Monday, 19 November 2018

Brrrr... First winter sail.

Cold... less enjoyable than summer sailing :D

This weekend I took advantage of my year round mooring situation and took Ciao Bella for our first winter sail.   I took Friday off work and planned to leave Poole around 10:30.  I had a little outboard adjustment to do before setting off so I got down there nice and early.  On my previous potter, the outboard was struggling to go into reverse so I guessed the clamp had slipped on the gear rod.  An easy adjustment, which I had done in 10 minutes.

Looking back at Hengistbury head
After faffing about a bit, I set off at 10:40.   The breeze was enough for a reasonable sail but sadly was coming from the east with just a bit of south in it.  3 hours in and I was still short of Hengisbury Head.  Although maintaining a speed of 3 to 4 knots, I was having to tack so I fired up the outboard to assist.  At a little over tick over the speed was up to 5 knots and the ability to point into wind improved significantly.
The Isle of Wight from Christchurch bay
It dawned on me that the short winter days put pressure on me to press on to Yarmouth.  As 3pm approached and still 7NM from Yarmouth it was time to turn the wick up on the engine.  Visibility wasn't great, it was going to get dark quickly and I was cold.
Hurst Castle
I arrived at Yarmouth at Dusk, stood outside and dropped the sails before entering the harbour.  I had a quick check of the engine controls and 'Bugger'.. I would not go into reverse.  In fact worse than that.. I wouldn't even go into neutral and the lever felt like it was not connected.  So with permanent drive and having to cut the engine to slow the boat, I tentatively entered the harbour. One good thing about this time of year is the amount of space in the harbour. I was able to do a U turn to point back into wind, pick a nice big empty piece of pontoon, aim, kill the engine and drift along side.
After settling up at the office I went in search of supper and was duly obliged at the Bugle Coaching Inn.   A gurt big slab of steak pie and a couple of pints of Timothy Taylor was just what the doctor ordered.

A welcome pint by the fire.
I did have another reason for coming to the island, although just a flimsy excuse to go sailing,  I had bought a second hand VHF and had agreed to collect it here.  It's a cracking bit of kit.   Lowrance Link-2.  It's a water proof DSC hand held with built in GPS and powered by a Lithium Ion battery. 

I turned in quite early for a decent nights sleep wrapped up in two sleeping bags, which seemed to keep the worst of the cold out.  
I was up and ready to leave by 0730.  One of the neighbouring had already sailed but I was happy to leave it until daylight.  I hadn't been able to fix the gear selector on the outboard, the clamp which holds the sector shaft together had broken.  I'd have to plan my arrival back at Poole well, but in the meantime I only needed to go forward.
Once out of the harbour I unfurl about two thirds of the genoa and that was enough to whip out of the Solent at over 7 knots.  Even in Christchurch bay Ciao Bella maintained 5 to 6 knots with just the genoa out.  Eventually the speed dropped to 4 knots so I decided to raise the main with a reef in it.  The speed was once again well over 5 knots.  I was making great time and had made it past Hengistbury head by the two hour mark.  The VHF had been fairly quite bar a pan pan for a Yellow Micro plus which had broken down in Langstone harbour.  Then came the Securite from the Coastguard announcing the imminent arrival of a Gale.  Bugger, I was still 2 hours from the harbour entrance and the wind was definitely building as were the waves.  I was having to concentrate hard to stop the rig gybing as the hull skewed on the passing waves.  Have to say, I was glad to turn the corner into the harbour. It was like I'd blinked and woken up in a different day.
The last hurdle to overcome was to make an elegant arrival on my new birth.  I'd been shunted up the marina to free up the deeper birth that I'd been on.  Sadly the new birth was right by the hotel bar and the wind was blowing straight into it.    My plan was to approach as slowly as possible while maintaining steerage and slip a bowline over a pontoon cleat from the winch.  It was a good plan but I didn't get close enough to hook the cleat.  Ciao came to a halt with a jolt but not enough to cause any damage.  She drifted slightly towards the neighbouring boat but a good shove and I got her back against the pontoon.  It wasn't really a bad landing considering being blown in and having no reverse.

So how do I like winter sailing? On the whole the trip felt more of a chore than enjoyment.  The days are too short and too cold for longer trips.  The lack of other vessels made for a pleasant change, both in Poole harbour and the Solent. I think I'll probably stick to short day sails as the opportunity arises.  
A decent pair of gloves and some warm sailing boots are now high on the wishlist.

No comments:

Post a Comment