I'd been rudely awakened about 3am by an orange rib circling our boat with a spot light.. I assume it was some sort of harbour master - but didn't get a good enough look at them - it's amazing what goes through your mind when your suddenly woken up, your boat rocking up and down, lots of noise and a bright light being shone through your windows! (I have to admit for a few seconds to thinking it was a ufo!) but soon as I poked my head with a torch up through the hatch they motored off.. I do hope it was something formal, they had an orange rib with several arials, lights and a very loud VHF - not the type of boat i'd expect toe rags to use to be stealing outboards etc.. but then why would a harbour master be out at 3am in the dark.. I guess i'll never know
Next morning we set off from our mooring bouy a few moments after the Cornish Shrimper, many of the boats still around us although in water, were still aground - we'd not hit the ground at all at low tides, even though those moored either side of us had.
It was a better morning than before, a nice strong westerly breeze this time, (i learnt the importance of that in my next adventure) & the tide flooding out of Chi harbour meant we made good time, only about 10 mins from mooring bouy to marker towers outside the harbour, much better than yesterdays 40+ mins, and as a bonus it was 5 hours untill HW!
As that was our last night available, it didnt seem viable to go to Bembridge, so having seen on a fellow blog, that Papillon had made it to Nab tower, I was not to be outdone by a 19ft'er we decided to give it a try.
Now as i write this is sounds bad, but earlier in the year when I bought myself an Admiralty chart I bought the one for the Solent - in hindsite this is Central Solent, as it covers the area's from Lymington, Cowes, Yarmouth etc but the furthest East it goes is to Portsmouth Harbour, so coming out of Chi I am on 'uncharted water!'
It was early morning with only 1 or 2 other boats out so I tried a radio check, after all it was new equipment and other than incoming traffic on Ch16 I had no idea it worked, i've read in many forums how people moan and complain about these checks to the coast guard, so i tried Chichester Marina on Ch80 - no answer, I also tried Sparks - again no answer..
The internet weather reports and the onshore forecast were both good for the day, so we headed south towards the tower - my Pilotage book of the Solent - I have to say has been fantastic, I used this to set a gps waypoint back to Chichester for an emergency, i guess it's better to know your way back than to know your way there?! but most importantly this book has the tidal flow tables.
At a speed of 3.5kt's it must of taken about 3.5 hours in total to get to the tower, this is by far the furthest offshore i've been in anything under 37ft, but it felt safe, the waves were a bit choppier nearing the tower and the last 30 mins was spent being out of site of land of Hayling island! but with a breef stop near the tower for photo's and dinner, we headed back, this time with the tide with us the gps was reporting 5.8kt's it felt like we were flying!, we had a distance to travel of 6.5nm's and with a our speed peaking at 6.1kt's we'd be back in no time at all!, too quickly in fact, so after half an hour, and the tower dissapearing nicely behind us, we relaxed the sails and put in a few tacks, so we could just potter our way home.
It was nice to finally have a nice relaxing sail, no drama going on, we decided to just take our time and head back to Wilsons, again giving us enough time to empty the boat, and moor up
Everything had gone really well, we moored Monty up, Kathy took some of the gear upto the car, I got the trolly for the tender (mini monty!) submerged it, walked along the pontoon and pulled the mooring line on the front of the tender as had as i could, to float it back into deeper water and onto the trolley.. unfortunately as I yanked at the line, the tender slipped past me nicely and I dropped the rope...
It's a very strange feeling to be on a pontoon watching your tender sail past you.. it's like when you were a boy and you fell off a bike, suddenly everything goes in s.l.o.w..m.o.t.i.o.n there was no one else around and no choice.. I had to jump in.. so much for a drama free end to my sail! - things i learnt.
1. Change the line on the front of the tender to a floating one, if it had not sunk i could of grabbed it.
2. Don't pull a tender off the ramp and let go of the line!
3. Tie the line loosely around my wrist! or failing this see point #2
4. before jumping off a pontoon into waist deep water remove your mobile phone from your leg pockets, or revert to point #2 !!
5. Failing point #2 keep spare shoes and socks in the car! this saves you having to walk through a boat yard with very squelchy shoes in the sort of walk thats best discribed as a cowboy who's sh*t himself!