At last, a few days without social commitments – such is the hectic life of the retired. The owners agent is having a weekend “jolly” with the local horticultural society, so I can go to sea with a clear (ish) conscience.
To Northney on Tuesday (just as the new cockpit cover arrives – more of which anon). Half way there I remember that I have left my important navigation tool (an elderly ipad) on charge in my office. Hey Ho. Riff Raff slides off the trailer with ease and is soon moored alongside a pontoon for the evening whilst I go off to the local chandlers (for a boat hook, a chart of the Solent and the Admiralty Tidal currents book (the last two of which would have been on the ipad) and then to a supermarket for those essentials that have also been forgotten – cup a soups, cheese, bread and wine. Then to a pub for an evening meal and back to the cabin to study tide atlas and chart – just to make sure that my plan still appeared to work. And so to bed.
Up with the lark (but too late for the 05:30 forecast). The smart phone suggests a quiet day with a NE wind, F3-4 at first, dropping during the day to 2 – 3. So it’s going to be a downwind sail to Cowes – fortunately the tide will eventually be with us.
Cast off 11:00. Freddy 2 takes us out of the marina and into the channel towards the harbour mouth. Up go the sails and, after the mess of reefing lines has been untangled, the main fills and we’re sailing down wind and with the tide towards the entrance of Chichester Harbour, through calm waters (forecast smooth or slight). Out of the harbour into the approaches to the Solent. It’s misty and I fail to identify any land marks. The few way-points that I’set are on the iPad in my study so I set a course to the West. We gently burble along. A large fort drifts past to the South. Oer – it’s Horse Sands fort and we’ve crossed the “submerged barrier”, fortunately without damage.
The wind picks up a bit and we turn slightly to the South and cross he entrance to Portsmouth. Three light towers appear ‘they’re new’ I thought and realised they’d been put in place to help these big new toothless carriers that the RN now boasts. I could see a great block of Naval Grey alongside the RN dockyard wall, – the main “island” of HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Now we’re in the land (sorry sea) of noisy hovercraft and boxlike ferries:
Not to mention AIS collision alerts:
The danger is soon passed (no boats were harmed in this situation, nor were words exchanged between skippers) and Cowes hove into view. The weather had read the forecast and decided to adopt it – the wind dropped to very little as Freddy 2 pushed us along the small boat channel. We avoided a large ferry and, rather than use the flash Cowes Yacht Haven, we snuck up river, crossed the path of the fearsome chain ferry and puttered* into East Cowes Marina. Riff Raff and I were now attached to the Isle of Wight – we’d gone abroad!
* well, not exactly puttered. Freddy 2 doesn’t seem to do puttering. More like a slightly muted roar.