OK last we left off, the boat and I were in Lymington with Steve on board. After checking finances I decided that I could not risk getting stuck in Poole for a few days so decided upon Southampton instead. This would also be Steve's departure point as he had to get back for work. We sailed into the wind again but this time with the tide and made excellent progress. Once in Southampton Water, the wind died completely and we lost steering as a result so had to motor up to Ocean Village Marina. Although not the best marina in the Solent, it was certainly a refreshing change from Yarmouth and close enough to the town for a walk in.
The following morning, Steve left on the train bound for the Westcountry and I was left solo on the boat. The only forecast I had seen predicted an easy F3 NE which would be behind me all the way to Cowes which was excelent news. It was raining hard but that was forecast to end by around 2pm. Sailing with the wind behind me was magical, albeit in full waterproofs. There was no sound at all except the pitter patter of raindrops on my suit, and the gentle murmor of the boat in the water. At this point I was the happiest man alive sitting on my own boat with not a care in the world. I had only put up the headsail and was averaging 4 knots through the water all the way down Southampton Water. This should have been my first clue, but with a following wind all seemed well. My speed gradually built to 5 knots, and the waves started to get a bit bigger just as I reached the Solent. By the time I got out to Bramble Bank, the waves were getting big and I had some ferrys to play with. About half way accross I recorded a 6.6 Knot speed, although this is not unusual for Live Magic, it would usually be with a good tide and over the ground. In this instance it was through the water surfing down a huge wave! I managed to reef in some of the sail and things calmed down a bit. By the time I reached the Medina entrance, I was tired and wanted more than anything to tie up and sleep. This was not to be. Unfortunately the calm of the river I had been expecting was now a maelstrom of bucking waves, and everything in site was chaos. Since I was near the western bank where the waves were breaking on the shore I started the outboard and motored to get to the other side of the river. The prop spent more time out of the water than in, and made scary revving noises while out of the water. After several changes of plam I got to the ferry terminal and all was calm. Within 10 minutes I was tied up at East Cowes where the lady asked if I had called in whereupon I informed her that the radio had been in the cabin and if I was going to make a trip down there it would more likely have been for a lifejacket!
I spent all of Friday in the marina in glorious sunshine drying the boat, cushions and everything else that was damp from a week of boating and bad weather. Saturday came and I slipped the lines at 09:00 to head for home. After only a single tack which was probably unnecessary I reached West Pole in no time at all after a great day on the water. A quick clean up and a long unload of the boat and I headed home a more experienced sailor.