End of season sail, 29/30 October 2016

Robert hosted Steve and Louise on this year’s end of season sail, this time from Gosport to Southampton Ocean Village and back on the weekend the clocks returned from BST to GMT.

Robert brought Solace over from Chichester on Friday in light winds under sail the whole way between West Pole and Buoy No 4 in Portsmouth.

On Saturday, Steve and Louise came early enough to have breakfast at the marina café. We slipped at 10h45. Pressure was high, in fact, very high at 1032 hPa (mbar in old money). Visibility was not good, and winds so light there was not even a ripple on the Solent. We were forced to motor. In Stokes Bay we came across a group of canoeists with a gaggle of small power boats, presumably escorting them. We did not even hoist a sail and motored the whole way to Southampton Ocean Village, mainly with the tide in our favour except for the last bit up Southampton Water. Not ideal for a weekend sail, emphasis on the “sail”, but look on the bright side, the engine had warmed up the calorifier so we had hot water when we arrived at 14h15 after 14.4 miles run.

On Saturday night, the three of us plus five of Steve and Louise’s long-time friends had dinner at The Dancing Man Brewery on Town Quay opposite the Red Funnel ferry terminal. The food was good; the company was good – win-win all round.

We woke on Sunday and prepared to depart as if BST had not yet ended. It didn’t change the body clock time we got up but it was “one hour later than it really was”. The weather was similar to that on Saturday morning, namely, high pressure, overcast, relatively poor visibility, and no more than 6 kt true wind from the east, just the direction we were heading after Southampton Water. We slipped our berth at 09h30 (remember, we were on “artificial BST”, so that was 08h30 in new money). Fortunately, as we came round the two green buoys at the top end of Southampton Water the wind picked up sufficiently to unfurl the jib, then the main, so we got a sail from the silos at the docks down Southampton Water towards the top end of Bramble Bank. The wind was, to say the least, variable, ranging between 16-18 kts at best when we were moving relatively fast, to 9-10 kts when we weren’t. We were gaining on a Victoria 34 ahead of us that was sailing on main only. Then they raised the jib. No contest, they disappeared in the distance. We sailed “best heading to wind” that got us across Bramble Bank to Osborne Bay.

At Osborne Bay we tacked back across to “North Island” as the residents of the Isle of Wight call the mainland. At this point the tide took us west, not even north, instead of vaguely east, so, we resorted to motor sailing against 2 kts of tide and aimed directly towards Gilkicker.

The sun was trying to break through, but not sufficiently to sun-bathe. After a cup-a-soup to warm up we got ourselves to the north side of the Solent out of the way of two freighters coming done the North Channel. The tide against us here was marginally less. We even benefited from an eddy that gave us a 1 kt boost In Stokes Bay. At marginally over a couple of hours after high water we took the inside passage to Blockhouse, registering 2.9m under keel minimum. A useful marker to determine the safety of the inside passage on departure from Portsmouth is the height of the water relative to the piles at Blockhouse. If the piles are covered, the inside passage is safe in yachts up to 2m draft (possibly more, but I have not sailed the inside passage in boats with more). This saves distance compared to using the War Memorial transit. On arriving at Blockhouse from Gilkicker the piles were well-covered.

By the time we got onto the pontoon in Gosport at 13h40 after 23.4 miles run, the sun was shining and we enjoyed a leisurely lunch on deck; we have the photo to prove it!

After lunch, Steve and Louise went off home, and with an early start on Monday, Robert took Solace back to Chichester in four tacks against the wind in smooth / slight conditions and in glorious sunshine.

Another good sail.

My thanks to Steve and Louise for crewing.

Robert
31/10/16

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