It was a glorious morning and we didn’t need to leave until 13:00, so we just enjoyed the sunshine
Chichester Week racing dinghies
Not only were we keen to get home, but we wanted to get home before the Bank Holiday Weekend. After so many miles of fairly empty seas we weren’t sure that we could cope with the Solent crowds. Getting out of Chichester Harbour was difficult enough. It turned out to be Chichester Harbour Week so there were hundreds of dinghies racing.
The Solent is a different world to anywhere else we have been – it’s just so busy; and while the waters are flat, the wash from all the commercial traffic, cruise ships, motor boats, jet skiers, ferries etc is a real pain, and something we had hardly encountered on the rest of the journey. Still, there was a gentle breeze and we were able to put the cruising chute up – for only the second time – and kept up around 6 knots, through the submarine barrier, and on to Lee-on-Solent, where the wind died away altogether. The last three hours under engine against the tide up Southampton Water were fairly tedious.
We arrived at Marchwood at around 18:00 UT, checked out the temporary mooring we have been given and got safely moored up on the pontoon in time to eat in the clubhouse. It felt as though we hadn’t been away…
Home – with more “traffic” than we have seen in 6 months!
We carefully did a passage plan for going through the Looe Channel and on to Chichester, but we both forgot to think about the timing for leaving Shoreham. It was such a basic mistake and just shows how dangerous it is to relax once you’re nearly home.
We had neglected to take into account the fact that it was a big spring tide and we couldn’t leave the lock at Shoreham for around 1hour 30 minutes either side of low water as the lock sill is at chart datum! Our calculations were therefore an hour and half out. As it turned out perhaps we shouldn’t have left at all. The wind was on the nose and the tide against us for the first 3 hours so we had to motor. By the time we arrived at the Looe channel, the tide had changed but we had 20 knots of wind. The wind against tide conditions made it very uncomfortable with very large waves and lots of spray over the boat.
Still, once through the channel, things improved considerably. We could sail and were racing along at 8 knots. We started to relax and think our troubles were over. If only they were… We had no trouble getting into Chichester Harbour, and made our way under sail to our favourite anchorage at Itchenor Reach. As we dropped the anchor, Richard said that something didn’t feel right. We lifted the anchor again, only to find that it came up with a large tyre attached to it. The tyre was filled with mud and sludge and incredibly heavy and we couldn’t detach it. In the process of fighting it, we dropped one of our winch handles overboard. Fortunately it floats (by design), but we had to ignore the tyre while we chased the handle – all at around 3 hours after high water when the tide was racing out at a particularly fast rate.
We eventually retrieved the winch handle, but couldn’t dislodge the tyre and just secured it and the anchor at the bow with a mooring warp. We certainly couldn’t anchor for the night as planned. Fortunately, as we know the harbour quite well, we remembered that there is a visitor’s mid-river pontoon just past Itchenor. There was space for us to berth and, once moored up we got the anchor, and the attached tyre, out on the pontoon and used a hacksaw to cut the bead on the tyre and free the anchor. By the time we had sorted it all out, cleaned all the mud off everything, re-stowed the anchor and tidied up it was about 18:45 BST. We were tired, fed up that our plans had been thwarted, gave up all ideas of going ashore for the evening and just opened a bottle of wine to relax and have a quiet night onboard. Lots of lessons learnt!!
The offending tyre!
Our self steering gear taking the hard work out of the sail
Spent the night at anchor in Swanage Bay which was a bit roly poly at times, but at least it was easy to be up early to catch the tide for our sail to Portland. Easy sailing today. Wind was 13-15 knots and once we got around St Alban’s Head we were able to bear away onto a reach with the self steering gear doing all the work. Had to keep well out to sea as the army were firing on the range around Lulworth Cove so we couldn’t do the inshore passage.
We are probably a bit too relaxed on this trip. We didn’t do our navigation very well, and ended up too far down towards the bottom of Portland Bill, We had to motor back against the tide to get into the north entrance – we will have to concentrate harder tomorrow. Still really going to appreciate a good shower and a night in a marina.
With Wendy and Martin Thorpe
Lovely day today. Still cold, but woke up to calm seas and blue skies. Left Poole and just unfurled the genoa to gently drift towards Swanage. I was amazed as we went past the Old Harry Rocks to see how much smaller they are getting now, and don’t think they will last much longer as they are quickly being eroded away.
We have tried to go to Swanage quite a few times in the past, but the wind has always been in the “wrong” direction to make it safe. Today, however, was perfect. We arrived to find our old neighbours, Wendy and Martin Thorpe, waiting on the beach to welcome us, and had a lovely lunch, sitting in the sunshine on the front there. It was easy to see why they like it there so much, especially after their quick tour to see their new house and beach hut.
Also visited one of the local shops to buy some mackerel spinners as Richard has plans to do some fishing…
The evening got cold, but it didn’t deter Wendy and Martin from braving a quick trip in our dinghy and coming on board for a drink – a great end to the day.