Time to slip the lines for the West Country, goodbye Hamble thanks for having us but Brixham is calling. We decided to sail through the night as busy social lives and work schedule were preventing us from committing to a whole weekend. Saturday at 20.00 we sailed out of Southampton Water, into the Solent and through the Needles Channel. Night fell and it was a dark night, we hoisted the sails and settled down for 15hrs and 100 miles due west.
A NW of about 15 knots and neap tide made for a pleasant close reach along the Jurassic Coast, Mr Blue Sky heeled over, stretched her cloth and cut through the black night at 9 + knots, seeing us to Portland Bill at slack water. Dawn brought an appropriate blue sky in Lyme Bay, with Hendrix close on our stern we eased the main sheet and snoozed the final fetch into Torbay.As had happened so many times before during our passage from the Baltic, the wind deserted us so the iron sail was cranked up to finish the final leg.
Sue had drawn the short straw and had driven down to Brixham from Hamble with Jim & Taff, as we entered Brixham Harbour at 10.00h on Sunday morning a welcoming committee was waiting on the pontoon.
Our journey from Breege to Brixham had a short interlude on The Hamble River, where our cruising companions “The Wheelers” joined us on Hendrix, their Beneteau Oceanis 41.
Lisa, Sam, Daisy, Jamie, Luke, Bob
Our pause on the Solent allowed us to watch some real Yachties displaying their craft, as the Around the Island race was on the next weekend. On race day after the 1700 or so, competitors had begun, we ventured out from Hamble to get a glimpse of them disappearing through the Needles Channel, our eagerness found us mixed up with the stragglers, so got a close up and learned a few manoeuvres from the late starters.
Jamie & Taff in Yarmouth
Hendrix on Solent
Having decided to swap Port Hamble for Yarmouth on the Isle Of Wight, we tacked across the Solent in 25 – 30 knots of wind over a short steep chop, entered Yarmouth harbour and rafted up along side other visiting boats.
BAR practicing on the Solent
View of the big cats
Having decided to remain on the Hamble for a few more weeks, we were fortunate to also witness the Portsmouth leg of the Americas Cup from the seaward aspect, good old BAR came up trumps winning the weekend overall keeping the team at the top of the leader board.
Queen Mary II leaving Southampton Water
Queen Mary II
Balmoral on tour
The Solent is not just the spiritual home to regattas, yachty types and Howard’s Way, but also the cruise liners have a long history in the inner docks of Southampton, ships of all shapes and sizes depart weekly for remote destinations, filled to the brim with expectant tourist.
The last leg of this stage of our voyage was to Port Hamble, Southampton, where we intend to leave Mr Blue Sky for a few weeks to explore the Solent. So we were up with the sparrows fart again to ensure we had enough depth of water to exit Brighton Marina, at 05.30 we were ready to cast off and head west for Selsy Bill.
The wind was blowing 15 knots from the South West so we were able to hoist the sails and enjoy a close haul in the general direction of Selsy Bill. Three hours later we had tacked 20 plus miles but only 10 miles closer to our destination. A decision was taken to drop the sails and start the motor to ensure we hit the Bill at slack water. Timing was perfect and we arrived as the tide turned and enjoyed a smooth passage.
Once on the approach to Southampton Water we were able to hoist the sails for a second time, the wind had increased to 20 knots so decided to tie in a reef and enjoy 8.5 knots SOG on a close reach to our destination.
The Solent; such a great place to be with craft of every shape and size and the back drop of The Isle of Wight to port and Portsmouth to Starboard.
Finaly made it to Port Hamble and tied up for the last time, for this part of our journey anyway.
Final leg in a few weeks when we complete our journey, Breege to Brixham.
With the thunder and lightning passed and a sunny evening forecast, the remaining 2 crew decided to hop from Eastbourne to Brighton, just 20 odd miles west along the coast, this would ease the final leg to Southampton to just 50 miles. So we entered the Eastbourne lock and readied for sea, 20 minutes later and we were on our way.
The evening started out with patchy cloud and sunny spells, but was not long before the fog descended around Beachy Head reducing visibility to 1 cable.
A blip on the radar screen caught our attention, which was definitely getting closer and on an opposite bearing to Mr Blue Sky. This was not a time to panic, although it did cross my mind. A decision to turn 90 degrees to port and make some space for what ever was approaching at speed was taken, and glad we did. The sound of a powerful Diesel engine thundered by approximately 1 – 2 cables astern of us was heard. Soon after leaving the head, the sky cleared and we had a reasonable passage to Brighton Marina.
A call was made to the Brighton Harbour Master to alert him to our pending arrival, he suggested given our 2m draft that we did not enter until after 22.00h on the rising tide as heavy silting obstructed the fairway. At approximately 22.00h we entered port and tied up as instructed. A most welcome refuge after the eventful passage.
Finally there was a weather window, so we began our journey across The Channel.
Our new crew member was keen and raring to go at 5 in the morning and to begin with certainly showed promise
The novelty seemed to wear off pretty quickly though
Negotiating the busiest shipping lanes in the world was pretty straightforward and the skipper was soon lowering the last courtesy flag of the voyage
Our initial heading was for the white cliffs of Dover, but as they were hidden in the misty, grey sky we altered our course for Eastbourne. This decision seemed to encourage some sunshine, but the wind was still blowing straight into our faces and against the tide, so we had a fairly bumpy ride!
At precisely 6pm we found ourselves tied alongside in the lock to Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne
And in no time at all, in spite of copious advice from a Dutch neighbouring yachtsman, we were safely moored back in English waters.
While Jim reflected on his trip of a lifetime, Taff was just excited by the amazing variety of pebble on the beach!
Having decided to catch up with some old French friends over the weekend, and to allow our new crew member to catch the boat, our planned departure to Dover was to have been Sunday 19th at 16.00h to catch a fair tide. Unfortunately the storm forecast for Monday arrived early, so no sooner had we left port, we decided to return as were met with 25 knots on the bow with wind over tide creating short steep sea of about 2m, not what we wanted for the next 7hrs.
So we remain in port, the salon has been turned into an office for the day and we take advantage of port wi-fi for office duties.
Plan A is to leave Dunkirk at 05.00h on 21st, any later and we won’t have depth of water as Mr Blue Sky is sat on the keel at LW +-1h. The Direct route will be approximately 40M but we will have to cross the separation zone at right angles and avoid designated deep water channels so will add 5miles.