Monday, 5 July 2010

Double tider...

This weekend the tides were very early, and late in the afternoon, but seeing as the current Mrs Steve-the-Wargamer was sleeping off the effects of a night shift for the day, I got up early on Sunday to get to the boat just before the end of the first tide at 0630, and sailed down the harbour to take advantage of a full days sailing in those parts of the harbour that don't turn to mud...

At 0630 there was only me and one other guy (with the same plans obviously) about, but it was gloriously sunny and warm - tshirts only at that time of the day and you know it's going to be a good one...! As early as it was my girls declined the opportunity so I was out on my own..

I left everything sail'wise tied up and secure as there wasn't a breath of wind - very very still - and motored down to the entrance to the harbour where I found a spare mooring just of Hayling Island Sailing Club to tie up to while I had breakfast... magical at that time of the morning - very few boats about (because of the time I think). I also spotted my first seal of the season, who typically disappeared under water just as I got the focus!

A lovely breakfast later, and with the start of the wind beginning to make an appearance, I quickly did the washing up and raised the sails.

My plan for today was to explore some of the farther reaches of the harbour - to the top of the Thorney channel which I usually only get to see the bottom of in the normal course of events, Bosham, and if possible as close to Chichester as possible. As it happened the weather conspired to defeat me, as in the space of time it took between raising the sails and getting to the other side of the harbour, the wind was already up to a force 4!

Coming up the Thorney channel it was clear I needed some reefs in soon, so I dived onto another spare mooring (this time owned by Thorney Island sailing club) while I sorted it out....

I then cast off and headed off on a run for the top of the channel - it's quite beautiful up this channel as both ides are undeveloped and open country - very narrow though, and the trip back up the channel was a beat in a strong breeze with a lot of moored boats... which is my excuse for the slight grounding I experienced on the way up the channel! Luckily I managed to pull her off with the engine, and having learned my lesson I completed the trip up the channel on engine before turning it off at the bottom of the channel, and heading out into the main harbour..

I then had a decision to make, as while I was up the Thorney channel the wind had increased even further and was now five gusting six - seriously windy, but still beautifully sunny.... I could carry on, but would face a very stiff beat to get back, even in time for the afternoon tide I had planned on...

Decision made, I decided to head back to the main channel and run for home - it would appear the decision was the right one as the beat back just over the little distance I had travelled down wind took a good hour, but then I had a cracking run down the harbour - running down wind at 5.2 knots was a good indication of how windy it was!

On the way back I saw this guy who doing circuits and bumps from the runway in Thorney Island army base.

I then "borrowed" my third and last mooring of the day to sit and watch the world go by from while I had some lunch and a much needed cup of tea... tidied up, stowed the sails (it was even windier by now!), and contemplated the world... I then cast off for a gentle putter up to Emsworth, before turning around the "Fishermans" mark and heading back to my mooring... spotted the following on my way up - another Fantasie 19 called "Maricel" - nice looking boat...

All in all a brilliant day out - quite gratifying to see how "Papillon" handled some pretty lumpy weather - she's small so tends to react to guty wind in a "lively" fashion, but it never felt out of control, and once the reefs were in she behaved impeccably... the only thing I would change would be the reefing system, which on "Papillon" is a roller furling boom - sailing solo, slab reefing from the cockpit would be infinitely preferable - something I'll think on, and post separately on, another time...

In the meanwhile, here's the track... click on this, or any of the other pictures, for a gratifyingly bigger view....

Distance: 18.24 miles (cumulative score just over there to the left) top speed for the whole track was 5.2 knots which I saw while under sail on that lovely run back up the harbour.. so I was sailing faster than when under the engine!
Wind: Force 4 to 5, occasionally gusting force 6

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