Monday, 30 May 2016

Down hill to Snowhill

Windy old weekend here in the UK at the moment though happily rain free and a UK National holiday..  unheard of... 

... early and late tides this weekend in my neck of the woods and I was 75% certain I was going to go for an all day'er yesterday leaving roughly half 8 or 9'ish and coming back in ion the next tide at about 3'ish, but the forecasts were really changeable and I really didn't fancy a day in the Solent freezing my buns off, and sailing everywhere over on my ear...  kept an eye on the forecasts all day which were also showing rain, and when I go up the next morning it looked fairly grey so I though sod it and went back to bed...  imagine my irritation then when I eventually got up to find that it was sunny, and continued to be all day, no rain, decent breeze as well! Forecasters are not doing well this year...

So with a day on the water out of the window I settled for a late afternoon bimble, which turned out be an absolute belter...  winds are northerly at the moment so just for once it would be a handy trip down harbour against the tide, but first things first, whacked some reefs in as it was blowing hard (and it felt much more than the local weather stations were saying it was!)...  reefed down to the third batten (which is about a number two reef on most sails I guess), fired up the metal donkey and headed for the end of the channel...

To start  with I thought I'd just have a play and practice some tacking, maybe a trip up to Emsworth, but having done some fast runs down to Marker and back all seemed well, despite the wind, so I headed off  down harbour on what turned out to be one gigantic goose wing run until I eventually ended up at East Head, rounded an old friend, and then headed up harbour on one of the best beats I've had..

"old friend"...
From Snowhill I aimed at Verner and did it in a single tack, could probably have made Marker but was a bit concerned about depth over the mud at the top of the beat.. either way, sail settings were perfect, reefs were perfect for the conditions, and I absolutely nailed it..  she was on rails...  Most pleasing... 

Mouth of the Prinstead Channel in the sun.... South Downs in the distance..
That's me, that is....
...cheers Dave, very much appreciated!
Back to the top of the harbour on the very last legs of the flow before dropping main and motor sailing on genoa to Northney, before then rolling it away for the last motor on to the mooring.. bloody brilliant sail..  wished I'd had all day though, lesson learnt!

Log:


Look at those tacks..  like a metronome..  tick 90', tock 90', etcetc  

Distance: 14.04 miles
Wind: Top end F4 gusting F5 (this from Cambermet [clicky], but I think it was windier than that...); direction N/NNE
Sail Plan: Maximum reefed main (roughly 60% I think, to the 3rd batten, basically. Any more and I'd need to take the batten out to be able to roll more on), and reefed genoa (5 or 6 rolls)
Speed: Max speed 5.8 knots (which would have been under sail), I did see a few 6+'s approaching Snowhill; average speed 3.6 knots

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Jolly Boys Outing 2016

...and so another Jolly Boys cruise comes to an end after four hugely enjoyable days in the Solent .. yet again it was an absolute cracker with everything from torrential rain and force 5, to brilliant warm sunshine and force 2... good food, good company, a cracking boat, and a huge amount of laughs and banter....

Day 1 (21st) : Portsmouth to Yarmouth

Picked up by Dave at just after 8 in the morning we all accumulated at Rod the Mod's place, collected Smithy, and went on to collect t'other Dave (who was joining us this year) and were on the boat by 10'ish.
Uncannily Smith'y ended up with his own cabin again (how does he do that? ) but without a doubt five is the absolute maximum in a 34' boat, even one as comfortable as this one, which was once again "Ocean Waves of Albany" a Halberg Rassy 342 (with the tiller steering option)

Not ours - but this is the same make/model..
...  the 'double' at the back is small and really not made for two blokes, Smithy got that, me and Dave shared the main, Rod and t'other Dave took the pilot berths in the main cabin...

Dave and I's "pit" for the four days
So quick chat, store the kit, scramble into wet weather gear and cast off, headed for the sea - took a serendipitous decision to take in two reefs and were pleased we did when we got out of the harbour because, despite what Bramblmet is telling me now, it was a breezy grey, wet and miserable day, but without a doubt we saw some of the best speeds we had in the whole four days on this day. I think I put the benchmark in on  this day with a 7.5 through the water (roughly 9.5 or 10 kts across the ground) we were absolutely tanking it as we had at least 2 or 3 knots of tide under us all the way from Portsmouth to Yarmouth (we were thinking Cowes, but we steamed past there so quick we only caught it out of the corner of our eye!)....


Arrived Yarmouth about 4'ish after what was an exhilarating sail, but cold and ready for a cuppa..  cuppa was followed by warm shower, and then we were ready to go - so Rod suggested the Royal Solent [clicky] for a beer before dinner - lovely clubhouse, amazing views, but poor choice of beer Dinner that evening was in the Wheatsheaf [clicky] - recommended

Bar area is behind the windows just under the name - guarantees a brilliant view while supping your beer!
Distance: 26.35 miles (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top of the page)
Wind: F4 gusting F6; SWxS going S
Sail Plan: Double reefed main & #2 jib - engine for manoeuvring...
Speed:GPS track says max speed was 9.5 knots - average speed 6.1(!) knots


Yarmouth in the grey.....

Day 2 (22nd) : Yarmouth to Cowes (via Southampton Water)

Slept reasonably well (not a one of us doesn't snore like a strangulated sow - must be an age thing!) up for breakfast and a plate of bacon and sausages later we were ready for anything. We'd had a bare bones plan to try for Poole, but the wind gods were not playing ball (light and on the nose) and there'd be no useful tide until after lunchtime, so an alternative plan was come up with (sorry Phil, no beer in Poole!)..  The UK press has been full of stories about the new cruise liner "Harmony of the Sea's" [clicky], and as we'd never sailed up Southampton Water we thought we'd go and check her out...

...what a difference 24 hours makes
Started sunny and a short sail got us to the mouth of Southampton water but the wind was foul and on the nose so engine on  for the trip to the top where we stood in awe of the sheer size of the monstrosity...  mucking huge....  three cruise liners were in, in total, as Cunard's Queen Victoria was in as well, can't remember the other one but equally huge...  we were all in agreement, none of us would go on one!

That red thing on the back is a ten storey water slide....!
We were looking forward to the run back down the water, but sod's law of course the wind went round 180' and the engine stayed on as we raced the torrential rain behind us for the open Solent where is was surprisingly sunny - engine off and a brisk sail took us into Cowes....  we opted for East Cowes, cuppa, slice of Smithy's missus's carrot cake (superb!), shower and we were ready for a beer (the Anchor) and a curry (Saffron) both recommended....



Plot for the day..


Distance: 36.27 miles (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top of the page)
Wind: Started WNW, went round almost southerly, and then went back again (all in the time we werein Southampton Water!); started F2, went up to a solid F4
Sail Plan: Full main & genoa - lot of engine as winds were foul both ways in Southampton water...
Speed:GPS track says max speed was 7.7 knots - average speed 4.8 knots

Day 3 (23rd) : Cowes to Lymington (via Beaulieu)

Monday and not at work - how sybaritic is that! Only one night to go, we all like Lymington (and I think t'other Dave was hoping the East European, young, Helen Baxandale lookalike, was still working in the Chinese )

Tides would be kicking in about lunchtime so brekkie, papers, lounging, and talking bolleaux for a few hours was the order of the day before heading down river for the Solent....

..beautiful morning in East Cowes....
 The sailing was top notch - a decent breeze and it was sunny, couldn't ask for more, and we had an excellent few hours before making a decision what to do for lunch - either Newtown Creek, or Beaulieu...  Beaulieu edged it and we picked up a spare mooring for lunch just past the first bend on the entrance river (and were still caned for £7.50 for the privilege!)...  absolutely beautiful and easily as pleasant as Newtown last year...  so quiet, all you could hear was birds and waves...

Two hours later we dropped the mooring and headed to Lymington...

...big, wide, open, Solent in all it's glory - looking west to the Needles (left) and Hurst (right)
..two Dave's in their element..
..phoned ahead and got a spot in the Yacht Haven in Lymington - yours truly has some history at Lymington so I opted to take the boat in - what they didn't tell us was that the pontoon we were on was a mite shallow in the entry, and as I approached I didn't see the (tiny) signs to my left (not surprisingly, because as well as the size you had to be parallel to see them!) and we gently came to a halt....  either way what a mistake-a to make-a.. no harm done - burst of power in reverse and this time I came in closer which made the turn into a tight berth more right angled than I would have liked, but hey-ho - no one died, nothing broken, and we got in - but I still have unfinished business in Lymington....

Grounded here... notice the tiny sign at the top of the break which tells you to  keep 10m clear of the breakwater..  well the channel's only 15m wide! 

All done - time to put the kettle on and decide what to do for dinner.. so after two heavy'ish meals a decision was taken to go light and simple, and after a shower in what must be one of the nicest showers I have ever been in we wandered off to do exactly that...  beers (I thought) were good in the Mayflower (really nice pint of Otter Bright) but damn expensive (£4+ a pint!), and the others were saying they didn't feel too good after there's (different beer)...  food was in the local Wetherspoon's and I think it safe to say it was average at best, plentiful but not as warm as you'd like - but it was cheap.... 

Lymington  Town Quay...  mooring available here too...
Plot for the day..


Distance: 25 odd miles (didn't have the track on all the time - cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top of the page)
Wind: Top end F3 into F4 at beginning and end, but only F2 while we were moored up; NWxW through N
Sail Plan: Full main & genoa - engine to manoeuvre... err, and get us off the mud bank...
Speed: GPS track says max speed was 6.8 knots - average speed 4.3 knots

Day 4 (24th) : Lymington to Home (via Cowes)

...and so the final day dawned warm and sunny and it was time to head for home...  we did toy with the idea over breakfast of going home via the back of the island, but for the same reason as all the other days we wouldn't get a good tide until well after dinner, which would make it a very late finish, on possibly not enough water on the home pontoon so we junked that idea....

What we got instead was a day of good sailing in the Solent in sunshine, with some chat, tea & cake....

Gurnard ahead - Cowes just around the headland..


Newtown Creek entrance just to the left of that yacht
Smithy looking for a MacDonald's

As is the universal way we ended up in a "race" with this guy... but he knew what he was doing..  unlike us....
Coming up off Cowes we came up with a bulk gas carrier with a tug hanging off the back to help it with the right handed turn into Southampton Water..  taking the safer decision (in our eyes) we taked for the shore, but were soon chased down by the accompanying pilot and asked to vacate the area quickly...  very exciting, engine on and moved swift'ish... threw us as I've not seen carriers go as far past Cowes as this one did before it turned. Either way, once it was past we were ideally placed for a lunch time stop on any spare mooring we could find up the Medina - happily we found some space on one of the mid river pontoons..

Leaving Cowes
Hot burning centre of world yachting...  apparently.. 
...and that was largely it...  finished up the provisions for lunch, bit more chat, enjoyed the views of the Medina in the sun, and a few hours later dropped the lines and headed for home... almost one tack once we'd motored to just short of  Fishbourne so as to improve the angle, but again the wind gods were kind and it must have top end of a F3 all the way down the Swashhway before turning for the entrance and the small boat channel... very confused waters at the entrance to the harbour, it was springs, so there was a lot of water shifting out, but I've never seen it so fierce..

Saw this guy half way home.. huge! Link here [clicky]


Moored, tidied up, decanted, re-watered, and then home by 7...   I slept well...  

The plot..


Distance: 26 odd miles (didn't have the track on all the time - cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top of the page)
Wind:F3 in the morning, solid F4; E going SE around lunchtime
Sail Plan: Full main & genoa - engine to manoeuvre and get us into Portsmouth..
Speed:GPS track says max speed was 6.8 knots - average speed 4.3 knots

The whole plot:


Saturday, 14 May 2016

Spotted...

I was spotted last Sunday...   

Never have too many pictures of your own boat under way..  this was just after I'd taken out most of the reefs..


..new main looks good....



Cheers for the photo's, Gareth..

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Spitfire summer beckons...

Miniature heatwave, a mid afternoon HT, and the promise of some breeze - what could possibly go wrong?? Very little actually...   A superb afternoon, lots of highs..

Started off by putting up the main and putting in some reefs (4 or 5 slides worth as the new sail is bigger than the old one) as the forecasts were showing 5's and 6's later in the afternoon, and it was fairly breezy when I started, so decided to play safe...  engine on, dropped the mooring, and away we went....

Breeze continued to build as I motored down the 'Northney ditch' towards the top of the Emsworth Channel - winds were easterly so I was looking forward to a good reach down harbour, at best a single beat on one tack...  I was glad I'd put the reefs in as I bore away just after Fisherman's it was breezy, but the wind began to drop off within the hour, and by the time I'd got to HISC [clicky] (two tacks as it turned out) I'd 'semi-hove to' to take some rolls off...

Decision time - out to sea or what? In the end I baled out on the 'going to sea' option just as I was passing the life boat station - no particular reason, wind was picking up again, noticed one of the stays (starboard aft lower) was flopping slightly (don't like that - needs tightening), decided there was plenty of time to go later, so broke away for Itchenor Channel and East Head..  Pootled around and then headed for home in a growing breeze....

Champagne sailing... 
Wind continued rising as I headed for home, and we we were seeing 5's and 5.5's even against the tide on what turned out to be a broad'ish reach (see picture above);  pleased to say that "Sparrow" was holding her own and tramping nicely...

Club member Julian on "Billy"
Dropped the main as I turned for Northney, and so a plan was born as the wind pushed us along very nicely towards the moorings, "how about I sail on to it" I thought, "good practice"... gusty force 4, easterly... main down (check), full genoa, bit fast so rolled it down to half, angled across the wind and through the moorings, all looking good, tide running across the moorings and pushing me sideways so having to come up on to the wind but still looking good, gently come alongside pick up buoy, grab it, forget to uncleat genoa as I run forward to hook the pick up chain on forward cleat....... so the boat then sailed over the whole shebang.... gah.......   Cue unseemly pulling, pushing, and motoring, to get back on it properly...

Ended the day with a pint with the aforementioned Julian, which I can only say I got under false promises..  next time I will remember my wallet, Julian! 



...oh and the blog title??  Saw my first Spitfire of the summer looping over Northney as I headed out - absolutely magnificent!

Log:


Distance: 12.87 miles (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top of the page)
Wind: Started F3 gusting F4, ended F5 gusting F6; direction SE going E x S
Sail Plan: Full/reefed genoa and main - engine to manoeuvre, and to recover from the balls up I made of trying to sail back on to the mooring......
Speed: GPS track says the max speed was 4.9 knots (which would have been under sail - I also saw a few 5.3's/5.5's under sail when I turned for home after the wind picked up) - average speed 2.8 knots