Trip on Quartette starting 2013-02-18 in BSAMar13

BSA Trip on Quartette18-20 Feb 2013 - report - by Don Hirst

The Skipper and Crew of Quartette: Chris Watts, Sue Fowle and Don Hirst and our honoured guest Roy Cook from Phoenix assembled at The Castle Sunday evening. Roy received a very warm welcome, despite being an ex dinghy sailor and windsurfer. We were joined by the crew of Spellbinder for a jolly evening. The Castle were serving meals on American sized plates so we were all well fed before retiring to our yachts. The Skippers set a challenging objective for the trip, to visit Poole, considering the adverse tidal streams even though they were neaps.

Monday: Safety brief over, we set sailMap for Poole in excellent gin clear conditions with a gentle Easterly F3-4. We made steady progress and chose the Isle of Wight side of the Solent to seek better tidal streams; however Spellbinder soon showed us a clean pair of heels. We engaged the “Iron Topsail” as we crossed Christchurch bay to keep Spellbinder in sight and achieve a reasonable arrival time. Spellbinder provided the matinee courting a coastguard helicopter which was snapped by an envious member of our crew.

The Skipper had called for a Poole pilotage plan, perhaps prompted by the fact that we encountered thick fog last time we were in Poole. Our Phoenix guest raised the bar by producing a text book example of a pilotage plan complete with course to steer, all buoys named and numbered etc., None of the “watch out for the skipper of the chain ferry with a pathological hatred of yachts, turn right and then left when you get to Aunt Betty”.

As we approached Poole we had the maritime version of being between a rock and a hard place when the French car ferry squeezed us between the Starboard hand buoys and Hook Sands. We also had the opportunity to practice a crash tack as the chain ferry came across in front of us. Having safely berthed at Poole Quay Boat Haven we socialised with the crew of Spellbinder and set off for Alcatraz, our previously discovered Italian restaurant and had a very pleasant meal.

Tuesday: We were awakened at 05.30 by the Worlds best alarm clock. I was informed it was not done to get lazy BSA crews motivated, but it was a ship’s foghorn. By the time we got up there was barely any trace of fog. The day was beautiful, but still with a gentle cooling Easterly breeze.

We set sail for Yarmouth. As we were passing the chain ferry we were overtaken by three large military RIBs grossly exceeding the 10 kn speed limit. As we proceeded across Poole bay we saw a Chinook helicopter pick up one of the RIBs complete with crew and fly away with it, a bit excessive for speeding out of Poole I would have thought. After a few minutes it put the RIB back in the water and it drove off. At that time I thought I heard a cry from a member of our crew “me next” but it was drowned out by the helicopter flying away.

As we were passing abeam of Hengistbury Head the breeze became very fickle and dropped even further. Instead of the usual appeal to Odin, we employed high technology to suggest a solution. Several minutes later it had determined we were exactly in the middle of the bay and whether we went back through the North Channel or the Needles Channel we would be late for our date with Spellbinder for pre-dinner socialising without using the engine. In hindsight it was a pity we did not use high technology to establish that the showers in Yarmouth close at 16.30, the time we planned to berth. It was a lovely day and we chose the North Channel. As we approached Hurst point the sun picked out the masts of literally hundreds of yachts behind the shingle bank. I was informed this was Keyhaven, having sailed in the area many times I had not listed this as a potential Port of Refuge. The Skipper used our 10 minute passage contingency to approach the entrance. Even though we were only 2hrs from high water, half way to the entrance the water under our relatively shallow draft keel reduced to 1 metre, so we went about and headed for Yarmouth. I thought it unusual to see a lake shown in green on a chart. Not a place to be top of the list as a potential Port of Refuge.

We invited the skipper and crew of Spellbinder to pre dinner drinks. Sue’s popcorn got the evening off with a bang literally, those crew with a nervous disposition who had not seen pop corn produced took cover as some escaped the pan. The popcorn was enjoyed by all and proved to be an excellent accompaniment to the drinks prior to leaving for The Kings Head for a pleasant convivial meal.

Wednesday: This was the first cloudy day as we set sail for Gosport. We had a good Easterly F5 and sailed well, unfortunately with wind and tide against us made only slow progress towards Gosport. After lunch the sun came out, but when the tide changed in our favour the seas lifted up and slowed us down. We needed to use engine assistance to return Quartette to her berth at a reasonable time.

The Crew thank the Skipper for a super trip achieving our objectives in full, having a great time, and a master class in producing excellent porridge for breakfast. We thank the Skipper and Crew of Spellbinder for their hospitality and making it a great joint trip.

Gosport  50.7904,-1.1165
Weather at EGHN   C, mb