Well, it wasn’t bikini sailing, our passage today. Dominic planned a beautiful huge two tack journey from Chichester Harbour, up past the east coast of Isle of Wight, then well out into the Channel passed the southernmost point then turn back straight to Studland Bay. This would be possible despite westerly winds thanks to huge spring tides that would carry us along.
So we set off at 12 noon exactly, got the mainsail up quite quickly and motor sailed out of the harbour. There were so many dog walkers out on the beaches, and the dogs looked so happy, jumping about with each other and in the water! We passed the Bar and waited for the winds. But they didn’t come. We were wafting! After a while I said, we’ll have lunch while it’s calm, and went down to get the already prepared food. And suddenly the wind came in force and the boat tipped right over and our lunch was more of the brace and hold on tight variety!
We were coming up towards the east coast of the Isle of Wight, and the anchored tankers outside Bembridge where we stayed the night on Friday. Isle of Wight is sometimes incorrectly spelled Isle of White, which is understandable as the gorgeously white chalk cliffs are visible when you approach from both east and west. But the word wight does not refer to the colour but is a Middle English word stemming from the Saxon wiht, meaning living thing, or creature.
The wind was more southerly than expected the whole day, and this meant we had to keep tacking up past Bembridge and on past St Catherine’s lighthouse. It was a bit of a ride, to be honest. Around Bembridge we put in a 2nd reef to avoid the boat tipping too much but we didn’t go very fast. There were no other yachts around, but we did see a couple of military vessels and several huge commercial boats.
I suddenly noticed that one of the brackets holding the dan buoy, our life buoy had come loose, and Dominic luckily got there before it fell off. That’s clearly not a good thing! The RIB was shifting a bit on the davits but they held, so this was a good test for that. But despite all this, in the spray a rainbow would appear every now and then – very pretty!
We went really far out from St Catherine’s Point, the southernmost point but we still got a lot of rough water. After this it got better, and we speeded up, more than 11 knots at times. As we neared The Needles, the white chalk cliffs glinted in the summer sunshine and provided a fantastic photo opportunity. So now we’ve seen them from every angle save from above!
We had decided that at this point we would decide whether to go to Yarmouth or continue to Studland, and we both wanted to continue. Though we were pretty tired and getting hungry. Out came my nuts and dried fruit bag. We sat through the brief overfalls from the Needles and continued the tack across the sound, literally sailing into the sunset and anchored in a lovely spot with Old Harry looking over us.
8.5 hours, 65 miles, 12 knots top speed, 2m waves.
We both knew today could be rough but with the wind changing slightly it took longer and got rougher than expected. But we did it, and we did it well. It was one of my tick list items, sailing the southern route past the Isle of Wight, and now it’s done. Tick!