This weekend I fitted a TP10 tiller pilot (photos to follow) and went sailing out in the big world of the Solent. This was my first trip out of the harbour in Live Magic since buying her in February. Unfortunately the weather forecast was not what I'd hoped with mentions of F7 and F8 for a couple of the days. In reality this never seemed to happen although I admit I don't have wind instruments so who knows.
In all we covered 63nm over 4 days. By "we" of course I mean myself and the boat since nobody seems to like sailing quite as much as me.
Friday 3rd June: Left Cowes despite a poor forecast. I decided to leave the main down until I could see what the sea state was like outside. This was a mistake since it was a little lumpy and I therefore opted to leave the main down rather than risk going into the sea myself. With the wind behind me all the way and the sea also coming from behind I could really have done with the extra sail up to gain speed and also steady the boat. The sun was beaming down all day despite the wind and waves and I could feel myself burning despite the sun cream I'd applied. By the time I got to Lymington I felt like I'd done a full day so decided not to carry on to Poole as planned. I called in to Berthon marina who were fully booked for the night. I then called Lymington Yacht Haven who also said they were fully booked. I knew that Yarmouth was fully booked already so was a little worried at this point where I would end up for the night. After 5 minutes, I got a call from LYH to say they'd found me somewhere as a berth holder was away for a few days. I gratefully accepted and tied up shortly after. After tidying the decks I went and paid my dues and stopped in The Haven for a cold cider sitting in the darkness out of the sun. It was at this point I noticed it was only 12:30 and that I would have had (and still had) plenty of time to make Poole. I spent the rest of the day below out of the sunshine before going out to a local pub for a gammon steak. While on the pontoon I was asked what kind of yacht Live Magic was. I guess she looks as good as I'd hoped.
Saturday 4th June: I left Lymington early in the morning to catch the tides back to the east. Again there was a terrible forecast but I thought I should start heading back just in case. Having learned my lesson, I raised the main as I exited the marina. Although I left the motor running until I was on the straight leading out to the Solent, it was in Neutral almost immediately. The wind was in a good position and gave me 4 knots once the genoa was unfurled. Once the ferry passed I turned for Cowes and made my best speed yet reaching Cowes in just 2 hours despite having a slow patch at Thorness Bay where I sailed into the lee of the island to have some food and drink in the calmer water. I continued on and reached Stokes bay 2 hours later where I anchored and sorted out the ropes and fenders before proceeding to Haslar Marina in Gosport. It was still very windy so I preferred the idea of being prepared and looking a bit amateur than rushing at the last minute. Once tied up I look the ferry to Portsmouth and had a pasty and some ale at Gunwharf then on to Spice Island for another pint. Three people asked what kind of boat Live Magic was at Haslar, I am becoming rather proud of her!
Sunday 5th June: Poor forecasts again made me hesitate somewhat. I didn't need to return until Tuesday but Haslar visitors pontoon is not a comfy place at the best of times so eventually I decided to go for it. Once again I got the main up in the marina and once again I was rewarded with excelent progress with the wind and tide. I was effectively on a beam reach from Portsmouth all the way to West Pole at Chichester Harbour and the GPS recorded 6-7 knots most of the way with the log showing 5.3 through the water several times. I actually think the log is under reading as it showed significantly less distance for the trips than I travelled even if the tide is taken into account. I will, therefore, be proclaiming this as 6 knots through the water since nobody can prove me wrong :)
I saw a yacht of over 40 feet with a shiny blue ensign stop in the main channel into Portsmouth to put up his main only to take it down again 10 minutes later. When heading through the sub barrier a yacht of just over 30 feet came though just behind me, presumably having sailed from the island. Somehow I managed to keep up with him all the way to Chichester. He was reefed but had both headsails out on the cutter. I'm not sure why he was so slow or me so fast but my journey was safe and comfortable and I only rolled some of the genoa away a couple of miles from West Pole when the wind built a little.
The whole weekend was thoroughly enjoyable and I plan to do a simlar trip as soon as possible. As always if you see a little Vivacity with a Cornish (St Piran) flag on the port spreader then come and say hello.