UK Circumnavigation

Jenny's two months of sailing, starting at Suffolk Yacht Harbour and heading north to the Caledonian Canal and eventually all the way around the UK ( weather permitting ). I will be meeting friends on route who will share the sailing. Jenny's homepage and the link to Serenity

Sunday 17 August 2008

Ramsgate to Suffolk Yacht Harbour

Thursday 7th August 2008 - The final passage home. The tides were a little odd off of North Foreland, and we left at 13:30 to collect diesel ( and a receipt for our Red Diesel just in case we went to the EU in the future ).

I chose as easy passage via North Foreland, Foulger's Gat, the wonderfully named Black Deep and sunk. Passage by GPS and buoyage. I was very conscious that we are very lucky to have so much buoyage on the East Coast because of the Thames traffic and shifting sands.
It was a lovely sail up until we sighted the cranes of Felixstowe and the black thunderclouds welcoming us home.

Lightening struck once of the cranes as we approached Harwich, and I tied the HF earth lead to the shrouds and dangled it into the sea as a basic 'best route to earth', then put the emergency GPS and handheld radio in the powered-off microwave as a precaution against lightening strike.
Jennifer and Bernie guided us to our berth as we arrived home. The pontoons on the Orwell have to the the closest packed that I have seen anywhere in the UK, but I was able to guide Serenity in with much more confidence than when I had left over two months and 1660 nm before.

We were home, and we celebrated with a glass of Champagne in the lightship clubhouse.

Shoreham to Ramsgate

Wednesday 6th August - Looking at Windguru, the weather was going to close in by the weekend, and remain poor for the next week so I had to decide to either leave Serenity in Shoreham for a week or so, or to make excellent progress in the next two days. This would involve a long trip to Dover with options to stop at Eastbourne or Rye if we became tired.
We called the lock keeper to arrange to lock out at 06:00 in the morning, and sailed into adverse tide for a few miles turning just before Beachy Head.

The sun was out, a really nice change after the rain over the last few days.

Lots of chalky cliffs, smooth sea, wind 9kn on the beam, this is perfect.

Passing Dover the tide was still behind us, so we decided to move on to Ramsgate ( we could have a later start tomorrow ), I called Dover control informing them of our passage past the harbour entrances as I could see fast ferries moving about and threatening to exit. With the wind increasing we arrived at Ramsgate looking for food, but everything seemed to be shut.
We have completed 84nm and were very tired, but home was now only one easy, familiar passage away.

Portsmouth to Shoreham

Tuesday 6th of August - 07:50 a relatively late start as we had an easy run to Shoreham over waters that Billy knows very well. The tide, wind speed and direction was all in our favour, it was just the grey sea and rain that put a dampener on the passage, but this soon cleared as we neared Shoreham and attempted to get through the lock. The LadyB marina was small and very welcoming. I had a very nice bath and dinner ashore as Billy lives a mile or so from the marina.

Weymouth to Portsmouth

Monday 4th August - I wanted to catch a whole tide through the Solent to get as far as possible. There were many possible marinas on the Solent and I decided to choose on as the tide started to turn against us.

We left Weymouth at 05:00 very quietly so as not to disturb our neighbours. Sunrise with 6kn of wind on the stern, the autopilot was objecting to the swell on the stern again so we moved back to manual tiller.

The tide increased as we entered the Solent and really got moving past the fortification, the water around us seemed to boil.

We had accidentally hit the Solent at Cowes Week, but as the tide was with us, we did not hit the crowds until the entrance to Cowes. I had never seen to many yacht, dinghies, rhibs and ships all together often racing and sometimes pointed at me. I have to admit to having my idiots guide to the rules of the road open on my lap, and managed to evade everything on the way through. Never again.
We decided on Portsmouth, found a very nice berth next to the submarine museum which we were slightly too late to visit. The sun allowed us to get all out bedding on deck to dry out a bit, it was getting a little damp.

Torquay to Weymouth

Sunday 3rd August - The almanac is again very explicit that passing Portland Head at Springs in the wrong place and the wrong tide state will be very bad. With this in mind, I follow the almanac timing exactly to take the early inner flow and avoid the movable tidal race. The was not a long passage, so we could take it easy.
Sailing downwind with little swell was easy but not fast, and the scooper failed to perform again. Rigged with main + gybe preventer, leaving a hard jib effectively to stop rolling. a few miles from Portland Head it started to rain and the visibility dropped, we retreated inside Serenity ( she has an inside wheel as well as an outside tiller ). Taking an inside route around Portland Head gave us excellent views as well as the safety and tide we were hoping for, it great when the nav works as predicted.
We passed Portland Harbour, the Southerly entrance looked tempting but had a chain or something stretched across it. Weymouth indicated that they had plenty of space if we did not mind rafting up - we had arrived on the South Coast. We arrived mid evening and found a nice couple to raft up with. I had been really nervous about rafting up at the beginning of this trip, but the people that you meet can turn this necessary evil into a real pleasure.
As it was a late arrival and an early start, we never actually got off of Serenity which was sad as I found Portland Bill very interesting from the sea and would have liked to have explored it more.

Plymouth to Torquay

Thursday 31st of July - Billy has arrived but the weather does not look so good, neither wundguru nor the Inshore waters forecast - F4-6 peaking F7 with associated swell. In the true spirit of sailing, we set out towards Weymouth anyway as Plymouth Sound is sheltered and we can turn back at any time. We did not even manage to get past the breakwater before we turned back.
Friday 1st of August - Weather forecast now getting better, but feel that I'd like to try getting moving if possible. We left our berth at Plymouth Yacht Haven far too early for the tide intending to have a sail around the Naval vessels in Devonport - and very impressive they were too. We made sure to give them a wide berth. Still early for the tide, we found an unmarked set of swinging moorings just north of Drakes Island and stopped for a break. We were rather quickly moved on by the local military who at least let us finish out tea which is all very civilised and what you'd expect from our Navy. . Heading out to to sea, we made past the breakwater but turned back deciding that again the conditions were too poor. A mixture of short steep swell slowing Serenity and poor visability.
Saturday 2nd of August - As windGuru predicted there was almost no wind and the swell was gentle and long. The IWF was still saying F4-6 :-( The tide was behind us, the jib was out but the main halyard was wrapped around the radar reflector again. As wind on our stern increased, we tried the scooper but the swell corkscrewing us made it useless, I may have it badly rigged.
We ended up gybing downwind to optimise our VMG.
Again, after seeing so few yachts around the UK, it was a suprise to see so many with us or on reciprocal courses.
Passed Bolt Head, Prawle Point and decided that we were too tired to head on to Weymouth, we were making progress, but not *that* much progress, so we decided to drop into Brixham ( this was option (b) in my plan ). Brixham was full, the town quay was rafted too deep and we rafted very uncomfortably up as a temporary measure to have a cup of tea and think about our options.
A few phone calls later and we had a berth in Torquay 40 minutes across the bay and we found a very clean marina. Torquay had excellent Ice Cream and Billy confirmed that the fish was excellent.
This passage was another excellent example of leaving Plymouth for one destination - Weymouth, diverting to Brixham and ending up at Torquay. You really have to stay flexible when sailing.

Thursday 31 July 2008

Falmouth to Plymouth

Monday 28/7/08
The weather was rather grey on the way out from Falmouth, slightly choppy with the wind on the beam.

I was just about to get the mainsail up when I noticed that the main halyard had wrapped itself around the radar reflector, and being single handed, I did not want to play around on the foredeck unless I really had to. So it was a motorsail to Plymouth across the bay. Again, there were quite a few other yachts around, often on reciprocal courses.
Arriving in Plymouth in the rain, I was hoping to make my way to Sutton Yacht harbour to be near to the town, and as per usual the phone numbers given in the almanac ( both landline and mobile ) were not being answered. I called on the radio once in the harbour actively dodging the dinghies, and found that Sutton was full, and so was Queen Annes Battery Marina. Luckily they had space for me at Plymouth Yacht Haven. It really is worth phoning ahead to confirm a berth.
I arrived and dried out.