By now, my reader(s) must b wondering if Riff Raff has disappeared into myth, or perhaps turned into the Flying Dutchman. The discerning one will have noticed that my typing skills have returned to their normal state and misspellings and typos are returning to confuse you all.
The last post told of our sail to Poole; now we have to recount the voyage to Weymouth
We motored out of Poole early on a sunny, windless morning, passing the chain ferry without incident and along the entrance channel with no interference from Ferries. A sol fisherboat was entering the channel, with its usual escort of hopeful gulls. I was hopeful too – that a sea breeze would spring up so that Freddy2 could be silenced. Past Old Harry, breasting a little tide, hoping to get to St Alban head at slack water to avoid the overfalls from the off shore leadge.
Pas the yachts still dozing in the anchorage by Old Harry
then on past Swanage, we crept along the coast, parting placid waters with our bow and shattering the peace with Freddy. A couple of Gulliemots passed overhead but no other wildlife appeared.
No sign of the tide when we approach St Albans point so we kept even closer to the shore, taking the inside passage (keep within 50 feet of the shore, say the pilot books). Still calm water – ahead and to port were the ominous very swirls of the beginning of the tides rush to the west. Riff Raff twitched a few times but we were through. The bulk of Portland was ahead,so Weymouth must lie in the valley a little East of that. Now we can head straight for it.
It’s Monday. It means the Army is at work. Up comes the guardboat, urging us to head away to the South for half an hour to clear the range. In theory there’s no legal requirement to do this but I thought discretion was the order of the day and complied until they were out of sight, whereupon I resumed my course and speed for Weymouth.
Still no sign of a breeze, so Freddy 2 hammered away.
Away to the south west an ethereal shape started to emerge from the haze. It hardened into a 3 masted sailing ship, with the yards all brailed up, making about 8 knots against the tide.
Then the guard boat rushed up again to give it (and us) our marching orders.
Thirty minutes later I resumed course for Weymouth – we didn’t see the guardboat again.
We inches our way to Weymouth, lunchtime came. Freddy 2 was shut down for a few minutes as I listened to the one o clock news (how traditional) and ate the sandwiches I had made the night before (cheese, marmite and tomato, if you must know).
We drifted in the hot sunshine, on a glass like sea (I was reminded of the verse from the Ancient Mariner):
“All in a hot and copper sky, the bloody sun at noon”
but I couldn’t remember having killed an albatross.
Freddy 2 was set to the task again. I called up the harbour master at Weymouth to ascertain that the Bridge would lift at four and we chugged on.
We sighted the mole and turned round it’s eastern end.
I was enchanted by the sight that met us:
I could almost imagine the harbour as it would have been at the beginning of the nineteenth century – the customs house on the right, ready to assess my cargo and examine my ships papers, the forest of masts of the various cargo and fishing boats on the wharves, the warehouses bulging with goods and the rummage gang already to pounce on suspect boats.
But it was a summer day in 2017, so we made our way unmolested and untroubled to the waiting pontoon. Soon the harbour bridge was lifted to let us through into the marina and we settled in silence to the heat of the afternoon.
As I had to go to London for a meeting the following weekend, this seemed a good place to pause the trip. I covered the cockpit with the purpose built cover, paid in advance for a weeks mooring and left by train the following morning.