Windward return from France

After the battlefield tour we deliberately waited 18 hours to catch some wind. I had no desire to motor across the Channel and a slight pressure squeeze was predicted before the arrival of the high pressure system we have subsequently enjoyed. My crew, Charles and Adam, agreed with the plan.

They spent the afternoon buying food and I visited the French chandlers to buy one or two bits and pieces still missing – hose, anchor ball and dividers of all things.  We then got out the sails we hadn’t seen and looked at them on the pontoon. The working jib and storm jib are virtually unused, which bodes well for strong winds in the future. After a good seafood meal in a local restaurant we turned in early and got up for the 04.30 lock out, chatting to some French fisherman while in the lock who complained that ‘La mer est vide’.

The passage was in two parts. Early on, we had a W 3-4 which allowed for full sails. The wind even dipped behind the beam for a while and we raised the furling gennaker. The picture below sums up the first half of the passage, as I drank good coffee while sat on the ‘gin and tonic’ seat.


Thereafter the wind rose and we progressively reefed until we were in a westerly force 6, with 3 reefs in the main and half a genoa, close reaching. We had used the autopilot for most of the passage hitherto but for the last part Adam and Charles helmed to gain experience. Spellbinder was quite excellent, tracking straight and not slamming in the Channel chop, which was exacerbated as we closed with the Isle of Wight by wind over tide. As we passed by Nab Tower things calmed down and we sailed all the way up to Portsmouth Harbour entrance.

It was a great fun crossing – very different to the downwind one to get us to France but equally satisfying.  It was great to test Spellbinder in some more blustery conditions. We moored up and Charles and Adam cooked supper, before heading off. They were excellent crew – come and sail on Spellbinder again please! There is nothing better than the sight of crew arriving with bottle in hand, asking what needs doing, just as they did. Thank you both – it was a pleasure!



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