Tuesday, 29 September 2015

TISC* tickle

First time out in four weeks but what a cracker.. we currently have a super moon [clicky] so there was a huge tide due (5.1 mtrs) which offered an opportunity of 6 hours on the water (3 either side of HT) but not only that Windguru was forecasting a 4, and the weather looked sunny...   blimey....

(So good was the forecast in fact, that when I offered youngest daughter a trip out she jumped at the chance... you could have knocked me over with a feather... )

Either way, having given daughter plenty of opportunities to change her mind, Sunday morning found us both down at the club, and loading the tender - the wind was manageable, and I took the decision to take out the reefs I've seemingly had in all summer, fired up the donk, and by 9:30/10'ish we were heading down the Northney channel to the harbour. The wind direction was an (entirely strange) easterly - very rare...  what it meant was that the wind was cold, but it also offered up a number of interesting opportunities in the harbour, as that is a reaching wind for up and down the harbour length...

Turned off the donk just off Emsworth Channel and we then reached down the harbour against aforesaid tide and we were still seeing 3 and 3.5 knots - cracking sailing, loads of boats out, but the gusts were fierce so off Fisherman's I hove to and put the reefs back in ()..

Bottom of the harbour and I had a choice, either to continue the reach out into the Solent or do something else...  given the wind had continued to pick up and was an almost constant high 4 low 5, and given the size of the tide, I decided against Solent (especially as youngster was with me) and went for a trip up to Prinstead - a nice trip, and loads to see....

So, hardened up on to the wind at Verner, slipped across the corner of Pilsey Sands heading for East Head, tacked about 100 mtrs off the beach, and had just enough offing to make the entrance to Prinstead Channel on almost one beat (saw a yacht aground off of the entrance to Prinstead so did a quick tack to keep clear..  looks like he freed him self OK), bore away and rocketed up the channel - an absolutely lovely sail...   turned at the top to head for home against an ebbing tide, and had a glorious sleigh ride to just off HISC where we turned for home, and put the engine on just at the beginning of the Northney Channel/Sweare Deep...

Little'un (she's not any more but habits die hard) motored us back, and also took us on to the mooring, which gave me the opportunity to both tidy up and get a new view of Sparrow under way ==>


A brilliant day, but fairly cold, and made all the better by seeing a seal in the moorings as we were tidying up - daughter was delighted (so was I!)

* TISC - Thorney Island Sailing Club

Log:


Distance: 16.21 miles (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top of the page - that takes me over the 100 for this year...)
Wind: F4 (top) gusting a good F5, direction NE, goin E almost immediately
Sail Plan: Reefed main (two rolls) and reefed genoa (between 2 and 4 rolls) - engine to manoeuvre...
Speed: GPS track says the max speed was 4.6 knots (which would have been under sail) - average speed 3.2 knots

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Jolly Boys Outing 2015

Well what a cracking weekend...  just back from four days on (the new) "Ocean Waves" with the rest of the 'Jolly Boys' (with the exception of t'other Dave who had a prior commitment in Spain..  apparently...), and just for once the weather was very largely kind.. 

Day 1 (18th) : Portsmouth to Cowes

Our day 1 was also day 1 of the Rugby World Cup and Smithy had made it abundantly clear that he would murder all of us and dispose of our bodies over the side if he wasn't firmly placed in front of a large screen television in time for the opening (England) game.. bit of an England fan is Smithy..

The old "Ocean Waves" (last years ride, a Jeanneau 40) was sold at the beginning of the year and the new one (the name is traditional with the Association, so all boats get renamed) is a Halberg Rassy 342 - slightly smaller but a classy boat by any stretch of the imagination...  the boat we were using is ex-Army and fairly typically was not high on labour saving devices (no auto helm, no roller furling, reefing at the mast).. the hank on jib/genoa was an experience I haven't "enjoyed" for a number of years..

Stock picture but this one is identical - note the tiller steering....

Stock picture again - cabin layout - again, this is identical to ours - I was in the fore cabin on the left..
By 12:30 we had left the pontoon after an introductory brief, and headed up Fareham Creek for a little bit of pontoon bashing - she's a heavy fin keel'er so the practice was needed. Mission accomplished, and just as the weather broke, we headed for the harbour entrance and the Solent and then the Heavens opened.... never seen rain like it but it cleared soon enough....

In the Solent winds were light to start, but as the weather began to brighten, the winds started to pick up so sails went up and we sailed to Cowes and were enjoying it so much we carried on just past the entrance to the Beaulieu river before heading back, choosing to stay (for the first time for me) in Cowes Yacht Haven (not sure I really liked it - bit industrial/factory'like for me)... 

View from the cabin porthole..
Cowes was it's usual heaving self, stupidly busy, but a spot was found for us in one deep corner...  dinner and beers followed in the Fountain watching England (unconvincingly) put the Fiji'ans in their place... eventually....

Overnight we had a visitor...  so picture if you will 3 in the morning...  bang, crash, stumble, "buggery" I think, "can't Smithy be quieter going to the loo"..  next thing I know, there's a crash on the cabin door frame, and a hand on my face, light on and there's a total stranger standing there "I say young man" quoth I, "I feel thou mite be on the wrong boat, old fruit" (I didn't say it quite like that, but hey, this is a family blog)...  said young man reeling back, "I can't disagree, old mucker", and then made his way up the companionway and off the boat..  the last thing we heard was "f*ck me, they all look the same"... laugh??  We almost killed ourselves...! 



   Distance: 28.91 miles (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top of the page)
   Wind: Force 3 rising to a 4 gusting 5 by 1500'ish. Direction was NW going more westerly as the day edged on
   Sail Plan: Main & genoa - engine for manoeuvring...
   Speed: GPS track says max speed was 8.2 knots (a pattern for the weekend!) - average speed 4.5 knots

Day 2 (19th) : Cowes to Lymington

The day dawned really sunny but the fog soon rolled in..  no wind, hot sun, cold night, sure fire recipe for fog..  who cares? Good boat, so breakfast was prepared, eaten, papers read, tea drunk, showers taken, banter exchanged, more tea drunk, and by mid-morning the fog had cleared. The forecast was for a very quiet day with little or no wind, but there was a little bit of breeze rustling the marina flags so we decided to go for it...  on the way out of the marina we spotted our friend of the night before and exchanged jolly greetings..  clearly it was all news to his fellow crew members...  

Alas once we got into the Solent any wind was cancelled by tide, so engine on and we decided to head for Newtown Creek (another first for me) - arriving at the Creek the first thing that struck me was how narrow the entrance is, and how close to the shore you are when entering. Happily we managed to get the last remaining mooring (only £9 for a short stay) and settled won for a long snooze, lunch and lie in the sun - it really was idyllic...

Newtown Creek looking north - entrance is just to the left in the far distance...


..and looking south..


Following said naps, a beer, some lunch and in the case of Smithy and Dave a dip - we dropped the mooring and headed off to the Solent for our overnight destination which this time was Lymington. Definitely going back to Newtown - a beautiful spot..


I neglected to turn the GPS on, so I have no track (guessed the one at the end), but it was a real champagne sailing afternoon - the wind had come up nicely and we were really moving..  superb conditions, and sunny and warm as well - it really does get no better.

After a couple of hours we made our way into Lymington for the overnight which was to be in the Yacht Haven - bloody huge and very full...


Having made a complete and total hash of parking the boat in the hole (me), we then went for a beer..  just managed to catch the last 15 minutes of the Japan/South Africa game (stunned..  who'd have thought it?!)


   Distance: 20 miles approx (cumulative total in the 2014 mileage tab at the top of the page)
   Wind: Nothing in the morning, but force 4+ from about 14:00/15:00
   Sail Plan: Main & genoa - engine for manoeuvring, and to get to Newtown Creek in the morning...
   Speed: n/a

Day 3 (20th) : Lymington to Yarmouth

Another beautiful start, some fog/mist, but you could tell up front it was going to be a cracker so after another elongated breakfast, several cups of tea, newspapers, showers (and the Lymington Yacht Haven showers are, in my humble opinion, the finest in Christendom) we dropped the mooring and headed out into the breeze about 11'ish, for another afternoon of champagne sailing... huge tides, and it looks like we're drunk in the track, but we had nowhere particular to go before evening so we just spent the time 'sailing' - up to Hurst Castle, and then at the end of the day back to Yarmouth along the coast..  superb day...


Arrived just in time to watch the first Kiwi game so a few pints of Goddard's while we watched the All Blacks putting in a fairly poor (for them) performance though they did inevitably win..  showers (which were clean, but not the best..  we'd been spoiled by Lymington!) and then some dinner and a decent snooze.



   Distance: 20.1 miles (cumulative total in the 2014 mileage tab at the top of the page)
   Wind: A fairly solid 4 - SW direction
   Sail Plan: Main and genoa - engine for manoeuvring..
   Speed: GPS track says max speed was 5.6 knots and average 3.4

Day 4 (21st) : Yarmouth to home (Portsmouth)

Over beers the night before we had kind of decided that for the trip home we'd do a long one and circumnavigate the island rather than head up the Solent - forecasts were a little uncertain though, so of we were going to do it we'd need to leave by about 0800 so as to get a couple of hours of decent tide to get us to the Needles before turning east for home..  when we got up in the morning though we were greeted by this...



...and increasing wind, some rain, and a deteriorating forecast (force 7 likely) - we decided to chicken out and taken the Solent route home - none of us were in any doubt the boat would handle it perfectly but it wasn't a pleasant thought - several hours of rain and wind rarely is...

Decided to swap over the genoa for the smaller jib, and left Yarmouth at about 09:30 - by 13:00 we were off Ryde - the entire Solent (almost) in about two and a half hours, and on a run - what a sail! The track says top speed was 8, but we saw 8.5 a couple of times and she was pulling like a train even with the smaller forsail...  off of Seaview we decided to go for the Nab Tower and then back in but looking behind us to the west we could see the rain racing in, Cowes disappeared, then Ryde, and then it got to us, and the wind dropped with the visibility - plans were abandoned and a pretty wet crew headed back to the boats base to tidy up, decant the remaining stores, have a last beer and head for home..  the Jolly Boys Outing was over for another year...


   Distance: 25 miles approximately (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top of the page)              Wind: Top end 4, increasing to 5 gusting 6... wind direction WSW going SW
   Sail Plan: Full main & jib - engine for manoeuvring..
   Speed: GPS track says max speed was 8 knots - average speed 4.4 knots

Full plot:

Little over 92 miles all told...  cracking weekend and here's to next years...  and heaven help us, Rod is talking about "Cherbourg" again..  

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Southampton Boat Show 2015

My last trip out on Sparrow was on the 23rd of last month - 3 weeks ago - I seem to have hit an impasse with regard to available time and weather and although I've been out to see her a few times to check she ain't sinking there's not been the time for sailing..  even the chance of an evening trip is sinking fast as the evenings are beginning to close in, and I feel like the season is getting away from me...

Next weekend is the Jolly Boys Outing - four days of uncontrolled mirth in the Solent on a Halberg Rassy 36 - beer will be consumed, curries partaken of, and I hope it will be a jolly time all round but it ain't getting any miles under Sparrows keel..

After that we are in to count down territory.... just four weekends of potential sailing, and on one of those I will almost certainly be on call (so unable to go) - it's been a poor season (so far - he said optimistically), weather and time have dominated...

On top of all that this weekend just gone was the only opportunity I had to go to the Southampton Boat Show, but given it was blowing old boots and forecast for rain it wasn't too much of a sacrifice to miss out a sailing opportunity..

The show, as ever, was the dogs nadgers... more boat porn than you can take in in a week, gadgets, idea's, buzz....  I love it, though I did baulk at £5 a point for Guinness (I saved the cash and went to the Dancing Man Brewery [clicky] afterwards...)

That's my youngests name... turned out it was also the boat builders daughters name...


Not my bag, but Sunseeker do out on an impressive display!



This is far more my bag...  pure unadulterated sex in the shape of a yacht...  Spirit Yachts - two of them...  this was the 46... reading elsewhere "the 11th of this successful model to launch. She may be one of the smallest in the Ipswich builder’s range, but the 46 is a veritable rocket. She is built for speed, weighing just 4.5 tonnes with carbon spars and rigging, and can reach 18+ knots, says Spirit".

Yours for a mere £467K....  I'll have two then....


...and this was the 52... the owner races this one....   more here [clicky]



There were a huge number of AWB's at the show (as ever - the big suppliers are Jeanneau/Benetau/Bavaria) and when push comes to shove these all look pretty much the same, but this one caught my eye...  I liked the open plan cockpit..  built for weather unlike that we were having in Southampton that day!



...the aforesaid weather..  it was a blusery old day down on the pontoons...


I subscribe to Practical Boat Owner magazine, and this is their project boat "Hantu Biru" which over the last three or four years has provided countless (enjoyable) articles to the magazine, but which when push comes to shove has resulted in one of the most expensive restorations known to man...


She's all done now and they're running a competition to win her..  I never even considered entering, honest "Sparrow"........ 

She looks superb - and so she should - all top end paint/GRP/sails/rigging/polish used..  about as far from my experience as it's possible to get...  what I want them to do is buy another project boat, but this time do it up on a budget...


Then last of all a stop by the small cruisers...  theoretically this is the same class of cruiser as "Sparrow"..  bit bigger perhaps...

Bay Cruiser 23 [clicky] - I like the 'enclosed' foredeck... side decks...  outboard in a well that can tilt up...  £40K sail away...


Shrimper 21 [clicky] this one had an inboard but outboard version is available..  from £34K..  Not a lot in looks between the two...  rigs different of course...  bermuda vs gaff/gunter


..this was the outsider this year - not seen this builder before - French boat by Grand Largue, this is the Meaban [clicky] model 6.8 mtrs, so a 22 footer..  unusual this one, traditional ply epoxy construction... gaff/gunter sails, you can even buy a kit and build it yourself..  45K Euro's (about £33K) ready to sail but that's Shrimper territory so I think I know which one I'd prefer??  More here [clicky]


Last of all.....  



.... "corrrr" he says in his best Terry Thomas/Leslie Phillips voice... 

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Clipper start.. London 2015

Good Lord, is it really two years since the last race??!

Anyway - those of you who have read this drivel for some time will know that my bother in law works for Robin Knox Johnston's Clipper Race organisation, and as another race has just started, managed to rummage up tickets (again) for the official start, which was once again in London..

The boats congregate at St Katherine's Dock, which makes the best starting point for the race that you can possibly think of, with a backdrop of the old East India warehouses, Tower Bridge, and the the Tower of London all competing with the colour of the yachts - it truly is a spectacular sight..

Arranged to meet my sister at the Dean Swift [clicky], surely one of the finest pubs in Christendom, where over an extended and leisurely lunch (very nice home cooked Scotch egg) I worked my way along the four hand pumps, not a duff one amongst them with only the "Pale Ale" by Redemption not quite hitting the 'exciting' button (apologies for the blur - camera phone and dark bar..)


The spectator boats were due to go at about 2:30, and unlike last year were leaving from the St Katherine's side so a brisk walk across Tower Bridge ensued; big crowds watching the yachts which even then were beginning to filter on to the river.

The spectator boats were also smaller than the pretend Mississippi river steamer we were on last time - a huge improvement - the skippers were more adventurous so went much closer to the fleet than last year, they also went further down river as this time we went well beyond the Thames Barrier (a first for me, and a chance to have a close up look).

I love the Thames - so much to see, so many reminders of how syupidly busy it must once have been - the track shows that basically we went the length of what was called the Pool of London - the dry docks are all still there (mostly marina's or residential housing complex's now though) and the warehouses have been turned into accommodation, but how powerful were the East India Company once...?! Astonishing...


Loads of pictures taken:



...then three hours later (or so) after a hugely entertaining afternoon on the water we wended our way home - a brilliant day..

Track for the return trip follows:


Good luck to the teams in the race..