Sunday, 27 October 2013

Haul out

Well the end of the season has arrived with a bang.... Ciao Bella is safely ashore as we wait for the worst storm since 1987 to hit.
I did it the easy way this year, Salterns had a special offer on hoist outs this year and I couldn't bring myself to go wading around upto my neck at Baiter park.   Paul and myself booked for the same morning, it's easier if we help each other.  The first lift was booked for 11am with the second at half past.  Fortunately they were flexible as we were a little late getting there.  Not much to say about the lift out, except it was a doddle. There is a wee vid clip below (It starts with Pauls Corribee then switches to Ciao Bella, just for continuity of the process).
Despite using the cheapest antifoul the wetted area seemed remarkably clean, it looks like I'll have to raise the boot top again, she's had a head start for Movember :)

Once out we had to concentrate on getting the masts down and strapping the boat down ready for trailering.   Both went remarkably easily considering the wind.  We didn't have A frames, just used the roller furler to steady the decent.
Paul had a posse ready and waiting at his house to help push the trailer up his drive, we then flew back to Salterns to pick up Ciao Bella.  By 4pm both boat were safely back at their respective winter homes. That's one heck of a relief with this lot coming...

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Out on a grown up boat

Omega in Dartmouth

Last weekend I had the chance to crew on Omega, a Harmony 34, sailing around Torbay.   I couldn't turn it down..  Roger picked me up early on Saturday and we made our way to Torquay.  We met Nick, the owner down at the marina and readied the boat for sail. There was absolutely no wind as we set off and I thought we'd have to motor everywhere.
Motoring in light airs
Eventually the wind filled in and we made our way around Berry head towards Dartmouth.  As we approached the entrance to the river Dart Nick Suggested that we stayed out in Start bay, what a good call. We had a magical hour or so just messing about on the water.

Nick taking a rare turn at the helm.

The Harmony has a wheel in place of a tiller, I have to say it took some getting used to. Initially I made some school boy errors; turning it the wrong way and struggling to find the central position.  Once I'd got the hang of it it was a dream to helm. We reluctantly made for the harbour, the Devon coastline and the entrance to Dartmouth are absolutely stunning.

Our very own Keith Floyd

Rog took command of the Galley, which was great as it meant we'd eat well.  It's fabulous being able to walk around stood bolt upright on a boat... not something that I am used to :)
Dartmouth is beautiful at anytime of the year but just out of season is my favourite time.  There are some wonderful places to eat and drink, I suggested the Anzac street Bistro as I had been there before and we weren't disappointed.  Great food, reasonably priced and a nice atmosphere with Simon and Aga as great hosts.  We then strolled of to the Seven Stars for Rog to check out his old stomping grounds :)
Back at the boat and we couldn't help but notice that there were pirates every where.. One was even taking a large open wooden motor boat out.. I couldn't help but think he'd already been on the Rum ration.

Flying the Hurley flag
The Sunday morning was heralded with a cuppa and the smell bacon and eggs.   We had a very chilled start to the day and eventually got the boat ready to head back to Torquay.  We had a downwind run back around the head and made great time. All too soon we were back in the marina and packing up to come home.
A huge thanks to Nick and Rog for inviting me along.  I had a great time.. Proper boats are fantastic,Omega feels more stable (because it is) faster (because it is) points better (erm, because it's not a bilge keeler) and roomier... however I have no plans to sell Ciao Bella and move up to big boat ownership.  Aside from the costs Ciao Bella does everything I want a boat to do,  reasonable performance, tough & safe, easily manageable single handed, I can get into shallow creeks and rivers,  cheap to buy, run and keep and I don't have to travel to far to feel like I've had an adventure.

Thanks again Nick, and if you still want cross channel crew, let me know... I'll bring the Pastis instead of the Pasties :)

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Rock & Roll to Yarmouth

The trip to Yarmouth was an absolute bonus.. I'd committed to Family duties but on the Friday I was told that I'd been double booked.. What could I say, I tried to look offended and said well I try and find something else to do instead ;)
The forecast for Saturday was pretty rubbish for going to Yarmouth.  F5 upwards coming directly from the East.  I decided to give it a go, if it looked like I couldn't make it it wouldn't take long to get blown home.
The Tern defenses that I'd rigged before going home last week seemed to have worked.. Much less poop on the boat.

Tern defenses
I got away from the mooring just before low tide and made my way to the entrance.  The harbour is well protected from easterlies so I would get a feel for the conditions until I got out of the harbour.   The wind was much weaker than expected and I was able to made way with full sail, deciding to take short tacks along the beach as I was pushing the last of the west going tide.  
An hour in and the wind had strengthened conciderably, I put a reef in the main a used the furler on the genoa to regulate as required.  As the tide started to flow with me I took a longer tack out to take me past the Hengisbury ledge.  The sea state out here was pretty full on, the boat would drop off the top of a wave, crash and judder into the trough, the bow would then dig into the next wave and as it came up it would toss gallons of water over the cockpit...  My brand new foulies are now completely caked in salt :) As you can appreciate there are no photos from this part of the journey!
I tacked back and made a good course along the 'right' side of the headland. 

Beating past Mudeford beach huts.  
Even though the wind was blowing at the headland the sea state was much calmer in Christchurch bay.  The sailing conditions where much nicer here, however time was getting on so I planned to sail as close to the beach at Highcliffe as possible then tack back and motor head to wind towards hurst. 

Motor sailing towards Hurst, time to put my feet up.
I furled away the genoa, started the engine and motor sailed to Hurst.  It was nice to be able to relax for a bit, the last few hours had been hard work.   Although not sailing side by side I had come across in company with Lapwing.  Pauls engine at this point was not pulling very well and was only making 4 knots.  We stayed together because if we got to Hurst too late we might not be able to get through so would have to find another destination.
Before entering Hurst narrows Paul refilled his outboard with fresh petrol, it was like magic, back upto 5 knots.  We got to Hurst at slack water, perfect,  the chop was building as we approached Yarmouth but who cares.. we were nearly there. Including Paul and myself four boat had made the trip.  We were welcomed with a large glass of Ardbeg on Gazelle then nibbles on Whisper before heading into town for grub at Saltys and a few beers.

The return journey was much less eventful,  we left Yarmouth a little after 9am and had a pleasant run back, goosewinged most of the way. There were various forecasts but they'd all over egged it,  F3 max from the east, Perfect.  Apart form motoring out of the harbour the engine stay off and out of the water, I even managed to pick up my mooring under sail.

Lapwing passing Hengisbury.. Much calmer than Saturday.