Monday, 14 August 2017

Beat, sideways, beat, sideways, and repeat..

One of those very typical summer days in the harbour - I spent the afternoon battling the (biggish) tide hurtling though the narrows by Marker - didn't care though, F3 gusting 4 very occasionally, wall to wall sunshine - lot of south in the wind (sea breeze?) - finally gave up and motored south of Marker for a little free sailing across Pilsea Sands before heading for home slightly crisp round the edges and salty... brilliant day

Got a little more lucky with the camera this time but still not perfect - that black dot on the right is the Spitfire that was following! 
A pleasure to meet up with one of my fellow club members while I was out - this is Pete on his immaculate Trident, "Red Stripe"..  couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong as he was going upwind like a train - then I spotted the cooling water outlet!

...and Pete's Mum returned the favour...  always a pleasure to get pictures of your boat under way...


Distance: 10.23 which takes me through the 100 mile for the season! (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind: F4 going F3; SWxS
Sail Plan: Full main, few rolls in the genoa
Speed: Average 2.6 / maximum 5.5 (under motor) - lots of water sloshing round so 2/3 knots over ground would be 4 or 5 through the water - she was moving nicely

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Crafty day on the water... there anything better???

So.....  with a healthy number of days in the work holiday bank, and the knowledge that it is now August and I have yet to set foot outside the harbour in Sparrow, and the fact that the weather is closing in again at the end of the week, and and and...  I booked Tuesday off for a "double tide'r"

HT was 0700 and 0730 so I had the option of dropping the mooring between 8 and 9 in the morning and getting back on the mooring from about 1630 onwards... forecast on the face of it was good - F4's/sunny and SW'ly - decision made - go for it... I was looking for a day in the Solent hopefully to get far enough west to get a view of the American aircraft carrier if it was still there....

So it was that on a lovely sunny morning at just before 9, with a little breeze, I was shaking out the reefs from Sunday (expecting a F4), the outboard was burbling, the packet of 'All Day Breakfast' sandwiches stored, and away we went..  having rolled out the reefs I left the main up when I left the mooring

Lovely day - intermittent cloud but warm and sunny in between, but the breeze was already building so left the genoa rolled..  motor sailing with the tide, SOG rarely dropped below 5 knots and within an hour I was at the harbour entrance and heading through the entrance..  slightly trepidous as the wind was still building and on the horizon I could see plenty of white horses...

As I passed Eaststoke the boat started to roll, 100 yards later and there short 4 to 5 foot waves, some breaking - the infamous Chichester bar [clicky] was not playing nicely today - "With a falling tide [check] and strong winds [check] from a southerly sector [also check] a dangerous sea may be encountered" - no sh*t Sherlock, I thought.

With the boat rolling fore and aft enough to lift the outboard prop I took an instantaneous decision and turned back into the harbour - life is too short . A secondary decision was also taken to visit those parts of the harbour that, despite sailing in it for 8 years, I have never yet visited - time to push beyond the "edge of the world*" and see if I fall off


Engine off as I came round the corner past East Head, just main, against tide, still doing a steady 4 knots and I saw this guy...  a junk rig Corribee  that I recently saw on Jelly Bean Phil's blog of his Solent cruise last month. Now they made a Coromandel as well (same hull) which did have a junk rig as standard, but I have it on good authority that this was once a Corribee and was converted by her owner...  I'm chuffed to nuts with the picture quality given I took it one handed as I was moving...  sums the day nicely...

Shifting nicely...

So with nothing more to do than watch the world go by I was soon past Thorney, and Bosham was hoving into view..  moving too fast - decision made - turned into wind and dropped the main while I had the space and the time, rolled out half the genoa and we then proceeded in a far more sedate manner....

Itchenor reach has more boats per square yard than anywhere else I have ever sailed - both moored and moving - it's school holidays here so all the sailing clubs have flocks of Opi's/Toppers/Lasers/Mirrors (they were nice!) out, all full to the brim with sub-10 year olds, being marshalled by numerous inflatables steered by teenagers - good fun but bloody busy...  in addition the channel is narrow and tree lined so the wind is fluky, resorted to putting the engine on half way - in gear, but just tick over...  then from stupidity to emptiness in about 50 yards - the top of the channel leading to Birdham Pool and Chichester Marina is really open but the channel twists like a bugger...

Chichester Marina
Birdham Pool
The marker is "Birdham" so this is looking back down the Reach.. look at that water..  breezy!
So target reached... I was going to push on to Dell Quay but there really isn't a lot of water up there at low tide, and I was getting hungry - time for lunch - turning, I put on some revs on the outboard and rolled away the genoa - wind on the nose channelled down the Reach between the tree's either side

Dell Quay - spire of Chi Cathedral in the distance...
Further up the reach I got to a position where I could crack a little foresail to help us along, and passing through the maritime parking lot I was soon off Bosham - opposite the Bosham Channel there is the tail end of the Itchenor mooring trots - being furthest away from the centre they are clearly the last to get rented, and there were half a dozen with no boats on that I spotted on my way down - picked one up on the way back and that was my lunch spot sorted...  bit rocky (I blame the endless rescue ribs and support boats) but hugely entertaining to watch the world and his maritime wife go past while I chomped a sandwich...

Lunch and a sunshine snooze later and it was 1430'ish time to head slowly for home - before food I had taken the opportunity to put the reefs back in the main but as the the breeze was still a feature and as it was dead on the nose and the channel narrow I motored around the corner (Chaldock), through the race fleets, put a little genoa out when the wind angle was right, and when I got to (old friend) Snowhill bore away and switched the engine off for a long'ish beat back to the main channel (didn't think there'd be enough water for my usual shortcut over Pilsea Sands) - pointing was OK but the tacks were rubbish as the tide was coming in...  put the main up and it all got a bit more manageable

Spotted this guy coming into the Reach as I was coming out... she is the junk yacht "Boleh" (“can do” in Malay) originally designed and built in Singapore in 1948 by a Commander Robin Kilroy, DSC , who sailed her back to England in 1950 - lots more here [clicky]

..a most unusual design...  thought she was a tchalk when I first saw her (we're not that far from Holland, and I'd already seen a Dutch boat go past earlier in the day)

Either way - main channel reached and I bore off and absolutely hared off to Emsworth - tide under and breeze behind, and even with the outboard leg down I was still hitting 6 knots - in fact I rolled some genoa away as I didn't want to arrive too soon. As it happened, the timing was optimal and arrived with enough water to get on the mooring, put everything away, tidy up, and sit down for a beer and a cigar before I was expected home..  result!

Good good day on the water...  quite pleased I didn't get out of the harbour to be honest - it would have been windy out there!


Blue for morning, red for afternoon...

Distance: 22.61 miles (13.57 int he morning & 9.04 in the afternoon)   (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind: F4 gusting F5; SWxS through SWxW all day
Sail Plan: Full, reefed and no main; reefed and no genoa, at various times of the day
Speed: Average 3.1 knots & 3.5 knots / maximum 5 knots & 5.3 knots, morning and afternoon respectively

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Merlin summer...

Late afternoon (quick) trip as the tides were very early and late over the weekend, but after last weekends washout (wind, rain and Grandson's 4th birthday party...  well ok...  even if it had been perfect sunny force 4's in the middle of the day I wouldn't have missed that birthday party! )

So it was that 3 of the afternoon on the Sunday saw me emptying out a half buck of rain water from the bilges, and a quarter bucket from the keels (I need to get those coach roof rails re-bedded this winter!) and putting in the reefs for what looked like a windy and breezy old day...

Dropped the mooring with main up and pushed off quickly down the ditch to Northney..  looked to be more wind than the forecast was suggesting there'd be..  got to the top of the main channel by Fisherman's and cracked some genoa and was moving nicely when these two came over..

...yeah they were moving a bit quickly but that's a Spitfire and a Hurricane [clicky] mock dog fighting overhead..  the sound of twin Merlin's.. nothing like it..  they're from Goodwood (follow the link for more detail)

Breezy old day..  by the time I'd got half way down the main channel it was already too much for the reefs I's put in the main so I decided to heave to and drop it, and continue under just genoa...  job done and the cruise re-commenced...

Nice looking boat...  well reefed!
Pointing was good - it definitely works better in a bit of a breeze - helm is particularly un-clear - with both sails up in a breeze you get the definite tendency to bear up into the wind (weather helm), with only the foresail you also have a touch of lee helm so you have to be pretty hands on...  either way we made Marker again carried on down to HISC but with the afternoon all but gone I bore away and followed fellow club member Pete on "Red Stripe" back to the moorings..  job's a good 'un ...

We've got a period of bad weather coming in with a small weather window before it arrives - I may grab a crafty day off from work to take advantage..


Distance: 7.81   (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind: F5 gusting F6; SWxS going WSW
Sail Plan: Reefed and no main; reefed genoa
Speed: Maximum 5.4 and an average 3.5

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Thorney issue..

Superb sail on Sunday - bit more breeze than last time, but also a conscious decision to motor sail past 'Marker' before switching off and enjoying the delights definitely paid dividends in terms of time saved and distance sailed...  farting around trying to beat past Marker with two knots of tide on the nose is a recipe for frustration...

Late tide and not huge (4.2M) but I managed to drop the mooring about 3 hours before high water - weird direction for wind - just north of westerly but it soon came round - either way motored into the pool by the bridge and put the main up, the wind went round SW'ly as I came in line with Northney so basically I went from run, to reach, to beat as I passed the Emsworth Beacon...

Wind was good and I was definitely getting an extra knot or two out of the main - once I passed the Beacon the genoa was also rolled out, and once I passed Marker the engine went off - blessed peace...

I didn't really have any plans for the day other than the thought that it was still very early in the tide so a trip out into the Solent might be an option - as it turned out when I got to HISC weight of water, and a fluky wind lead me to the conclusion there were other things to do, so I bore off for East Head, enjoying the sights (beach was packed as was the anchorage just off it - I did see the ice cream boat for the first time though!)

Stock picture courtesy their twitter feed [clicky]

Passed through the anchorage enjoying the last of the tide and then bore up for the Thorney Channel - passed the anchorage just inside the headland and then turned and headed for home - enough was enough - time for food and beer....

Brisk beat back to the main channel, short cut over Pilsea Sands, waved to the crew of fellow Hurley 20 "Big Easy" (nice to see you guys if you're reading this - sorry I didn't have camera out in time), and home in time for tea - lovely!!


Distance: 13.01 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind: WSW going SWxS; F3 gusting bottom end F4
Sail Plan: Full main and genoa
Speed: Maximum speed was 5.5 (that would have been under motor as I came back to the mooring); average speed 2.8 knots (about right - seemed to spend most of the afternoon doing about 3 knots'ish)

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Sunday drift..


..just back from a week in Kefalonia (lovely..  40'...  wall to wall sunshine...  Greek salad and feta cheese...  what's not to like*??) and with the last sail being that evening drift I was gagging to get back on the boat..  pausing only to throw the holiday laundry in the washing machine I headed down to the boat for what I hoped was a decent session on the water.

1'ish high tide, forecast was growing wind, 2 gusting 3, but unfortunately what we got was a lot less...

First job was to change the fuel in the outboard tank...  based on advice from various sources, but mostly my (excellent) outboard mechanic, I try not to leave it for longer than a month or two, and the stuff in the tank was what I had first bought at the beginning of the year... decant old into a spare fuel container, replaced with fresh..  last time I went out it had taken 3 or 4 goes to get the engine going, this time she fired first time..  I think it's worth doing with the cr*p they add to fuel these days

So, motor sailed to the end of the cut, carried on motor sailing to the far side of the Emsworth channel, winds SE'ly so that gives the best angle to the bottom of the harbour, turned off the engine, and then drifted about for two or three hours...

Don't get me wrong, it was lovely to be out there, the sun shone, everyone was smiling, but everyone would have been happier with the forecasted wind.. 

'nuffs enuff, headed back to the mooring a couple of hours after HT, just as the wind started to build..  typical..  was still a good afternoon though...

*decent beer might not go amiss..  Greek lager is refreshing, but not tasty... 

"Solitaire" .. belongs to fellow club member/friend, David.. gives a perfect insight on the conditions on the day

Distance: 5.93 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind: Low end F2 gusting very occasionally top end F2; SSW going WSW
Sail Plan: Full main and genoa (few rolls in for easier tacking)
Speed: 3.8 / 1.8

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Evening bliss..

Forgot to take my camera or phone with me so no pictures I'm afraid, but what a blissful evening sail on Monday...

Short sail after work - tide from 5 (HT 20:10) so slipped out from work, and had dropped the mooring by quarter past after first taking out the reefs from the main that feel like they've been there all summer...

Not much of a wind - sea breeze mostly - and a S/SSE'ly (Cambermet says pure S for most of it) but it was enough to remove the cares of the world as I had a nice beat up to the end of Sweare Deep, and a few tacks and gavottes at the end of the Emsworth channel before getting a good tidal push back to the mooring an hour and  a half later where beer was drunk while watching the world go by..

Must do that again...

No issues, but I am thinking that having lived with it for a good two to three years now, the genoa is going to have to be cut down - I rarely if ever use it fully rolled out, and for short tacking it's a nightmare..  will get it adjusted this winter...


Distance: 4.31 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind: Top end F2 gusting low end F3; almost dead S, going SE by end
Sail Plan: Full main and practically full genoa
Speed: Max 4.9; average 2.7..  (both of those under sail, but the 4.9 would be tidal assisted!

Monday, 12 June 2017


Just a short trip put on yet another windy afternoon... I can't remember the last time we had such an extended period of high winds..  undoubtedly it's something to do with the jet stream or rather it's position vis a vis the UK, but nonetheless while the sailing is exciting, it is also brutal, allows for few mistakes, and is hard on boats....

So as I say - just a short trip - it was already blowing old boots when I started, but it was building more by the time I got to the Pilsey buoys/markers and to be honest it was just sheer machismo to keep going, so rather than hold on for HISC I turned at NE Pilsey and had the most amazing drag race back to the head of the Northney channel - I was clocking 6's all the way and the occasional 7, and even a 7.1 (all SOG of course, and I had a bit of tide with me, but even so..)

NE Pilsey ahead - sun shining, breeze building, reefs (not enough) in..
At the top of the channel and just past Marker it was time for a bit of experimentation - headed up into the wind and dropped the main so I could see how she sailed on headsail alone...  remarkably well all things considered...  first thing I noticed was that the speeds were still good, less, but good considering the increase in stability/control...  she didn't point as high (clearly) but was still tracking well....  but the the third thing was that she was so stable she almost sailed herself up wind - the effect was a bit like heaving to - with the hand off the tiller she would gradually head up, hit tipping point, bear away again, and so the process would repeat...  very good!

Back to the mooring and tied up by 2'ish..  I think I'm going to have to add the outboard pad to the job list this winter - taken a bit of a hammering this season, and I noticed a small crack in the gel that I may address sooner...  elsewhere, the cockpit hatch covers are holding up a treat!


Distance: 8.49 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind: F4 going F5, gusting F6; SWxS for most of the time
Sail Plan: Reefed main and genoa
Speed: 3.9 average / 6.7 maximum - and as per the post I saw a few 7's and a 7.1 while out...

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Jolly Boys Cruise - 2017

I am just back from the Jolly Boys Cruise which was unusual this year in comprising only 6 hours of actual sailing in four days and nights of time on the boat!   It was unfortunate indeed that the cruise coincided with a period of perhaps the strongest wind we've had in some time - and not a little rain - but banter, good food and beer, all in quantity, made up for it I think..

Friday 2nd

Late get away, but for the first time this year we got away on Friday evening in order to get us as far west in the Solent as possible before deciding any further plans on what we would do over the next four or five days...  given the time, and the look in t'other Dave's eye when we said it might be a while before we ate (and this was already 6:30 in the evening) the engine went on and two hours later we were in East Cowes Marina and picking up our first beers of the trip in The Lifeboat (excellent beer, excellent food, but the entertainment was a chap strangling his cat, sorry electric guitar - too loud!)

Reprobates one and all - first beers in the Lifeboat.. no inkling at this stage of how it was all going to pan out!

Saturday 3rd

After a disturbed night (not noise, just the sheer discomfort and strangeness of five blokes in a 34 foot boat!) the full English cooked by Dave set us up for the new day and talk turned to what we planned to do - the usual step at this stage of the trip is to head west, so talk was of Beaulieu or Lymington

Our ride for the four days - a Halberg Rassey 342 "Ocean Waves"
Decision was to push ahead with this but while we waited for an optimal tide we'd push off up Southampton Water for a little sailing, and perhaps even get above the Itchen Bridge..

Wind was fitful indeed so the iron donkey was still on for the trip up river, and time was taken for lunch at Shamrock Quay which is about as far as a boat of our keel can get up the Itchen on a low tide. After lunch it was time to head to Beaulieu so lines dropped and we proceeded down river - there was a bit of a breeze so the rags were put up and we gently drifted down Southampton water towards Calshot, where surprisingly the wind started to build..  the view of the Solent in the distance should have given us the clue (boats at 45', white caps, etc etc) but about a mile short of Calshot all hell broke loose...

Under full main and large jib/genoa we suddenly got hit by a F5 gusting F6* - to be fair "Ocean Waves" handled it as best she could all things considered - a 2 ton keel helps - but clearly we were over canvassed so as soon as we could (way too long to wait) we headed into wind, put three reefs in, but even with engine we were all over the place while this was going on... we had a SOG record of 8.5 knots during this "interval"!

There then followed a long hard beat to Cowes (we abandoned the Beaulieu idea as the wind was still increasing and would have been on the nose) and another night in East Cowes and a much needed curry...

*SOTONMET shows the wind increasing from a F3 to a F5 in 10 minutes!

Sunday 4th June

Ground-hog day, or rather ground hog breakfast, and after a late(r) breakfast and a read of the papers it was time to gird our loins again...  we swapped the genoa for the smaller jib, ensured third reefing line was still in and secure, and headed for the mouth of the Medina and the Solent - target today was Lymington - fools that we were we were still talking about possibly getting to Poole..  

When we got in to the Solent it was clear it was still blowing old boots but we had our best sail of the four days to Lymington - it was still F5 gusting F6 though, and it was still on the edge, so a decision was taken to go straight in after the 3 or 4 hour sail rather than play around as the conditions really weren't up to messing about...  arrived Lymington mid-afternoon, tied up, tea and cake, and crashed prior to heading into Lymington for an Italian...  we slept well that night!

We were aware at this stage Poole was off the cards as the weather forecasts were showing F8 the next day...

Monday 5th June

Council of war over yet another of Smithy's excellent breakfasts and the decision was taken to stay put for the day - first time we've had to do this but a wise decision - it was grey and boisterous all day - later there was torrential rain, and gusts of up to F8 in the marina behind a bund/sea wall..  I'd had enough, the others went for dinner and I sloph'ed on the boat..

Tuesday 6th June

Another council of war over yet another of Smithy's excellent breakfasts (we kind of nominated him brekkie chef as he excelled - this one was sausage, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and a seven egg scrambled egg! ) and the decision was taken to bail out early - we had a weather window of "only" F5 gusting F6, so the decision as taken to head for Portsmouth - downwind (SW'ly) and with tide - the plan was we could put up a scrap of either main or jib to help engine...

We got out there, and it was mad - breaking waves of a metre and more on the quarter (wind against tide, but even when the tide changed the waves remained) so a quick decision was taken to "sod the canvas" and push the motor.. headed over to the Island to run down the coast for what shelter it gave (not much) but happily three or four hours later, and after the worst cloud burst I've seen on the water (20 feet visibility!) we were back in Pompey for late lunch..

Cloud burst sneaking up on Smithy... 

...and almost on us...
Despite all that weather all I remember was lot of continued banter  ==> 

Cleared up, tidied up, and home by 6...  the end of a most unusual, but enjoyable, Jolly Boys cruise!


2nd June Green
3rd June (two shades of) Blue
4th June Red
6th June Yellow
Distance: 90 odd miles (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind: Everything from F1 to mostly F6+
Sail Plan: 3rd reefed main and small jib to full main and genoa
Speed: Max. was 8.5 over the ground on Saturday, we had some 8.2's on the sail to Lymington

Monday, 29 May 2017

Damp squib..

Must be keen..  hot, muggy and practically windless, but I dropped the mooring anyway to see if there was anything going on in the harbour wind'wise..  not a sausage.. 

Drifted with what little wind and (mostly tide) there was from the end of the Emsworth channel back to Northney, turned with the intention of doing the same again and I felt the first spots of rain..  enough was enough, all sails down and motored back to the mooring which I got to just as the Heavens opened...  quick pick up (faultless..  phewww) and shot below out of the rain...

On other fronts, look what's just arrived in Chateau SteveThe Wargamer...  whoop whoop...!


Distance: 3.43 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind: F1gusting nothing; all points East..
Sail Plan: Full main and genoa...
Speed: 5.8 (motor)/3.1 average