Trip on Spellbinder starting 2013-02-18 in BSAMar13
Report for Spellbinder, 18th – 20th February 2013 by Mike Berry
Our Skipper was Gordon Ogden with a crew of Penny Luck, Jill Hunter, Mike Berry and Jeff Birkin who replaced John Hartland (back problem) at the last minute. The club also booked Quartette for the same period which added to the sailing experiences over the three days and also made the evenings very enjoyable as well.
We met at the Haslar Marina on Sunday evening and after stowing our gear and carrying out most of the boat checks both crews adjourned to the Castle Pub for a meal and refreshments. Having earlier established that the forecast for Monday was fine with a South-Easterly wind force 4 to 5 and that the tides were going to be low neaps it was agreed that we would head for Poole with the aim of leaving reasonably early.
We actually got away at 09.00 with one reef in the main under a clear blue sky and having cleared the traffic around the entrance to Portsmouth harbour headed West in the promised South –Easterly. After just under an hour we shook out the reef and made good speed down to Hurst Point which we passed at 13.10. With the wind now down to force 3 to 4 and right behind us we sailed goose-winged across Christchurch Bay using the jib sheet to control the jib sail instead of the pole which gave us a very pleasant afternoon sail.
As we neared the channel approach to Poole a Coast Guard helicopter No. CG104 hovered above us and displayed a board with “67” on it from the open door. Gordon went on to VHF channel 67 and was asked by the helicopter if we would co-operate in a training exercise involving the lowering of one of their crew onto Spellbinder and then hoisting him off again.
Having agreed we were asked to sail close-hauled with the added instruction that the helmsman should concentrate on maintaining course and not look at the helicopter. Consequently I saw none of the action until
Nick, the guy on the line suddenly popped over our port rail and onto the deck beside Gordon and Jeff. They had caught the end of the line from the helicopter, weighted with two fist sized leather bags which were presumably filled with sand and taken in the slack until Nick was close to sea level at which point they reeled him in.
Nick then spent the next 5 minutes nibbling Gordon’s ear, supposedly confirming that the exercise had gone well before being lifted off to return to the helicopter who then thanked us and went on their way.Fortunately we had a camera crew on both yachts so pictures of the exercise are included.
As we made our way into the Poole Harbour we were overtaken by two high speed inflateables manned by the SBS followed by a Ro-Ro Ferry which passed very close by just after we cleared the chain ferry. An eventful end to a great day’s sailing.
We finally moored in Poole Haven across the pontoon from Quartette at 17.00 and later invited them aboard for drinks and nibbles before all going ashore for dinner at a very good Italian restaurant called “Alcatraz”. A slightly long nightcap with entertainment provided by Jethro and Denzil, a.k.a. Gordon and Jeff brought an amusing end to the day.
The plan to have a lie-in followed by a leisurely start on Tuesday was somewhat marred by the fog horn of a ferry leaving at about 05.30 but we did not rush as the intention was to sail up to Yarmouth via the Needles in a forecasted East-South-Easterly force 3 t0 4.
The fog started to clear by mid-morning and we eventually left at 11.00 in what became another cloudless but cold day. As we left the buoyed channel we watched the SBS being dropped in their boats from a Chinook helicopter in Studland Bay. The wind did not live up to the forecast and we had to motor sail on three occasions as well as tacking to get up past the Needles and on to Yarmouth where we arrived at 17.00, again just across the pontoon from Quartette.
The evening followed a similar pattern with Spellbinder as the pre dinner guests and Jeff taking to his introduction to “Dark and Stormies” by Chris Watts with great enthusiasm.
Dinner was eventually taken at the Kings Head.
The initial plan for Wednesday was for an early start with the possibility of stopping briefly somewhere for lunch. We managed the first part of the plan and were on the fuel berth by 09.00 but the day was overcast with a very cold East-North –Easterly wind force 4 to 5 which later increased to 5 to 7. This caused us to have to tack most of the way back to Gosport which gave us a lively sail and no time to stop.
The sky did clear after lunch and we sailed into Haslar Marina in bright sunshine, finally reaching our berth at 15.15.
Spellbinder and Gordon gave us a most enjoyable three days, made even better by the company of Chris and his crew. Our thanks to Penny and Jill for providing breakfasts and lunches and to “Teddy” who behaved like a perfect gentleman, or so I was informed, despite having close to a “skinfull” every evening. Oh, and we all enjoyed the chocolates we won as the winners of the quiz at the January social evening meeting.
(Secretary’s note: when Mike gave this report at the March meeting the crew were all wearing badges proclaiming “Bristol boat rescues man from helicopter”)