Anyway - off I set, Monty was looking very clean, amazing what a few rain storms can do, I had my new APX sallopettes and my BR2 coat to try out!
first time solo in this boat, I had a brain wave with the fore & aft mooring pick up bouys, I figured on my return instead of grabbing one and drifting too close to the vessel near by while I struggle to pull in the other bouy, I 'tied' them together - I have 2 lines on my boat, about 2ft long with large dog clips on each end - these have been life savers in their time, be it an emergency clip onto a pontoon cleat, or an instant if scruffy fastening onto a mooring line, well now I will use one to keep the fore & aft pick up bouys together while I sail - it worked superbly! - I don't have to choose which one to grab! I can grab them both now from the cockpit! - fix one to the aft cleat and just walk forwards with the other.. worked a treat!
Anyway back to my sail - the plan was to get some rougher weather handling experience! - well the plan worked - i motored off my mooring and down to a deeper water one to prep the main sail, my SL main is undersized - so approx the size of a reefed main anyway, but to be safe I still reefed this, that makes it about the size of a standard Leisure 17 main with 2 reefing lines; while still on the mooring bouy I got the sail all ready to go - my days of sailing Whisper single handed taught me that there's nothing fun about being single handed on a boat and having to let go of the tiller while you hoist and sort out sails.
This all worked well - with the main sail reefed around the boom, just waiting to be hoisted I let slip of the bouy and motored out into Chi harbour, you could see the entrance in the distance.. with a white line of breaking waves, that seemed to be much higher up than I was! - it looked like a Tsunami when you see it in the distance on tv! - I saw my first Chichester Seal though today! - at first i thought it was a lobster pot - as i got closer it looked like an up-side-down black wellie boot!, but it was watching me, by the time i was within 30ft it dived under the surface & I never saw it again.
I cautiously made my way down to sparkes & turned to port heading towards east head - but it was soon apparent the waves were of a size this wasn't going to be a fun trip! - 2 other boats, both bigger than me, that i'd followed down the channel turned into the Emsworth channel and let out their jibs - i'm not normally one to admit defeat but figured this would be a safer bet for today, so i changed course heading north towards Emsworth, surfing a little on the waves the boat was a lot happier - so I quickly pulled up the main and put the outboard into neutral, I was doing about 3kt's even reefed - helped by the incoming tide, I turned the outboard off and continued for about 4 mins, then pulled out a small gib to see how it handled, Monty picked up speed nicely, so i set the gib to about 50% & continued up the channel, I was making 5.5kt's by now! pretty impressive.
Once I got towards Emsworth I decided to turn back and head into the wind back the way i came, by this time the wind was on the nose for my heading, so I had to tack my way back down towards Sparkes - this worked well, as I still have 3-4 hrs of sailing time left & the practice was good for me, other than one tack where a gib sheet caught around a mast cleet, it all went well - a little too well maybe, by this point I was the only boat I could see, but Monty had been holding up well to the wind and the water, with only the occasional wave catching me with spray, as time was on my side as I rounded the end of Thorney Island I turned East & headed towards Chichester Marina.. I was still 30 mins before High tide but the depth sounder was reading 5meters, so thought i'd be safe!
As I got about half way between Thorny and East head some of the waves were really picking up in size, upto about 4-5ft from crest to trough, I was thinking hard about turning back for home when suddenly on the trough of a wave - a hard bump! and the boat stopped dead in it's tracks! - I braced myself from falling forwards and could hear the clatter of things below, as I crested the wave Monty starting moving forwards again, over a small wave - into the next one and BANG the same again - stopped dead.. it felt like we'd run aground - the depth guage had been reading 'E' for some time now (like it does when it's in v shallow water!) but i chose to ignore it, thinking it must be playing up due to the rough seas.. (it's strange how the first thought through your mind if your instruments must be faulty when something like this happens, I was 200m south of Thorny and only 30mins off high water, I MUST have enough depth thought I) anyway this was enough for me! - I quickly furled in the headsail, pulled in the main sheets and started up the outboard and turned starboard towards Sparkes marina!
It was a fairly wet trip back, Monty felt calmer sailing into waves than she does Motoring! but I can report my Musto BR2 jacket & ATX Sallopettes work very well!
On the way back I moored up on a spare bouy and tidied the sails, did a little maintanence on the boat (new 12v sockets & put tape round the nuts on the shrouds to stop them coming loose) & a large orange rib came past.. with big aerials on the back! - looking identical to the one that 'buzzed' us at 3am the other week!, after I set off back to Wilsons I passed him moored up on the bouy me and Kathy had used for the night! - which could explain why he was circling us at the time! - maybe i'd taken his bouy!
Anyway - sorry for yet another long post! - checking Cambermet when I got home, there had been a few 25kt gusts at the time I was out, with 2 reefed sails Monty did me proud, although the bigger gusts were while I was in the more sheltered waters up near Emsworth, the bigger waves near East head were an entirely different matter! - looking on the charts for Chi harbour, where I either hit a wall of wave or the sand to stop me in my tracks, was right over 'Pilsey Sands' I'll try to find out how 'deep' or shallow this is in rough water +/- 30mins of HW, I guess it's reasonable to be in the trough of a 5ft wave and be quite near the bottom!.
Don't know if I was mad or not going out today, but it certainly was an experience and felt safe other than the two bumps :)