Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Non Poole Cruise

Thursday 12th July 2012

The objective was to cruise with a group of other Drascombes to Poole Harbour and enjoy a few days in the harbour before returning to the Solent. This objective was thwarted by a lack of suitable weather. The pattern seemed to be for a succession of depressions to come in from the Atlantic and so setting up a persistent pattern of westerly prevailing winds of F4 to F7 with heavy rain.

Anyway we arrived the previous day on Wednesday 11th July and launched our boats at Ashlett Sailing Club with a view to catching an early tide at 07:15 hours the following day. The next day a group of 5 boats were assembled and ready to go. The wind was about F3-4 from the West and so we decided to head down the Western Solent towards Keyhaven. The plan was to go to Newtown Creek for lunch.

Photo courtesy of Andy Cooper

The trip to Newtown was a beat to windward and was achieved in about 5 or 6 tacks. I found it was easier to keep to the island side as the sea was calmer and a little more sheltered. The sea was smoother and it was easier to achieve a more upwind distance. If the sea was rougher you had to bear away to keep up a speed to force your way through the waves. The wind strength was such that I was able to set full main, foresail and mizzen. I arrived at about 1400 hours and joined the rest of the group in a raft in the Shalfleet arm of the creek. The weather had been dry and occasional sunshine.

Photo courtesy of Andy Cooper

The agreed plan was to wait for the tide to turn to the East so that any wind against tide would be minimized and make for Keyhaven where we knew that other Drascombers were moored. As we waited for the tide it started to rain heavily and the wind strength increased. I was glad of my spray hood and I was able to boil a kettle and make some soup. I later got my head down in my berth partly dressed in my waterproofs. At about 1700 hours there was movement above and my compatriots were getting ready to go to Keyhaven. It became quickly apparent that we were not going to sail and that it was going to be wise to get there as soon as possible. A group of us which consisted of two Coasters, Longboat Cruiser, Drifter 22 and a Gig motored to Keyhaven initally keeping close to the island to get as much as shelter as possible. The wind speed had increased to about 35 knots F7, heavy rain and visibility of about a mile. The sea state                                                                                                                                                                                          was not too bad and the waves must have been about 1 metre. The coaster took sea in its stride and did not slam down. Observing another Coaster the fine bow cut through the sea. I did establich later the Drifter 22 with a flatter and wider bottom did slam a little into the sea. My 5HP Honda proved more that adequate and was not backed by the seaway. I was able to keep up with everybody else who had larger motors.

I have now found out that the Honda  BF5  does not have the option of a finer pitched prop which would give more grip in the water and be able to push through heavier seas. The BF5 is supplied with a standard prop suitable for multi purpose use. A saildrive prop is only available on the Honda 8HP upwards. If I was looking for a new engine I would certainly consider this option. But I do not have any cause to critisce the performance of the BF5 yet.

We passed Yarmouth on the port bow and was tempted to take a left turn. But I was not going to make a unilateral decision. We pressed on to our objective of Keyhaven. I had never been out in such wet and windy conditions before on my Drascombe. The boat gave me confidence. The rain and spray soaked me and I watched the spray blowing over the bow and sprayhood on "Gadfly". A Longboat Cruiser came close to colliding with me as the lone helmsman reached down into his cockpit to retrieve something. I caught sight of the boat in the corner of my eye. My view was restricted due to the hood of my waterproof. I quickly did a 360 degree turn which put some distance between him and me.

We turned to starboard to cross to Keyhaven and for a few minutes we got the full force of the wind as we passed into the wind blowing through the narrows. We entered the entrance of Keyhaven and although the sea did smooth out a little the wind strength increased. In the river as we turned to port and the wind blew onto my beam the boat leaned over at a slight angle although we were under bare poles. I increased the throttle slightly to maintain steerage through the trot moorings. We entered an area of shelter behind the harbour wall. We circled the small sheltered area as we waited in turn to moor against the harbour wall. I moored against a Longboat cruiser with the bow into the wind.

As somebody joked "That was character building"

Photo courtesy of Andy Cooper

Friday 13th July

It was agreed that it would be unwise to cross Chistchurch Bay to Poole with the westerly F5-7. The prospect of motoring into a heavy sea was just out of the question. we therefore decided to sail to Cowes which would have been with the wind and the tide.

We left at about 0900hours and it was a run on foresail alone. I averaged about 5-6 knots and we reached Cowes at about 1400hours.We sailed up the Medina River in sunshine, past the Folly Inn and into new waters for me. The river became quite shallow and we eventually moored on the pontoons at Newport which is close to the centre of town.

Photo courtesy of Andy Cooper

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