The summer holidays (part two – UK) began as we arrived on the Le Havre to Portsmouth ferry and drove around to the Gosport side. As Spellbinder was on a buoy up river, son Tom and I were dropped off to blow up an inflatable kayak, paddle out in the darkness, find the yacht and bring her to Dolphin marina where we could load our stuff and crash for the night.
The following morning was admin day – car servicing and house hunting – and we set off for the Isle of Wight later in the evening, driving into a southerly Force 7 and negotiating the entrance to Bembridge Harbour at around High Water. Once in, we managed to berth successfully in the 25 knot gusts and began an enjoyable 3 day, very sociable stay on the island.
The passage west started on Saturday 5th August, into some unrelenting westerlies and the crowded Solent (it was Cowes Week). Once out of Hurst Narrows we had a boring and up and down crossing of Poole Bay, which I will remember for passing squalls and motoring in a choppy and lumpy sea. On arrival we found a lovely spot to anchor at the south end of Studland Bay, not far from Old Harry rocks, sheltered from the wind and fetch.
Calm having returned, eldest son Tom cooked supper (a rare but very welcome treat) and we got our heads down, waiting for the tide to turn. We left at dusk, heading west south west into a nice NW sailing breeze. While passing Swanage we were treated to a firework display, before we settled into a night routine with each of us doing two hours off, two hours on.
For the first part of the night the sailing was great – a close reach on the starboard tack, we raced past Portland Bill and south of the Shambles. At 3 am the wind backed and we had to furl in the genoa, and motor. Tom was treated to a wonderful pre-dawn, watching Venus rise and the sun, in russet mantle clad, walking o’er the dew of yon high eastern hill (thank you WS):
As the sun rose properly we neared the Mewstone rock off Dartmouth and headed into the river, having had breakfast. We followed a quick coffee with fellow RYS members Peter and Janet Melson (on a buoy awaiting engine problem diagnosis) with a trip up to Dittisham, from where we will be based for the duration of our time here. A great trip westwards, with Spellbinder showing her credentials again.