The forecast for the bank holiday weekend had been getting better for a while and the excitement for getting out of the harbour for the first time this year was building. I planned to get Ciao Bella into deeper water before low tide and then head off to the Solent on the flood.
As ever, best laid plans and all that... I'd asked to borrow a tender as mine is still awaiting a bit of attention. I got the tender loaded and attached my Seagull outboard There wasn't enough water to get the leg down and as the seagull doesn't have a neutral I had to paddle it to deeper water. I'm sure this must have looked comical but after 30mins paddling against a lee shore and falling tide I gave up. Stepped out of the tender into 4" of water and dragged it back to the pier. I found the proper oars and rowlocks and made the epic 200m row out to Ciao Bella... even with proper oars it was a struggle against the wind.
I clamped the enormous clip on the end of the painter to a stanchion and loaded all my gear into Ciao Bella. After getting myself safely aboard I turned around to see the borrowed tender making good time back to the club house even though the painter was still attached to Ciao Bella. I phoned the owner of the tender who was able to come down and rescue it before it got or did any damage.
By this time I'd missed the chance to move Ciao Bella before low tide so I set about stowing my stuff and preparing for the journey.
By 13:35 I could feel movement, The main was up with two reefs and I started the engine to give it a shove. I had to drop the main again as it was pushing the leeward keel into the sand so with just the engine running I bumped and skipped away from the mooring and towards the main channel. I hoisted the main again and was soon making good speed across the harbour.
As the wind built I gradually rolled away more and more genoa until eventually it was all away. Speed over the ground ranged from 4knots to 9 knots and that was before getting to the Hurst narrows. I always wear a lifejacket but this time I was also clipped on for the whole journey. The only real incident that I had going over was when a wave came over the bow and crashed heavily onto the boat, straight down the hatch and soaking me in the cockpit. It had also knocked the anchor off the bow and was clanging against the hull. There was no choice, I had to go forward, I clipped myself to the mast before leaving the safety of the cockpit and going forward to recover the anchor. The pointy end is not a nice place to be when it's rough.
The Hurst Narrows were very confused but I was through in the blink of an eye. Once in the Solent all was much calmer, I spoke to The Cruise co-ordinator on the mobile phone.. well he was walking through Lymington at the time :) He gave me directions to the Dan Bran pontoon so as I motored towards the entrance I pulled down the main and prepared fenders and mooring lines. 4 hours on the dot to travel 20.59NM, that's fast for Ciao Bella.
I managed to get along side at the second attempt, and without causing any damage, which is a real bonus. I'm never proud of my close quarters maneuvering :( Mike and Rose provided Tea and nibbles in the Cockpit of their Sadler 29 for the ten of who made it. I donated a bottle of red to the cause.
We moved onto the Mayflower for food and beer. We had to scrounge around for tables and chairs on the terrace to make up a table for ten, they a good selection of food. I plumped for the Venison burgers as I just wanted something unfussy. After sampling a good cross section of the available beers I made my way back to Ciao Bella and settled down listening to something mellow on the iPod.. I can't remember what it was as I fell asleep instantly.
I was woken first by the safety announcements on the Isle of Wight ferry and then by the sound of hell regurgitating the sourest souls that it could not keep down. When I slid back the hatch it turned out to be this enormous sailing vessel, it was using it's engines to maintain position and maneuver in the river, it must have given up looking for a place to stop as it eventually turned around and left.
|Hennesae and Whisper|
|Quest and Istron|
|Ciao Bella and Istron|
|Whisper and Hennesae|
My Brother Dave (Not Bus Sick Steve) was going to accompany me on the way back to Poole. He arrived around 7:30 which gave us time to get some breakfast on the go.. I fried up some Pork, apple and cider sausages, some thick cut bacon and eggs and loaded them into a sandwich all washed down with a big mug of tea... 'Ansome.
The forecast was for F4 to start then dropping to a F3 or F2, They seemed to get it absolutely on it's head. Just a gentle breeze to start but it would build to be quite strong in the afternoon. Out of the river and we hoisted the main sail, no need for reefs today. When I was sure Dave was happy with the sail being up we unfurled the genoa and had aright good sail, close hauled out towards Fort Victoria then tacked back to Hurst Castle and out through the narrows. Dave was a little nervous about the looming waves in the narrows as they look like waves breaking on rocks.
|Dave at the Helm|
|Breaking waves in Hurst Narrows|
It was a pleasant trip back, The wind did build and swung more westerly, forcing us to reef the genoa and tack the last few miles back to the harbour. It was more like 6 hours on the way back but still not bad.