Trip on Quartette starting 2019-11-18 in BSADec19
Quartette sail 18-20 Nov 2019 - report by Don Hirst
Skipper Gordon Ogden and crew Sue Fowle, Ewart Hutton and Don Hirst assembled at PYC yacht Quartette, a Westerly Oceanquest 35 AC, on Sunday evening prior to having a meal at Wetherspoons. Afterwards there was meticulous planning for Monday’s sail over a glass or three of wine.
The day dawned cold and bright; enthusiasm finally got the better of the desire to stay in a warm sleeping bag. We completed boat checks and left Haslar at 10.30, about par, but nowhere near a BSA record. We were impressed by the overall condition of Quartette. After leaving by the Swashway and passing Gilkicker we sailed best course to windward in a Northerly Force 3 achieving good speeds against tide, arriving at the approach line to the Beaulieu river at lunch time. After negotiating the port and starboard buoys without missing any we saw a line of vacant mooring buoys. We should have wondered why they were all vacant when we saw a motor cruiser and yacht in the distance at different angles, caused by conflicting wind and current. We picked up the buoy after a few tries with the aid of a proper wooden boat hook selected from the four in Sue’s cabin. Quartette is far removed from the usual bareboat charter being fully equipped. Full sets of tools, food, drink and cleaning materials. Finding space for our own food and drink took some careful organising.
After lunch, Sue sailed us nearly all of the way out of the Beaulieu River in the very light northerly wind, before the engine was needed in the lee of Stansore Point. We hot footed it down to Yarmouth just as the light was failing and it started to get cold. The evening followed standard BSA practice of social nibbles and drinks prior to going to the closest pub, the Wheatsheaf in this case.
We left Yarmouth and headed east in very gentle Southerly’s. Quartette was still sailing well in these light conditions. As we passed Cowes we had a moment of drama when the steering locked solid. The skipper advised Cowes harbour master over the radio. A rib came to our aid very promptly. Meanwhile the crew furled the sails and prepared the anchor should the need arise. The fault was traced to the autohelm waking up without being invited, engaging in the steering and not responding when standby was pressed. All power was switched off. When power was restored the autohelm responded to standby. The autohelm went back to sleep releasing the steering, which behaved normally all the way up the Medina river to the Folly Inn. The skipper reported the incident to PYC who confirmed this had happened before, indeed looking back several pages in the log book this was the case. It would have been beneficial to the skipper’s blood pressure if a prominent note had been placed in the log book, such that it would have been obvious on take-over, and which also explained what should be done if the incident suddenly recurs without warning.
We moored at the folly Inn. The pontoon had been vastly improved since I was last there. The pontoon was practically new and It may be fractionally closer to the centre of the river than the previous one. We established by instruments and plumb line that there was sufficient depth of water to easily float Quartette at low water neaps and most likely on anything except extreme low water springs. The only snag is that it is a short pontoon taking only two or three boats maximum, any others would have to moor the other side of the river and use dinghies or the dreaded water taxi. We don’t suppose rafting up would be permitted as a small coaster carrying large wind turbine blade’s runs up and down. Very surprising considering the amount of green colour on the chart in this area.
Our misfortune had not ended. A little incident with the very sensitive gas alarm, when resolved revealed the domestic battery charge was lower than expected. Confirmed by the very useful battery charge gauges on the instrument panel. The trickle charge switch was in the wrong position, no charge was delivered while we were on shore power. We had made minimal use of the engine while sailing, hence low domestic power. When we sought to rectify the position with shore power that night, the shore power supply was defective and not available to us. We made sure the engine battery was in a good state, minimised our power consumption that night, including no heating. Learning point: Check all switches are in the correct position on boat take over, even if you don’t expect to use them. Lesson learnt we attended to more pressing matters.
A scouting party went ashore and found the Folly had a reasonable lunch and dinner menu. To go for both on this visit was too much of a challenge as the trip, at this point, had already greatly increased the waistline of the crew. The pub is large and can accommodate in excess of a hundred covers, except on these tables there are no table cloths as dancing is still allowed on the tables providing shoes are removed. Some of the scouting party went for a walk to restore full appetite and found hundreds of chalet bungalows no doubt enhancing the Inns clientele. The evening meals were good and did not disappoint.
We awoke to the usual marina sounds of wind through the rigging and the slapping of halliards on the mast. All the noise was made by our own boat, prior to this the winds were so light as not to require the usual precautions. The wind was south-easterly F6 gusting F7 a little more lively than previous days, but being the Solent nothing too challenging. The hawk did not trust the helm and made a bid to jump ship, however a stop had been put on the top of the guide to prevent departure unlike Spellbinder whose hawk departed in the same area but it did require a F9 to do that. The meticulous planning for lunch at Bembridge was disregarded as we set course for Gosport to have a comfortable lunch in Quartette’s home berth. All that was left to do was to wash, tidy up and wish Quartette a fond goodbye and thank the skipper for his patience in making this, yet again, a super trip.