The Saturday after our return I needed to get out to Ciao Bella to sort some of the bits which inevitably break, fall off or wear out. I've already posted about the Autohelm but of utmost importance was to replace the coracle paddle which went for a swim of Shanklin beach. Fortunately I had a spare paddle from a former inflatable.. its the wrong length but that was fixable with a hacksaw and some rivets.
The solar panel on the other hand had succumbed to the marine environment.... very disappointing as I had specifically paid extra to get the best flexy panel that I could. Three years service doesn't seem particularly good. The tracks in the panel are turning black and furring up and when I checked the connection inside the cabin, the silver tinned conductors were also turning black and have gone brittle.
1st Aug - Wareham and back.
I caught the second just as I went past the RoRo terminal which was great timing as the wind was making a tentative appearance. I put the rod away, stowed the catch and unfurled the Genoa.. The wind, as always, was coming from the exact direction that I wanted to go in. The breeze was very light at first however there were occasional much heavier gusts which came from about 30 degrees off the steady breeze, causing Ciao Bella to race away in a better direction, but only briefly.
As I got up past Rockley park the breeze strengthened and was much more fun, although the direction meant it was still a bit of a tack fest, trying to pinch as much of the skinny water as possible to reduce the number of tacks.
In the confines of the river I furled the genoa and started the engine again. Even though the speed limit is 4knots, which I was going, I had a constant stream of motor boats over taking in the river; one playing chicken with a boat coming towards us, then swerving infront of me, the wake causing Ciao Bella to lurch around, just glad I didn't end up with the keels in the mud.
Wareham Quay was packed, I rafted out five deep, much to the annoyance of the local motor boat tour guide. I held on as I could see a space would be available soon on the next bit of the quay.
Next came one of my proudest maneuvering moments. There was very little room between the bridge and the rafted out boats and I needed to get Ciao Bella in there. I worked out that I could use the flow of the river and the breeze, which was blowing towards the quay, to help with the maneuver.
Just kicking the engine into forward and reverse occasionally let her drift gently onto the Rib which was along side the quay. All done without fluster with a big crowd on hand to judge me if it all went wrong :)
I set about preparing my lunch, pan fried Mackerel in Olive Oil and Chilli flakes.. well it's all I had on board. Jewels took a drive around and met me for lunch, She's not keen on fish so they were all mine, supplemented by the lunch which Jewels had brought with her.
If getting into this space had been my proudest maneuvering moment, it was about to be usurped. Leaving this space needed careful planning. The rib which I had rafted up against had gone and I was now against the quay. The river was flowing and the breeze was still pushing me against the quay.
I ran back down the river under motor, raising the main as I went. The tide was flowing quickly now and I didn't want to run aground up here. The mudflats were clearly visible a the birds were gorging themselves on the rich picking now on offer.
Eventually I was afloat again and threading my way to the harbour entrance before turning towards the club. In my daydream state I nearly didn't notice Dom and Sarah on a rib waving at me. Sorry guys :)
Back at the mooring and another perfect stop under sail to pick up the buoy. Long gone are the days of me desperately hanging onto the buoy as the boat swings back into wind, I'll have to find another exercise for upper body strength :)