A Sisterly Visit – Studland Bay to Brighton

Saturday 14th to Sunday 15th August: Dominic gets Company

Obviously, nowhere in Poole would they guarantee that Dominic could moor Idun on Saturday; ‘come around 11am and we’ll see what we can do’. So he did, and got the perfect 4hr slot in Poole Yacht Haven. So he scrubbed the decks, indoors was already cleaned to a T, shopped for provisions and did the laundry; he was all ready for his sister’s arrival. Only one tiny snag – the mobile rang “Eh, which side of the station are you on?” – he forgot to pick her up from the station!

They anchored in Studland Bay for the night, sitting outside in the low sunshine. Nice to have company!

Mattie was keen on a few sails, and the first was Studland Bay to Isle of Wight. A good breeze and tide from behind had them zooming past the Needles in no time, having crossed the bay from Studland.

The Needles, the 30-metre high chalk and flint stacks off the most westerly point of the Isle of Wight, are surely one of Britain’s most recognisable coastal features.  They are an exposed eroded section of a folded east-west band of chalk running through the Island, the remains of which continue under the sea toward the Dorset coast.  There’s a gap where there was once a fourth stack, the most needle-like of them all, a 36.6 metre pinnacle known as ‘Lot’s Wife’. A massive storm in 1764 was its undoing, and the collapse is said to have been heard and felt as far as Portsmouth 20 miles away.  

It’s more than advisable to read your charts carefully around the Needles as shipwrecks abound. One of the more famous ones being the Greek cargo ship Varvassi. She ran aground with a cargo of iron ore, wine and tangerines in January 1947; fortunately, all the crew as well as the ship’s cat were rescued. And for a while afterwards barrels of wine and tangerines were finding their way around the Solent, ripe for the taking!

The anchorage for the night was by Newtown, where Idun has been before. Unfortunately due to wind and tide being opposite it was a bouncy night and Mattie was feeling queezy for a few hours and was forced to take Stugeron. Despite this they played Scrabble and Dominic was very pleased to win the evening’s game – quite a feat to beat Mattie at Scrabble!

Distance 22.1 NM, underway 2 hrs 53 mins, average speed 7.6 knots, max speed 10.8 knots

Monday 16th – Thursday 19th August: Birgitta Back on Board and Walking on the Beach

Monday’s sail was supposed to be a fast and efficient passage to Gosport, and they had expected to be well in time for my arrival. As it turned out the wind had now disappeared off somewhere else, and Dominic and Mattie tied up at Haslar Marina just as I walked up the pontoon after the taxi, train, tube, train, ferry journey south. We had a lovely, long and sunny evening meal in a restaurant sitting outside just below the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. And Mattie and Birgitta managed to finish that bottle, despite Dominic’s doubts!

Distance 14.4 NM, underway 2 hrs 34 mins, average speed 5.6 knots, max speed 8.6 knots

It was very nice to be back on Idun. I had had a really nice time at home, and a much longed for trip to Sweden to stay with my mum for a week. I also managed a catch-up with one of my brothers at the airport. But with the added stress of tests, forms, rules and crowds, travelling in Covid-times is most definitely not pleasant.

Every time I go home, as in ‘where I grew up in Sweden home’, I wonder why on earth I do not live here? I definitely didn’t appreciate the beauty and calm at the time.

The next day we sailed over to one of our favourite spots in Chichester harbour. It was a gentle passage with the wind. ‘Our’ place by Pilsey Island was full of boats, so we ended up anchoring slightly further up the channel on the East side. It was too grey for our customary wonderful sunsets. Hmmm…. The next morning we moved over to West Wittering beach so we could take a walk up to East Head and beyond.

As we were boarding the RIB to get to the beach, a neighbouring boat shouted at us to say we were dragging our anchor! So we quickly got back on the boat to check. As it turned out, it only appeared so (ie the boat was swinging round). The interesting reason being that, due to the strong tide and our clinging on to the RIB alongside the swim platform at the back, it had the effect of driving the stern of the boat through the water. By the time we’d all got into the RIB we were 70 meters from the other (concerned) boat rather than the original 30. Nice of them to warn us though!

Safely on the beach we set off out on the sands, and what a wonderful walk it was! It was low tide, so the beach extended right out into the middle of the natural harbour area. We walked for hours; miles and miles of sand and mud, rippled by the receding water.

“She loved the sea. She liked the sharp salty smell of the air, and the vastness of the horizons bounded only by a vault of azure sky above. It made her feel small, but free as well.”

‘A Storm of Swords’ by George R R Martin

Sea holly, marram grass, pink sea rocket; the sand dunes are very pretty and a wonderful windbreak for the shore-side properties. Some dunes are roped off, to help curb erosion.

When we returned to Idun we saw a yacht that had miscalculated the depth over the sandbanks. Oops, that’s not something you want to happen to you. We tried not to stare too much while having our lunch on deck. An hour later the tide turned and a few hours later they were righted and could sail off. Phew!

At 4pm we went back to Haslar marina in Gosport, this time against the wind which meant a bit more tipping up than Mattie was immediately comfortable with, but she was very brave! As we sailed at 7 knots up the channel from Chichester harbour absolutely masses of dinghies appeared, some sort of race, and they seemed adamant on coming down this channel despite being able to go in the more shallow water on the sides. We were (mostly) the stand on vessel but obviously Dominic had to take every precaution when steering. One dinghy was in the water, but I could see from afar that the sailor was holding on to the vessel which was reassuring. A rather lively sail!

Click on this link for Mattie’s video about her experience tipping up 45 degrees! https://photos.app.goo.gl/zNxdjvc7SDqp9FCx9

Distance 16.1 NM, underway 2 hrs 26 mins, average speed 6.6 knots, max speed 9.0 knots

The next morning we were all going to visit Barnaby and Shelly who had their daughter and her young family from New York with them. I was deeply disappointed to have to decline. Some of my long Covid symptoms have started to re-appear recently, especially in damp environments (aka the boat and coast) and despite going to bed early, and fully medicated, I was completely unable to even consider doing anything at all that day. But Dominic and Mattie went and had a lovely visit, with lots of baby play, chatting and yummy food and then Mattie continued on home.

Friday 20th – Monday 23rd August – Is Autumn here Already?

Dominic has organised berthing in Brighton and Eastbourne marinas at a good rate for a month from Sunday. We didn’t feel like sitting in the marina til then so headed over to Chichester again. There was no wind so we motored. I say we, when it was actually Dominic doing all the work. I shall just exist for a day or two. This could very possibly be our last anchorage for the season as there are no anchoring opportunities for our size boat going eastwards on the south coast. Feels a bit sad.

Distance 12 NM, underway 2hrs, average speed 6.0 knots, max speed 7.3 knots

The next morning I woke early and saw the gorgeous red sunrise on the horizon. I will miss our lovely anchorages. Saturday was rainy and we stayed on the boat all day. In the evening the sun appeared from the clouds and we sat outside and just enjoyed being there. We saw egrets, shags, a young sanderling (I think) and a few gulls. There are surprisingly few birds around though we did hear some of them calling later in the evening. There are supposedly harbour seals here, but we’ve never seen any.

On Sunday morning we left Chichester for Brighton Marina. We met a rowing boat out practising for the GB Row 2022 which was fun to watch! We got the sails out as soon as possible but really struggled with much lower winds than expected and a strong tide against. We couldn’t have left earlier as we have to go across the bar at half tide, and we couldn’t leave later as we have to arrive at Brighton by 4pm to be there 2hr prior to low tide as the entry to the harbour is shallow. So we ended up motor sailing for five hours, with the diesel fumes going straight into the boat. Not ideal. But we had a really sunny passage and the sunshine continued when we were moored on to the visitors pontoon.

Funnily enough, when I read the blog from our previous sail to Brighton in 2018 we had exactly the same wind / tide / sun / motorsailing as today.

Dominic did the end of season procedure for the watermaker as we will be in marinas now. We took a short walk to check out where the bus goes from and the car charger at Asda is located. Dinner on deck at 8pm when it was already getting dark. It is beginning to feel like autumn and like we’re going towards the end.

Tomorrow we’re heading home for a week, leaving Idun safely in Brighton’s care.

Distance 39.2 NM, underway 7 hrs 23 mins, average speed 5.3 knots, max speed 7.9 knots

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