Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday, 17th July

Morning rainbow as seen through the cabin window
Leaving Exmouth
Exe Bell Buoy
View from the cabin at Weymouth

My morning started with a rainbow. The boat was just touching bottom at low water. This gave me time to prepare for the off as soon as ‘Ladybird’ was afloat. At 0630 I started the engine and made pretty good progress against the first of the flood tide. By 0730 we were alongside the Exe Bell Buoy and I squared the boat off for the course of 101 degrees for a point south of the Portland Race which was 36.5 miles away. The wind filled in from the SW and with the tide in our favour we scuttled along. The strength of the wind gradually increased to force 6, but as we were broad reaching I could keep full sail until 1300 when I had to put in a heavy reef in the mainsail.

At 1400 we were only 6 miles from the Bill and there was still an hour of tide in our favour which meant that by the time we were south of Portland Lighthouse the tide was ebbing which caused large breaking waves, but ‘Ladybird’ was magnificent and responded to the helm so that the worst ones could be taken directly with the stern pointing into them. The Shambles Bank increased the height of the waves. Instead of going to the west, on a course parallel to the Shambles Bank I took a risk and went across the western end of it. This saved me about 4 extra miles and a lot of time, but it was a risky strategy that paid off. Only once did a wave come over the quarter, dumping some water in the cockpit that quickly drained out. Two other yachts were making for Weymouth.

The further north we went the smoother the seas became in the lee of Portland Harbour and ‘Ladybird’ really shifted. A mile from the entrance of Weymouth Harbour I took in sail and started the engine. Keeping a lookout for large craft entering or leaving the Harbour I steered for the southernmost pier and kept clear of the fishermen’s lines. I berthed alongside a larger yacht at 1800, having taken less than 12 hours to do the whole trip of 42 nautical miles. It had been an exhilarating day’s sail.

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