22 July 2011

Day 3: Lymington to Poole, total trip 57nm (annual total 296)

No problems with the return journey, other than lack of usable wind so I motored all the way. I had to leave around 0630 to catch the ebb tide past Hurst point and then had a favourable current for an hour or so. I passed much too close to Hengistbury Head at low tide and hit my centreboard on the bottom. I really should have been much further off.
Finally turned into Poole Harbour, which is always magical because it is like a world of its own, hidden away from the Channel outside. Tided up to the waiting pontoon and went into town for lunch. Packed all away as I won't be down for a few weeks and then made one of those obvious discoveries.
I usually motor away for the pontoon in reverse, back into the marina and then motor out forwards to the mooring buoy. Feeling lazy, I decided just to carry on in reverse all the way. It was a revelation. You come up to the mooring buoy backwards under complete control and no risk of the bow being blown off. You are by the engine and the buoy at the same time. You could just lean down and pick up the buoy without a boat hook if you wanted. Holding the buoy, just flick the engine into neutral and your drift carries the boat on as you walk to the bow and drop the loop over the samson post. It was all so easy. why do we insist on doing it going forwards, which can be a nightmare?

Day 2: Yarmouth to Lymington via Newtown River

I had no idea what time the Raiders would be arriving in Lymington, but thought it would be mid-afternoon. I spent a long time in the morning titivating the boat and wandering round Yarmouth in the sunshine. I was admiring Daisy G from the far side of the harbour when I suddenly realised that if I looked at her straight on from the stern I could see that her mast was not quite vertical, and probably never has been. That could account for why she tacks one way better than the other. Next half hour spent adjusting the lanyards on the shrouds.
The current was eastwards for a few hours, so I set out to go towards Newtown River. Complete contrast to the previous day. Barely a breath of wind off the land and warm sun in a mainly blue sky. I drifted along the coast for about six miles, with most of the work done by the current. I devised a very comfortable cruising position, stretched out along a side bench, leaning back against the stern coaming. Not a great view forward, but very pleasant. Off Newtown I eventually had to start the engine or I would have been swept past. I motored in and down the arms of the inlet very slowly. I have heard eulogies of the beauty of Newtown, but I was not greatly impressed. It is mainly mudflats, and nothing that special. I like the entrance area, where the shingle and sand banks are steep too and easy to land on. I landed on the west side and went for a swim. Cold. It is a nice spot to swim as you are in deep water quickly, but you have to be very careful of the strong currents or you will get swept away.
Motoring out I found that although there was a very strong inward current running, there was a large backeddy on the East side which allowed you to keep out of most of it.  Outside I set full sail and started towards Beaulieu River. A pretty gaff cutter was heading towards me and the crew seemed to be running around oddly. Then I realised they were putting a reef in. I looked up at the sky and thought I might just do the same. Good decision. Huge black clouds flew up, the wind got up and the rain poured down in under ten minutes. I completely lost sight of the land on both sides in the rain and had to genuinely follow my GPS for the first time. Without compass or GPS you could not have the slightest idea what direction you were sailing in, or if the wind was just blowing you round in circle. I set the course for Lymington and sailed that way for a couple of hours.
Eventually the rain stopped and I motored up the channel behind a ferry. Tied up near a Drascombe and a BayRaider and went for a walk around Lymington. Very pretty and more yacht chandlers than I have ever seen in one place. In the evening had a good meal with the Raiders in the Royal Lymington Yacht Club.

Day 1: Sailing to Yarmouth

I went down early in the morning, but not early enough. I needed to get to Hurst Point before 1330 to get the tide through. I should have left Poole by 0900 but it was nearer 1000. The wind was strong, I reckoned F5, but I gathered later is was F5-7 plus! But from the West, so it would be behind me. I set out double reefed and motoring, with some degree of nervousness. Turning East outside the harbour it didn't seem too bad as I had the  wind and current with me, so I set off motor sailing for maximum speed. I planned that if I couldn't make Hurst, I would drop back to Christchurch. In retrospect that would not have been fun, as it would have been a 2-3 hour slog back against the wind and then the ebb tide from Christchurch would have been against me. As it was, I reached Hurst  and made it through with less than half an hour to spare. It took just three and a half hours, when normally I would expect four and a half. The GPS recorded a maximum speed of 9.2kts! That would have been sliding down a swell which must have been about 2m high. I shook out one reef, which seems daft thinking back on it, but the boat was handling well. Sliding down waves she did try to broach, and having the motor on probably gave me more control. I also wonder if in a strong down wind run it might reduce weather helm to furl the mizzen. But I wasn't trying it then.
Once in the Solent the wind was quickly damped down by the land and I was off Yarmouth in about 20 minutes. I furled all sails and motored in with some relief, forking out the extra for a walk ashore pontoon. Most of the afternoon the rain just poured down, so hard it beat the water flat. I either sat under the spray hood and watched it fall, or sat in the Bugle and had a pint. I had read a lot of vitriol about the changes at Yarmouth, where they have removed all but six of the pile moorings and replaced them with floating pontoons. It was a "loss of beloved tradition", "people LIKE mooring between piles" etc. I have done it once nearly thirty years ago and never want to do it again. I noticed that no one used the remaining piles the whole time I was there.
The Bugle does a good dinner.

20 July 2011

Completed my mini-Raid

Motored back to Poole today after sailing to Yarmouth, Newtown River and Lymington. More deatails when I have the time. Here's the map.

View Mini Raid 2011 in a larger map

18 July 2011

In Yarmouth

I'm sitting on Daisy G, in the rain in Yarmouth harbour. I am joining the English raid just for a day tomorrow, over in Lymington. Sailed 20nm in F5-6, downwind but motor sailing all the way, because I had to make the tidal gate at Hurst Point, and I was late. I made it with fifteen minutes to spare! Averaged 5.4kts and hit 9.2 surfing down a wave! Quite rewarding, but I still prefer warm sunshine and gentle breezes. I will go to newtown River before Lymington if the weather is at all good. Keeping my fingers crossed for fair winds home on Wednesday.

13 July 2011

More on the solar panel

My original 1.5W panel was just about up to the job, but marginal. I had one weekend where the depth sounder went blank towards the end of the second day. From what I read recently in Practical Boat Owner Magazine, it seemed that a 5W panel should suffice. I looked at various options and Sunshine Solar were offering a 10W panel at the same price as a 5W for that week so I took the plunge for that. I am planning to instal navigation lights at some stage, so the extra power might be useful.

The panel was delivered in under 24 hours, but they forgot to put in the regulator. That came 24 hours later. The regulator is cheap, rated up to 100W and from my point of view was perfect, as it had three wired in connectors so I didn't have to figure out which wire went where. It all just plugged together and matched the existing battery connector.

Where to position the panel? Nowhere is perfect. I have opted as far forward as the cable will reach on the roof, but off to one side. It is shaded some times by the jib sheet, but not by the boom. To fix it I used just a blob of Sikaflex at each corner, with a short fat screw through each blob, just to hold it down whilst the Sikaflex set. It follows the slight curve of the deck so should be safe from cracking when I inevitably stand on it.
All the cables run through self adhesive mini-ducting, which seems to work very well and is hardly visible, but easy to change.. One change not on the photo. The ducting runs under the centre board up-haul, which chafes it. I have glued a stainless steel anti chafe strip over this to make sure neither the rope nor the cable rubs through. When I plugged in the panel, a little "charging" LED lit up, which was very rewarding. It glowed until remarkably late in the evening, even after the sun had just set, but how much power it generates then I have no idea. Now just to see if it does the job.

12 July 2011

Weekend installing new solar panel and tootling round the Harbour (31nm total 239)

Spent two nights at anchor. Got to the boat late afternoon and fitted a simple solar regulator and a new solar panel. I have a new 10W one which I managed to get at the price of a 5W one, so thought I may as well go for it. I was amazed that the plugs between the various parts were the same as those on the Maplin panel I had, so everything just clicked into place. even the conduit on the cabin roof could be reused, so the whole lot went in much more easily than I feared. then I fitted new supports for the boom scissors, which are much more substantial and probably far bigger than they need to be.

I realigned the jib sheet cleats a bit, but think that they probably still need to be angled a bit more to get a straight sheet run. With the new blocks on the clew friction is much more noticeable so I need to reduce it as much as possible.I have also fitted new cam cleats for the topping lifts/lazy jacks, and the boom kicking strap. These make it much quicker to reef the sail single handed.

On the second day I just sailed round the harbour in up to F6 winds. Mainly just jib and mizzen and I was still hitting 6 kts on occasion. Tacking is not so easy, but if you haul the mizzen to windward as you push the tiller down, she nearly always goes round.

One the third day we finally had some sun and i sailed out to Studland Bay, but the clouds threatened and it was cool, so I headed back for home quite early.

3 July 2011

Mini Raiding

I can't make the English Raid this year because of other commitments, but I am planning to go for the first night in Lymington. It will give me a chance to catch up with others and see what they have been doing to their boats. I am likely to be doing it on my own, so hope the weather is kind to us all.

2 July 2011

More BayCruisers

I saw two other BayCruisers last week in Poole Harbour. No 3, which is moored alongside me in Parkstone Bay, which I have never seen sailing before, and no6 "Jaunty" which I thought was based in Chichester so maybe was just in Poole for a visit.

1 July 2011

Four days sailing and meeting up with friends (56nm total 208nm)

I took a few days leave and spent them on the boat. My wife joined me for one night and we met up with friends sailing their Hawk 20 over from Christchurch. We even had some quite decent weather. The first night I anchored off Redhorn quay and watched four Chinese men in an minute inflatable dinghy putting out long floating fishing nets. They said they netted some mackerel, which I think unlikely in the Harbour. More likely bass, bream or mullet. How they didn't fall in I don't know, they were paddling round for hours.
The next day I met up with Hester, a Hawk 20 which friends had sailed over from Christchurch. It had blown up to F6 in the morning and I had abandoned sailing in Poole Bay, but the time they came over it was almost flat calm and they had to motor much of the distance. We hailed each other on VHF which was a first for both of us. amazing that it actually works. I kept forgetting to press the button when I was talking, which led to disjointed understanding. We sailed up the Wareham Channel and then motored slowly up the Frome to Wareham where we tied up overnight.
Wareham is a lovely old town and the quayside is almost unique in allowing free mooring on the quay for up to 48 hours at no charge. I think it just adds to the atmosphere of the place. I was moored under a street light and I had to fix a dark blue tea towel over the main hatch to keep it off me  whilst I slept. The only disturbance was a group of lads diving in of the bridge at midnight. But nobody drownded. (I had been for my first swim in the harbour earlier in the day. Cold...)
Panorama of the Wareham water front with Daisy G near the bridge and Hester tied up to a large catamaran.

Good restaurant in Wareham and they aid I could take my Guinness outside, so I had it on my boat. Very civilised.

In the morning I was up before all the others, so had my breakfast on the riverbank, watching a painter set up his easel by the bridge. I went over to see what he was doing and saw a beautiful picture emerging with Daisy G in the fore front. I asked, just out of interest of course, how much he would charge for eth painting when finished. he grinned and said "Around four to five thousand pounds" !!! I Checked his web site. That IS what he charges (http://www.peterbrownneac.com/) I'm not sure I want a picture of my boat that much. He said it will be on his website by the end of the year. That might be as close as I get.

After breakfast I pumped up the dinghy and rowed upriver under the bridge, where I have never been before. Absolutely delightful. The epitome of an English river in the summer, with trees brushing the water, kingfishers zipping over the water, and lazy cows looking over the bank side vegetation. I only had time to go half a mile or so before turning back

View 2011-06-28 09:18 in a larger map

When the rest finally emerged from their B&B I took AH as crew down the Frome and then sailing round to shipstal Point. AH nearly wrecked a port hand marker, tangling a reefing line around it. I had just said to him (You don't want to get yours lines tangled round that, like I did a couple of years ago". It took him only five seconds to do just that. We managed to unhook ourselves, but left the stake at 45 degrees. To make it more embarrassing, the pilot boat was by Shipstal, checking and resetting all the channel markers. Were they going to give us stick? No fortunately, but three days later the marker is still canted.

A curious incident as we anchored. We thought of running up the beach, but the beach slope only let us get near. I hopped out and picked up the anchor and stood there for a moment, clutching it muddily to my breast, up to my shins in liquid gloop. At that point, a bird watcher on the beach grinned and greeted me by name! Am I that well known? As I was near tripping and being dragged under by the anchor I said "I'm a bit preoccupied at the moment, I'll get back to you." Turns out he is a Winkle Brig owner and knows me from the  winkle Brig web site I still manage (http://www.jegsweb.co.uk/boats/winklebrig/winklebrig1.htm) He has been sailing in Poole Harbour for a holiday and had been keeping an eye open for me.

AH sailed back to Wareham on the Hawk and I sailed over to Parkstone where my wife arrived for the night. We drove over to Wareham for dinner and then back to Parkstone for a night on the marina pontoon (in the boat...). Then we sailed with the Hawk around Brownsea and had a rafted up picnic, before the Hawk headed back to Wareham and I sailed my wife back to the marina so she could get back home.
Rafted up for a picnic off Brownsea Island
After my wife had gone I did a few jobs whilst in the marina. I have fitted purchase system to the jib sheets, with a single block with becket on the cabin roof track and single blocks on the jib clew. This has transformed handling the sail. You have to pull in twice as much rope, but it is so easy. getting the sheet out of the cam cleat under load is easy, whereas before it was well nigh impossible under a hard press. should have done it ages ago. I also replaced my ole Celeron Powertank with a new 20Ah sealed lead acid battery, which I will now see if it can keep its charge with the 1.5W solar panel.

I thought the Powertank was shot as it still had no charge after a week in the sun. But when I got it home, I found the torch was turned on, so it would never have had a chance. I will see if the little solar panel is up to keeping the new battery topped up enough before I buy a bigger one, which will require a charge controller.

The only other jobs were to move the main sheet fixing forward on the boom, which seems to have worked for keeping the sheet away from the mizzen sprit heel, and moving the Handy Billy from the vertical part of the jib halyard by the mast, to the horizontal bit under the spray hood, where it is out of sight but also easy to reach.

Then a lovely slow sail back to Shipstal where I spent the last night, before back to work the next morning.

One note on impressive sailing. I spotted a smallish sloop anchored out west of Brownsea Island. About 30ft or so, noting very special. Except it was flying the Stars and Stripes and its home port was Portland, Oregon. On the US Pacific Coast. I think I have gone a long way when I get to Christchurch, two hours away.