Saturday, July 02, 2005

Friday, 1st and Saturday, 2nd July

I was not required to pay mooring fees in Poole Harbour, which pleased me no end.
While preparing my daily log early this evening, ‘Bumper’ was anchored south west of Fishhouse Point, in Newton River, which feeds Clamerkin Lake. Unlike Poole Harbour, the Harbour Master was sure to find us and levy a charge for the privilege of anchoring in this natural harbour. Perhaps that’s not such a bad idea, as the money will used to help the National Trust.
In addition to ‘Bumper’, two large yachts were anchored nearby: one from Belgium and the other British. (Incidentally, my yacht is usually the smallest, and today was no exception.)
Before leaving my Poole anchorage I shouted farewell to the German crew of ‘April’, who became friends in such a short a time. I wished them a happy and safe voyage. George, who was not really George, was a young man of great character; he and his wife Christiana, spent three years building ‘April’. Their boat was a Dudley Dix steel cruising yacht with a fin keel and a rudder attached to a skeg. They said they were learning how to handle her, and that they were looking for solutions to reduce weather helm; their answer to date was to reef the mainsail, but that simply slowed the boat.
We left Poole Harbour at 0900, and the timing was just right for keeping clear of the chain ferry, because she had crossed to Sandbanks where she was unloading her cargo.
As the wind was from the south west I was able to lay a course close inshore to the seaward side of Sandbanks. The depth was only nine feet by North Hook red can buoy; therefore I was careful to pass between it and the beach, so as to avoid a shoal it marks.
The ship’s GPS gave our course and distance to North Head buoy respectively as 083 degrees, 12.9 nautical miles – across the shallow waters of Bournemouth Bay and Christchurch Bay.
When I was only a mile or so south of Hingistbury Head I saw a spectacular demonstration of a rescue by a helicopter, when a man was lifted from his yacht. I assumed the whole thing was a practice session for the helicopter crew, unless one of the yachtsmen had really been taken ill, because there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with their yacht which was being sailed to windward on a steady course.
It amazes me that there can be any crabs and lobsters left in the sea, because whenever I sail along the coast I find thousands of buoys marking traps for them. Today I had to be really vigilant not to let 'Bumper's' keels become entangled in their lines. I passed at least four crabbing boats before arriving at Hurst Point, which marks the western limit of the Solent.

Timing at this critical junction worked well for the best use of the tidal flow. When we rounded Hurst Point it was slack water - just as the tide was about to flood eastwards.
With both wind and tide in our favour, we only took an hour to sail five miles to Newton Creek.
Shortly after we anchored there it started to drizzle, but being snugly below deck, I felt a glow of satisfaction in ‘Bumper’s’ safe arrival. All was quiet, except for chattering birds and the tapping of our rigging.

The morning was overcast, but quite warm. I assembled the folding dinghy and rowed to Newton Quay, where I obtained fresh water for the boat. Then I rowed to Shalfleet Quay for dumping my rubbish and taking a walk to Shalfleet Post Office for food. My map was not to scale, and I was surprised to find the Post Office further away than I anticipated, but I found the exercise invigorating - in fact, I ran some of the way.
When lunch was over I set sail for Cowes to wait there until 1400 before departing for Chichester. Had I not taken a break at Cowes, ‘Bumper’ would have arrived at Chichester too early for sufficient rise of tide over the bar. It was downwind sailing all the way. A danger spot was between No Man’s Land Fort and Horse Sand Fort, because there all the big ships have to pass on their way to and from Southampton.
We arrived at Chichester Bar at 1715, where the flood tide and wind speedily conveyed us to the anchorage north of East Head. You may remember it was there our anchor had dragged when on the outward leg. I just hope that does not happen tonight.

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