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