Trip on Quartette starting 2012-02-05 in BSAFeb12

Midweek trip on PYC yacht Quartette, a Westerly Oceanquest, Sunday February 5th to Wednesday 8th 2012 – report by Dave Britton

Skipper – Chris Watts, Crew - Sue Fowle and Dave Britton

Both of the PYC boats, Spellbinder and Quartette had been booked for the same time period and both crews arrived on the Sunday afternoon, stowed gear and provisions, checked the boats, then retired to the Castle (the lightship was open and could provide meals but after a reconnaissance mission, it was decided that the Castle could offer a greater choice) to decide on plans of action.

The start the next day was not particularly early but around 10.00 we left Haslar MarinaMap, followed by a type 45 destroyer. The sea was flat, there was no wind and we motored in the general direction of Southampton, and then decided to head for Cowes where we practiced boat handling, (astern in a tideway) before picking up a mooring buoy and pausing for lunch. The wind failed to materialise and after more boat handling we decided to head into East Cowes Marina where Spellbinder later joined us. The choice of location was largely determined by Ian Harding, on Spellbinder, who wished to check out the end of season sailing clothing bargains. After shopping, and an agreeable wine and nibbles party on Spellbinder, the two crews departed together to the restaurant to eat.

On the Tuesday we carried out ‘coming alongside manoeuvres’ before setting off for the Beaulieu River Map– surprisingly under sail. However, the wind dropped and it was necessary to continue under power into the River, where we again picked up a mooring buoy for the lunchtime break, having practised aligning to a transit on the approach to the river mouth – Lepe House and No 1 red buoy. Tuesday afternoon we motored around to a mooring in Hamble and Spellbinder joined us shortly after. Both crews enjoyed wine and nibbles on Quartette before dining at the Bugle in Hamble.

By Wednesday morning the wind had arrived and Quartette departed for Southampton to see any interesting vessels which might be around – there did not seem to be any so we went about and headed back to Gosport. The wind – northerly – was backing and veering, and varying in speed between 9 and 25 knots, and as a consequence, we shortened sail twice. The north easterly/northerly return to Portsmouth harbour was under power since the wind was unreliable and progress, at about 2 knots SOG, was slow and we wanted to get back to the mooring quickly. Not surprisingly, we were already fairly cold with minor snow flurries adding to our comfort – hence the wish to get back.

There was a problem with the bottom step on the ladder attached to the engine cover, which clips in place using a standard cupboard catch, and this broke when being stepped on, luckily not causing anyone to fall. Chris purchased and replaced the catch but this immediately broke as well and the step had to be supported by wedging items underneath it. The design of the attachment of the engine cover could easily be improved by using a stronger fastener, eg a bolt.

There was one other issue and this was the in-mast mainsail roller reefing which tended to jam both ways.

The instructions were there and we did follow them, including a requirement that the boom be horizontal - but it was difficult, even from the start.  The battens definitely did not want to furl or unfurl, and seemed to jam in the slot in the mast and on at least one occasion had to be manually freed by Chris.  But this was not the only problem and it may be conjectured that at some time the sail had not been furled correctly and was not flat around the roller so that it could not feed in and out through the slot correctly.   The system was not impossible to use, just very stiff and slow, and sometimes the winch had to be used to furl the sail since human power alone was not enough.

Picking up on Don Hirst’s idea that every trip should have at least one learning experience: here is mine. When you make pilotage notes put in a location unless familiar with the area. I find that I have some lovely sketches with named buoys but I don’t know which part of the Solent they show!

Finally on a personal note I would be delighted to sail again with Chris, as skipper, who did an excellent training job including using the chart plotter, and with Sue, who victualled par excellence.

Haslar Marina  50.7908,-1.1171
Weather at EGHN   1 kts from North 3.0C, 1033mb Mostly Cloudy
Beaulieu River  50.778,-1.3971
Weather at EGHI   Calm 4.0C, 1033mb Mostly Cloudy