Log 27/5/13 – Bucklers Hard to Northney


6am looking East from the Beaulieu River harbourmaster’s pontoon

We needed to catch the tide East, so that meant leaving Bucklers Hard at around 06:40 for an hour long potter down the river to the Solent. At 6am it was a magical place; the sun was already rising and starting to burn off the mist. The bird life was particularly vocal.

We carried the very last of the ebbing tide all the way down, bar the last half mile. This was a guarantee that we’d done this right, and could enjoy the new flood under us all the way back past Cowes, Portsmouth, Langstone and into Chichester – and possibly Northney.


Heading towards the Beaulieu river entrance

Once into the Solent the water was flat, and the wind settled into a F4 from the SSW. It was perfect, and with full main, staysail and yankee we burned along at a constant 7kts over the ground – almost a couple of which were from the tide. A group of bigger boats were on the island side with spinnakers aloft, and besides them it was just us and the Red Funnel ferry. We made for Horse Sand Fort, which could just be made out on the horizon.


Stonking along the Solent at 7kts over the ground, heading for Horse Sand Fort.

It changed once we’d passed through the submarine barrier again. The wind direction became more southerly and the wave height increased – and we were drag racing with some bigger yachts just out of Portsmouth. It was a pretty wet ride, as we continued with full sail to just short of the West Pole tower, when we furled away the yankee, bore away towards Bar Beacon post and gybed into a slot between the yachts nervously entering over Chichester Bar. No nervousness with us though, we kept all the other canvass aloft and surfed in passing a couple of much bigger vessels.

Once inside and back on flat water we went over to East Head to meet up with Black Jack, a lovely Crabber 24, and we tied up alongside for an hour before taking the very last of the tide all the way back to Northney. It had been a most fabulous day.


Log 26/5/13 – Northney to Cowes

The Solent beckons!

Unusually, the Bank Holiday weather was looking fair, so we left home at 05:30 heading for the Solent. Rigging was completed promptly and ace repair man Chris Murch of Northney Yacht Services arrived to fix the scrapes picked up in Arradon. He made a first class job of it, but we were now a little later launching than planned.

Submarine barrier gap.

We headed down Emsworth channel enjoying a perfect vantage point for the dinghy racing fleet going the opposite way. Before long we were one of many heading out to East Pole then heading West. The promised northerly wind became a variable north westerly, so we didn’t make fabulous progress, and as we lined up with Ryde it was on the nose all the was to Cowes.

Was the P&O cruise ship aground?

There were quite a few ship movements, and one is worthy of mention. A second P&O cruise ship exited Southampton water, followed the usual channel but then headed north of the Bramble Bank. It was low water, and the ship seemed to grind to a halt for some time. Had she grounded?

Log 26/5/13 – Cowes to Bucklers Hard

That’ll do nicely!

After a peaceful night it was a beautiful morning; clear blue sky, a bit of breeze and rising temperature. Just what the Skipper’s wife ordered.

Leaving Cowes.

High water was midday, and we motored out to the small boat channel, raised sails and set course as best to windward. There were boats everywhere. It was Cowes, and it was a Bank Holiday Sunday. We managed one long beat to Lepe Spit, tacked to port, then tacked back onto starboard again to let the tide put us straight into the Beaulieu entrance. Then it was engine on and sails away, and join the Bank Holiday procession up the river.

Being small was very useful as we managed to get a walk ashore pontoon with electricity, when bigger boats were being turned away. The onboard catering was looking good to.

An improved look and taste to the catering.

The rest of the day was warm and sunny. Perfect.

Attracting attention on the harbourmaster’s pontoon at Buckler’s Hard.

Smallest yacht again. Prettiest too, though. 😉

Log 9/5/13 – Arradon to St Goustan

Rafting up at St Goustan on the Auray River.

The stormy night never materialised and we had the calmest night so far. The only noise, apart from the huge firework display at 23:00, was that of drifting into the mooring buoy.

We set off with the tide around 10:00, but the wind had built to a good F5. Where the water flowed fastest the ‘wind over tide’ effect was very turbulent. It was at these places that the hoards of spectators stood. There was much to see, including the Dutch tall ship ‘Iris’ which we last saw in Ipswich in October.

Fleets on the move.

The flotilla headed west to a brief rest at Larmor Baden, which was again rough and blowy. The harbour master and crew were dressed for the occasion.

Larmor Baden harbourmaster (with real beard)

Harbour staff providing water taxi service

We set sail for St Goustan at 13:30, via the narrow passage north of Ile Radenec. The conditions required motosailing to make progress, but once in the river the tide was with us and we made good time.

Dodgy knees Tony having a good time, if a little wet!

Making progress up the Auray

The river was a tricky sail, and one small boat in our fleet capsized and sank just ahead of us.

We reached the port of St Goustan for the mooring bun fight, but moored alongside Martin and his lovely Winkle Brig.

Martin lounging about on ‘Winkle’

Now that’s what you call rafting up!

It was a very tiring day, so we hit the sack early – again!

Log 8/5/13 – Larmor Baden to Arradon

Ile de Gravinis

It was a shocking night on the mooring. The wind picked up to a Force 7, and with the rain and tide it made for a very uncomfortable night. At 06:30 we moved to what looked like the only bit if flat water we could see – in the lee of a nearby island. It was heavenly.

Through the binoculars we could see quayside briefings and discussions taking place. The gist of it was that Leg 1 to Port Navalo was cancelled due the winds there being Force 8! Instead we were to wait until noon and then sail past Ile Brannec again, before heading NE and then N to Arradon.

Fleet 3 stuck on the tide

We were part of a large fleet which was quite a spectacle. We all arrived at Arradon where there was a fight to find a berth during which contact was made with an outboard engine propellor. We’re now alone on a mooring buoy.

Arradon moorings

Everyone is really friendly – except when mooring – and we were helped by a lovely French lady and her father who sail a Cornish Shrimper.

Log 7/5/13 – Ile D’Arz Pinic

Whistling Rufus and a Bay Raider alongside

Today was the first of our events; the organisers invited each fleet to meet for a picnic on the SE corner if the Ile D’Arz in the middle of the Morbihan. Our fleet left Larmor Baden at around 11:30 against the tide until past Berder, then an easy beat out to Brannec before a downwind leg to the picnic. There were hundreds of boats, and at least a thousand people there.

Lots of boats made it to the Ile d’Arz picnic

We anchored and David in Whistling Rufus moored to us. Two Dutch men moored their Bay Raider to our starboard side. After eating our picnic we took the taxi boat ashore for an hour. There was plenty of paella.

Paella anyone?

At 17:30 the tide was fair to return, and despite being late leaving we carved our way through the fleet in good style to arrive back at Larmor Baden in time for the 7pm briefing. The weather has now changed, and it’s raining. Tomorrow might not be as nice.