Escape from Eastbourne and one in the drink

Fri 29 Jul 2005 15:04
(Apologies for the delay in updating this diary but - as you'll see -
we've been busy.)

The part for the engine arrived on Tuesday and Tim fitted it quickly but
the weather had, by then, turned for the worst. There were 7s in the
forecast and we decided to stay.

We were joined by two boats from the Royal Harwich. Sand Hopper with Ann
and Bob Bartlett on board was on her way back from the Scilly Isles and
Bow De Sear with Paul and Susie Sear, who were heading East from the
Solent. Ann very kindly gave the children her fishing kit.

We at last managed to leave Eastbourne on Wednesday 21st of July. Wind was
SW but had dropped to 3-4. We tacked round Beachy Head and, in the
sunshine, ran into Brighton on the end of the Ebb. We were in time for a
raid on the chandlery.

We left Brighton at 0630 on the 22nd. There was enough South in the wind
to let us sail so we made good progress in the near-Springs tide. It was
flat enough to take the Looe channel round Selsey Bill. By 1530 we were
off Cowes but decided to press on to Lymington. There were a lot of big
yachts about. We put a couple of tacks in down the West Solent and got
into Lymington Yacht Haven at 1730 - 57 miles done. Penny had the taste
for a steak. We found some excellent ones at a pub called the Mayflower
close to the Marina. The children made friends in the playground.

There was no point pushing the tide through the Needles Channel the
following day so it was a civilised 1045 start. We motored with main up
through the Channel, then bore away for St Albans Ledge. Another turn to
starboard gave us enough speed to lose the engine. We had a good sail
across the bay and into Weymouth. At times the tide helped us to 9 knots
over the ground. We just missed the 1800 opening for the marina so rafted
opposite the Lifeboat station. Witchfinder General with Peter and Jenny
Wilkinson from Ipswich were in front of us on the way back from Ushant.
They joined us for a drink and few swapped tales.

In the night, the wind got up and it rained - the first of our trip. A
seventh boat had joined the raft outisde at about 0130 and that had made
the whole thing unstable. We were blowing forward into the raft in front.
We tried to tighten our shorelines but it wasn't enough. Everyone was up
in the rain and pre-dawn grey trying to stop the boats bashing into each
other. It's at times like this that you realise there are a few yachtsmen
who might be happier in the Caravan Club. We quickly divided into the
standing and moaning and the laughing and doing. Eventually we moved the
boat outside us and put some more lines on. But the noise of the wind and
the seas under the boat meant no more sleep for Tim.

There was a 6 in the forecast next day and a lot of boats decided to stay
but we didn't fancy another night rafted. We'd got talking to the people
on the boat next to us - Yanita - and jointly decided to give it a go.
Their skipper had done the inside channel round Portland Bill before and
was going that way. We opted for the safer, outside route. It was blowing
20-25 kts as we headed South and we put two reefs in the main sail. The
tide was still East-going and we lost quite a lot of ground rounding the
Shambles Bank. But when we tacked we were just able to lay Torquay. The
wind rose as we crossed Lyme Bay - gusting to 32 - and the sea was bumpy
but we pressed on. It rained and was at times very overcast. There were
alarmingly few other boats making the same trip. The wind veered a bit
about ten miles out and we to put the motor on to make Torquay. As we came
in the skies cleared and a big rainbow appeared over the ships moored in
Torbay. We got in about 2130 - 55 miles done. Penny likened it to giving
birth - we started optimistically, had 10 hours of near misery wondering
why we were doing this. But then forgot all about the nasty bit and were
even cheerful by the time we were settled and eating a pre-bed bowl of

We made Monday a rest day. Eddie and Anna played with the children from
Yanita. They'd also had a difficult trip - so much so that one of their
crew had packed her bags and gone home. They were in Torquay for the start
of the Biscay Triangle Rally. One incident to report - Eddie fell in the
marina. But no damage done. I doubt it'll be the last time. He also took a
picture of a jelly-fish...