Monday, 15 June 2015

Journey to the centre of the earth

Well maybe not the earth but the Isle of Wight... I couldn't resist the Rick Wakeman reference :) 

Rocket ride to the island

I had a little trip to the Isle of Wight this weekend.  Low tide in Poole was early afternoon so I planned to be away before 1pm.  For once I was on time,  I slipped the mooring at 12:30 and had a hard beat to the harbour entrance,  Wind was 20knots gusting 25Knots WSW and gave me an incredible ride to the island.
I'd set off with a reef in the main but decided to shake it out while on the run. There weren't many boat out but I did get within 'hello' distance of this Hurley 24/70.  They looked to be having a ball crashing through the waves. 

From Poole Entrance to Hurst had taken just about 3 hours... that pretty quick in a little bilge keeler. I had planned to do some fishing in the hope of catching a mackerel for my supper. I'd even brought salad and herbs from the garden to accompany it.  However even with the main down and just a small eye patch of Genoa showing I was travelling too fast and I was up on the Cowes breakwater before I knew it. 

Noisy neighbours and naff beer

I did glimpse corky reefed up at the Folly, the beige Cat below. As I'd failed to catch my supper, I slipped through and made for Newport. The tide was still a little low so I had to bump my way up to town. There were loads of boats anchored up Listening to the IoW festival.  Not sure why as with so many music stages it was hard to make out one band from another.

Even up at Newport I had to raft up.  but the big Westerly made an excellent floating pontoon.  The mooring was a bit of a chuckle as I was inching it ever closer as the rising tide would allow, eventually I could step across and pull Ciao Bella in the last foot or two.
After a quick tidy and a cuppa I took a walk into town to find some Mackerel substitute.  Lidl was hippy heaven, lots of people in hats wellies and glitter... it's all a bit strange.  Anyway, Bacon wine and bread rolls secured, I wandered back to the boat.  The festival was in full swing, it must have been good as there was a lot of cheering :)
I rustled up a wicked pasta and bacon dish washed down with and rather nice Chianti before wandering back into town to find a decent pint.   Although the festival was busy, Newport itself was quiet.  I'd been to the Festival a few years ago and knew of a pub with great beer and a fantastic juke box.  Sadly when I arrived the hand pump had been replaced with shiny gassy beer pumps.. I didn't stay to check out if the Clash had been replaced by Justin Bieber on the Juke box.   The Fishermans Inn, which is alway ok, was empty so I didn't fancy sitting in there so I went in search of a proper beer pub.  The Newport Ale House.. Should have been good and to be fair the welcome and banter was great but.. and it's a big but.  They had a local beer which wasn't for me as it had a very sweet after taste, I tleft most of that and moved on to a safe bet, Pedigree I think, which also had a similar after taste. Clearly not the beers fault but something else.
Back aboard, I brewed up a cuppa and rested up listening to the radio and surfing on the iphone.  The river side view looks great but when you wake at 4am clinging to the bunk because you world is at 30 degrees and the view has changed to a muddy ditch, it doesn't seem quite so nice.

Misty morning

I got up with my alarm at 7am, hoping to get away by 8am on the rising tide.  I fried up the remaining bacon and wolfed that down, assuming that I wouldn't eat again until I got home in the evening.  The keels lifted just as I was washing up.. time to go.
The weather was very calm with poor visibility.  As I motored down the river there was enough breeze for me to unfurl the Genoa to assist.  Back past the Folly and Pete and Pat were on the deck of Corky, two boat behind was another club boat 'Maris Otter'... Always makes me think of potatos :)

Into the Solent and I raised the main, the tide was flowing with me and the wind blowing just enough to beat towards Hurst.  With the visibility quite poor it gave me the opportunity practice sailing to a bearing.  Not a difficult task but takes a bit of concentration.. It's very easy to drift off course.

Something Fishy

Out of the solent the wind gradually dropped until I was just drifting.   I'd taken the South route as I wanted to go and have a closer look at the Needles, they are Iconic.

 I wish I'd been this close on the way over yesterday as I'd seen a Spitfire flying around them, very cool.  As the wind had died and I had plenty of time to drift with the tide, I decided to getting the fishing rod out again.  

 I soon pulled a Mackerel out,  With all the flailing about trying to get off the hook the pesky thing made the cockpit of Ciao Bella look like a scene from a Tarrantino Movie.  I put it out of it's misery as soon as possible and not wanting to be greedy, put the rod away.  Still with no wind I eventually started the engine and motored towards Poole.  The fish was gutted, filleted and pan fried with some Garlic and Bay within ten minutes.. now that's fresh.

The breeze picked up again enough to stop the motor and unfurl the genoa for the last 12nm to the Haven.  I had one last windless spell just before the the entrance so the motor came on again to push me into the harbour.

The last bit

Inside the harbour the wind was quite fresh.. I don't know how this happens but it's often the case that there seems to be more wind in the harbour than in the bay.  Approaching my mooring the keel just touched,  I was on a rising tide so instead of sitting it out on a sand bank edging towards the mooring, I went for last  blast around the harbour.
Back to the mooring on the third attempt I picked up the bouy under sail.  I watched one of my frinds picking up a mooring the other week and picked up  nice tip.  I normally release the mainsheet just as I arrive but this requires looking away and take a second or two the do...usually resulting in missing the target.
I noticed Paul already has his main sheet released and stands holding the boom.  Like this you can keep your eyes on the bouy, release the main instantly and if necessary pull it in and release easily.
Another great sail,  This year is shaping up to be a classic for me.   Not long now until our planned cross channel trip, I can't wait.


  1. Well done, Phil - wondered if you went.. crap weekend for me as I only had the Sunday to sail on - I shouldn't have bothered trying and had a lie in, and gone to the pub earlier... it would have been a better outcome! PS. You're not selling me on Newport! :o)

  2. Newport...hmmm, I used to really like it but it seems to get chavvier by the year. Even the locals in the Real Ale place were saying it had done downhill. When I left the pub there was a young couple, she was obviously a local and he had moved there to be with her.. The last comments I heard were (at 10:30) Her, "there's a pub just around this corner" Him, "I bet it's shut" Her, "Oh.. Its shut, you'll have to get used to island life"
    I chuckled all the way back to the boat.