Monday 31 August 2015

Sailing home - Returning to pretty Emsworth

Getting home - Picking up the mooring in Emsworth – Making Rag Doll ship shape

Crews getting ready to race of Chidham

We left our berth in Itchenor with just enough water underneath us. It was a grey morning and blustery wind from the west. Already a number of crews and their dinghys’ were out in force, off Chidham, for racing; Each crew was limbering up and trying to figure out what course the Race Officer might be planning for the morning race!

There was still not a huge amount of water underneath us so we made our way gingerly towards the turning point into the Emsworth Channel, the Isle of Wight just visible in the far distance.  

At last we reached our mooring. Boat hook in hand, with some trepidation Chris and I picked up the mooring buoy for Rag Doll. We soon off loaded the kit and such into the tender and then devoted an hour to sprucing up the boat, partly in readiness for her racing in a few weeks time. 

Back on dry land there was the usual Sunday busyness around the sailing club. Out popped the sun and another voyage was complete. 

Sunday 30 August 2015

Sailing in the Solent - Roman Shipping Lanes

Itchenor - Cocktails - Roman Shipping Lanes - A sunset to remember

Itchenor Harbour

Sharp right and we headed up the estuary stopping for the night in Itchenor, a small village on the Eastern shore of Chichester Harbour. Before cocktails we tidied and stowed the sails, adjusted fenders over the side of Rag Doll to make sure everything was set for the evening.

The Itchenor Ferry plied its trade between boats and the quayside. Close by St Nicholas Church stands out against the sun. The church contains a copy of the first chart ever made of the shifting sands of Chichester Harbour - the original chart was made over 200 years ago. Earlier still Roman shipping sailed up these waters to their major settlement at Fishbourne, the large palace was built in the 1st century AD, around thirty years after the Roman conquest of Britain.

Saturday Supper: I prepared a meal of entrecôte aux pommes avec salad vert and the boys were happy. And before turning in we enjoyed the remarkable sunset.

Itchenor shown middle right on chart.

Saturday 29 August 2015

Solent Sailing - Heading back East

Back from whence we came - Racing ahead - Chichester Harbour
Sailing out of Yarmouth

Serious Sailing on the Solent
Saturday morning and we all enjoy a nice shower in the marina's facilities. I then prepare breakfast sandwiches of bacon and mushrooms (to finish them up). 

A breezy morning, five to six knots from the southwest and a grey sky as we headed out of Yarmouth.

Out back across the wide Solent after hugging the I-o-W's northerly coastline for a while, past posh Cowes that is readying itself for numerous summer festivities. On a Saturday there are so many more boats out on the water. Various classes of yachts with their spinnakers flying were stretching their racing muscles and they would be doing across this summer's racing season.  

By mid-morning it was warmer with the sun out as we headed east making good speed. A while later lunch was taken on the fly as we prepared to re-enter the waters of Chichester Harbour.

The tide was falling and we had to get across the bar. I took the helm; it was ninety minutes of hard sailing. Rag Doll bucked and reared, complaining of little water under her keel. She acquiesced when we were in calmer waters with a little more water. 

Four weeks later: Rag Doll racing - shown foreground right sail number 1965

Friday 28 August 2015

Sailing the Solent - Yarmouth Isle of Wight

The Senior Service on the Solent

Everyone's out on Friday night
Minesweepers - Friday night in Yarmouth - Trying to fold a mainsail (neatly) - Tortellini 

The Solent with its towers and channel markers is constantly busy, it is the M25 of shipping lanes. A naval minesweeper closes in on us, turns as away and turns around again. Did one of us leave something on the table at Heidi's?  Eventually the grey craft heads back into Portsmouth Sound. 

We made in Yarmouth, I-o-W in good time and are given prime mooring in the harbour-marina. Perhaps we are relatively tiny compared with huge tupperware craft we nestle up to and because we are graceful with it. People come to look at Rag Doll on her mooring. Tea is brewed and confections distributed. Tom, with much patience, gives Chris and I another lesson in folding a mainsail. Well, it has been twelve months since we last did it and it is a brand new sail.

Shipshape and tidy we wander into the arms of Bugle Coaching Inn. It is Friday evening on the Isle of Wight and the lads and ladies are out in force, with more tattoos than there are fish in the Solent. 

I extract the team back to Rag Doll and sit them down for supper; tortellini sauce champignon and green salad.

We all sleep well.

Rag Doll a watercolour commission in 2013 for Mark and Liz Rushall 

Thursday 27 August 2015

Sailing on the Solent - Leaving Emsworth

Heading out to the Solent
Low Water in pretty Emsworth
Heidi’s Café - Heading out - Goose Winged –
A minesweeper swishes by

An early sunny July morning and we arrive in Emsworth at 0800 hours. It is much too early to early for the tide. So there is nothing for it but a good breakfast in Heidi's Café before we head over to Emsworth Sailing Club to wait for the tide.

This is to be our fifth voyage together, Skipper Tom, Chris and I aboard Rag Doll. She is the prettiest boat on the Solent; this year is her fiftieth birthday. Later in the month Rag Doll is due to take part in series of races off Cowes. Rest assured that the next few days with us aboard will not greatly enhance her being match-fit. However we will try not to break anything! 

At last the tide is right and we are moving on. On the jetty into the dinghy go the stores, provisions and personal items for the trip. Looking on others club members make comments about the number of bottles of wine and such we are taking for a three-day trip. I fail to see the import of their comments for there are few Waitrose's on the Solent.

Just before noon we leave the mooring. Soon the jib and mainsail are up and working well for us. The sun is high now. We head out of Chichester Harbour, Hayling Island on starboard, heading southwest. Behind us the lovely South Downs shimmer in the heat.

We enjoy a lovely afternoon's sail. The wind is right behind us and we are goose-winged (having foresail set on one side and mainsail on the other) and are zipping through the water at seven knots. The Isle of Wight is ahead and Portsmouth clearly in view on the other side of us.  I make the lads salad rolls preceded by a Stella Artois, serving coffee afterwards, as we get closer to the I-o-W.  

Emsworth shown top left on the chart