Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Plod to Portland

Sat 23rd Aug 
EDSC had planned a three day cruise to Portland for the bank holiday.  As is the way with bank holidays the forecast for Monday was absolutely pants, F6 gusting F8, that's not my bag so I went for the Sat/Sun option which was forecast F1/2 S SW on Sat and F3/4 W on Sun.  
We were looking to be off the mooring by 0930 and all was looking good to go but Paul in Lapwing hadn't arrived.  I called to see if he was still going and he confirmed he'd be there as quick as possible.  We loitered in the harbour for a while eventual slipping out into the bay around 10am.  Still no sign of Paul.  Whisper, a Southerly 32RS (I think) was waiting for us in Studland bay.  I called up to let them go, I thought it a little unfair expecting them to travel at Ciao Bella speed also we were still dragging our heels waiting for Paul.

Easy to see where and why the engine went on

I managed to get Lapwing on the VHF around 11am, due to various complications he'd only just managed to leave the mooring.  At this time we were almost becalmed just around Old Harry, which was odd as Paul said it was quite blowy in the harbour and wondered if he needed to put a reef in!  I said we'd pull into Swanage and wait for him.  I then made a huge mistake and decided to go to Chapmans pool and wait,  I sent Paul the following text 

Hi Paul, change of plan, Going to drop the hook in Chapmans pool. V calm out here today.

Almost immediately the skies darkened and within a space of 10 or 15 minutes a squall hit us, a thin line of heavy black clouds, stretch south and moving quickly east  dumped on us.  I continued with the plan and took the inner passage past St Aldhelm head, with, the now stronger, wind over tide it was quite lumpy and the bow went under two or three times.  Fortunately it was only about a hundred yards so we were soon through,  I knew then that the right thing for Paul to do was take the outer passage, which is what I should have done.
The wind  stayed around F4/5 on the nose for the rest of the day with occasional rain to brighten our day. This was the second weekend on the trot were I'd found myself beating into a strong head wind, contrary to the weather reports... Humph!
This made me smile, John and Michele on Whisper had made it to Portland AND climbed the rock while we were still bashing into waves around Lulworth... Picture blatantly stolen from Johns FB page ;p 
We continued to tack our way along the gorgeous  Dorset coastline, we made it past Durdle door before the tide started to turn and we resorted to motor sailing.
We eventually tied in Portland Marina around 7pm.. That's a long day to cover a small distance.  Still, we were early enough to grab some food and a well deserved pint or five at the Cove House Inn :)
photo borrowed from Cove House website.
The Cove house Inn was a surprisingly good pub, the food was good value, not michelin star but better then many chain pubs.  They had good beer selection, I stuck with Doom Bar and most surpisingly it had a good atmosphere.
We discussed the options for going back.  The forecast was for F3/4 South Westerly but increasing later in the day.  To catch the full tide back we'd have to leave at either 4am or 5pm.  We went for a compromise a decided to set of around 6am and aim to get to Swanage before the tide turned.

Sunday 24th Aug

My alarm went off at 0530 and I got up straight away.. Snoozing would be a bad idea.  Ablutions done and boat readied  we got away around 0630.   The forecast was as accurate as ever, ie wrong,  and we motored away from Portland hoping for the wind to fill in as the day progressed
Lapwing heading east  towards St Aldhelms
The wind stayed away for quite some time and I was starting to worry about fuel levels.  Fortunately we only needed to make 4knots and with the tide running I was able to maintain that on about 1/4 throttle.

Still motoring under the watchful gaze of the Coastguard station.
There was barely a ripple at St Aldhelms today as we motored round.  I had raised the main when leaving Portland, more in hope than anticipation, and I was glad I did as slow the breeze started to fill in; variable but mainly south westerly.   The tide was starting against us now and we had to push on into Swanage.   The tide over Peverel ledge is quite strong so we had to crab our way into the bay... this would not be a good time to run out of fuel!  We motored in fairly close to the beach and dropped the anchor.  Our now well rehearsed coracle relay challenge got the three of us on to shore in two rubber rings.
The brief for our visit to Swanage was: Food, Ice-cream, drugs (for headaches, backache etc... we're getting old and worn out now) and a gift for Pauls two year old lad.
So several hours later feeling full, ache free and with a 9 piece jigsaw we made the treacherous journey back to the boats.
At last, able to sail out of Swanage.
The sail back from Swanage was just right, we goosewinged out of Swanage and ghosted around Old harry. The breeze then picked up a little for a final flourish down the Swash channel and home.
On saturday, John and Michele weren't sure what their plans would be but they  took Whisper West towards Dartmouth.  I wish I could just keep sailing... Work gets in the way.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Day sail to Christchurch

Last weekend the Club had planned a cruise to Newtown Creek,  the forecast for the return on Sunday was pretty horrific so rather than abandon I decided to go to Christchurch in the morning, grab an ice cream  then head back to Poole.
I was joined by Dom and Sarah on their Swift 18 called Tyger.  This was great as they had planned to go to Newtown but had also been put off by the weather.   We left the harbour around 06:30  with very little wind, I had to start the engine to push me through the East Looe channel as the tide was drifting me towards Hook sands.  The rest of the sail over was very relaxed with a light westerly just pushing us on to Christchurch with unbroken blue skies.
Lovely condition on the way over.

I've not been into Christchurch for a long time and then I had little understanding of tides and charts so just blundered in with the tide turning against me.. Not a happy episode..   The run is quite a stretch of water, I was funneled in and spat out into the harbour like I was on a fairground ride.
The Almanac shows anchorage behind Mudeford spit but this is very shallow, even for Ciao Bella, and there is little room.  I managed to grab a mooring bouy, I'm not sure of the protocol here so I left a note in the window with my phone number on it in-case I was obstructing someones mooring.  Tyger came and rafted up with me so we pumped up the Coracle and ferried ourselves over.

Rafted up and inflating the Coracle

A pleasent couple of hours were spent outside the bar, sampling cider, pasties and coffee... by now it was getting a little chilly for Ice-cream :)
We prepared to leave around 3pm, by now the wind had picked up... this wasn't on the forecast!  Back out in the bay and conditions were exciting to say the least.

Time to get the sail up.

The forecast F2/3 had become a solid F5/6 and the sea state was pretty lumpy.  It was a uncomfortable beat back to Poole.  I lost Tyger around Bournemouth Pier as they took a long tack out into the bay.  Funnily enough as I approach the entrance through the East Looe Channel I could see Tyger making her way down the Swash channel.
Some what different to the morning

I was glad to be back in Poole as it had not exactly been fun but also it was good to know that I'm still capable of sitting out a few hours in pants weather. Unfortunately we took just a little too long to get back and had to drag the tender back to its outhaul :)


A big thanks to Sarah for sending the photos, sorry I didn't get any of Tyger on the way back.. too busy hanging onto the tiller.

So... Where have I been?!

 Hi, Sorry that it's been so long since my last post, cue bugles.   Time to catch up.   Holiday season always catches me out.  We've had a couple of glorious summer weeks in Dittisham (Ditsum apparently) but unfortunately without Ciao Bella; I've also had a couple of trip out as well so will post a few blogs in a short space of time... sorry :)
I'll start with the holiday as although I didn't take Ciao Bella there were a few boats of note included.
Pilgrim BM45 - 
This was a stunning restored Brixham trawler which is available for pleasure trips.  I went with my father law for a half day, which cost the princely sum of £25 each.  £55 would get a full day and that's what I'll be doing next time I go to Devon.

I was a little sceptical that it would be a proper sailing experience.  However it was a hands on, if you wanted to, proper sail.  

 The tiller is enormous and takes some effort to move, during the tack one of the crew got stittle over by it.  As the wind was a little lively and there were youngsters on board the main sail didn't go up but we were still plodding along at 5 or 6 knots, not bad.  Cream teas were served out in Start bay, there were plenty left over as some of the passengers were looking a little green.. I guess sailing wasn't their thing :)

The Kingswear Castle:

The Kingswear Castle is the only coal fired steam paddle boat left in the UK.  There is no better way to see the river Dart than on this.  She was launch in 1924 but retained the engine from the previous Kingswear Castle, which is now rotting in the mud half way up the river.
 As you would expect, every thing is either polished, painted or varnished within an inch of its life.

The engine is open to view and is pristine, great to see it in operation.  Taking an early sail we had to imagine we were in another time zone to make it acceptable to be drinking G&T's on the deck. ;-p  Apparently the ladies loo is very decorative and is well photographed but I refrained.

The river is wonderful place, alive with wild life, boats an history.  I took a million photos but this one of a Crabber making heavy work of tacking up the river was one of my favourites.

As well as the gloriously maintained boat of all shapes, sizes and vintages, I am always taking by the decaying hulks which seem to inhabit many of our rivers and harbours.  I often wonder who's paying for these, obviously once loved, vessels to be here. 

I'd say this Clinker built yacht is well and truly past redemption but it's certainly not on it's own on the river Dart.

The same boat close up, peeping through the planks, I could see that the toilet and toilet paper still installed... didn't feel the need to use it though :)