Monday 19 November 2018

Brrrr... First winter sail.

Cold... less enjoyable than summer sailing :D

This weekend I took advantage of my year round mooring situation and took Ciao Bella for our first winter sail.   I took Friday off work and planned to leave Poole around 10:30.  I had a little outboard adjustment to do before setting off so I got down there nice and early.  On my previous potter, the outboard was struggling to go into reverse so I guessed the clamp had slipped on the gear rod.  An easy adjustment, which I had done in 10 minutes.

Looking back at Hengistbury head
After faffing about a bit, I set off at 10:40.   The breeze was enough for a reasonable sail but sadly was coming from the east with just a bit of south in it.  3 hours in and I was still short of Hengisbury Head.  Although maintaining a speed of 3 to 4 knots, I was having to tack so I fired up the outboard to assist.  At a little over tick over the speed was up to 5 knots and the ability to point into wind improved significantly.
The Isle of Wight from Christchurch bay
It dawned on me that the short winter days put pressure on me to press on to Yarmouth.  As 3pm approached and still 7NM from Yarmouth it was time to turn the wick up on the engine.  Visibility wasn't great, it was going to get dark quickly and I was cold.
Hurst Castle
I arrived at Yarmouth at Dusk, stood outside and dropped the sails before entering the harbour.  I had a quick check of the engine controls and 'Bugger'.. I would not go into reverse.  In fact worse than that.. I wouldn't even go into neutral and the lever felt like it was not connected.  So with permanent drive and having to cut the engine to slow the boat, I tentatively entered the harbour. One good thing about this time of year is the amount of space in the harbour. I was able to do a U turn to point back into wind, pick a nice big empty piece of pontoon, aim, kill the engine and drift along side.
After settling up at the office I went in search of supper and was duly obliged at the Bugle Coaching Inn.   A gurt big slab of steak pie and a couple of pints of Timothy Taylor was just what the doctor ordered.

A welcome pint by the fire.
I did have another reason for coming to the island, although just a flimsy excuse to go sailing,  I had bought a second hand VHF and had agreed to collect it here.  It's a cracking bit of kit.   Lowrance Link-2.  It's a water proof DSC hand held with built in GPS and powered by a Lithium Ion battery. 

I turned in quite early for a decent nights sleep wrapped up in two sleeping bags, which seemed to keep the worst of the cold out.  
I was up and ready to leave by 0730.  One of the neighbouring had already sailed but I was happy to leave it until daylight.  I hadn't been able to fix the gear selector on the outboard, the clamp which holds the sector shaft together had broken.  I'd have to plan my arrival back at Poole well, but in the meantime I only needed to go forward.
Once out of the harbour I unfurl about two thirds of the genoa and that was enough to whip out of the Solent at over 7 knots.  Even in Christchurch bay Ciao Bella maintained 5 to 6 knots with just the genoa out.  Eventually the speed dropped to 4 knots so I decided to raise the main with a reef in it.  The speed was once again well over 5 knots.  I was making great time and had made it past Hengistbury head by the two hour mark.  The VHF had been fairly quite bar a pan pan for a Yellow Micro plus which had broken down in Langstone harbour.  Then came the Securite from the Coastguard announcing the imminent arrival of a Gale.  Bugger, I was still 2 hours from the harbour entrance and the wind was definitely building as were the waves.  I was having to concentrate hard to stop the rig gybing as the hull skewed on the passing waves.  Have to say, I was glad to turn the corner into the harbour. It was like I'd blinked and woken up in a different day.
The last hurdle to overcome was to make an elegant arrival on my new birth.  I'd been shunted up the marina to free up the deeper birth that I'd been on.  Sadly the new birth was right by the hotel bar and the wind was blowing straight into it.    My plan was to approach as slowly as possible while maintaining steerage and slip a bowline over a pontoon cleat from the winch.  It was a good plan but I didn't get close enough to hook the cleat.  Ciao came to a halt with a jolt but not enough to cause any damage.  She drifted slightly towards the neighbouring boat but a good shove and I got her back against the pontoon.  It wasn't really a bad landing considering being blown in and having no reverse.

So how do I like winter sailing? On the whole the trip felt more of a chore than enjoyment.  The days are too short and too cold for longer trips.  The lack of other vessels made for a pleasant change, both in Poole harbour and the Solent. I think I'll probably stick to short day sails as the opportunity arises.  
A decent pair of gloves and some warm sailing boots are now high on the wishlist.

Sunday 11 November 2018

Remembrance day

I was going to write a little maintenance post today, but as It is remembrance Sunday, I thought I'd share a little about a man who helped ensure that we are free to enjoy our hobby which gives us such a sense of freedom.
Roy as a young man
Hubert Roy Blowers joined the Royal Marines when he was sixteen and served aboard HMS Ajax.  On new years day 1943 at Bone in Algeria, he was manning an Oerlikon gun (20mm cannon) when a Stuka attacked.  It dropped an armour piercing bomb which went through the deck and and exploded two decks down, killing 20 crew members.  Had it been a conventional bomb, it would have been Roy's time.
Oerlikon Gun 
In 1943 he volunteered to join 'Combined operations' and spent a significant time training for operation Overlord.  Roy landed on Gold beach, near Aramanche, on the 6th June 1944 at 06:30, in his landing craft support. A powerful twin engined plywood boat with a crew of 7 and bristling with weapons.  This was rammed as far up the beach as possible,  it's intention to serve as a strong point on the beach and provide cover fire for the troops on the beach....  maybe Plywood was stronger in those days :O
Landing Craft support
Shortly after D-Day, Roy was selected to train on a new vehicle called a Lloyds carrier.  A small armour vehicle designed to follow the retreating Nazi tanks and mop up behind them.  He spent 10 months of intense fighting through France, Belgium, Holland, then across the Rhine into Germany.  He was in Wilhelmshaven when the war in Europe ended.
A loyd carrier
From here he was shipped out to Burma to clear the enemy from the many small islands.  When the Japanese eventually surrendered he made his way back to the uk and was demobbed.  
Roy was my Wifes Uncle and a more genuine, kind man it would be hard to find.  So on this day I shall remember Roy and the deeds that he and his generation did for our freedom.
Roy Blowers 16th July 1925 - 17th Nov 2017

Saturday 27 October 2018

Seven year itch

First things first... where have I been for the last two years.  The answer is right here but I haven't done much sailing.  Last year Ciao Bella remained on my front garden  while I tried to get my priorities sorted out.  I did get away for a week with my friend on his corribee, which was a bit of a chuckle.
Ciao Bella launched mid season
This year I was fortunate enough to get a heavily subsidised mooring through my work, so Ciao Bella now resides on a swinging mooring during the summer and gets a pontoon berth throughout the winter.  Hopefully I will get some great Autumn / winter sails in this year.  Despite this, she was dropped in late in the season, at the end of June and pressed into action the very next day.
Our annual summer cruise had been planned for a while, so I found myself heading East in the company of Lapwing.  We planned to go to Chichester again but fate dealt Lapwing a cruel hand.   Our first stop was In Cowes, We tied up to a visitor pontoon near East Cowes sailing club.  Not the greatest spot as we couldn't find a way out. We had to paddle across the river and and find somewhere to stash the coracles before throwing ourselves on the mercy of the Cowesite publicans.
The next day we set off East again, the wind was fairly none existent as we left the Medina. We drifted for a while then motored.  Eventually a breeze started to fill in and we managed to sail properly. After making good time it looked like we were going to be able to press on to Emsworth.  At Portsmouth harbour the wind, unforecast,  came in fast and furious.  I was hanging on to Ciao Bella and cleared Portsmouth harbour entrance. now in a less busy bit of water, I was able to heavy to and reef.  When I looked back Lapwing was dropping his sails right in the harbour entrance.  The wind had been to much and Lapwings Deck / Hull joint had failed, pulling the deck clean off along a good section of the starboard side.
Mast down at Haslar
We motored into Haslar marina a dropped the mast.  The cruise was effectively over but it didn't mean the fun was over. We took the ferry to Gunwharf Quay in the evening and grabbed some food, in search of something a little more interesting we stumbled into a pub right opposite the Warrior.. a quality night ensued.. Pheonix nights meet Benidorm springs to mind. Karioki night along with the full cast... There was even the obligatory hangbags at dawn scuffle.
The next day we motored back to Lymington, where another club member joined us, then back to Poole the day after.
Lapwing motoring back in company
The momentum slowed again after that and that was just about it for this year.  I only manged to get out for two or three short harbour sails but they were very enjoyable.

Rarely see Poole harbour so empty

Evening sails are much easier with a pontoon

There should be no excuses but having aquired another classic car which needed work and being short staffed at work during our busiest time, it just didn't come together  this year.
The offending car which has sucked away my sailing time

'Comme Ci Comme Ca' as she was seven years ago
Facebook reminded me this morning that I have now owned Ciao Bella for seven years.... Woohoo.
So it would have been rude not go down and say happy Anniversary.

Celebratory anniversary beer
It was F5 gusting F7 so just had a tidy up.. brewed up a cuppa and had some soup.... Who am I kidding.. it calmed down enough to get out for a quick blast around the harbour.
Although reefed, the wind did pick up again and discretion once again became the better part of valour and the motor went on and the sails came down.

So onto the future..  There is no seven year itch, apart from messing with fibreglass.  I have no intention of chopping Ciao Bella in for a more glamorous model. I have couple of projects in mind and also plan to continue sailing through the winter, so hopefully the blog should pick up again.

Wednesday 19 July 2017

Oh ello :)

Well Ciao Bella may still be kicking back with her feet up on the front lawn but I have managed to sneak out for a few days.

A couple of weeks ago Lapwing Paul and myself struck out East in Lapwing.  Lapwing is a bilge keel Corribee and is no stranger to to the posts on this blog.  On Saturday 8th July Paul brought Lapwing to the end of the pier and we loaded up with beer, cider, rum and some other stuff. We caught the Easterly going tide late afternoon.   We had a very loose plan which involved trying to go to places we hadn't been before.
We put this plan into action straight away by going to Keyhaven.   I had anchored at Hurst before but never been down the river to Keyhaven.

The sailing club at Keyhaven is very friendly and there is a great pub across the road.  Unfortunately we'd missed the time for food at both.  The moorings are for and aft and although it was a calm night anyway, it did seem well sheltered.
The next morning we slinked off to Cowes to kill some time before moving on to Bembridge.  Because of the tide times it was working really well.  We were abl to stagger our journey East giving us time to enjoy stops on the way while we waited for the tide to turn again.

I like Cowes, it is good value compared to the likes of Lymington and Yarmouth.  There is always space and the town is a funny mix of boat people, locals and tourists.  We had a proper lunch to make up for the lack of food the night before and took it easy.  Ice cream as always was high on the agenda.  This launched a week long pondering over who the famous late film producer from the Isle of Wight ice cream family was.
While there 'Islay Mist'  came in. Islay Mist had recently been sold by one of our club members and the new owners were sailing her back to the East coast.  Funnily enough, she had come from the East coast when Pat bought her.
The time to leave Cowes came around and we pointed Lapwing out of the Medina, passing the new break water and back into the Solent where an enormous motor yacht was at anchor.  Not sure how an honest wage pays for something like this ;)

The journey to Bembridge was very pleasant, passing the splendour of Barton Manor, Osborne House and the faded glory of Ryde with the hovercraft belting backwards and forwards.  One of the enjoyable things about going to a new destination is planning the approach.  Bembridge has a definate channel to follow and we didn't want to mess it up.

Bembridge harbour itself is lovely.  Most of it dries at low tide giving a twice daily change of scenery. We took the footpath up to St Helens and tried a couple of local 'Goddards' beers.  Good beer which helped to wash down the good food.  Back on board we had a reasonably early night as the tide to Chichester would be quite early.
The crossing to Chichester harbour was pretty straight forward, although with few landmarks a good compass course needed to be followed and a good look out for shipping was required.

 We entered Chichester harbour almost before we knew it.  The conditions had been pretty good.  Not really knowing the harbour or how quick the water disappears, we made our way toward Bosham.  The harbour is a sprawling network of channels which invite you to explore.  Not far into the harbour we spotted this wonderful Corribee which had been converted to junk rig by  Spence, it's owner.

At Bosham we picked up a mooring not far from the sailing club.   After consulting the almanac I phone the club to see what the score was with visitor buoys.  I started to say 'Hello, we've just arrived at Bosham' when a voice came back and just said 'bos'm. I guess I've been told.   Anyway, the mooring were someone else's responsibility.  A chap was swimming out to his boat and said, so long as we were gone by midday on Monday, we could use his mooring... sweet :)

BoSHam is a beautiful place although there is not a lot there.   We had a cracking steak and chips at the 'Anchor blue'  To save ourselves from sending the whole day in the pub, we walked around the village twice then walked to Fishbourne.. Fishbourne is a place which I will try to avoid in the future.  Back in the bussom of Bos'm we popped into the sailing club where we were made to feel very welcome.  They weren't doing food so we pottered back to the Anchor Blue for another hearty meal.

Tuesday was a somewhat wet and dull day. as the water slowly filled the creek we made plans to go to Dell Quay for lunch and then find shelter in Emsworth Yacht haven for the deluge which was expected over night.  It was a shame the weather was so poor as pootling about the harbour was what we really wanted to do.  The trip to Dell Quay was great but getting back to Emsworth was a wet and tedious venture.  After a day like that, the cost of a walk ashore mooring and a hot shower is irrelevant.
Even better we had arranged to meet fellow Hurley 20 owner, Sparrow Steve, for a beer or two.  Emsworth is a nice looking town with plenty of pubs, but you'd better like Fullers :)  Sadly the last high street bank had just shut it's doors leaving the town with just one ash point in the Co-op.  However, none of these things worried me as I do like Fullers and I had no need for a bank.   Another high calorie high protein meal was taken.  Steak and Ale Pie and chips :)

Wednesday morning came and everything looked brighter, apart from the fact I'd been sleeping in a puddle and had been dripped on all night.  We had time to kill so took a dry stroll around the town until the tide was in enough to release from the yacht haven over the sill.  Unsure of how far we'd get, we thought we'd be be happy to get as far as Ryde but hopefully Cowes.  As it goes, we had a great days sailing an made it as far as Newtown creek, with a little help from the motor for the last hour.

Newtown creek is one of my favourite places but even on a weekday evening it is quite busy.  Picking a place to anchor is nerve wracking, as is the moment, some hours later, when you realise the anchor is slipping through the mud.  We didn't have the will to paddle ashore so Pasta Aribiatta was the dish of the day preceded and followed by Beer, cider and rum.

We woke early on the Thursday as we would need to be underway by 6am if with didn't want to spend another 6 hours in Newtown creek.  The lure of a warm shower, coffee and icecream was enough to lure us across the solent again to Lymington.

It had been a perfectly windless morning so we didn't even attempt to raise a sail.  We motor into Lymington, following the ferry, at around 7am.  By 8am the town quay was buzzng with activity. What a contrast to Newtown.  

 We stayed at Lymington until around 2pm.  Which gave me time to have a much needed haircut and a Chicken Jalfrezi at Wetherspoon. The trip back to Poole was excellent.  We had a decent breeze all the way back and make it back to the mooring before all the water disappeared.  It was great to be back on a pocket cruiser.  Lapwing is a great little boat but she aint my Ciao Bella ;P

Thursday 15 September 2016

Marlins mission

Well a big adventure has sprung upon Ciao Bella.   I was contacted a while ago to see if I would be  willing to assist Dave Selby from PBO with his 'Marlin's Mission' quest.    For those who don't know, Dave has sailed his Sailfish 18 from Maldon in Essex to Southampton to promote the pleasure of sailing small, cheap boats on a shoe string.  A task made more difficult by the Viral disorder that Dave suffers from called Guillain-Barre syndrome.  

I left Poole at about 11:40 on Monday on route to Warsash.  Quite excited as I've never sailed into Southampton water before.  The forcast was for very light winds but it was just about perfect.  Force 2 from the south gave me a good run across Poole bay and Christchurch bay in 4 hours.

I had to tack a couple of times before dropping through the Hurst channel.  There was a bit of a chop coming through but nothing to exciting. :)

Another two hours saw me approaching the entrance to Southampton water.  Unfortunately the wind was dropping and time was running out so it was time to start the motor.

The sunset was absolutely fantastic over Fawley.  Time to head for Warsash sailing club.

Dave was at Warsash to meet me, as was another Hurley owner, Dave Edwards and Justine with there absolutely stunning Hurley 18 called Womble.  I never seen such a beautifully restored GRP boat.   We spent the evening in the Rising Sun at Warsash.
The next morning we all set off together to sail to the town quay.  The wind was very poor and we spend most of the time drifting sideways so eventually had to start the motors again.


On the way up Dave did a radio interview with Radio Solent and a photographer from Practical boat owner came to the quay to meet up and get some press photos.

Womble, above, is just stunning and pictures do not do it justice.

Ciao Bella getting dragged out at the town quay slipway.

The boat show stand starting to come together.  On tuesday we were pretty much the only people here.

Dave working hard

By Thursday the site was much busier.. we are neearly ready to go.   Come along and say hello.  We are on stand A134.

Marlin's mission -

Monday 5 September 2016

Seagull cam

Sorry Dom, I stole your facebook comment for the post title.
Not the most exciting bit of sailing footage but a huge thanks to Richard from Skitch pics for bringing your drone along. Would be nice if we could control the weather  :)

Friday 2 September 2016

Fluky (motor) sail to Studland

Blimey, a week and a half late...I must try to keep this blog up to date :)  
Anyway, after returning from Summer holiday I was desperate to get out on Ciao Bella.  We'd been camping in Brittany which was lovely but also absolute torture as it is sailing heaven.
The view from my tent.
I persuaded James to come along for a saunter out to Studland, I new Lapwing Paul would be out there, so it would be good to catch up.   We spent a bit of tie in the harbour as a Friend of mine had brought his drone over to do some filming.  Unfortunately the wind around Brownsea castle was not very good so most of his footage was either just bobbing around or motoring :( 

We motored out of the harbour and left the engine on until the end of the training wall.  From then on the wind picked up abit and we could sail properly over to the moorings.   With the weather being quite nice there weren't many moorings.  I did get on to one not too far from Lapwing and started to pump up the dinghy.. only to see Paul jump in the water and start swimming towards us.  He's clearly mad but made it in quick time.  

We considered going ashore but that would have made us miss the tide and be very late back.  Instead you just had a bit of a chat then Paul swam back to Lapwing and we set off back to the club.

The sail back was also pretty slow and eventually had to stat the engine.. It became a bit of a push to get through the entrance and I hugged the shallower water to get back to my mooring.
All in all a bit of a rushed trip but better out than not. :)   James clearly enjoyed it, he took all the pics.

I've not been able to get out again since but hav been over to check on her... looks like the antifoul has given up and the Terns are starting to redecorate the whole boat Grrrrr.