A fuller description of the boat trip…

Last night I didn’t have time to write anything other than a very quick note on here about the yachting in the Solent last Sunday and Monday, so this posting will attempt to redress the balance.

It all started a little over a week ago when Graham phoned me out of the blue asking if I’d like to go yachting in the Solent the Sunday and Monday coming. I couldn’t make a decision then and there as I had to get a day off from work and hence had to ask my colleague if it was OK. Anyway, as it turns out, I could get the day off so last Thursday e-mailed Graham and Rachel to give them the good news.

Saturday night I packed up everything I could for the next morning before I went to bed and settled in for an early night. Sunday morning was going to be starting a little earlier than normal as there were a few things I had to do before I left, such as phoning my parents at 8:15am before leaving the house by 8:45am.

Thankfully, the roads were pretty clear at that time of the morning so made good time, though Eversley’s main road was closed so I had to find another route into Yately. I finally arrived at Ramtops by about a quarter to ten and was greeted by Graham who was already busily packing the car.

It wasn’t long until we all bundled into the car, posted a few things in peoples’ letterboxes and then off down the M3 towards Hamble and specifically the Mercury marina where Graham’s Dad and the Civil Service Association’s 37 foot yacht, Sea Essay, were awaiting us.

After quickly stowing our equipment on the boat we cast off around midday. This was apparently essential due to the tide times as it would allow us time to sail around the Solent before we had to get into Yarmouth, where we were to spend the night.

Sunday’s weather was beautiful. Glorious sunshine, a westerly breaze and not too warm nor too cool. After negociating the marina the helm was given to Rachel to pilot us out of the Hamble and into Southampton Water under motor. This is when the first seven picture in my album were taken.

It wasn’t long, however, until it was time for Graham and I to earn our keep and put the sails up. I stowed my camera, got back up on deck and with instrauction from the skipper, raised the main sail and the jib sail. We were off.

We sailed down Southampton Water and into the Solent.. where we suddenly became becalmed. The breaze had been reasonably strong then then.. nothing. It was a good half a mile before suddenly the wind rose again and we there back on our course.

During our journey west we were running with the tide but against the wind, which meant that we had to tack quite often and the seas were quite choppy, especially when we went beyond the breakwater towards The Needles. We all took it in turn to steer the boat, which was at times quite tricky in the swell. It was a great relief when we turned and headed back towards Yarmouth with the wind as suddenly we went from battling the waves to surfing them. It’s like calk and cheese.. into the wind the boat crashed into the waved, pitched and yawed and then suddenly it was almost as if the roughness had been turned off and it was smooth, comfortable and easy to control the boat. I managed to snatch a little time to get my camera out and take another 11 photos.

We arrived in Yarmouth by about 7pm. After several loops around the harbour eyeing up the berth we’d been allocated we finially tied up with the help of a couple of the harbour taxi boats. We then stowed all we needed to, changed into our shore clothes, packed our valuables and called for a habour taxi to ashore.

It took about five minutes to get to the harbourside as the taxi picked up more people along the way. Graham’s dad knew the area so took us to a local pub, The King’s Head, for dinner. He ordered whitebait as a starter and I ordered cod and chips for the main course. As the pub was so busy we had to sit outside, which wasn’t a real hardship. The food wasn’t brilliant quality. The chips were thin and fatty and the cod was mostly fatty batter. Still, the company was good, which was the main thing.

We finished our meal just in time to see the sun set, when I took the rest of my pictures, after which we hopped back onto the harbour taxi and travelled back to the boat for more chatting before bedtime.

I found it a little difficult to sleep, mostly due to the sound of the wind in the rigging, which sounded to me like the engine noise of a large ship going past, but partly due to poor Rachel being unwell. She usually has the constitution of an ox but obviously she had a tummy bug of some kind. Still, I did get about 5 hours sleep in the end.

Sunday, we were up by 9-ish, had breakfast. Rachel was still looking pale around the gills and could only manage a Geobar. A band of rain had gone through in the night and it was now grey and damp with a breeze from the south-west. We paid our birthing charge, cast off and headed out into the Solent again under motor until just outside the harbour, where we set sail again.

It wasn’t long until the rain started again. Unfortunately, Rachel’s old waterproof trousers weren’t actually waterproof anymore so she ended up rather soggy from the waist down. Anyway, we sailed through the gloom backwards and forwards across the water until lunchtime when we anchored in Osborne Bay. There we had home made rolls and whatever things which were left from the day before, and cup-a-soup. Unfortunately, as soon as little Christopher went below for lunch the swell made him sea sick. Poor chap.

We wayed anchor at about 2pm, by which time it had dried up and the visibility had improved a great deal. Seeing as Rachel was still not feeling too good and the weather was still iffy, we decided to sail directly back to port across the Solent.

The trip back was uneventful other than becoming becalmed again just outside Southampton Water, where we switched to motor power. We could see, however, a wall of rain coming towards us up the inlet, so we put our waterproofs back on. The rain hit just as we entered the Hamble estuary and continued until just after we’d finished tieing up.. typical!

It took about an hour to drive back to the Hartlands’ house diring which we were all trying to stay awake. It had been quite a tiring time on the water.Still, there was a nice break for some tea and refreshment before I drove home at about half six. It seems that at the moment Hampshire council are blockading Reading as all the roads in that direction, except the A33, seem to be closed and even the A33 has traffic lights. Still, I did get home in time to unpack and flop into bed by half nine.

I’ve spent the rest of the week trying to catch up on sleep and I’ve still not managed it yet.

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