Thursday, 14 June 2012

Adieu to Shoreham

I'm writing this on Thursday (14th June if you want the detail); Vagabond and I arrived at Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight at about 20:30 last night. It was a bit of a surprise, really which will be revealed to you in a later post.

Swans and Cygnets

How did we get here. Last you heard it was Sunday night and we'd arrived at Shoreham from Eastbourne, where we were greeted by a pair of swans and four cygnets. It then rained in sheets for about 36 hours. I'd left the washing up bowl in the cockpit and at the end of Monday there was about 38mm of water in it*.

By 09:00 last Tuesday we had cast off from the rather rickety pontoon at Shoreham Lady Bee marina (facilities – restaurants nil,  loos 4 out of 10,  a classic industrial vista offset by a cracking chandlers ) and were waiting in the sea lock for it to open and let us go. The passage plan (scribbled with “permanent” marker pen on an encapsulated sheet) said that we were bound past Selsey Bill for Chichester Harbour with an alternative of Littlehampton. Wind forecast was 18 kn from the North East, easing to 10 knots later.
 As the water level in the lock slowly went down, the lock keeper must have become anxious to let us go; suddenly the lock gate opened and a torrent of water poured out from the lock  into the river mouth.  I thought we would be practising for the Olympic slalom canoeing event but the mooring rope held. The water levels equalised and we were off.

Out into the English Channel and up with the main.

After about 10 minutes of crazy sailing, we settled on a very broad reach for Selsey Bill with the jib up and both reefs in the main. I needed to lean out a bit every now and again but wasn’t too worried because, after all, the forecast was for the wind to abate by noon.  White horses trotted along beside us. It started to rain. Again.  We romped along, once achieving 8.9 knots on the GPS, even though there was (in theory) a half knot of tide against us.  
It was cold, so I "heaved to" and put on some more layers. Despite this delay, Selsey Bill arrived ahead of schedule so  there was tide still against us. Navigation accuracy became important to get us in position through the Looe channel so I was concentrating on buoy spotting through the rain showers and a bit slow in shaking the reefs out . A couple of yachts came through the murk from the West, so we must be on the right track. We meandered along at 2 kn for half an hour or so until we were through the narrow bit and I woke up. Out came the reefs, just at the time that the wind backed to the West of North, giving us a head wind up the eastern arm of the Solent. The rain stopped. 
We tacked across the Solent towards Bembridge and found some tide flowing in our direction.  Once we had reached the shipping channel I tacked again but it was clear that we would need to tack a couple more times to get into Chichester. The sun came out.

Portsmouth in the sun
The Spinnaker tower in Portsmouth shone in it’s glory. I realised that the tide was now so strong up channel that we could make Portsmouth almost as quickly as Chichester.  On we went.  Suddenly we had traffic.

A Very Large Container ship came out of Southampton and, mindful of it’s wash, I gave it a lot of room. A cross channel ferry zoomed past. Then we were in the thick of it. Hovercraft ferries, catamaran ferries, ordinary ferries all going between the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth. Sailing dinghies, motor boats and large yachts too. All wanting to use the same little channel as Vagabond. It made for an eventful hour or so until we pushed our way through the narrows of Portsmouth, turned left to enter Haslar Marina.

Nine hours, wet almost through at one point and not a single photo to show for it. Average speed 4.5 knots . Another  40 miles off the total. 

Sadly, the decision to get to Portsmouth meant that I didn’t meet up with fellow Swallow boat owners in Chichester Harbour.

I thought we deserved a rest and planned to stay here for couple of nights so that I could meet the Elder Sister and her husband for lunch on the day “off”.

* An inch and a half Imperial

1 comment:

  1. Are you aiming for Poole at all? I shall be down there on Daisy Grace on Sunday June 17 from about 10:00 am. I'll keep an ear out for you on Channel 16