers but somehow we got a bit carried away and had a fairly boozy night. We had a great tapas/pizza meal in Brawns. Grit and I ate there the week before and would recommend it. John told us of the MayDay they had heard that afternoon. It was text book perfect, very calm with all the details, there was a man overboard in Osbourne Bay. The coastguard couldn’t make contact with them and asked other boats to see if they could help. After a fair while of MayDay Silence etc a yacht called in to say they had seen a training yacht in Osbourne Bay practising Man Overboard! Oh Dear, he must have pushed in the transmit button! All a bit embarrasing.
In the morning Brimble and Sumara left together at 0800LT to catch the east going tide. The sun was out but there wasn’t much wind. However there was enough to move and we weren’t in a hurry. Brimble peeled off North to the Hamble after an hour and we carried on, having to use the motor from time to time. As we ghosted along we listened to the usual strong wind warnings coming from the Met Office. It was like a lovely summer day as we neared Chichester Beacon and headed up the channel over the bar. We eventually moored in a very tight spot on a very very short pontoon in Chichester Yacht Basin at about 1600. It might end up being my last sail of the year. The boat is being lifted on the 23rd November. Awe.

Lymington to Cowes

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Kerry and Alexander in the Solent

The Team Photo on the Folly Pontoon

Ella definately has not been eating ice cream. Our youngest crew member.

Now I know where Terry got his hat idea from – the lovely Lotte!

Rendezvous with the Good Ship Brimble

The Waverley Paddle Steamer off Cowes

Log ?? 22nd September 2012
The forecast was for a delightful Saturday and a beastly Sunday so I decided it may be best to make the most of the good day and give Sunday a complete miss. My nephew, Alexander and his girlfriend, Kerry were to be my crew. Alexander had sailed with me to Scotland in 2010 but had little other yachting experience and it was all new to Kerry. We arrived in Lymington on the Friday evening and ate in the packed restuarant in Lymington Yacht Harbour. The food was great and the atmosphere was like a ski resort cafe, busy and noisy with everyone having fun. In the morning we prepared the boat and went through the safety procedures before heading out to Jack in the Basket where we hoisted the sails. It was a F4 Easterly but the tide was fair and we were in no hurry to cover the ten miles to Cowes. My friend John was sailing on Brimble with some of his work colleagues. We picked them up on our AIS and after a chat on the mobile decided to rendezvous near Portsmouth. This was a good plan because Cowes was getting near and it was only noon. It was good to see the Waverley Paddle Steamer off Cowes, a wonderful sight. We tacked gently across the Solent dodging the other yachts. I wasn’t used to so many boats after my three years up north so it was fun explaining the colision rules to Alexander and Kerry, who were probably suitably bored but there was nowhere for them to escape to. We made our rendezvous with Brimble near Ryde and took a few photos of each others yachts. Eventually we turned down-wind with the tide now ebbing towards Cowes where we would moor together at the Folly Inn. After a few minutes my mobile rang and it was Torsten! He was on the Red Funnel Ferry with Lotte and Ella heading for Cowes and just wondered if we were around. We certainly were! Torsten had been the the Southamton Boat Show with his children but they were getting bored so he took them on a boat ride. We picked them up at East Cowes Marina and all six of us trundled up the Medina to the Folly where we moored next to Brimble. Torsten was just going to stay for an hour but we eventually persauded him that there was ample room on John’s Twister for three more guests. We all went on the river taxi to the Folly Inn for a few beers and a nice meal. The usual dancing on the tables was taking place big time by about 9pm – not by us of course.
In the morning the rain started as per the forecast and there was a stiff breeze from the east. Brimble headed back to the Hamble and we pottered down to East Cowes Marina and caught the ferry home. Next week I think Grit and I will go down to the boat to do some running training on Tennyson Downs.

Weymouth to Swanage and Lymington

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Terry describes the Jurasic Coast to Nicky

Anchored in Swanage

You can see the narrow calm patch of water if you keep close to the St Aldhelms Head. On Terry’s advice – don’t try it West bound!

We weren’t going to waste our biscuits by tossing them on the beach.

Terry said he would sail much closer to St Aldhelms Head if it was his boat but it felt pretty close to me.

Log ??? 15th September 2012
I took the train to Weymouth with Nicky, a good friend of Grits. Nicky had completed her Competent Crew course in 2010 but hadn’t had much of an opportunity to use it after a planned voyage had fallen through. Terry Newman, who built Sumara and lives in Weymouth, would join us in the morning. I normally leave my almanac on the boat so I hadn’t had a chance to check the bridge opening times whilst in London. It wasn’t until 0900 in the morning when I realised that we needed to catch the 1000am opening or we would have to wait until 1200. It ended up a bit of a rush. Sumara attract a lot of attention and I had some visitors. Sadly I didn’t have much time to chat. Arthur Meech who had a nice wooden ketch called Noella in the harbour called over to say hello. A bit later Mike Patrick, who helped Terry with the building of Sumara, introduced himself.  Mike did the planking and made an excellent job of it. He thanked me for keeping the varnish up to standard! We couldn’t chat for long or we would miss the bridge. The forecast was for a sunny day with light westerlies. As usual the actual shipping forecast was for stronger winds.
The tide was not going to start to run around St Aldhelms Head until 1700 LT so we had plenty of time to slowly sail along the Jurasic Coast with Terry giving us a fascinating commentry. Nicky and Terry did all the helming and I made all the tea. We saw a couple of groups “Coasteering”. This was a new phrase to me until Alexander, my newphew, told me of his exploits. He has sent me a link to his very professional video. .

I think you get the idea- it looks great fun.
Interestingly we were a bit early to round the headland but the tide turned about one hour before prediction so our timing was fine. There is a nasty race off St Aldhelm’s but Terry assured me that GOING EASTWARDS it is fine to sail a biscuits toss from the beach and avoid the bad water. We were nearing springs so it could have been a bit nasty to get it wrong. Terry is 81 years old now and has sailed and canoed along the coast all his life so there is a very reassuring feeling as we are whisked past the cliffs at close range. I normally go the long way round!
We rounded Durlston Point and then left the buoy marking Peveril Point on the port and turned up into the wind to head for Swanage Bay. The yacht heeled right over at this point and Nicky was calmly reassured by Terry that this was a normal sailing angle! Sumara does heel rather easily but it is so normal to me that I foget to warn new crew. We rounded up, dropped the sails and pottered over to a nice space to drop the massive Rocna anchor in 4m of water. For some reason I have never anchored in Swanage before even though I used to come on holiday here every year of my childhood. After a nice supper Nicky and I pumped up the Avon dighy and rowed ashore. We wandered out to the fishermans cottages that I used to stay in as a child and then had a pint before rowing back to the boat in total darkness.
The tidal gateway for Sunday was, of course, the Needles Channel. On spring tides this gate is firmly shut if you get there late. We aimed to arrive at Hurst Castle at 0900 LT to give us one hour to spare. It meant an early start. The shipping forecast was giving a F5-7 westerly but it never happened and we needed the motor to assist us most of the way in order to arrive on time. The tide is truly fierce at Hurst Castle and we were swepted past at about 8 kn. Soon all settled down and we headed for Jack in the Basket beacon before mouching up the river to Lymingtom Marina. (about £27.00 per night).
It is really nice that when we arrived a kind man came over to help with the ropes, as it happened all went smoothly and we didn’t need the assistance but I liked the gesture. Futhermore a few minutes later a very kind lady called Fiona and offered to drive Terry to the station! In fact she ended up driving Nicky and me to the station which was a fantastic help. Meeting helpful and generous people like this make sailing so worthwhile.
I hope our little trip refreshed Nicky’s training. I’m sure she must of learned a lot from Terry – I always do!
We arrived back in London early in the evening after a lovely weekend.

Dartmouth to Weymouth

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

28th August 2012 Log 8773

We sat on the boat on Monday evening in Dartmouth wondering if the weather would improve. It was wet and squally, well very wet and squally. The forecast was poor, SW 4-5 but 5-7 later, although the grib files showed a good chance of a pleasant sail in mainly force 4 SW to S until at least 2100 GMT. We decided to get up at 0330 GMT to give the weather a final check and then set off in the dark. It all looked good when we woke so we donned our gear and thought how to extricate ourselves from a 27ft long mooring in a 26ft long boat with a running tide. With a big push we set off quietly down river with a fair tide beneath us. The sky was star lit and the sea relatively calm. We hoisted the main, stay and yankee and got underway. The wind was mainly behind us so we dropped the stay and poled out the Yankee to achieve the desired 4kn in order to catch the tide at Portland at 1500. It is always good to see dawn and after an our or so we were once again the only yacht to be enjoying the day. Actually quite a few yachts eventually took the opportunity to head east while they could and about five yachts overhauled us across Lyme Bay. Amazingly three of the yachts were under power, two with tightly hauled mainsails and one with no sail at all. If you are not sailing with a force four up your stern what exactly are you waiting for?!
Sadly no dolphins or whales but just a cracking good sail across the bay. We hoisted the genoa (which needed drying in anycase) and were making 5-6 kn for a good while. As we approached the Bill, bang on time, the wind picked up a bit so I unhanked the genoa and put the Yankee back up, this time without the pole as the wind had backed 20 degrees. I had decided to take the cautionary approach and go outside the race and the Shambles. With a good tide this was a good ploy as when we turned into Weymouth we once again had the wind on the beam and maintained 5 kn. I tucked away the mainsail 15 minutes before getting to the harbour mouth and continued under Yankee eventually arriving in perfect time for the 1800 LT bridge opening.

Log 8826

This morning it is raining very heavily and Terry rang to say he wouldn’t make our meet up for tea. I had forgotten Terry is no longer driving and the weather was hopeless for a long wait for a bus. We made up for it with a good long chat on the phone and he kindly offered to give the boat a good air while I leave it here for a couple of weeks.

Next week, of course, is the famous Cholsey Classics, where up to three highly tuned clinker 8ft dinghies compete for the reknowned Cholsey Cup.