To start at the beginning...we managed not one but three mini-cruises between Good Friday and end of the first May Bank holiday! As a bonus the thursday evening before Good Friday saw a return to the good old days with the crews of Aspen, Mingarry, Eos and Blue drinking the health of the oversea's contingent of Southsea's E&F pontoon mafia aka the crews of Full Flight (now cruising Malysia) and Temptress around Temptress' saloon table. Son Will arrived to join the crowd late in the evening from London whilst Friday morning saw a few cases of "Southsea Head" along the pontoons. It was lovely to see everyone and be together again.
Cruise One - French Adventure
|Temptress of Dwon , St Vaast|
|The crew loitering in sunny France|
The next day we left shortly after the gate opened again to head back across the channel. It was initially a good sail but then we settled down to radar watch and motoring in poor viz and little wind. Various members of the crew slept at various intervals which was hardly surprising considering the quantities of food we'd consumed. No organised watch for suc a short trip. The hours passed quickly and it didn't seem long before we were tying up on Southseas holding pontoon to land our crew who had to head off for work and an interview respectively on Tuesday. Paul provided Will with a lift to the station and Temptress headed across the harbour to pay her Harbour Dues.
Cruise Two - Westward Ho!
|Sunset - Newton Creek, IoW|
|Peaceful nights in Weymouth ?|
Not with this things generators running!
The range officer and the safety boats conversations about other boats approaching the area from either side kept us amused for sometime but proved useful when we realised that we could cut the corner a bit, head up more north-westerly and shorten our voyage to Weymouth. After a fantastic cobweb removing sail we arrived in Weymouth mid afternoon with time to do a spot of provisioning as well as invest in a new fender to replace the last of the big round ones from our old boat Mustigo (we actually require two fenders but the cost of one put us off a second). If it lasts as long as its predecessor the annual cost will be under a fiver but the initial "investment" was a bit of a shock. The camaraderie amongst the rafted boats on the quayside was all always in this harbour, wonderful and our thermally cooked lamb supper lovely. The following morning at 6am we were woken politely as arranged by the big converted fishing boat inside us who wanted to catch the tide to Dartmouth. The rafts ahead and behind were also being broken apart so it was easy once the two boats outside of us had let go, to cast off and do a circle until they'd gone. Then we reformed our raft with Temptress alongside the pontoon.
A couple of hours later and our stomaches were reminding us of lunch time so we headed back up the hill to the village pub. Across the road was a bus stop... we have folding bikes so it tempted us with an easier trip home to Weymouth. Checking the times there was a bus due about now, 13:15, with the next in two hours time...two hours for lunch? Nope, we choose to get the bus and sort out food at our destination. A heavily tattoed scruffy man in his forties sat on the bus-stop bench with a large Alsatian at his side. The dog came over for a scratch round the ears and we soon struck up conversation. "Bus due soon?", "Yes mate but its always late by the time it gets here", "Nice dog", "Yes mate she likes taking the bus to the pub". It soon transpired the guy didn't drink in his local in the next village, no reason given. Man and dog used to the bus to frequent the village hosterlies between Weymouth and Dorchester, a different one each lunchtime through the week, the timetable providing a convenient amount of drinking time. On the bus the two elderly ladies heading into Weymouth for a spot of shopping started up a lively conversation with us and anyone else who'd join them on the merits of having folding bikes and more... I couldn't quite picture them actually riding a bike at their age around the Dorset hills though!
Back in Weymouth we cycled along the seafront and found a tatty looking coffee house (thats what the sign said) with people sitting out front, Hamiltons. It was out of the wind, in the sun and the lunch menu attracted us. A large portion of upmarket fish,chips and mushy peas for the Skipper and a wonderful dressed crab with salad for me accompanied by a coke and a huge glass of Scilian white wine respectively. Peeling paint and wobbly chairs belied the wine bar's amazing food. A slight, Italian mama served us, her son issuing instructions from inside. Every B&B along the front had patriotic bunting stretching from their railings to the upper floors and across the road glimpses of the beach could be caught between the parked cars. What we love about Weymouth, after it's lovely harbour is that it remains a traditional English seaside resort. Lets hope the Olympics don't transform it too much as I love its slightly run down scruffy, cheerful streets.
|Telephone box, Tynham|
From Worbarrow we beat then motored against a vague easterly back into the Solent via the Needles again to take our usual place against the wall in a busy bank holiday Yarmouth. The partying was in full swing with a fair on the green and twenty-somethings dressed as memmbers of the royal wedding party clambering out of ribs and heading into town somewhere. After a walk along the foreshore to Victoria fort and supper onboard we retreated to the yacht club for a few bevies. We propped up the bar with a bunch of old salts (you know the types who prop up yacht club bars the world over) who were more than acquainted with Paul's boat Clarionet and her racing pedigree having competed against her when they were younger. It had rained whilst we were inside and was blowing a bit as we walked back through Yarmouth's narrow streets. Not quite certain how we made it back onto Temptress who by now had two UKSA forty-odd footers outside of her. In this blowy-off berth the result was a six foot gap between boat and wall with the deck several feet down and no ladder conveniently placed. We obviously managed the transition without incident as I woke up safe and sound in my bunk the next morning!
|View over Yarmouth harbour from the bridge|
As always the Southsea Marina staff uncomplainingly cleared a space big enough for Temptress after we'd called to announce our imminent though eventually slightly delayed arrival. They then provided a welcome hand to help spring her into the berth against the strong winds. Supper was a tasty Stella Stew with dumplings and new potatoes from the thermal cooker.
Cruise Three - Cowes And Back
|The Royalist entering Cowes|
We had selected the Yacht Haven as a suitable mooring crossing our fingers that we would get an alongside berth to avoid too much clambering up and down for the oldies. They responded by giving us probably the most awkward berth in the marina. The cross berth in the north basin could only be entered by turning sideways to all the traffic in Medina and reversing in. Having waited for the car ferry to depart Kevin had to run the gauntlet of several large yachts, ribs and other assorted craft heading either up or down the Medina once I had all the fenders and lines sorted. Once through the North Basin entrance things settled down and we were gently blown into the allocated space, the cockpit providing a pleasant, sunny lee for lunch.
The the four of us headed into the high street for a spot of wallet emptying in a swindlery. The main halyard's captive shackle had bent sometime the previous day and now would not close, a quick rummage through our deck spares box had shown us to be woefully short of shackles of any kind. The list was quite long; shackles, replacement sail rollers for the guard wires, shroud covers/rollers and more. The best thing about boat shopping is that you have to visit so many chandleries to acquire everything on your list so we found a few things not necessarily on the list and caught up with acquaintances on the way!
I also managed a quick dive into the Sebago shop and am now the proud owner of a pair of red siling "slippers" - that's not their real name but these soft sailing shoes really feel as comfortable as slippers even when soaking wet, dry quickly and cling tight to a slopping deck thanks to their octopus like suckers. Sir Frances Chichester sailed round the world in his carpet slippers and I've sailed everywhere in my once pale blue and white ones for the last six years unless its really cold when I tuck into my Dubarries. My old pair still have some life left in them but are gradually succumbing to the effects of salt water with bits of the lacing mechanism now tied together and the soles starting to part company from the uppers. My smart new pair will see me nicely turned out on the newly fettled Clarionet for the Channel Classics in June!
Off Southsea beach we indulged in a bit more sail handling this time it was judged the only safe place to take the genoa down in the strong easterlies as it would be on the beam in our berth. George the autopilot was left in charge of sailing whilst I handled the halyard and Kevin went forward to wrestle the acres of cloth. It all got a bit wet when a gust blew the bow off head to wind and part of the sail made a bid for freedom but between the pair of us we recovered it aboard and tied it down. A quick fill up with diesel on the way into the marina and we were back in our home berth in time for lunch. Eos and Aspen were still there, the weather delaying to their plans to sail across the Channel south to Brittany's warmer climes for a couple of months or so. (Premier Marina's offer their berth holders a sabbatical repaid through a reduction in the following years mooring fees which means you effectively save some money by taking a break from your home port for a month or more up to three months I think.)
We packed up piles of dirty towels, bedding and clothes. There was a small bag of clean stuff along with assorted other things to take back to DXB. Our remaining perishable food was handed to Gina of Aspen to help feed the marooned crews during their wait for more favourable winds and around 5:30pm we were finally about to depart when Kevin remembered he needed to empty the bilge.
When Temptress was launched the stern gland seal was not properly formed and a small aount of water had found its way into the boat and into the engine bay. We'd hoped it would work its way forward to the bilge pump but hope is just that... the scuppers between the various sections of bilge were blocked with hair, dust and crumbs from the cabin sole so the water had remained all week swilling round. Two people and one stirrup pump applied themsleves to the task and Temptress now has a fairly well washed, dry bilge again.
The pump filter had to be unblocked again as most of the rubbish ended up there. This involves emptying a hanging locker containing a dozen or so self-inflating life jackets, grab bag, high intensity safety light, two old foam type life jackets (for sitting on in the liferaft should we ever come to that situation as they apparently keep your bottom warmer or just for kids/adults to wear for fun jumping into the water) and the electric drill box. Lift up the locker base and hey presto two bilge pumps, one manual and one electric plus the pressure cooker in the locker below... you can't reach the filter via the lower locker by removing the pressure cooker, that would be just too simple on a boat! Shortly after six the car was packed and we were on the road to Ham. The end of three delightful mini-cruises and very sad that it was time to head back to DXB even if the weather would be welcomingly warmer.