Poole ….. not far to go now ….. Oops ….. We’ve Arrived!

After our early start we didn’t do a great deal once safely berthed, showers, cold beer and dinner ……. Barry took a quick look around the motorbikes on the sea front on his return from getting clean …… the bike display is a weekly event, sometimes they get up to 10,000 on these evenings, that include some rare and beautiful machines! We contacted Ray & Sandra regarding the folding bikes we’re looking at buying and will see them on Wednesday morning at 10am.

The motorbikes leaving later that evening didn’t affect our beauty sleep, with only an occasional rock from leaving fishing boats’ wake, to assist our slumber! Another beautiful day dawned and after breakfast Ray collected us in his car, the two folding bikes they were selling are in a fair condition, Ruth found them very easy to ride …….. and as they need a little work and a service, our offer was accepted, after a brew Ray then took us back to the marina with our latest assets. We had a quick bite to eat and then went for a good stroll along the sea front to Parkstone Marina, where we stopped for a cake and a drink in the cafe ……. not the cheapest place, especially as Ruth was charged 40p for a splash of milk in her coffee!!

Back around to the marina and sea front we had a couple of drinks before having a shower and then going out for a steak dinner ……. which was absolutely fabulous. During the late afternoon Barry had also contacted Chichester Marina again about ‘winter berthing’, only to be told there was now no room for us, but we could go on the waiting list! Bearing in mind it was less than a week since he’d previously been told there was room, we were fairly disappointed and immediately sent e-mails to other marinas about their availability to accommodate SW for the winter.

Thursday morning we decided to go ashore for a cooked breakfast, before departing across Christchurch Bay, through Hurst Point and in to Newton Creek for our last night before going home. After our fry up Barry was prepping the boat when he had a call from Premier Marinas, yes Port Solent could accommodate us for the winter and also from now until the winter package starts on 1st Oct …… a great relief all round, as we’d both had a disturbed night following the previous day’s let down!

We’d also noticed for the first time on this trip two other F-Ribs ….. on slightly larger yachts than SW …..

It was another fairly breezy day 12-20kts from NW, once prepped we slipped out of the marina and once the decks were tidy, set a full Genoa and the Main with a small reef, almost directly outside the marina entrance, sailing down through Poole Harbour and out through the entrance, taking the inner shallow channel towards Hurst Point! Lowest depth was 2m …… given that we draw 1.85m, however, it was on a rising tide, so if we’d touched we wouldn’t be stuck for too long!

There was another yacht going in the same direction, not that we were ‘racing’ but judicious use of the gusts enabled us to gradually overhaul them and over the next hour or so put some distance between us, it was still a beautiful warm day, with decent wind and then we reached Hurst Point, with the tide helping we quickly popped through the narrows and overfalls with 10.6kts SOG, a first for Ruth as she’s never been through here before.

Past Yarmouth, we had by now decided it was pointless stopping in Newton Creek, originally planning to stop to make it two easy legs to Chichester rather than a long one, as we were now going to Port Solent and were still making great progress at over 9kts SOG, we just kept going. Our speed dropped a little going past Cowes as the tide was not directly with us,

but once clear and past Osborne House, things again picked up.

Next we were past Lee On Solent,

heading to Portsmouth Harbour entrance,

as we turned to port in the small boat channel we were head to wind, so quickly furled both sails away. We’d possibly had one of the best sails of the whole trip and a worthy end to our adventures ….. we motored in through the entrance and past the big marinas of Gosport & Haslar, continuing up Portsmouth Water and channel that leads to Port Solent, some 4.6Nm from the harbour entrance. As we neared Porchester we passed one of the Joint Services Victoria 34 boats ‘Syrinx’ ……. fond memories for Barry, who sailed on her in 2003 when he did his Day Skipper Course and again in 2004 with an incompetent skipper when they went to Brighton in a F10 gale!

We then called up the Port Solent lock, although it was virtually ‘free-flow’ we would need to stop to get berthing instructions and key fobs etc, Syrinx joined us in the lock as they were staying for the night. Once through we took the lazy option of driving bow in to our D01 berth,

right next to the facilities and Summer Wine’s home for the next 7mths.

After a celebratory cold beer, we started packing things up, had some dinner, then Ellie came down for a cold one on her way home from work …… she was slightly surprised we didn’t want to go home and were staying for one last night on the boat. She would return on Friday morning with the big car so we could start getting everything home. After showers we belatedly departed for the local pub ……. another Weatherspoon’s establishment, but the beer and Prosecco were good.

So that was our trip around the UK safely accomplished and one for Barry to cross off his ‘bucket’ list! Just over the 3mths duration, 2160Nm, 48 nights in marinas, 10 nights on buoys, 38 nights at anchor, ok a bit too much motoring, but some great sailing too. On the plus side the wildlife we’ve seen was absolutely fabulous and people we’ve met have been great too …… in another few years time, we may very well go back up to Scotland again, this time the other way around!

Decisions, Decisions …… Oh Just Keep Going!

The alarm call awoke us at 5am, although we’d both been awake on and off through the night when a particularly bad swell had rocked the bed too much! After a brew & breakfast and togged in our foulies we waited until just on 6am when it was sufficiently light to see any fishing buoys before lifting our anchor and departing eastwards once more…… with very little wind it was a motor again, the local seagulls getting a rude awakening when dolphins suddenly leapt out of the water …. causing them to immediately take flight and squawk their displeasure….

although by 8am there was some breeze so fill Genoa set to assist our progress. After 1.5hrs the wind was directly behind us, the sail just flapping so it was furled away, by now we were starting to really get the tidal assistance and were galloping across Lyme Bay.

Our waypoint ‘decision’ spot was still a way off, but we’d already convinced ourselves that getting to Swanage would be better than heading in to Portland. By now Ruth was helming, despite the uncomfortable swelly seas ……. a significant improvement to last week …… the boat now averaging 10kts SOG! Once past the ‘Bill’ we next needed to stay clear of the Lulworth Firing Ranges that were active, listening to the range boats challenging other yachts to steer clear on the radio!

We managed to hold the tide all the way to Durlston Head where we turned northwards towards Swanage ……. however, our rapid progress meant by this time we’d reassessed our options and were now going all the way to Poole!

Past Old Harry rocks…….

By now we were also sailing…… nice to have the engine off…… getting down to the entrance channel to Poole Harbour, once in the entrance there was no chain ferry to contend with, although there was a sailing dinghy that had broken its mast ……. we managed to signal to a local boat to give them assistance (which they did), although we would have helped ourselves but it would have been difficult.

Initially intending to go into Parkstone Marina they were full, so ended up in Town Quay Marina, not the easiest berthing, wind blowing us off the pontoon, but Ruth managed to successfully lasso a cleat and the rest is history!

Our 66Nm passage taking just 9hrs and only 2 small hops to get home left to do!

What Alarm Call? ………

To catch the tide and get around to Brixham, the alarm was set for 07.00hrs ……. Barry waking at 07.30 and no alarm ……. for some strange reason iphone went from 90% battery at 22.00 to nothing sometime during the night ….. hence no alarm call!

Quickly in our stride and breakfasted, the hook was raised at 0815, just after a deluge……. with little wind it was a motor job for the first few hours until we were past Salcombe and Start Point, as we turned 90 degrees to port we then managed to sail up through Start Bay, seeing some lovely beaches along the way ……… although somewhat slowly as we were now tide against.

Past Dartmouth and heading towards Brixham we had some reservations about Brixham ….. the CA website talks about fishing boats and wake in the anchorage and the MDL Marina is again £4/m. We had by now seen a small bay, protected from the SW wind that was mentioned in the CA app, headsail away, motor back 1/2 mile, drop hook …. what more do we need?

The anchorage has been a bit rolly due to the swell curling around the headland, but certainly no fishing boat wake to worry about!

Early alarm call to get all the easterly tide we can …… as we need to get past the Portland Bill Race tomorrow! We’ve set a Waypoint off the ‘Bill’ for tomorrow and depending on our progress with the tide will either head in to Portland or aim for Swanage!

Childhood Home Port Visit …….

Wednesday morning and pouring with rain, we went ashore for a great cooked breakfast …… good idea Al ….. Ruth did some washing, we then left our berth (£48!) and headed out to the Helford River, picking up a buoy for the night (£25 & no facilities!).

The boys launched 1350, went ashore for a beer whilst Ruth cooked dinner, another quiet night on board. Thursday morning Barry & Alan again launched 1350 to explore the river and side estuaries, lots of people fishing off boats, limited access to the side estuaries due to low water, but plenty to explore during our next visit! We then departed for Fowey, wind 15kts from SW, our course to NE …… with a big rolly following sea ……. not Mrs Cs favourite point of sail by any means of the imagination! We tried various options and ended up sailing off the wind with engine & Genoa to minimise the discomfort & appease SWMBO ! Once in through the entrance to Fowey and a rather large breaking sea …… we were looking at picking up a buoy when we could see a gap on a floating pontoon. Quick manoeuvre around between boats & buoys, fenders & lines out, we were safely alongside …… although still subject to the considerable swell rolling through the harbour.

Barry & Alan launched 1350 and went ashore for a beer, careful to not get too wet crossing the river, whilst Ruth had a shower on board, the boys ended up in Gallant Yacht Club …… extremely friendly, beer reasonably priced and allow visitors to use their showers, so quick return to SW for towels etc, before coming clean in the GYC!

The wind and swell did eventually ease late evening, but was back again on Friday morning …… another quick trip ashore for fresh Cornish Pasties, before leaving our berth and heading off ……. before anyone came around for payment! Again out through the big seas off the entrance, with many other yachts having the same idea we set reefed main & Genoa, quickly making 7.5kts with the tide, the motion and swell not great, but a huge improvement on the day before! As we neared Rame Head the wind started to drop and before we got to the breakwater we had to start motoring.

For Barry entering Plymouth Harbour (his home port) in his own boat was a huge moment, we then approached Sutton Harbour Marina lock and swiftly went through on ‘free-flow’, berthing close to the reception building. After showers it was time to explore the Barbican, which has been hugely redeveloped over the last few years and not something Barry recognises from his childhood days! We eventually settled on eating in a small fish restaurant called ‘Platters’ ……. the food was absolutely outstanding after a nightcap in a pub it was back to SW.

Saturday morning …. Al got all packed up to head home, departing around 11ish, Barry & Ruth tidied the boat, had lunch and then caught the bus to visit his mother ….. a great afternoon looking at and reminiscing over old photos, mum was in fine fettle! Back to SW we then repeated Friday evening, beer, meal in Platters before retiring!

Sunday morning, went shopping for fresh food and some diesel, showered, had lunch, paid our dues (£51.00 per night!) and prepped for departure around 13.00 ……. only to be told the lock was closed to us until circa 15.15 as today was one of the lowest spring tides of the year and we couldn’t exit over the lock gate cill! We eventually got out at 15.30, motoring across the harbour against the wind to Cawsand Bay,

dropping the hook and watching other boats, sailing, arriving or leaving from the anchorage. This is a lovely little bay and somewhere we will visit for an extended period in the future.

A lovely quiet night, we have also now decided that we’re going to go straight back to Chichester with minimal stops; Brixham, Portland, Poole, Newton, Chichester as next year we intend spending an extended time exploring the South West Coast properly!

Goodbye Wales ….. Hello Cornwall

Saturday dawned fair, we’d all had an excellent sleep and didn’t move particularly early after our exertions of the previous days! A leisurely breakfast ….. Ruth cooked scrummy oat pancakes, was followed by a lazy day as the wind was 20+kts and trying to get ashore in 1350 would have been a rather wet experience, in fact we cracked the first beers & prosecco early afternoon! The wind eventually eased around 5pm, so we launched for shore, went for a walk around the village, before having a beer, Alan relocating his car to save another £5 in car parking ……, back on board we had a lovely meal and another peaceful night.

Sunday morning was again lovely and sunny, we went ashore after breakfast to resupply the fridge in Milford Haven …… Alan had an unpleasant surprise with a parking ticket on his windscreen! Shopping sorted, back to SW for lunch then we went around the headland to a small bay and spent time on a lovely sunny beach.

Monday morning wasn’t so much a dawn as thick fog …… Alan took Jill ashore as she had work on Tuesday,

we then prepped for our departure from Wales, planning to head for Falmouth/Plymouth, as Alan needed to be in Dartmouth to sail in their regatta on Thursday. Dropping the buoy (huge thanks to Kevin & Tina!), and heading out, through the fog,

Barry couldn’t get the radar to work, despite trying numerous times and even resorting to initial set up mode! So all eyes on deck watching out …… after a couple of miles we were in brilliant sunshine and then managed to sail …. this lasted for about 5hrs, before the wind died and it was diesel spinnaker time!

We quickly settled in to a 3hr watch system between the boys, with Ruth helping out with an occasional hour or two on the helm, we passed Lands End around 6am, with Ruth harnessed to the mast shining a spot light forward looking for fishing buoys in the inner channel! Mid morning Alan was informed that the RAFSA sailing in Dartmouth was cancelled …… due to lack of numbers, so that made the decision to head for Falmouth easy. Eventually tying alongside in Mylor Marina 24 1/2hrs after leaving Dale for our 148Nm passage.

After showers and a leisurely afternoon, we walked around the coastal path to Flushing, had a few drinks and a wonderful meal in the pub, before returning back to SW for more much needed rest!

Engine Properly Fixed …… & Head For Wales …..

After our long day on Tuesday, Wednesday was “properly fix and reassemble the engine day” ….. a good 4 hrs to remove faulty coolant pipe, repair with coolant hose ‘sleeve’, refit and reassemble all the stuff removed on Tuesday, run & test! It transpires that the cause of our pipe chaffing, was a broken ‘P’ support bracket, allowing the pipe to drop sufficiently to touch the engine bearer! Ruth gave the boat a good clean through too, so a productive day.

Mid afternoon we went for a walk, but Ruth started with a migraine, so quickly retraced steps back to SW so she could take some pills & sleep it off ……. 2 hrs later she was as right as rain, so we went for a drink and got some dinner, a very nice seafood meal too! We popped in to the sailing club for a drink before turning in …… 16euros for 2 G&Ts …… dearer than the pub!

Thursday morning, we moved promptly, Ruth put dinner in the ‘hay box’ cooker and we went to get some ‘nibbles’ for our passage ….sadly disappointed, so paid our dues (98 euros & dearest to date) and departed around 10am, conditions again rapidly increased to 20-25kts and we were fairly hard on the wind, so motor sailed, dodging big ships entering and exiting Dublin port as we were just outside the TSS lanes, meeting other ships as we went down through the channels inside the outer reefs on our journey south, eventually reaching the entrance to Arklow. The seas being particularly big the last 2 hrs when we had two huge ‘greenies’ absolutely deluge us, before finally getting alongside on the river pontoon just after 6pm! Busy evening: dinner, showers, shopping at Aldi, helping another boat raft against us, then move them to pontoon once we’d all squeezed up, dinner cooked in hay box for Friday.

Friday morning alarm set for 4am …… we exited the pier heads and set reefed sails in the dark, again going tight on to the wind and motor sailing to get as far south as we could, with the forecasted wind (7-15kts) due to back and ease as the day progressed. Within 20 mins, we were experiencing 27kts wind, so furled more Genoa away and continued with this set up for a few hours. Experiencing another couple of ‘greenies’ from the large seas ….. as the morning progressed the wind gradually eased, we correspondingly unfurled the sails …… Ruth was helming around 11am when she first spotted land …… St David’s Head in Wales, however, we were still not at the half distance of the passage!

Just after 12 noon, the wind backed further pushing our ground track off to 120 degrees, so head sail furled ….. we motored straight to windward and down past the Bishops & Clerks set of islands, by now and mid afternoon the sun had eventually started to show its face, with a resultant rise in temperature, culminating in having to remove ‘foulies’ around 4pm as it was now roasting!

Down past S Bishop lighthouse, we skirted the west of Skomer Island before heading through Broad Sound (between Skomer & Skokholm islands), next was St Anne’s Head,

then a turn to port and in through the entrance to Milford harbour. Once inside we again turned to port to head towards Dale …… Kevin (Swm Y Mor) has a private mooring buoy just off the Dale Fort Pier, which he said we could use for the weekend. A large white buoy (the only white buoy!) amongst the other buoys, quickly identified we easily picked it up, used our mooring bridle to safely attach ourselves and cracked a cold beer.

Our 86Nm mile passage had taken just on 13hrs, but we were now safely back in Great Britain territory …… a great sense of achievement for both of us!

After showers on board, making beds and room for Alan & Jill to come aboard for the weekend, it was time to launch 1350 and head ashore ….. table booked in Dale Yacht Club for 8.30pm …… A&J were running late due to Friday & Bank Holiday weekend traffic. We photographed the menu and sent it by phone so we could then order for them, the staff in the YC were extremely helpful, we had a great meal together before all heading back to SW.

Coastguard ….. This Is Yacht Summer Wine …….

Destination Howth in Ireland, Navionics says a 56Nm passage !! An early start we again left just on 7am and about 30mins after Kevin on Swn Y Mor, to make the most of the tide and wind which was forecast to go from NW to SW as the day progressed. Once outside with 20kts wind we had reefed sails and were making very good progress westwards, after quite a few hours the wind then got quite fickle and started to back, so we tacked to head further in land and try to pick up the south going tide, but despite having unfurled the sails, the wind had dropped and our progress was slow, so we started to motor sail.

A couple of hours later Barry noticed the engine temperature start to rise so quickly shut down the engine and back to sailing, with autopilot engaged it was time to go below and have a look see ……. quickly seeing that all the engine coolant was sloshing around in the engine bilge, as by now we had 20kts wind and fairly big seas. Although the Thornycroft engine is original to the boat, it is very reliable, uses no oil and doesn’t normally leak, Barry had also only topped it up with a little water before we’d left, so no previous warning signs! Its not that easy to clean up dirty coolant water at sea with a boat bucking around, but it was eventually accomplished, there was no readily evident leak despite putting more water in. Suspecting the water pump, Barry removed the timing case cover to find nothing amiss, so filled the header tank and continued sailing. Intention being to get to Howth and start the engine just to get into the marina …… and investigate further once there.

At this stage Barry phoned the marina and asked for a straight in berth as we had an engine overheat issue, which they agreed to, allocating us the first hammerhead inside the marina. We also thought it prudent to tell someone, hence …… Coastguard this is Yacht Summer Wine! They were very helpful, once we explained the problem and gave our position, they picked us up on AIS (a very good investment!), I said I would continue sailing to Howth, they responded saying they would keep an eye on us and to let them know if we needed any assistance at any point.

Once we had finished with the CG, the radio again went and it was Kevin on Swm Y Mor, they’d heard our call and did we need any help or a tow, as although they were by now 9Nm further south, they would turn around and help us! I thanked him for the offer, but said we were happy to continue tacking south, it would be a long sail, but we’ve a sailing boat after all!

After another 2hrs, Barry was still perplexed about this leak, so again went down below to investigate, looking from a different angle he quickly spotted that an engine coolant pipe was touching an engine bearer bolt, this was obscured behind another pipe. When touching pipe was moved it could be felt that a hole had been chaffed in the bottom of it ….. after a 30min bodge it and scarper repair …… sanitary hose, silicon instant gasket sealer and 3 jubilee clips, coolant topped up and engine ran with no leaks for 30mins ….. result!

We called the CG told them the engine was fixed, they thanked us and requested we call back when safely in Howth, we now motor sailed to Howth, eventually securing alongside at 8.35pm ……. our 56Nm passage ended up being 84Nm ….

a very long and challenging day, but good practice for Friday when we go across St Georges Channel to Wales! Also a really good day for Ruth, as she spent considerable time on the helm in very challenging conditions, whilst Barry was head down in the engine below ……. a proper team effort!