Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Jolly boys Cherbourg trip... err, or not....

So ...   just back from four days on Ocean Waves and no we didn't quite make it to Cherbourg.... in fact we didn't quite make it by about 40 miles but there you go, more on that anon....

The jolly boys, and what a bunch of reprobates...  left to right, Rod the Mod, Dave, Chris (preparing a reasoned argument), and t'other Dave..


Day 1: Port Solent to Yarmouth

The plan for the day was to overnight at Yarmouth as that is one of the most westerly stopovers in the Solent, and ideally placed for a jump to the Channel, being just inside the Needles (that mark the western entrance of the Solent)...

We picked the boat up from Port Solent where it had been having some work done on it, and by 1300'ish we were off...

Our ride for the next four days - a Jeanneau 40..

Copper coated - amazing stuff...
By 1400 we were into the Solent in the rain and drizzle, but cutting south of the Bramble, past Cowes, we had some absolutely stonking sailing in the afternoon - full rig, good speed, bright sunshine, and a single tack took us all the way from Cowes to Yarmouth in a nice but gusty force 5 - it really doesn't get any better, and I would say that we all enjoyed it enormously....  this day set the scene for most of the days to be honest ie. very, very changeable weather.

Arrived in Yarmouth, moored up, ignored irritating woman on pontoon who kept offering mooring advice, and after a quick scrub and polish (us not the boat) we repaired to the pub [clicky] for a meal of quite astonishing proportion, washed down with a couple of pints of Timmy Taylor Landlord...  I think it safe to say we were very optimistic for the following day if the weather remained as was, and after a little mooch around Yarmouth (just lovely) including a walk out to the end of the pier, and an admire of the yacht clubs location, we went to bed ready for an early start....

   Distance: 24.44 miles (cumulative total in the 2014 mileage tab at the top of the page)
   Wind: Force 4 gusting 5, going down to a 3 gusting four as the afternoon wore on. Direction was a few degrees either side of dead south, going (very) slightly more westerly as the day edged on
   Sail Plan: Reefs in main & jib but let them out as the afternoon went on - engine for manoeuvring...
   Speed: GPS track says max speed was 6.3 knots - average speed 4.5 knots

Day 2: Yarmouth to Cherbourg (err... Cowes)

Up at 04:30 and off by 05:15, making coffee/tea as we motored down to the Needles as there was no wind, there was however plenty of greyness, rain, hail, and a greasy looking sea...utterly disgusting.


As daylight got brighter the wind began to pick up rapidly, and as per the day before the wind was almost dead south - we passed the Needles at about 07:00, but the problem being that it was now a F6, possibly 7 (ie. direct from Cherbourg), and the sea state was confused with standing waves, leading to a most unpleasant ride...

After a couple of hours of that one of us was already physically ill, and another was well on the way to the same, and although I was OK, I was not enjoying it at all - with 12-15 hours of this likely if we went for it, we plodded on for a bit more, but were not making the direction for a good trip to Cherbourg (best we could do was 150' and Cherbourg was 180') and the unanimous decision was made to turn back at 09:00 - we'll go another time....

Needles behind us and no indication whatsoever how miserable it was a mere half mile away!
Shell shocked, but recovering, crew...

A 12:15 we slipped back through Hurst narrows after a particularly lively reach back in (surfing down breaking waves was a new experience), and we were back in the Solent after a knackering 4 hours of rinse cycle. As if on queue the weather turned and the sun came out, and we had a superb sail back to Cowes, against the tide, but by 15:00 we were tied up in East Cowes absolutely exhausted...  late lunch, papers, cup of tea, and the Toulon game (rugby) on the radio took the rest of the afternoon before we went into Cowes in the rain for food (them) and beer (me)... 

   Distance: 43.04 miles (cumulative total in the 2014 mileage tab at the top of the page)
   Wind: Everything from nothing at all up to force 7, but almost all of it dead south
   Sail Plan: 2 reefs in main & small jib but let them all out as the day went on - engine for manoeuvring, and to get to the Needles, and back through the Needles...
   Speed: GPS track says max speed was 7.5 knots - average speed 3.1 knots

Day 3: Cowes to Lymington

We had not been able to get into Lymington the day before as both marina's were full, but we got lucky with a late cancellation so the destination for the day was the Berthon Marina in Lymington (another place I've never been before)....

After a later start (sausages and bacon and the Sunday papers, while sitting in the sun) we dropped the mooring lines at about 11:30, and by 12 were in the Solent where we headed east slightly to get out of the scrum and put the sails up; full main and jib, in some powered up conditions...


Turning for Lymington we then had the sail of our lives - Smithy put in a 10.3 knots at 12:08 (according to the logs), and then t'other Dave put in a 9.7 knots an hour later (all over the ground) but that was after we'd stopped to put a reef in on main and jib...! Brilliant day in the sunshine and did a lot to wipe away the poor showing the day before....

As the wind began to drop in the lee of Hurst spit, we had afternoon tea as we slipped into Lymington, most civilized...  mug of tea with one of the cakes that Smithy's missus had made (carrot, and absolutely superb) - only out for four hours but what a belting sail.

Time for cake then...

So what about Lymington - very narrow, winding, entrance - dominated by the car ferries that run between there and Yarmouth - not the place to be on a low tide with a deep keel...  the water in the harbour is a most unusual brown...


Without a shadow of a doubt, along with the afternoon of Day 1, this was a champagne sailing day, breezy, sunny, and an ideal direction for some fast exciting sailing...

Washed and scrubbed we amused ourselves in Lymington by going to the pub, where we placed chips on t'other Daves head for the seagulls to snatch, had a few beers, and then headed up the hill into town for some Chinese food of great quantity, and quality and where t'other Dave was all set to elope with the (Romanian) waitress (to be fair she was nice... reminded me of a young Helen Baxandale)....



   Distance: 26.87 miles (cumulative total in the 2014 mileage tab at the top of the page)
   Wind: A fairly solid 4 gsuting 5 all day - SSW direction
   Sail Plan: Full main & jib to start with but we reefed down about half way across - engine for manoeuvring..
   Speed: GPS track says max speed was 10 knots - average speed 5.8 knots (amazing..!)


Day 4: Lymington to home (Portsmouth)

What a difference a day makes - woke up on the last day to rain, and grey, the difference being that on this day it stayed with us all day....  and the winds had gone northerly as we expected. After a shower in what must be one of the plushest showers I've ever been in, we fired up the last of the bacon and sausages, slurped tea, looked despondently at the weather, and got the wet weather gear on ready to depart....

A short stop at the fuelling berth (and it was short as we only needed 24 litres - amazing when you consider we'd had the engine on a fair amount - especially on the Saturday) and at 11:30 we were off into the murk...


A fairly uneventful trip, we were against tide for an hour or so, but we kept north of the Bramble on this trip to shorten the distance end to end, at 14:00 we were off Cowes and the wind had picked up a bit. Twenty minutes later we set a course for Gilkicker Point which we got to by about 15:00'ish. fifteen minutes after that we were on the Transit, and then we turned into Portsmouth.

Tide was low, and with a keel like ours we wouldn't be able to get back on the pontoon for a while so we took a trip up Fareham Creek and found a space on a mooring pontoon (where I went ar*e over tit on the slippery surface - clearly not a very used pontoon! ) where we settled down to clean the boat and get ready for end of trip....

Thirty minutes later we'd tied up at Whale Island, washed the boat down, filled the water tanks - adventure over....



   Distance: 26.05 miles (cumulative total in the 2014 mileage tab at the top of the page)
   Wind: Top end 3, low end 4 all day... wind direction either side of dead north
   Sail Plan: Full main & jib - engine for manoeuvring..
   Speed: GPS track says max speed was 7.8 knots - average speed 4.5 knots

Full plot:


3 comments:

  1. Hmm so the choice is slog across the Channel and back for the weekend or do some leisurely and enjoyable sailing around the Solent - no brainer to me, think you made a wise decision

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    Replies
    1. Hiya Max, absolutely... it also helped to coalesce my thoughts on what I do and don't like about sailing... without wanting to go to much Jonathan Livingstone SeagullI I have come to the conclusion that I very much prefer sailing inland waters, and don't really have an interest in long journeys, or going out of the Solent!

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  2. Steve, took me years to discover something similar,, for several years we bashed down to the west country, often bashed back again as the wind changed, got up early, motored across lyme bay or got caught in bad weather due to time constraints. Then one summer we decided to have two weeks pottering around the Solent, sheer joy, except for weekends it wasn't crowded, the sun shined and we didn't waste half our holiday making long passages.

    I grew up near the Thames and keep thinking that we could spend some quality time quietly sailing along under the willows....

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