Thursday, 30 June 2011

Thorney Channel with the Red Arrows

Enough's enough - it's not been an outstanding season so far (but it's been pretty good love smileys), so I decided to take the day off work and go for a sail...

On the face of it the Metcheck forecast was perfect, sunny all day and force 2's and 3's (gusting 4) - what I got was a mostly grey (and cold!) day where there were more force 4's than anything else..

Started off well though - this is Terror in the sunshine at the top of the harbour... really must try to get out on her at some time.

Wind was very light at this stage but I had a plan to see how much of the Itchenor channel I could see on one tide, so I pushed on down the harbour with the mechanical donkey on full power until the wind kicked in around about Marker when I could thankfully turn it off and enjoy some peace...

So.. not a bad plot - first trip up the Thorney Channel this summer, it's lovely up there and I got almost as far as the sailing club.. hove to to take in a reef, and then back out into the maelstrom that is the Chichester channel on most days!

Lovely beat back to HISC and then a long run up the harbour - with a free show from the Red Arrows who were doing a display at Goodwood Festival of Speed...

Got back to the mooring with about 20 minutes to spare...

Distance: 13.46 miles (cumulative total over there to the left)
Wind: W to SW - started at Force 1 and ended up a solid Force 4
Max speed 4.8 (though I saw some 5's on the beat back to HISC), average speed 3.1 kn so fairly consistent speeds.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Round the Island Race - 2011

This is turning into a bit of a summer of "almosts" on the sailing front... two weeks ago I almost made the Nab Tower (that's still unfinished business!), and this weekend just gone we almost got to the first mark of the Round the Island Race in "Ami-Ly", Rod's boat...

We were all so disappointed, but it was very clear even when we got to the boat at 0400 in the morning to make our way to the start line that it was going to be touch and go...

..imagine the scene if you will, dark, raining and a force 5 minimum as we left the pontoon and proceeded past Portchester Castle (you've got to think what it must have been like for those Romans Soldiers all those years ago - used to Mediterranean temperatures and then faced with weather like we had in... in JUNE for goodness sakes!)

Didn't get any better as we made our way with a whole load of other boats to the start line off Cowes, it did lighten up in the way that it became daylight, but no sun, rain continued, wind building - bashed our way across Stokes Bay (there was a huge container ship moored there - looked like a ship carrier - bright orange - subsequent research showed this to be semi-submersible vessel "Treasure", waiting for the jack-up barges Karlissa A and B).

We looked vaguely happy though - in a hysterical kind of way...!

We reached the start line about 15 minutes late I think - suffice to say no other class boats in sight, but hardening up into the wind I attempted to take Ami-Ly into the wind towards the first mark which is the Needles - it was hopeless, she didn't want to go - we had two reefs on the main and a good part of the jib rolled in but she really wasn't having any of it... heeled over at >45' and going nowhere and this was in the relative "calm" of the Solent!

'Nuff said, we (rightly) called in our retirement and headed back to Cowes and the Medina River.. and moored up while we could on the Folly pontoons.

A few beers later, and a slap up lunch and we were feeling better - an hour later and the sun came out and the wind was dropping so we headed back to the Solent for home...

Cowes was rammed with competitors - some had finished, I suspect most had retired at this time..

When we got to the entrance to the river we were met by the view of all the boats who had got round finishing!

All in all about 400+ of the 1900 boats retired so I don't feel too disgraced - channel 16 (the emergency channel) never stopped all day - at least three multi-hulls upside down, crew in the water by the Needles, multiple maydays and pan-pan's...

The sail back was brilliant - sunny, warm and a force 3 or 4 up the tail - perfect!

Couldn't have been more of a contrast if it had tried...

Never mind - it was a good day and we all agreed that we have unfinished business with the round the Island - hopefully we'll finish it later this summer!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Nab Tower... almost....

Took the day off on Friday for the first "double tide" trip of the year.. leave on the ebb of the first tide in the morning,and return on the flow of the next - which gives me a lift with the tide either direction...

So, with the ubiquitous packet of "All Day Breakfast" sandwiches and other solid and liquid provisions, I slipped the mooring at 8:30 and prepared to leave for my destination of the day - the Nab Tower....

There is a song entitled "Four Seasons in One Day" (by the inestimable Crowded House) which perfectly sums up the sailing during the day!

Started off with no wind at all and grey overcast and rain (oh Lord, what have I done I though as I motored down the harbour with no possibility of getting back on the mooring for another 9 hours - at one time as I poured a tea, I could see it was so cold my breath was steaming! smiley icons), came out of the harbour, switched off the engine by the West Pole beacon and started my slow perambulation to the Tower in a fitful force 1 coming from directly behind the Tower!

Almost changed my mind but decided to stick with it - weather was brightening up, but every now and then a fistful of rain came through accompanied by wind - got to the point where I was hoping it might rain more so the wind would stay...

In the end the sun came out and with a sold force 2, working up to I would say a force 3 - "Papillon" was tramping along nicely...

(There's some big old ships out there doing quite astonishing speeds - this one had passed in the time it took me to reach for the camera - the yellow buoys mark the shipping channel that heads up the Solent to Southampton and Portsmouth, the Nab Tower marks the beginning of it).

As the Nab approached the wind kept picking up to what I eventually guess was a solid 4, so using the techniques of last week I hove to (ha.. listen to him!) and put in a reef before proceeding on....

What can I say - I almost made it, but the wind continued to increase and in the end I knew there was no chance I was going to get there - waves were increasing in size, and every time I got going she would slam into a wave and come to a halt - add in the tide, and I thought "ah, well", time for a tea and back to the harbour... the picture shows the wind quite nicely!

Tacked round and then went on the best run I've ever had, all that wind behind me, and swell for surfing, and she did 6.5 knots at one point....smiley icons

Wind then came up a bit more and while I was hove to to put another reef in, it then dropped to almost nothing. That was the pattern from then on - it seemed to be going from nothing to force 3 or 4 for the rest of the afternoon, and not only that was shifting through about 20 degrees between south west and north west... interesting..

The run up the harbour was the best I've ever had - almost flat water with a force 3 or 4 south-westerly, and full sail, makes for very fast broad reaching - add in the tie which was flowing by this point and I had my second set of 6.5's (knots) - brilliant - the whole boat was shuddering slightly..!

So here's the track - no self steering on "Papillon" so it drifts every now and again - usually when I was hove to for reefing, provisioning, or changing the radio station... also the wind shifts made for an interesting life when I was coming back - I need some tidal flow charts on the boat and I think I'll find the tide was flowing strongly west to east at the time I came back as I ended up having to sail "back" to the Beacon...

Distance: 27.99 miles (cumulative total over there to the left)

Wind: SW - anything between Force 0 and Force 4 (occasionally gusting 5).. talk about four seasons in one day.. Maximum speed 5.7 knots (under sail... on at least two occasions though, once on a run back to the harbour entrance, and once up the harbour I clocked 6.5 knots over the ground - astonishing, but this is speed over the ground so there would be tide assist helping in there), average speed 3 knots - quite a quick day...

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Hove to...

No - no trip out on Monday - in fact the entire weekend was a bit of a washout from the sailing perspective - lots of wind on Saturday and Sunday (but no sunshine) and a fine drizzly rain and no wind on Monday..

So it was that with my wife at work, the kids on half term, and me needing to take an afternoon off, I used the first half of the afternoon to sneak out for some much needed sailing!

First time out since the race training day, and longer than that since I took Papillon out and can't tell you how much I enjoyed it..

Wind was south easterly, warm, sunny, and I'd say about a force 2 occasionally gusting up to a 3 - beating beating beating again up to almost NE Pilsey and then a quick run back to the mooring - I reckon I got there with about 10 minutes to spare, by the time I'd packed up I had difficult centring the rudder, and there was only about 6" of water to float the tender!

Best thing about today though, was practising some heaving to which went without a hitch - a fantastic thing - just back the jib and shove the tiller hard over to the other side, and the boat just sits there, head slightly off the wind, all quiet and still... I need to fit a couple of loops to hold the tiller in future and I could then rely on her to hold still while I get on with whatever I need to do (reefing, toilet, making tea etc.), safe in the knowledge she's not going to do anything while I get one with it.. brilliant!

Here I am just off of Northney marina - wind is coming from port forward quarter (you can just see the Windex on the pulpit), no main sheet, tiller hard over - and she just sits there gently rocking - looking forward to trying it in a bit more wind - undoubtedly a handy thing to know..

So here's the track for the day:

Distance: 10.02 miles (cumulative total over there to the left)

Wind: SE - Force 2 (occasionally gusting 3).. Maximum speed 4.4 knots (under motor, but sail assisted!), average speed 2.7 (!) knots...

PS. The boat at the top is called Mikado and is quite lovely - you may remember that spinnaker from a previous post - mystery solved