Trip on Spellbinder starting 2010-03-22 in BSAApril10
Solent trip – 22nd to 24th March 2010 – report by Mike Berry
We boarded the Phoenix YC yacht Spellbinder at 17.30 Sunday on a fine evening with a light SW breeze and having settled in availed ourselves of the first meal from purchases made by Sonia (victualling skipper) and John (trolley crew) at LIDL and Morrisons . The first night introduced us to a running battle between Gordon and the gas alarm who both shared the main cabin. The alarm, which we had been warned about by Phoenix and had chirruped cheerfully on occasion during the evening, decided to sound off at about 02.30. Following a certain amount of “jiggling” by Gordon it went into sleep mode but continued to make its presence known throughout the rest of the trip, introducing the crew to a side of Gordon not previously experienced.
Having checked the forecast we made a leisurely start, slipping our mooring at 09.45. Under full sail we headed down the main channel to Spit Sand Fort in a S’ly force 4 before heading due West. With the wind increasing 5 to 6 SSW we took a single reef in the main before deciding to head up Southampton Water to pick up a buoy off Hythe Pier so that we could stop for lunch. During this stretch we sailed consistently at 7 knots, occasionally reaching 8 knots.
We lassoed the buoy at 12.45 and cast off just over an hour later, heading back down Southampton Water towards our agreed destination of Yarmouth, IOW. With the wind continuing at force 5 to 6 Gordon called for a further reef in the main which was accomplished with some panache and a minimum loss of speed. With no further change in the wind but a couple of showers we tacked from West of Bramble Bank down to Yarmouth, arriving on the berth at 17.45. Following calculations by Gordon and Sue during the afternoon we listened to the area forecast at 19.30 and agreed the plan for the following day’s sail before going ashore to the ”Wheatsheaf” for dinner. They offered a £6 main course “sizzlers” menu which gave a reasonable choice and sizeable portions.
We got up at 06.00 to take advantage of the last of a neaps ebb tide down to the Needles before rounding them at slack water and heading East along the South side of the IOW with the ensuing flood tide. The forecast was for SE force 3 to 4, occasionally 5 with moderate to poor visibility and showers.
The morning started sunny but very cold with some distant mist patches and a frost which made negotiating the wooden deck of the pontoons an “interesting” experience. We sailed at 07.00 as planned with virtually no wind so motored for approximately half an hour, during which we set the sails, keeping the 2 reefs in the main. The visibility gradually deteriorated and the wind picked up to a force 4 so that with the end of the ebb tide we reached the Bridge cardinal buoy and turned eastwards. The visibility gradually dropped to below a mile, the wind increased to force 5 and the rain showers started as we tacked towards St. Catherine’s Point, initially making very slow headway and, in very cold conditions putting our intended trip in some doubt. After a couple of hours however the flood tide got behind us with a 2 knot boost and we started to make good headway, so much so that Gordon and Sue were having difficulty plotting our positions fast enough. Their navigating was ably assisted by John’s GPS which subsequently provided a very interesting record of our manoeuvres during our three days of sailing (copies attached at the end of this newsletter, or as separate attachments to emails).
After a rather murky couple of hours conditions improved and we were able to make 7.0 knots plus the tide which took us up to the Eastern end of the Island by 14.00. In a gradually reducing wind we were able to take out both reefs in the main before having to eventually accept that we would have to use the engine. We crossed over to Chichester harbour and took the Emsworth Channel up to Northney marina at the northern end of Hayling Island, arriving at 15.45. The marina facilities were very good but a rainy evening put us off the 25 minute walk to the local pubs so Sonia and Sue created an excellent impromptu spread, washed down with a couple of bottles of wine.
We got up at 07.00 to listen to the forecast and, following a leisurely breakfast we sailed at 08.45 in fine weather with little wind and on a falling tide. The Chichester harbour chart stated that the Chichester “bar” was dredged to 1.5 metres below chart datum but as we slowly motored out of Sweare Deep 2 hours before slack water we briefly touched bottom at a depth that was supposed to be a minimum of 1.3 metres at low tide.
Because of this Gordon decided not to risk crossing the bar before the tide had turned. We therefore continued slowly down to the Hayling Island yacht club and moored on a buoy. Once the tide had turned we came off the buoy and took it in turns to practice bringing the yacht up to the buoy prior to mooring. Sonia, who is scheduled to skipper a Sunsail trip in the summer also successfully executed a 360 degree turn “on the spot” using the helm and alternate forward and reverse on the engine.
We then motored out of the harbour, crossing the bar at 12.25 with 1.9 metres clearance. With a very light S breeze we hoisted the main but motored for an hour before sailing back to within 15 minutes of Gosport, arriving at the berth at 15.00 having covered a total logged distance of 117 miles in the three days. Gordon finally won his battle with the gas alarm by disconnecting the loose wires at the back and advised Phoenix with a satisfied grin.