The news that we would be able to spend nights onboard came as a welcome invitation to go cruising, and to develop firm plans for the summer. Before departing, however, I was able to take Spellbinder out for 3 day trips to make sure all was working and ready to venture further afield.
First came Charles and Caroline, who are busy preparing to buy a yacht themselves and have some adventures. Charles came with me from the Canaries to Cape Verde in November 2018 and therefore knows Spellbinder well. We took a trip upwind with the tide in very warm weather to Langstone Harbour, picking up a buoy for lunch, before turning downwind to end up in Poole Harbour, meeting friends Alan and Julie who live there and who were able to come out to meet us in their kayak. With the wind turning usefully back to a westerly, we were then able to sail back to Gosport with the tide, around the south of the Isle of Wight.
A strong tide in Langstone Harbour. Being a bit of a free diver, Charles had no difficulty using it for a refreshing swim, hanging onto the boarding ladder
Long cruising chute run down the length of the Solent
Drinks in Poole Harbour
Thank you for coming to see us, Alan and Julie
I was also able to have elder son Tom on board for a very windy outing in the Solent, bringing with him his student housemates from London. We deployed the main with 3 reefs, and a storm jib on the removable forestay, with back stays deployed. It was a bumpy ride, but a good experience, and after an hour or so we headed back downwind and into the relative calm of Portsmouth Harbour for a long lunch, but not before dipping our ensign to a passing warship, and having the compliment returned.
Thank you George, Sam and Yuyu for coming on board and experiencing the wind in your hair…
We then took Spellbinder to Cowes for a socially-distanced lunch with some other RYS members, which was an enjoyable day out.
I have also been undertaking a bit of routine maintenance, and one job which needed doing was to plane down the deck caulking, which had become rather too proud of the teak. To do this, I bought a Mozart tool, which is ideal for the job, and I spent a pleasant and rewarding morning in Gosport shaving the excess off.
The Mozart tool, and resultant caulking shavings
A smoother, less ridged feel to the deck
We got the go ahead to spend nights aboard from 4th July, and on the 6th I had a weather window to get west. We left Gosport with the tide late morning, with my crew being younger son Jonty and friend Charmian. Beating gently down the Solent with the tide, we were pushed out strongly through Hurst narrows and had a fine sail to Swanage, where we anchored for supper and for me to attend a Zoom meeting. There then followed an enjoyable close reach down the coast, with the wind having just enough north in it to push us past Portland Bill and down into the West Country.
Fine sailing off St Alban’s Head, into the sunset. Feeling back at home on Spellbinder.
After a great night sail we arrived at our destination, Dartmouth – one of my favourite river entrances, which I have seen many times whilst approaching in a yacht, and of which I never tire. We then proceeded up to my old village Dittisham, where we took a buoy, had a pint in my favourite Devon pub, enjoyed a drink with friends, and enjoyed a BBQ. It was great to be back in the the cruising lifestyle.
Fine sailing off the Dorset coast
Arriving in Dartmouth, with Britannia Royal Naval College before us, as ever
Jonty helming us in
The RAF flew over to inspect our masthead burgee at close quarters
Charmian making herself at home
Dittisham looking as lovely as ever
Nice of Joe and Sarah to pop by on their RIB – thank you for the drinks later on!
First pint since lock down, in a most suitable venue
The next morning we anchored in Dartmouth to visit the chandlery and do some shopping, before heading out into a quite brisk westerly to get round Start and Prawle Points and beyond Salcombe, to find the relative calm of the Yealm, one of my favourite places in Devon. Nestled on a pontoon, we slept well after what was quite a blowy and bumpy afternoon at sea. The next day we toured Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo, and had our first pub lunch for three months, in the Dolphin in the former village.
Spellbinder at anchor in Dartmouth. Like in Falmouth, I enjoy anchoring in the middle of bustling towns
A misty, murky River Yealm entrance
Calm inside the Yealm
Reacquainting myself with comforts aboard!
The plan now is to head further west, taking advantage of an emerging period of calm to enjoy Scilly.