Pre-Chanukah sail, 4th December 2016

This year David Mark again hosted the pre-Chanukah sail out of Gosport on his Hallberg Rassy 36, Camena. The weather was sunny but the wind was a very cold easterly, blowing up to F4-5. Fortunately, by the time we got down to Gosport, the frost had cleared, and Camena has a good hot air heating system.

There were three of us on board, David, Robert and David’s young cousin, Asher, from Australia. This was Asher’s first experience of sailing although he was familiar with power boating.

We departed the marina under the eye of the Border Force patrol boat and motor-sailed the inshore passage to Gilkicker before setting sail up the North Passage in the Solent in the direction of Southampton Water. Due to a misunderstanding on departure time we did not have enough time to go to Cowes, have a wander round, have lunch, and then get back. Instead we explored different possibilities to anchor for lunch and then come back. However, the usual shallows were exposed to the easterly wind, for example, anchoring in Osborne Bay, or picking up a buoy at Calshot Castle. The shallows just up from the BP terminal on the eastern shore of Southampton Water were sheltered but just that bit too far.

What did we do? We kept calm and carried on sailing towards Calshot and then turned back towards Wootton Creek. On the next tack we headed for Stokes Bay to keep out of the main channel and the two freighters that we expected would cross each other at Osborne Bay. One of the Navy’s Archer class training boats, P167, passed us going west, then later came past in the opposite direction, but in the distance. On the “North Island” side of the Solent David decided we were better off motor-sailing to get a bit of peace to have some hot soup and bagels for a snack.

After our snack we sailed east towards the end of the War Memorial transit to get back up to Portsmouth, tacking down-tide of one the Navy’s other ships anchored at Spithead to ensure we made the transit. At the Blockhouse the tide was running out fast, so speed over ground was low. Fortunately, Camena has enough power to cope with small details such as this.

After a quick detour into Haslar Lake to drop the main sail, we got back onto the pontoon in the dark. It was cold, but at least it was not raining. Once the boat was moored, David prepared a hot solid late lunch of scrambled eggs, tomato and smoked salmon. Very tasty. Robert provided the mulled wine that the label claimed is good “for mince pies”. Shame, we did not have the mince pies, but we did have sweet biscuits!

And so, after packing up the boat and packing the car, David drove us back to London in splendid luxury. So, that was this year’s pre-Chanukah sail – sunny but cold, and another cracking sail.

So, if you are looking for a fun sail without the crowds remember to reserve a place for the next Chanukah sail in early December 2017 – hot mulled wine included.

6 December 2016

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