Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Last gasp to Lymington

With the end of the season racing towards us we organised a last minute cruise to Lymington.  The Tides for the weekend were pretty good,  just a 5am alarm clock this time.  I was at the club for 0540 and made my way out to Ciao Bella.  I got the engine running, and released the mooring and motored about 10 meters before the keels touched down.. this is getting far too common, I will have to pledge to get up really early when there is a morning low or be content to leave as the tide returns.  I had to refit the battery before setting off as it had been taken home to charge.  A replacement solar panel is very high on my wish list.  So at least I had time to fit that, clean the Nasa paddle wheel and have a general tidy.

The forecast was for NNE but only f1 or 2 so very calm, I lifted off and was underway by 8am.  I had a good sail to the entrance before having to start the donk to push me past the chain ferry and left it on through the East Looe channel.
Thermos twins make a welcome return.
When I did turn the motor off the speed remained at around 4 knots, clearly the breeze was a little stronger than forecast,  I had a great sail across the bay and in through the needles channel.  It was all a little chilly so I pressed the Thermos twins into service for the first time this year... The blue one full of Tea and the black one full of Leek & Potato soup.
I caught Paul up just outside Lymington, where we dropped the sails and motored in. It was just Paul and myself for this cruise so once alongside the town quay we tidied up and pushed off to grab some lunch.  Pauls family had driven over so we we settled into the Kings Arms for Bangers & Mash.  On the way out I bumped into Kirk who had decided to set off late, great to have someone new on the cruises. Fully fed it was time to find a suitable venue to watch the Rugby.

The next morning arrived far to early as workmen were bashing the railway bridge around from around 6am.  It was a very slow morning as I gradually came back to life after the previous evening, helped by a runny egg and bacon sandwich. 

Lapwing (Corribee) and Hannah Snell (Seal 22) rafted up

Ciao Bella wedge in between the bigger boats.

Departure time was planned for around 12 noon with a bit of tide against us for the first hour.  We took the shallowish water towards Keyhaven before popping out into the main channel as the tide changed.
Hannah Snell posing in front of the Needles
The wind in the solent had been good but when we got out into Christchurch bay it was the opposite of yesterday.. F3or 4 with F5 Gust were forecast but really it was only F2 at best.  With the tide we were able to maintain 3.5 to 4 knots.. we would most likely need to start the engines at some point.
Nice to be sailing in Company
That point came as the wind just about disappeared as we transited from Bournemouth to Poole.  We pushed into the harbour entrance about 20 mins after high tide and the ebb through the entrance was starting to really go for it.  I kept in close to Sandbanks to avoid the worst of the flow.  The sunset as I arrived at my mooring was just stunning.  It's been a great season, I feel like I have really made the most of Ciao Bella this year.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Newton Creek

Time for a little Catch up.. I'm a bit out of sync with this one :)    A few weeks ago John and myself went for an overnighter to the Isle of Wight.   The Tides were at awful times for us to go, I like to get out of the harbour on the last of the ebb tide when going East. This Meant leaving around 2am.  We had our stuff ready and got to the club at 2am... bugger, As this was the weekend of the Super moon I'd missed the tide by minutes.  The tender was still afloat but I knew it was pointless trying to rush to get out.  Plan B.. Have a cup of tea then have a nap for an hour or so.
With a fresh departure time of around 5am we headed out to Ciao Bella.  The wind was a gentle North Easterly which, after a motor out of the harbour and along the East Looe channel, allowed us to head straight for the needles.  
As the sky started to lighten and the Sun made an appearance we felt blessed to be out here.  Our original plan had been to go to Cowes and find some where to watch the England v Wale rugby world cup match, but with the later start that needed rethinking.  I thought Newtown Creek would make a great stop over while we waited for the next tide to take us to Cowes.
We got to the needles channel as the tide started to slacking so pressed the outboard into service and motored in through Hurst and on to Newtown against an ever increasing tide.  
Once in the Creek we motored towards the Anchoring zone and picked a spot to drop the anchor.  I was at the pointy end while John steered.  About 100 yards from where I wanted to be the engine spluttered and cut out.  John used the forward motion to steer us to a safe area, away from other boats,  and I chucked the hook over the bow.
I had a quick look in the tank and although there was some fuel in there I  assumed it was just too low for the pick up pipe to reach.  
I thought there had been plenty of fuel, clearly we'd run the engine hard getting up the Solent and used it all?   I made us a pasta lunch then we settled down for a kip while we waited for the tide to change and allow us to make our way under sail to Cowes.  
I woke a while later suspecting something was wrong,  because we had anchored without choice we were out of the channel and had taken to the mud as the tide dropped.  We needed a plan B ver2.   
Cowes was now out of the question. We would now wait until she was afloat and either try to slosh the fuel enough to fill the carb or sail or paddle to get us into the channel so we could leave when we wanted.  I would also call on the good will of Liam, who lives on the Island to bring a can of fuel over for me.  Liam was a star and said he'd meet us at the pub after the Rugby.  

Newtown Creek is Beautiful and the amount of wildlife is fantastic.. I know very little about wildlife so I wont try to describe what we saw beyond some birds and fish :)  The unmistakable's were the pair of Kingfishers, giving us a fleeting glimpse of iridescent blue as they flashed past. Eventually Ciao Bella floated and I primed the engine.. only to get a face full of fuel!  The pipe had split and was clearly drawing in air.   If we hadn't been so tired when we arrived I would probably of  checked it,  a lesson there.  Anyway, pipe shortened and working, we repositioned the boat and pumped up the coracle for a paddle up to the quay and a walk up the the pub.
After a belly full of good food Liam came over to give us the fuel and the bad news about the Rugby. Always good to have a catch up with Liam. 

The next morning we prepared to head back to Poole. We left before the the high tide to catch a back eddy which would give us a head start going to Hurst.  This made it interested getting out of Newtown Creek as the tide rush in through the entrance was pretty quick.

The run back to Poole was great, we had the wind and tide with us and flew back.  The excitement started as we approached the Swash channel.  The sea state had been really good all day but with the tidal conditions this weekend there was a huge amount of water coming out of Poole and the wind was trying to blow it back in :)   It was like being off St Aldhems.  We eventually made it in to the harbour, there was no point heading for the mooring as it would be high and dry for a while yet.  I turned left towards south deep, just wondering how far I'd get before running aground... the answer was not far :)
Stuck in the sand again I put the kettle on while we watched the mud islands appear around us.  A great sight, the coastal birds were gorging themselves on the freshly uncovered feeding grounds.
We weren't the only people getting stuck.. Motor boats, a Dinghy?  and even the harbour Master :)  We were in good company.

and this is what caused all the grief :)  Great to see, taken from my bedroom window :)

Saturday, 3 October 2015


With the weather being so nice during the last week, I though it a bit rude not to go for a sail.  Paul was also free today so we arranged to meet around midday and decide from there what we would do.   Studland and the Banks Arms beckoned so off we shot.  There was a good breeze as we left, I had considerer putting a reef in but it was manageable and there were no gusts.  
The harbour entrance was dotted with small fishing boats strategically placed to get in the way :)  I dropped the engine leg in and ran it on idle just in case I had to take avoiding action. One thing I noticed was the anti foul is definitely getting to the end of its life.  My rudder was streaming weed, probably picked up from Newtown Creek, and Lapwing was extremely slow. 
The Easterly wind was great for getting us to Studland but did make the bay a bit bouncy.  It took me three attempts to grab a buoy, and these buoys are easy to grab.   The obligatory Coracle race ensued, fortunately not resulting in us being dumped, unceremoniously on the beach.
We spent an hour or so in the Garden of the Banks Arms before returning to the boats.  My coracle seemed to have deflated slightly, must give it a good check over when it gets home.
The breeze had pretty well died by the late afternoon, we had a little wallow around for a while before starting the engines and motoring the whole way back to the moorings.

Another pleasent afternoon on the boat,  the end of season is rushing towards us so I will try to make the most of what is left :).    Maintenance wise, The battery has been gradually losing charge, as the solar panel is fubared, so that is now in my garage on charge, the coracle will need looking at and it's foot pump is just about ready for the bin.  I may even have to give her bum a quick scrub if I'm going to venture far before she comes out.