Trip on Spellbinder starting 2013-10-14 in BSANov13
I should’ve known something was different when, on Monday morning at a little after 0900, the sails on Spellbinder were raised with the kind of smooth efficiency usually reserved for the final day of a trip! We were going for Poole and had W or NW wind around force 4 and a fair tide until early afternoon. Because the wind was dead against us in the early stages, it meant tacking to and fro all morning, gradually making our way to the west. Once past Cowes, we were able to make Hurst with only one or two more tacks. Good sailing, but, almost inevitably, we were late at Hurst and had to motor out of the Solent into the North Channel against quite a strong foul tide. Turning at North Head buoy the course was set for Poole, but the wind was light and progress was disappointingly slow. After a little while, it became clear that we wouldn’t make Poole in any kind of sensible timescale and, with regrets and wind and tide behind us, Spellbinder was turned and took us back, smartly, to our favourite haunt, Yarmouth!
Gin and tonic at the Royal Solent Yacht Club dulled our senses to the inevitable pub grub, but I have to admit the haddock and chips weren’t too bad in the King’s Head!
Tuesday dawned a beautiful day, warm and sunny ..... but with no wind! After cussing our luck, we made the most of it with an hour or two of boat handling practice. The harbourmaster kindly let us stay past the noon departure deadline and we honed our close-quarter skills until the harbour began to be busy with yachts arriving to bag a spot for the night. We motored up the Solent with the afternoon fair tide, on a sea that was becoming glassy smooth and made our way to Ocean Village marina. The forecast at that time for Wednesday suggested W/SW winds of force 5-7 and we were hopeful of some good sailing the next day.
Wednesday dawned wild and windy, with rain stinging our faces .... and that was deep inside Ocean Village! SE 5/6, forecast to veer to the SW 6-8! After a council-of-war, we set off down Southampton Water, straight into the wind and rain, with ‘poor’ visibility. Spellbinder’s instruments suggested we were getting winds in the range 19-26 knots. I don’t like to thrash an engine, so Spellbinder was motored along at around 2000 rpm, giving us anything between 0.5 and 3.5 knots of boat speed! A couple of small yachts came out of the Hamble River and tried tacking along behind us. It would have been embarrassing if they had made better progress than us, but, our blushes were saved as we left them behind.
At the end of Southampton Water, the sea was quite lively and we were frequently stopped almost dead in our tracks by the waves. Bearing off slightly into the North Channel gave us marginally better sea conditions, but not quite a sailing course. Nearing the eastern end of the North Channel, the skies cleared and the wind dropped to around force 4-5 and it felt quite calm! The sun came out, we managed some lunch and the wind strengthened again and veered a few degrees, so we sailed past Gilkicker Point, along the Swashway channel and into the Portsmouth approaches.
An interesting trip with a wide variety of weather conditions. We sailed when we could. We practised our skills at other times and turned up our collars when the weather turned wild. Thanks to Jenny, John and Don for keeping their spirits up when our best laid plans were thwarted and, as always, to Spellbinder for looking after us in all conditions.