Trip on Spellbinder starting 2012-02-06 in BSAFeb12
Spellbinder6-8 February 2012 – report by skipper Gordon Ogden
Monday dawned cold and still, with a forecast promising very little wind that day. We began by doing some boat handling practice in Haslar Reach for an hour, or so. Chris and his crew aboard Quartette also did some handling practice, before going out into the Solent ½ hour before us. Following a streamlined, stealth-looking warship out of Portsmouth Harbour, we decided to go after Quartette and caught up with them off Cowes. The sea was glassy smooth and Chris and his crew looked cold and ready for a stop!
Quartette was taken to a mooring buoy outside Cowes for lunch, whilst Spellbinder went to Shepards Wharf marina, opposite the Cowes ferry terminal. The marina office had lights on, but was locked up and a sign on the facilities door read “Facilities closed until Easter”! A quick lunch later and we were off to East Cowes marina to join our Quartette chums. The afternoon was spent in retail therapy, encouraging Ian Harding to buy some new deck shoes, which he duly did! Later, we threw a party aboard Spellbinder and then ate out in the usual way.
On Tuesday morning, Spellbinder was keen to be away and we had the best of it, with a very nice north-easterly breeze outside Cowes. We made the most of it for about an hour, trying to ‘make’ across the foul tide towards Southampton Water under full sail. The tide won and the breeze died, so we motored up to a mooring buoy near Hythe Pier for lunch. The afternoon saw a little more breeze on our sight-seeing trip up to Marchwood. It was cold and the day was advancing, so we turned back down Southampton Water and had delightful sailing with a light, force 3’ish breeze, flat water and a fair tide all the way to the Hamble River. Negotiating an occasional ferry and a freighter or two helped keep the brain from freezing completely.
We approached the Hamble towards low water and saw Quartette enter the river. Soon, we could only see the mast, as the hull was hidden behind the high and dry gravel banks for which the river is rightly famous! Chris arrived at Port Hamble marina before us and booked two adjacent berths. Tuesday’s party was aboard Quartette.
Wednesday was altogether different. The marina flags were fluttering stiffly in a cold northeasterly wind and, again, Spellbinder was keen to get on with it. We departed from Port Hamble around 0900 and were soon at the mouth of the river under full sail. On a close reach, Spellbinder galloped down the North Channel, brushing aside the weak, foul tide as if it wasn’t there. We were on our way to see if an entry into Bembridge might be feasible, but when we got there at 1130, the NE wind was force 5, gusting 6, blowing straight into Bembridge. The sea was building and breakers could be seen on the lee-shore beach at Bembridge. We quickly decided it was no place for us and turned to beat away from Bembridge on port tack, more or less aiming at Chichester!! It was soon apparent that we were a bit pressed, so a few rolls in the genoa and one reef in the main soon put matters right. Going onto starboard tack, out near the deep water channel, Spellbinder saw Portsmouth ahead and really showed us what she could do. It was great, but finger-numbing cold!
There was a sting in the tail for us at Haslar! Luckily, we were there before Quartette and her audience crew! It was clear that the approach into the berth was downwind and, later, to hide our blushes, we thought there might have been a hint of imperceptible current from astern (??). Our too-slow approach didn’t quite get us alongside the pontoon and we tended to drift to port towards our neighbour, so we reversed out of the berth to have another go. Things went from bad to worse as Spellbinder’s dignity was affronted and she simply weather-cocked straight across the fairway. With only a couple of metres clearance front and back, she refused all attempts to steer in any direction, and drifted very slowly to port, away from her berth and towards Haslar Reach! Several attempts to turn the bow and stern had no effect. It began to look like being a very long and cold afternoon, until we arrived at a slightly wider point in the fairway. Suddenly, Spellbinder decided she’d had enough fun at our expense and allowed the stern to be turned gently to port, followed by the bow to starboard and we arrived safely in the berth. Unfortunately, Quartette had, by that time, arrived and her crew were enjoying the fun!
Thanks to the crew for braving the cold and to Spellbinder, as always, for some great sailing in her ‘favourite’ force 5 wind!