Back from the West Country – September 20

Spellbinder has returned to Gosport, a couple of months from leaving there in early July when we were finally allowed to cruise and stay aboard overnight. While not going abroad (I missed the window when we were briefly allowed to go to continental Europe without quarantining) it has, on the other hand, been an enjoyable time during which I was able to re-visit at length many of my favourite West Country cruising haunts.

I returned to Dittisham, where I had left her, and before the arrival of the next crew had an enjoyable time doing various boat jobs and walking and exploring, and anchoring upriver. I also took her round to Brixham to remind myself of the town and its fishing heritage.

One of my favourite views above Dittisham, overlooking Galmpton Creek and across to Greenway

Near Stoke Gabriel

The remains of a Brixham Sailing Trawler called ‘The Glory’

Spellbinder at a quiet anchorage near Bow Creek on the Dart.  A short dinghy ride up the creek is an excellent pub at Tuckenhay called ‘The Malster’s Arms’, once owned by Keith Floyd. The food there is excellent

Crew for the leg home were Alan and Rupert.  We met in Dartmouth, Rupert having come down by steam train from Paignton – a fine way to arrive. After a swift drink at The Ferry Boat at Dittisham – a classic Dart pub – we turned in for the night, anchoring in Parson’s Mud, just upriver from The Anchorstone. Parson’s Mud is a delightful anchorage, and it is not hard to fall asleep and wake up there to the sounds of the river gurgling by and the many birds.

Breakfast before departure from Parson’s Mud

Our first leg was to Weymouth, in light winds.  We had a good run, initially under cruising chute but then motor.  Rafting up being the norm elsewhere in The West Country, Weymouth Harbour has (in my view) been overly cautious in that regard and as a result there were very few berths available in The Cove and we had to go through the bridge and anchor in the marina.

Leaving Dartmouth

Not much for the crew to do except enjoy a good initial sail under cruising chute, and watch the dolphins, which were were plentiful.  I saw many porpoises on my way around to Brixham earlier in the week, and even thought I saw a tuna jumping…

On the waiting pontoon at Weymouth, before going through the bridge at 2000

The following morning we awoke to a fine dawn and the expected easterly breeze.  We decided to sail anyway, and tacked for several hours as we gradually neared Poole, our next destination.

0800 bridge at Weymouth, heading out

The extraordinary sight of cloud rolling off the Jurassic Coast – it looked like snow from a distance…

….and a sign of the times, with 6 large cruise ships anchored in the lee of Portland, awaiting better times

Eventually, with the tide against us, we motored around a bumpy Anvil’s Head into Poole, where we dropped off Rupert and headed round to Pottery Pier anchorage, which is ideal in easterly winds.  There we were met by Alan and Julie, who came out on their kayaks to meet Spellbinder for the second time this year.

It was good to see Alan and Julie again in Poole, at Pottery Pier, at the west end of Brownsea Island

The following morning we left before dawn to catch the tide, having an unexpectedly good beam reach in northerly winds which allowed us to sail almost to Hurst Narrows before the wind died.  Entering the Solent via the North Channel, we motored up to Cowes where we had an enjoyable lunch at The Royal Yacht Squadron before sailing up to Chichester, where we anchored in the Thorney Channel near friends Ed and Jeanna in their lovely Morris 34.

Dawn start, heading out of Poole

Aboard friend Ed’s lovely Morris 34, a small cruiser based on the Victoria 34, and fitted out by an American company

After a peaceful night at anchor, we headed round to Bosham Quay, as I couldn’t resist the opportunity to wash Spellbinder’s hull down, check the anodes and reactivate the Coppercoat, which I had failed to do properly earlier in the season.  It was lovely weather for it, and we achieved the aim, coming off at midnight, threading our way back down the channel with Alan operating a strong torch at the bow, and re-anchoring.  The following morning we had an excellent downwind run back into Gosport.

Spellbinder with a clean hull, in the evening sun.  There is rather less Coppercoat at the bottom of the keel than I would wish, after an encounter with a sandbank in Martinique 18 months ago

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