It's sitting in a mates neighbours back garden..
If you're at a loose end & want to improve your knowlege on the high seas, then you could do worse than take a look at this website http://www.sailtrain.co.uk/
Last weekend although we never made it to Cowes, was one of the best sailing weekends ever..Friday night we left the house about midnight & made our way down to Wilsons, each time we go away we're getting better & better at packing less, so much so we managed to pack all our gear, food & fuel onto the tender so as to save a short trip back to the pontoon.
Having learnt from the mistakes last time I parked Birtha well away from the rising tide!
We left our mooring about 00:45 without a hitch, It was a very warm night, very little wind & you could hear the waves breaking on the shore, which I assume was Hayling sea front, we made our way quite far down the channel, about 3/4 towards Sparkes Marina and moored up for a nights sleep.
Question: Why don't Halyards knock against the mast untill you are inside a sleeping bag and cosey?!
We woke the next morning, the sun was shinning, it was already warm but a nice light breeze so we had a quick breaky and set off out of the harbour - the tide had just started to turn by now, and although not as strong as during the week where i'd managed to sail backwards @ -2.5kts it was still pushing hard against Monty & PutPut - on all but the lowest tide there is good depth right up against the marker poles on the right hand side as you leave Chichester harbour, you also get weaker currents.
By the time we'd got to the West Pole we were 1 of 5 boats out there.. by now it was warmer still.. & the light breeze found inside the harbour was nowhere to be seen.. as you can see from the GPS track we bobbed up and down a while.. and drifted inshore towards Hayling. This gave Kathy time for a sun baked snooze & me time to play with my sails, I have now answered my own, unanswered LOA question about gib sheets, and can confirm they are much better OUTSIDE of the guard rails, I also learnt more about the gib travelers, pushing them far forward gives the genoa a better surface area with the wind behind you, bringing them to the stern allows you to sheet right in and sail very high to the wind. Between my expertise in catching what little wind there was, and the fact 17ft'ers can move on light winds, the only two boats actually moving were ourselves & another guy who had his spinnaker out.. (by this time, there were about 10+ boats all by the west pole drifting) even so it had taken us 1.5hrs to get half way down Hayling.. I knew the tide would be against us till midday but with wind like this, & coming from the SE it was going to take an age to make it to Cowes.. could be even worse coming home.. one trait i've noticed with my L17 is she sails very high indeed to the wind, but is painfully slow downwind, not sure if this is the design of this boat or modern boats, but no doubt not helped by my undersize Main, but Saturday would of been an ace day for a Spinnaker!
The breeze had picked up a little & were were making 2.8kt's (2 kt's of that probably tide) with it still coming from the SE turning Monty south had us upto a not too shabby (for the day) 3.5 kt's due south - this put Bembridge within our reach quite easily although as high tide was 14:42 it would cut the days sailing time down, we decided it was better than nothing and we'd walk round Bembridge and explore. We arrived at Bembridge around 2pm just before HW, by now it was roasting hot, we'd seen a lot of other boats all heading the same way, and on coming into the harbour Duver pontoon was already stacked full with boats.. as per last week being small we were given our own finger pontoon, but by the time we were tying off - the marine staff were already turning boats away.
Kathy & I tidied Monty and decided to take the water taxi over to Bembridge.. this was £1.50 each.. which must of cost us over 1p a meter! - & your dropped off on the beach in the dunes not knowing where to go! - i'd tried to get a conversation going with the taxi skipper, you know the way you do with a normal taxi driver.. but he wasn't forthcoming with any info about where to go or eat etc..
If you get the chance on a Saturday afternoon to explore Bembridge and it's after 2pm.. PACK YOUR OWN FOOD! - as everywhere was basically shut! - the pub near the water front does food from 11-2, then 6 till late.. China china (open midday till late) was closed.. the only place open for food was the Co-OP!! - but the afternoon was spent having a sun baked walk around Bembridge & the closed Windmill, then back down to the marina and along upto St Helens & back to the Vine pub we'd frequented on our last trip! - I highly recommend their Gammon steak & their Cod'n Chips is the largest cod i've ever seen!, after a nice meal & cold Strongbow it was time for a walk back to Monty in the dark - (note to self, next time I walk along Bembridge harbour wall in the dark don't just pack sunglasses!)
When we got back to Monty we were well fed, watered & tired after our several hours spent walking & were well ready for bed, it's then it dawned on me the original plan was Cowes, with its full tidal access meant we could rise at a decent hour Sunday, however Bembridge as i'm sure you know dries out at low spring tides! - doh.. high water Sunday was a painful choice of either 3.11am or 15:27.. I seriously didnt fancy too early a start, but if we slept in it meant another day sitting in the sun, & I'd not be able to make it to Chichester to catch the flooding tide through the harbour entrance.. so the alarm was set for 5am.. giving us enough time to get up & go.
I learnt another lesson here - no matter how tired you are in the evening, fill your outboard with fuel & ready the boat.. you will feel even less enthusiastic to do it come the morning!
The morning came, the alarm went off, a quick visit to the loo's & we were ready to go - i'd kind of hoped other boats would also be leaving on the earlier tide.. but it wasn't to be.. IF i ever go back in years to come and i'm rafter up against a pontoon and need to leave at 3am, I will just take the boats rafted to me with me!
By 5.30AM (HW+ 2.5!) it was dark, thick fog, cold & you could see the tide pooring out as we let slip, Kathy sat at the front with the big torch, me at the helm trying not to wake the entire marina with out 2 stroke! - just as we set off the sky started to light up, with a promise of a sun rise.. as we got to bouy # 11 & 10 we turned into the very narrow harbour entrance between the 2 sand banks, we were basically flowing out with the tide - I made the mistake of getting my phone out to take a picture of the sunrise as suddenly there's a real loud scraping noise!, the boat rocks to one side, I get shunted forwards!, Monty turns round beam onto the tide and stops... you got it! we'd run aground! right in the entrance.. with the tide flooding out! - all I could think of was sitting there all day in the sun with kids and co building sand castles around us as we sat and waited for the tide to come back! - I instructed Kathy to come back to the cockpit - & was pretty thankfull as the boat came to a sudden stop she'd not gone pilling over the front!
Monty has a 65cm draft, so as you can imagine you could see the bottom, & the spring tide flooding out past us like a river! - I engaged reverse on Putput, and while pushing down at the back gave it the full 5hp! - I know from past readings if your aground in a fin keel, heeling the boat may help as it makes your draft slighter, however in a bilge keel this isn't going to work! with Putput on full power making a noise like the 5 horses of the apocalypse we were going nowhere.. I'd tried going straight backwards, still beam onto the flow, nothing, i'd tried reversing back up stream while rocking the boat from side to side.. nothing.. then it dawned on me trying to reverse at 5mph up a 5mph downstream, is like trying to walk the wrong way up an escalator! so the last thing to try was rocking the boat while givving it wellie downstream.. this slowly but surely worked! huraah! - we were free of the gravely bottom.. and although drifting backwards out to see at least we were afloat!
If you ever find yourself unsure of the depth in Bembridge entrance stick RIGHT up close to the red channel bouys.. not as I did and try to navigate the middle of the channel!
With a huge feeling of relief, mixed with the hope i'd not damaged Monty's keels we headed off to deep water! the plan had been to grab a mooring just along the coast & cook some bacon & egg for breakfast but I didn't want to take any more chances with the tide! - there was quite a few boats at anchor in Priory bay, but my chart showed that as getting down to 1m in places & I wasn't taking any more chances.. the fog inside the harbour was blowing away & you could see the two forts towards Portsmouth, there was a nice gently but constant breeze & we headed out to sea, a few mins later the sun just started to poke up above the waves & treated us, and the one other boat in the Solent to an absolutely stunning sun rise. I can highly recommend being out at sea and seeing it, if just once.
By this time it was about 7am, we had a fair few hours before we could get onto our mooring back at Wilsons, & with putput on tickover & the sails up we were making 4kt's straght to Portsmouth, so decided to grab a visitors pontoon in Haslar marina for breakfast. we arrived just after 08.30 and there were just a few boats making their way out of the harbour, grabbed ourselves a pontoon, had a nice well earned pre breakfast shower! the facilities at Haslar are far superior to Bembridge, although you don't feel you've achieved as much as geting to the IoW, Haslar is really growing on me, £7 for 4 hours including a hot shower, a decent loo, and use of their hose to give monty a wash and wax isn't bad going IMO, We cooked breakfast on the pontoon, had a brief walk into Gosport & sat looking at Gunwarf in the shade of a palm tree and ate ice creams!.
We left the pontoon about 11.40 - & wow what a different day, as we left Haslar & turned to Starboard to exit Portsmouth we were 1 of an armada of ships! so many in fact the Red funnel ferry had stopped on it's transit to let lots of yachts pass by, as Kathy sailed us out into the solent you could see litterally hundreds and hundreds of yachts, in every direction.. we made a nice pace of 3.5 - 4kts out around the fort, then tacked towards Chichester, it was a nice steady plod of 3kt's but we had a 7.8 mile trip and 3.5 hours to do it in.. and it was a stunning day. all went well till we had a glove overboard! (you can see from the GPS track! just outside Langstone) but this was rescued and we continued out way to Chichester.. again slotting into a huge line of traffic to come back into the harbour.
High water was 15:18 and we'd arrived at 15:22 - pretty pleased with that, the entrance went mostly without issue, only one being another nobber in his penis replacement huge motorboat & his wife with a face like a smacked arse doing about 20kt's passed us sending us into a few seconds of log flume action - other than that, We'd not made Cowes (yet) but a totally superb weekend! (other than the slip up outside Bembridge!)
Last week I sailed Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat & Sun, Including 34.72 miles at the weekend.
Can't complain about that in October!
Saturday 01/10/11: 13.88 miles - 5:15hrs - Av 2.6mph - Max 5.4mph
Sunday 02/10/11: 20.84 miles - 6:18hrs - Av 3.2mph - Max 7.3mph! (into Chi with sails up engine on and riding the tide!)
Total 34.72 miles in 11:32hrs
the Weekends route, shows a lap of Chichester Harbour from the Thursday out with my brother.
Leaving Bembridge as the sun was rising, this picture sooo wasn't worth running aground for!
Breakfast with a view of the Spinnaker..
Monty after a clean, she may be small, but I bet she sailed further that weekend than 99% of the other boats in the marina - showing that size ISN'T everything! it's what you do with it ;)
A small fleet of Cornish crabbers or Shrimpers at Haslar
This wasn't my weekend - but found this on google, just goes to show how much it really dry's out there - at high tide near the fort, you feel you're well on your way home.
Those of you who know me, or are familiar with this blog may remember back in the summer when I set out to buy something a little bigger than my Potter 14. I don't do things by halves & having researched 100's of boats for 1000's of hours & annoyed all my friends with boring facts they newer realised they wanted to know, myself Kathy & a friend called Crispin set off one Sunny Saturday in June on a boat visiting road trip.At the time I really fancied something like a Leisure 17 - as i'd never read one bad word or review about one, but as a member of the Smallboatowners yahoo group they had all advised over and over to get something bigger like a 22ft'er to save me wanting to upgrade again within a year. While I could see their point of view & logic, one of my criteria was 'small & light enough for me to tow home over winter' thus saving on the costs of laying up etc.
Years ago when I got into motorbikes, I decided I wouldn't try to do things on the cheap, instead I would work my way up from small to large over time, regardless of cost, in the hope i'd stay alive, hence I ended up with a NS125r, RD350ypvs, FZ600, FZR600r, VFr750, CBR900Rr, TLR1000r, YZf1000, YZF750 - then another CBR900Rr & a VFR800i which are both sat in the garage as you read this! (unless you read this in 2013 by which time hopefully i've sold them!) - but as this grow slowly, stay safe, keep it fun approach had worked with bikes, I decided to use this approach with boats, afterall I know a couple of people that started big (24ft) scared themselves, ended up with big bills, & the boat was left rotting in a field.
I'd also been and viewed a swift 18 - which compaired to Whisper felt like the QE2! it was huge! twice as high and 50% wider!
Now being blonde & left handed, it's fair to say I see somethings in life different to other people, but also being 6ft 4 I needed a boat with long births - which is harder than you think.. it seems the less inside a boat the longer the beds.. Whisper my WWP 14 has 6ft 6 births! a bit like my Lotus Elise - a very sparse interior but i had tons of leg room, by the time bigger boats have small galleys, heads etc or are compartmented off, they all seem to have 6ft bunks, while the Swift 18 was a nice looking boat, & meant to sail well, I was concerned with the 48 turns of a screw to lower the Keel & having a small sink (bowl with a pipe into a water bottle) & stove this left the bunks far too short for me to sleep in with comfort, this again left me liking the design of the Leisure 17, as effectively the bunks run from the bow right down under the cockpit.
Right back to my point.
A leisure 17 was defo high on my list, although I was prepaired to heed the advice of the yahoo group and look at something bigger, I really liked the look of the 17SL's & knew if i rushed and bought a std 17, I would still be wanting an SL model ASAP - so I decided to wait, afterall I had Whisper.
I had been 'Ummin' and 'Arrhh'in for a couple of months over a Manta 19 up in the Lake district (Foxy Lady) but this had just sold, L17's kept coming up on Ebay in a variety of conditions for a variety of prices, sadly the clean ones were trailerless - something I couldnt have as I wanted to bring home for winter, A very nice L17SL came up with trailer - but no cushions.. after getting quotes of £700 - £900 to rectify that, I also left that one alone!
I put an advert on the Leisure Owners Club (LOA) for a "Wanted L17SL" & after about a month a guy contacted me about a boat named "Emma" - it was very very clean, had a lot of gear but sadly no trailer - oddly it was sat on his drive on it's keels somewhere in Essex, it looked like a very nice boat but the guy was definately a salesman, with a designated website etc just with pics of the boat - he also wanted silly money for it & then extra for the outboard, but it was something to think about, by then i'd found an old very tired L17 at the boatyard I keep Whisper, it hadn't moved for years, but was sat on a trailer! - this would be ideal for Emma, so I worked on contacting the owner etc to see what his plans were.
Meanwhile back at the ranch.....
Another guy contacted my 'Wanted add' with a 17SL up in Reading, Montserrat - as i'd never actually seen one in the flesh, we penciled that one in as first port of call on the road trip.
This trip was Portsmouth to Reading, then upto Ipswich to see an immaculate Hurley 20 'Blue Tit' then onto an old boatyard that seemed to have many other models of boats i'd like to view, namely a Leisure 20, Prelude 19, Fantasie 19 and Anderson 22.. well this turned out to be one hell of a day!
The 17SL in Reading was in pretty good condition, sat on a nearly new trailer - the guy was a bit of a numpty, knew nothing about sailing, in fact him & his brother had got the boat off their dad (who only sailed it in lakes in Wales) & only used it as a motorboat on the Thames, without the mast or sails etc. it had a new outboard, gps, & fenders from a 60ft'er! all this could be mine for a measly £3600 - big chunk of cash, but still £700 less than 'Emma' & it had a trailer!
After a quick Mc'Lunch we continued our road trip from Reading upto Ipswich, by now time was flying on by, sadly the traffic on the M25 wasn't.. it was mid afternoon, we were at Chelmsford & stuck in traffic for a bloody JLS concert of all things! - this held us up nearly two hours so we didn't get to the sailing club where the Hurley 20 was for sale untill late afternoon, the owner hadn't shown up, & no one else was around to let us in.. so all I could do after a 190mile drive was peer at it through a fence.. dam it! - we then went on to the old boat yard to view the other models.. well this yard seems to be where old boats go to die.. it was more of a graveyard than boatyard, it looked like most of the boats here were built by Noah as he was learning the trade that allowed him to perfect the Ark.
I forget which one, the Prelude or the Fantasie but instead of tripple keel, it had the two outer keels removed, fiberglassed (badly) over, then a large square lump of iron bolted onto the bottom of the center keel.. the guy was also selling 2 or 3 BEZ2's - the infamous boat that sadly cost the lives of a grandfather & grandson in Wales a couple of years ago - for this reason I wouldn't have one of those for free!.. so a lot tired'er not much the wiser (other than I really liked the inside of the 17SL) we set off home on the 200mile trip getting back about midnight!
The next morning, I decided to contact the owner of Emma & find out where it was, to go take a look - well the Law of Sods was working fine, as the boat was in.. Chelmsford.. under 2 miles from where i'd only sat the previous day for 2 hours in JLS traffic!! - I wasn't too keen to go back!
Now i'd been in contact with the owner of 'Emma' via emails & he'd sent me lots of pictures, he assured me if i could find a trailer 2 or 3 men could lift it off his drive - failing that I could probably get it delivered for £300.. (TBH by this time I was even considering sailing it back from Ispwich!) i'd managed to haggle him down to around £4000 if memory serves me right, with the outboat but still felt this was too much..without a trailer..
The next day Monty's owner phoned to see what i'd thought of his L17SL - I agreed i liked it, but said it seemed a little expensive (i was buying time, after all he'd contacted me through the wanted page and not advertised it yet) he said as his dad had lent it him, he couldn't sell too cheaply blah blah..
Sorry this is so long - it's nearly finished, if you need to grab a cuppa or take a nature break this is a good time..
By this time, i'd got the phone number for the old tired 17 at Wilsons boatyard, & been in touch with the old boy about it, he basically wanted rid & agreed to meet me the next day to discuss it.
The next morning, Monty's owner phoned again, having discussed with his dad, the lowest he could go to was £3100.
Now I like to haggle and wheel and deal, & part of the best bit of people contacting you through a wanted add is you have a slight upper hand, none of this 'oh i have 3000 other people wanting to come see it' etc that you get with cars, & one thing with the website for EMMA was it had no price... I told Monty's owner about Emma, & even sent him the weblink.. he couldnt' argue that it was cleaner & had more gear, & I may have suggested it was about the 3k mark - but obviously didn't have the trailer.. he said he'd show this link to his dad & be in touch.
That afternoon I met up with the old boy at Wilsons to talk about the Do'er Upper L17, the rigging looked nearly new, he assured me it had newly re-covered cushions, old sails & new sails & a lot of happy history, all this could be mine for a couple of hundred - too cheap to turn down, it would also give me the trailer needed for Emma, I could sell the cushions the sails the mast & boom etc to cover my costs! - it was a deal in the making, so we shook hands!
Later that night - Monty's owner phoned yet again, having shown Emma to his dad, they'd let me have her with the new outboard & gps etc all for £2600! - this is a good price for an SL & too good a deal for me to turn down! - so that is the story how I eneded up with 2 L17's in one day!!
To cut a very long story short - Emma's owner then emailed me to tell me it had sold - he even included photo's of it being launched by it's new owner and sailing away in Essex.
Then something odd happened, about 3 weeks later a guy responds to my (yet to be removed) 'Wanted Ad' about a Leisure 17SL called.. Emma.. & sent me a couple of photo's - clearly the same boat, & he was the same guy seen a couple of weeks earlier as the 'happy new owner'
He was very evasive of my questions about how long he'd owned it, but basically said he'd not had it long and due to his age decided he didn't want to go sailing any more.. sadly, if this was the truth he was also selling it a fair chunk cheaper than the original seller (although I don't know how much he paid for it)
I even considered, Selling Monty on for a profit, off loading Sabuci & using her trailer for Emma, but as I still had Whisper, I figured 4 boats, 2 cars & 2 motorbikes just a little too much!
The reason for this long blog post (sorry about that) is i've now been contacted by another new L17SL owner, called Graham.. & his boats name... well you can guess it!
He's also had boats in Wilsons boat yard before! & may consider bringing it down - I don't believe in destiny.. but it seems Emma was destined to be at Wilsons one way or another.. with an owner called Graham..
After dinghy sailing in the Itchen river for 2 seasons, in 2010 I bought my own first boat, a West Wight Potter 14, then in 2011 I bough a Leisure 17SL, which we loved and used so much, but quickly out grew so we bought a Hunter Horizon 23, now, 3 years later we have a bilge keel Moody 28, hopefully she will last us a good few years to come.
Trips so far this year.
Sea Holly - 2017
Oriole - 2017
Distance - 498 miles
A Total of 498 Tidal Miles
Usefull web links
Wilsons Boatyard to Chichester marina
Wilsons to Nab Tower
Wilsons to Haslar marina for lunch & back
Wilsons to Bembridge via Ryde for overnighter 24/09/11