The early part of the season has seen Spellbinder engaged in some very sociable and local sailing in the Solent. Thank you to all who came and enjoyed the considerable opportunities afforded between Chichester and Yarmouth. Whenever I have been sailing elsewhere I’m reminded of quite how good and varied a cruising ground the Solent is. The photos below give an idea of what we enjoyed.
In addition to the sailing, I have finished quite a long list of maintenance tasks. The watermaker has been refurbished; a new stack pack made, and life raft cover; the LED bulbs in the anchor and tricolour masthead have been replaced; the engine serviced; buttons made and replaced on upholstery, and countless other minor jobs. It has been great to have time to do all these. Boats don’t like being left alone, and the pandemic and lockdown have not been their friend.
May 24th was the start of Spellbinder’s summer adventures. Crew for the journey north were the two Alans, who had accompanied me on Atlantic legs and knew Spellbinder well. Our start was delayed somewhat by the unseasonable depressions we experienced in mid May, but it was as the weather moderated that we headed out into a breezy Solent. The first day we managed to get to Studland Bay, where after a rest we continued into a still bumpy, and rather windy English Channel.
After a few hours’ break we headed off and made bumpy, wet, motor sailing progress to windward, finally pulling into Cawsand Bay, Plymouth for a rest and a night’s sleep. Rising at dawn, in still moderating conditions, we pulled into Penzance to refuel before heading off around Land’s End.
Once round Land’s End, conditions were calm and we had a good passage north. There was enough wind for a brief cruising chute run, but I will remember this part of the passage for the strong tides (we made 10 knots in a fair tide or 2 in a foul, when headlands seemed to stay out for hours) and wildlife. We saw many, many dolphins and porpoises, a solitary seal just by Longships lighthouse, and puffins, gannets and guillemots galore.
Five days after leaving Gosport we arrived at Whitehaven in Cumbria. It’s a modern port with a marina, though you need to time it well to pass through the lock. We arrived with an hour to spare, and even had a bit of a night out. It has been a while since I have gorged on poppadoms sitting at a table in an Indian restaurant.
Thank you to the two Alans for coming with me on what proved to be more of a delivery trip than a cruise. We are now well set for voyaging north, as planned: next destinations planned are Islay, Oban and the Small Isles, and the weather forecast even looks reasonable…