20 July 2010

Beautiful sailing, lots of fiddling jobs and modelling for the media... (23.7nm 260.7nm total)

Two days unexpected sailing due to various changes. Weather glorious, depsite very iffy forecasts. Started out just sitting on the boat as the tide was so low I couldn't do anything else. I had grounded the dinghy twice just getting to the mooring. I was admiring the sea bottom and noticed that some unfortunate had lost his bow roller, which was just lying there on the bottom. Then I noticed that it was just the same as my bow roller. Identical in fact. Fortunately the tide was so low that I could just stick my arm in the water to retrieve it and then figure out how I was going to fit it back on.

I had used embarassingly small screws to hold it in place. I couldn't stick it back on the port where it came from as the screw holes where it had ripped out were now too large to grip. So I had to go ashore, get my bike out and cycle to a chandlers for new bigger screws and a drill bit to fit them. Got back, rowed out and after the usual fiddles managed to secure the roller much more firmly on the starboard side of the stemhead. Now the anchor chain would chafe the jib furling line, so that, with all of its fairleads and cleat, would have to be transferred to the port side. Fine except the space between the cabin and the inside of the bulwark, where the fairleads were secured, was so tight I couldn't get a screwdriver in. So back ashor, onto the bike again to go and get a stubby screwdriver. Finally got the whole lot set up and set off.

After tootling round the harbour set off out to old Harry Rocks (AKA Handfast Point) to rendevous with David Harding of Practical Boat Owner, who is doing a Baycruiser review soon and wanted some action photos. He roared up in his Sailing Scenes catamarran and I had to model for half an hour, sailing up and down and trying to stop the sails flapping. Felt just like a super model. He must have taken scores of photos, of which I expect three will be OK. He uses the most enormous camera. A great big thing the size of his head.

After that I set off back into the Harbour. I started my engine for the entrance, as they ask you to do. The rope recoiled, caught on the tiller, hopped up and there was a horrible grating sound. Engine stopped and the starter rope just hung out loosely at full length. Decided the best place to be with no engine would be back on my mooring, so I sailed all the way back and then picked it up under sail. Very messy as I was going dead downwind into the moorings, which is not ideal. I turned up into the wind and got it wrong, but managed to drift backwards down wind and by the skin of my teeth managed to hook the mooring with the boat hook held out by my finger tips. Good thing I have long arms.

After a very peaceful night I was up with the dawn chorus, literally. There was no one around and the gentlest of on shore breezes, so I risked sailing in to the marina pontoon, which worked. Then even better,  I called into the engineers on site, Yellow Penguin, who said they could fix the outboard and would have it ready by next weekend. Even better, an hour later they rang me to say they had fixed it already. The pull cord had jumped off its pulley and they just had to untangle it. All works again. I would recommend them.

After a morning cleaning the boat and airing the cushions in the sunshine I set off, under sail (only hit one other boat...) and stormed across to Green Island. I have never landed on the southern beach there, so went in this time. There was a tidal stand for over four hours, so little risk of getting stuck. It is very shallow, but very beautiful. The only blots on the view are the signs saying "Private Property, No Landing" There's no one on the island as far as I can see, so that seems mean. I landed and then went swimming.

The only other blots are the kayakers. There are no jet skis in this side of the Harbour, which is a blessing. But they are replaced by squadrons of silent kayakers. You think you are alone with the world and the sea birds, and when you turn around there is a fleet of them gawping at you. Very friendly, but I wish they would keep out of my way. I nearly ran one down earlier. He was just in my blind spot behind the jib. He had no idea how close he had come to being sliced in half.

Tried snorkelling again, which was delightful (yes, even in the English sea) but so turbid you can barely see a thing. I tried out the camera, which really does work under water, but you can't see anything which is more than 6 inches away. The island was sold for several million pounds about three years ago, but it nevers seems to be used. I think it was a trophy purchase by a millionaire who probably never comes.

Then back across the harbour to moor again. Met up with Matt Newland, designer and builder of my boat, who had come to help the new owner of Baycruiser no. 3, who had the sad experience of his mast coming down due to a loose shroud shackle. I've been around tightening mine and fitting cable ties through them just in case.

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