Another weekend, another trip.
I headed down to the Hamble with Trina, and found Excalibur where I left her. Everything intact and ready to go.
I coughed up a couple of weeks mooring fees, had a bit of lunch and set off for Yarmouth.
Nothing spectacular happened on the journey. I didn’t check the tides, just the weather. I’ve become much more gun-ho in the Solent these days, a stark difference from when I first bought Excalibur. I used to produce detailed passage plans from Chichester to Cowes 😀 Once I venture out further west I’ll return to producing more thorough passage plans. But whilst we’re in the Solent, and long as there’s enough wind, I’m happy to punch through any tide and just enjoy the ride.
Trina was in charge of raising the main this weekend. I like to mix things up, and the more we share responsibilities the better we’ll get at this game.
Yarmouth was significantly quieter and we went out for dinner in Salty’s, which I expected to be raucous going by pictures in the loo. However the atmosphere was very civilised, and the teenage waiters were way more polite than necessary.
The next day we went out again and Trina practiced raising the main, it wasn’t very windy which made the task all the more forgiving.
As we neared Newtown we were deciding whether to carry on sailing for a little longer or whether to get in before all the mooring buoys were taken up. Whilst debating what to do, we heard two boats on the radio debating the same thing. One of the boats decided they would head in and check things out. This sealed the deal for me, we raced in and nabbed a buoy before the second boat made it over.
Newtown Creek is a National Nature reserve, adorned with wildlife and a tiny beach. The creek is super quiet, and there’s space for people to anchor or grab any free buoys.
For the sake of a few pounds we took a buoy, favouring a good nights sleep over anchor paranoia.
Even though we had only been out for a couple of hours, we felt a little tired but satisfied, which sounds ridiculous for such a short trip.
Given it was such a nice peaceful evening, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get the fiddle our and ruin it for everyone else, then I fished out a disposable BBQ to smoke whoever was left, and set it on a baking tray in the cockpit. This may raise an eyebrow from the safety conscious sailor, fires on boats tend not to mix. However, a well supervised disposable BBQ in a baking tray, which prevents the heat from melting the cockpit floor poses no significant risk to man nor fish in my opinion. We howled at the moon, drank wine and had a jolly nice evening.
We watched a large boat come in in the dark, he motored pretty fast around us a couple of times, set an anchor in a crowded space, got shouted at, and then sped off and dropped his hook further out in the Solent.
That night the wind picked up, and even though we were on a mooring buoy, mooring buoy paranoia set in. I did the obligatory check on the mooring line in just my pants in the middle of the night as the wind howled and the rain lashed down in droves, and climbed up a few runs of the mast to quell some obnoxious clanging that was keeping me awake. The gusts were pretty um gusty, and each one seemed stronger than the next. Still, very cool.
The next day we lazed about listening to the Archers and Just a Minute on radio 4. I never listen to R4, but man its the perfect accompaniment to a very lazy Sunday. We hung out in the cockpit, drinking cups of tea and feeling the warmth of the sun in between gusts of wind. I’m getting old 🙁
Eventually it was time to set off. Destination, Beaulieu River.
The wind was a steady 25 knots, so we talked through how many reefs we’d put in, and the order in which to do raise the main. Sunday was definitely the windiest day of them all. Trina went forward to raise the main, and it felt like the weekend had built up to this moment. Conditions were blustery, but we were under sail in no time. It was very satisfying having just the right amount of sail out for the conditions, everything felt safe so we had a play around before heading for Beaulieu.
Once we got out of the Solent and into the river, the wind died completely. We went from a blustery sail, wind and sea water in our faces, in our mouths, in our hair to a totally serene scene. We passed Gull Island to:
The river looked very old England, the clouds looked like a turner painting. It was 5:30pm on a Sunday evening, people around the country were no doubt ironing their shirts ready for a week in the office, and here we are, pootling down this beautiful river listening to Classic FM. It was one of those moments. So so happy!!
We moored up and headed for a meal in the Yachtsman pub for dinner and a pint.
The next morning we had to find the hotel car park, as we arranged a taxi in the hotel reception the night before.
We couldn’t find the entrance to the car park, and we didn’t have a taxi number. So at 7am we were climbing over fences with all our gear to get into the hotel garden, we crept into the hotel and walked through the reception like two vagabonds. Our taxi driver for the morning was a lovely Polish women who liked long eye lashes, nails and makeup. She worked in the local post office by day, and sped through country roads by morning and night. We met tractors and horses whilst being driven through the New Forest, and passed a line of ponies in single file heading down the road. All in all it was a fun way to start the week off. We made it safely to the train station, and so our working week began.