Monday, 28 May 2012


We arrived in Portland to see numerous dinghys, and keelboats out in the harbour practising for the Olympics.

As you can see from the photograph, Sue was really enjoying the spectacle.

About half way across the harbour we spotted a trio of 420's doing battle.

A bit further in we spotted Paul Goodison practising in his Laser ( checked the sail number on the internet later and confirmed ).

The following morning we decided to get the bus to Portland Bill, and get a look at the tide race. At the bus stop a workman was starting to put up a row of flag poles - by the time we returned the row of poles was as long as the blue fence in the photograph.

The open topped bus gave us a great view of Chesil beach, and the brackish laggon inside.

The weather was fine, hot, and sunny all day, with very good visibility. The lighthouse stood out really well againsy the blue sky.

This is Pulpit Rock, with a beautifully engraved plaque warning climbers that they attempted it at their own risk !

 From The Bill, we followed the coastal path back up the eastern side, before climbing back to the road, and catching the bus back to the Marina.

This is the view from our berth, back towards Portland, with the Olympic sailing village at the base of the hill on Osprey Quay.

Need to get up at 03-00 tomorrow to get round the Bill at slack water, and carry a fair tide towards Brixham, so signing off now, and going to bed.


After an uneventful passage from Poole we arrived in Weymouth, and tied up at the waiting pontoon for the lifting bridge. The bridge lifts every even hour during the day, so we had a wait of just over an hour; time for a cup of soup, and a rest. Weymouth marina had already allocated a berth, and told us that it was starboard side too, and we were set up and ready when the bridge opened. We were moored in the marina by 18-15.

The town is a very pleasant, typical British holiday resort. The bars along the riverside were packed with tourists. 

On Saturday evening a live group played from a rather magnificent square rigged ship tied up along the quay.

We walked up to Nothe fort which overlooks Portland harbour, providing some spectacular views. 

On Sunday we stocked up on provisions at a very convenient ASDA after a leisurely start, and then had a bite of lunch prior to moving down the marina towards the bridge for the 14-00 lift. 

A long and arduous passage followed - some 3.6NM to Portland marina !!! 

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Passage to Poole

We got a good view of Hurst Castle as we passed through the narrows which bought back fond memories of a holiday we spent in the area several years ago.

A couple of Sunsail racing yachts followed us with spinnakers flying. It was fairly misty all day, and we could only just see the Needles, having decided to use the North channel route.

Sue knew of an anchorage in Poole harbour that she was keen to re-visit, so once through the entrance to Poole harbour, having evaded the chain ferry, we proceeded down 'South Deep' to Goat Horn point. This turned out to be a wonderful, peaceful place, with the slight mist adding to the atmosphere.

After supper we launched the dinghy, and explored the creeks for a while before returning to 'NJ' to plan the next days passage to Weymouth.

The visibility was much better in the morning, and we managed to get a good view of 'Old Harry Rocks'


Had a really long passage today - 6.9NM ! Got a berth very close to the facilities block, but only for one night , as the harbour was about to be invaded by 'The Old Gaffers Association'.

The beer tent was in the process of being errected, and several other large tent structures had appeared around the town.

 We had a pleasant walk in the evening, with another beautiful sunset, and a leisurely get up in the morning. We left the berth and were out into the Solent by 12-30, heading West towards Poole.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Solent

 We had a great days sail down the solent, fairly close hauled but making 6-7 knots through the water.

Off Cowes, we had a 'close encounter' with a Red Funnel Line fast cat, which was quite impressive. One other bit of excitement was a May Day for a Sadler 32 that was taking on water, and reportedly in danger of sinking. The rescue helicopter was launched and Calshot lifeboat summoned. As it happened another lifeboat that was on passage was on the scene first along with a large RIB that had volunteered its services. Seelonce Fini ( terminating the May Day ) was declared at 13-45, as we tacked across close to where the drama had taken place ( the leak had been stemmed, and the yacht saved ). From this point we had a significant fair tide with speed over ground reaching a maximum recorded 9.4 kts. Soon we were approaching the Lymington Sailing Club platform, and 'Jack in a basket' where the sails were lowered, and we motored up the river to our arranged spot in the Lymington Berthon Marina.

 After a bite to eat and a sit down, we had a stroll into town, picked up a few things at Tesco's, and took a few photo's. After a second session in town tomorrow, we are thinking of going over to Yarmouth, prior to Poole the day after.

Sitting on a beach

We had a successful encounter with the Raymarine engineer, who checked out the autopilot wheel drive, and made a few other suggestions. Then, after a pleasant lunch in the marina restaurant, we left the marina, and headed off to East Head near the harbour entrance to beach 'NJ' for the first time.

East Head is a favoured location for Northshore Yachts to demonstrate this aspect of their boats, so we were quite happy that the location was suitable. We put the anchor down, then reversed towards the beach and dropped the keel onto the sandy bottom to hold 'NJ' in position. It seemed very peculiar to see the water disappearing from around the boat, but eventually she was 'high & dry'. As 'NJ' was out of the water, we took the opportunity to clean off the hull, and polish parts of the transom which we hadn't got around to before.

Eventually the water started to return, and we re-floated at about 23-00, after a spectacular sunset. 'NJ' was moved in to slightly deeper water and re-anchored for the night.

Due to the timing of the tide, we didn't need to be up early, but after a leisurely breakfast, we prepared for sea, and set off for the bar at about 10-40, passing Hayling Island sailing club, with a passage down the Solent planned.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Chichester, NJ goes home.

Another longish passage today - approx. 60NM, so we locked out of Sovereign Harbour at 08-00 making for Beachy Head with a little foul  tide. Once clear of the headland, we were running down wind, and raised the genneker at about 10-00.

The wind was a little too downwind for the big sail, and after three hours or so we took it down, and ran goose winged with the main, and large genoa. By 16-15 we were approaching Selsey Bill, passing inside 'Boulder Street', Chichester Bar was cleared at 18-15. Once inside Chichester Harbour, we picked up a visitor mooring at Itchenor for the night.

Itchenor is where 'NJ' was built by Northshore Yachts in 2006, so she has 'come home'! In the morning we took the dinghy to the pontoon to pay our dues, and visited Northshore to say hello to Bob, the salesman who sold us the boat.

Before lunch, we cast off the mooring and motored up to Chichester Marina for the night.

Chichester Marina is enormous, with up to 1,100 berths, together with impressive facilities, a large boatyard, restaurants, bar, and a good chandler ( very important ). We had an excelllent curry in the 'Spinnaker' restaurant ( English & Indian ) , then back to the boat for a relaxing evening, and recharge our batteries after a couple of long days at sea.

On Saturday we left the marina and motored out to Pilsey Island and anchored in an area much loved by Sue's dad. The dinghy was launched, and we had a short walk on the island to stretch our legs. The sea pink flowers were very spectacular, together with lots of sea kale plants.

Once back on the boat we watched a plethora of day boats and dinghys racing between our position and East Head - very colourful with all the spinnakers and gennekers flying.We shared the anchorage with one other yacht that night, who left early Sunday morning - it  was wonderful to have this place to ourselves with so many boats in the area! Back to civilisation on Sunday, and into the same berth in Chichester marina, ready to get some maintenance work carried out on the autopilot on Monday.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Eastbourne, squalls, and a view of France

We left our berth at 08-30, and cleared the harbour by 08-40, on a course to pass inside the Goodwin Sands. At 09-30 we got our first view of the French coast whilst making for Dover. From about 5 miles out, Dover looked pretty intimidating, with a whole stream of cross channel ferries coming in and out. A quick call to Dover port authority on the VHF intsructed us to stay 1NM off the entrance, and come across, which we did without incident.

Once past Dover the course took us close to Dungeness Head, with a good view of the old nuclear power station. It was at this point that we started to see some very dark shower clouds, and for most of the rest of the passage we were reefing and un-reefing regularly, with squalls hitting us at up to 40Kts.

 We made Sovereign Fairway buoy at 18-40, and were moored in the marina by 19-20. And, what a marina it was ! Sovereign Harbour is a whole complex of connected marinas, and small cuts into residential areas with private  moorings - very impressive.

 We had two nights in the marina to allow laundry, food shopping, and planning the next leg.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Thames crossing and Ramsgate

The Thames estuary seems to be becoming one big wind farm, with all the local ports cashing in with support services, and dozens of fast power cats moving supplies and people to and from the farm sites. Talking to one of the boat owners at Shotley informed us that on of the main channels through the sand banks in the middle of the estuary, Foulger's Gat, was closed to shipping, as a power cable was being laid. This didn't turn out to much of an issue, and a small detour through Fisherman's Gat sorted us out.

 The wind refused to play ball all day, so whilst fairly strong at times, it always seemed to be just too on the nose to sail. The weather was fair though, with good visibility, if a bit cold. As we rounded North Foreland, the sun was on the lighthouse, and the view was wonderful.

The last hour seemed to last forever, with steep seas, and contrary tide, but eventually we were secured in the West Marina, within Ramsgate harbour. Again we booked two nights, so we could spend a day haveing a look around Ramsgate, and stocking up on supplies.

The town was very pleasant, with a very impressive Victorian backdrop to the harbour which I think was part of the railway system. Tomorrow the wind is forecast to veer to the North, so we are making plans to head off to Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne, a distance of some 60NM, so a full day at sea, but hopefully we will be able to sail rather than motor.