Sunday, March 19, 2023

2023 March 18th - Scrub and Anti-foul.

A quite evening on Friday lit by my posh new oil
lamp that replaced a now rather battered hurricane
lamp, my only non-essential purchase for the
boat in at least 12 months, certainly a record πŸ˜‡.
It is fully gimbled and the base rotates 90 degrees
 to hang on a bulkhead or my mast support..
On Thursday, Saturday suddenly looked good for a scrub with light winds  and, unusually one day after neaps, there was likely to be enough water to get in and with the evening tide being higher there was no danger of being "Neaped". The maintenance dock was available and it was too good to miss so I quickly booked. 

First high water was at a sociable 07:43 and there would be sufficient water to get out of the dock from 19:30 - 20:00 which would allow me to get onto the mooring with the last of the flood tide. All good except it would be dark with no moon for my return.

Saturday broke with intermittent light rain and little wind so I was expecting a straight forward albeit damp departure from the trot mooring but it was not to be, the pick up line swept under the boat and caught the keel, the first time it has done that, so I had to get back on the mooring, disconnect one end of the line to clear it, now under time pressure to get off the mooring before the stand / second high which would be a bit lower and fearing a repeat I left it like that and later went back in the dinghy to reconnect everything.

With little wind and on the last of the first flood getting onto the piles was relatively straightforward although there was a narrow gap and a tricky left / right turn between the pile and one of the clubs launches, unfortunately the part time bosun's were not starting work until 09:00 or they could have moved one or more.

On the piles, in a little under 2m of water now a long wait for the
stand to end and the tide to drop 1.5 metres before I could start
work in knee deep water, wearing waders.
The A9m officially draws 1.67m / 5ft 6"  but with a bigger engine lots of batteries and fuel Sancerre has put on some weight so 1.7 - 1.72m is probably nearer the mark. The tidal gauge shows the depth about half way in to the dock.
Sancerre about to settle in 1.8m of water, the spinnaker
halyard is out to the right and tensioned to ensure the
boat leans against the piles. Helpfully the auto pilot
control unit measures heel and the plotter can display
it (not a given, the other NMEA 2000  instruments can't)
so I cranked on 2.5 degrees and maintained that as
she dropped.
Touching forward - the dock floor slopes down to the river. 
1.6m of water and the aft lashing to the pile had to be eased so that
the stern could drop.
I had just finished power washing when the light rain turned heavy, just when I needed the boat dry, so I retired to the bar for a quick pint as the squall past. Power washing is harder work than you might think, the industrial unit is powerful enough that you have to brace yourself or get knocked over so the rest was welcome. No pics at this stage because of the rain and I was busy.

Job done, two coats of white antifoul to the boot line which was
raised last year in something of a rush so it was rather thin on
the part of the boat that gets the most growth. Some of the
blue was touched up, leading edges get the most wear and
knocks and was a bit thin in places.
Surprisingly the shaft anodes, one over a year old and one 8 months were almost as good as new so were not replaced, the year old small anode on the P bracket was badly eroded so was.

Getting out of the dock is tricky with prop walk more a hinderance than a help until past the end of the pontoon and the three launches moored to it. To help I put a long line to the stern of the middle launch and used that to haul her back and then into the launches as the tide took Sancerre away from them. With almost no wind I was then able to motor out slowly backwards then turn with he prop walk before heading back to the mooring.
The line going to the second launch in the pic and was a big help,
if there had been more wind I would probably have run my long
(100m) line over to the finger in the next door marina and turned the
boat there before going out into a stronger wind and tide. 

A berth at that marina would be about six times what I pay for a
mooring 2 cables down stream and that is not cheap.
Pulling three and a half tonnes of boat fore and aft single handed in still water is not a problem but pulling one sideways or with a tide running is; so on top of the other work it is going to take me a day or two to recover 😞. 


The tide is good to leave for points west on or about the 29th but the weather does not look promising [Edit: and a few days later looked even worse], not being as fit as I would like I would prefer not to start the cruise by taking on a 30 - 36 hour direct trip to Start Point or Plymouth so to get a good tide through the Portland Bill inshore route, I will not get away until Wednesday April 12th at the earliest, disappointing but hopefully it will be a bit warmer and I will have a few days chasing trout πŸ˜€ after the season opens on the chalk streams in early April.

Friday, March 3, 2023

2023 March 3rd - Preparing for the scrub and a shout out to "Total Tide"

The RAFYC maintenance dock is a very economic alternative to a lift out for a pre-season scrub and touch up of the anti-fouling, Sancerre had 3 coats a year ago and another in July so should be OK for this season but the boot line was changed in July so an extra coat on that seems sensible and perhaps another coat of blue if it looks thin and time permits. 

The dock is equipped with an industrial standard power washer so once the tide has dropped the clean does not take long, but you do have to be careful not to take off the anti-foul by getting too close.

The RAFYC maintenance docks (© RAFYC). Getting in is
reasonably straightforward, getting out trickier as there is
little room between the RAFYC launches on the pontoon and
boats in the marina and Sancerre does not steer that well going
slow astern, but there is good protection from the tide much of
the way so I can warp her through the narrow part if necessary.
An early start is required to enable me to be in and out in one tide, to use the full 24 hours I would need to be there as she lifted on the second tide and settled on the following ebb - and I could not reasonably stay on board. 

The dock sill is at 2m above datum and Sancerre draws 1.7 metres so I need close to 4 metres to get in and out safely allowing for a lower than predicted tide if there is particularly high atmospheric pressure and / or a NE wind. That is not available at neaps so I went for the 13th March, four days before the neap tide, far enough away to avoid being "neaped" (Having sufficient water on one tide but insufficient on the next to get out or off) but close enough that I would have enough daylight for the scrub, replacing the anodes and any touch up work.

The days tide as shown by Admiralty "Total Tide", many
apps do not show the curve for the Hamble accurately, particularly
the 2nd high, often shown as a simple "stand" or not at all and
the "Young Flood Stand" starting c 2.5 hours after low water.
I need dead slack water or an incoming tide to get on and off the mooring so going into the dock at 04:30 gives a few hours sleep and, even allowing for any depressed height, sufficient water to get in on the second high and plenty of water on the first high at at 14:00 to get out of the dock.

Admiralty "Total Tide" vs the rest.

It's interesting to compare this prediction from Imray's Tides App (and
 most other apps) with the "Gold Standard" the Admiralty's "Total
Tide" shown above it, the later is expensive but far more detailed in
complex situations you find around the Solent, Poole etc.

Total Tide will do a lot more and to a very fine resolution, of
course wind and atmospheric pressure will impact the above
but its a very good starting point. Unfortunately it only runs
on a PC.
And tidal streams as well - more than shown on the charts, here
the Portland inshore route is just opening on March 17th although
 at the time of writing it looks like the weather will not be good
enough to leave that week.
Update March 7th: With a couple of exceptions the weather models have started to come together and there is a good chance of 20 - 40 knots of wind along the south coast early next week, too much to safely get off of the piles and onto the mooring single handed and I have no desire to beat against a strong south westerly to go sailing so I have booked the piles for a another day on Monday the 27th so if the weather is reasonable I'll be looking to leave on the following Wednesday to go round the Portland inshore route on Friday 31st.

If I am able to get on and off the piles next week I will do so and perhaps come out a second time on the 27th to put a full coat of anti-foul on.

Friday, February 10, 2023

2023 Plans

The April wind rose for Portland from Predictwind
showing the preponderance of favourable winds
to get from the Hamble to the west, the only month
of the year when westerlies are not predominant.
February; and it is still five or six weeks before I can realistically go sailing, the boat needs one delivery trip with stores, cloths etc., half a days work to prepare her for sea and a scrub after being on the mooring for five months. The big problem with self ablating (polishing) anti foul is that if you don't use the boat the depleted paint does not polish off and it stops working so the bottom and particularly the boot line (the white strip on the waterline) are filthy, enough to noticeably reduce boat speed.

To save quite a lot of money I will, wind permitting, dry her out in the RAFYC maintenance dock on the 13th March and attack the mess with the industrial power washer, change the shaft anodes, and I will then be ready to go. 

The plan is to have another go at St Kilda visiting Barra and hopefully the Monach Isles on-route, then either continue to Orkney and hopefully Shetland or to come south to Pwllheli for the start of the Jester Challenge to Baltimore (IRE) in mid June - that plan failed in 2021 but I may have a bit more time this year..

There is a good chance of easterly winds during April and often in late March, to help me down to Land's End, much preferable to bashing into a westerly, so I'll be tracking the weather very carefully. 

To be able to use the inshore route around Portland Bill at daybreak I will be looking for decent weather with an easterly wind about two days before a neap tide so the 15th or 29th March would suit, the 13th April is after Easter so I might bite the bullet of an overnight trip with no sleep and go direct from the Solent to The Start on a spring tide in early April.

Hopefully it will still be possible to anchor behind Hurst Point  now that a new bank has appeared, probably due to work stabilising Hurst Castle. Even close to neaps the depth of water was marginal over much of the area with a charted depth of only c 1m at LAT and 2.1m at LW on the 15th March and 3.3m in the deeper spots (Sancerre draws 1.7 metres) , it may be shallower or deeper now towards  Keyhaven, hopefully the latter. I'll investigate on the day and go on to Studland if necessary.

Video by Nick Boxall on U-Tube

Update 18th Feb:

Looking good for favourable winds in mid to late march but it could be cold, we shall see.

Preparing for the scrub.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

2022 summary & some stats: Over 200 visits & 11,000 nautical miles in 5 seasons.

Plockton, Lochalsh, Western Ross, Scotland. May 2022.
Sancerre center on a mooring.


St Mawes, Cornwall. September 2022.
The 2022 season weather was a disappointment, during spring and early summer high pressure in the south repeatedly pushed intense low-pressure systems close to the Western Isles and I failed to reach St Kilda. By the end of the season, I had been weather bound for 52 days or 39% of the days I spent on the boat away from the Hamble. I could have reduced that a bit at the expense of a lot of discomfort but as is often said, gentlemen do not go to windward, and that is especially true for septuagenarians with small lightweight boats in strong winds!

Much of the time weatherbound was on a mooring or in a marina so that I spent only 41% of my nights at anchor down from my normal average of around 60% which made this year's trips significantly more expensive than expected.

The best sailing of the year in excellent weather, was from Cowes to Scilly during my trip around the Celtic Sea in August and September.

Entering Caolas Mor anchorage, Lochskipport, South Uist,
Outer Hebrides, to anchor, 3rd May 2022



Hours at Sea

GPS N Miles

Days Sailing

Places Visited







Celtic Sea












Porthloo, St Mary's Isles of Scilly, August 2022.


I have now covered over 11,000 solo nautical miles (13k statute miles) in Sancerre and stopped at 107 different locations overnight.


 Hours at Sea

GPS N Miles

Days Sailing












































Muck (The Small Isles) on route from Sanna Bay (Ardnamurchan)
to Canna (The Small Isles), April 2022.
Old Head of Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland, August 2022.
Fingle's Cave, Staffa, Inner Hebrides, Argyll and Bute, April 2022.

2022 Celtic Circuit, Days 43 and 44 to Studland and Hamble.

This is the last post of the thread, to start at the beginning click here.

Another nice day dawned and I was off a little before the tide turned and in daylight for a change.

The North Ship Channel must be a good fishing spot as there
are always a good number of boats there in the early morning,
perhaps fishing for bait?
The NNW wind remained but not as strong at F3-4 so I was reaching under the cruising chute until off St Albans Point when I motored for a couple of miles to clear some serious over-falls; when the Lulworth range is closed and the sea slight I have previously gone closer to shore where the tide is at least as strong but the water smoother, on this occasion I stayed out a bit to be in better wind - a mistake!

With the tides it was not practical to go straight to Hamble as it would mean battling the tide up the Solent and then getting onto the mooring in the dark with an adverse tide and wind. Getting to Hurst was possible but with a reasonably timed start next day I could get to Hurst from Studland for the start of the next mornings favourable tide and a good chance of getting to the mooring at slack high water without excessive use of the engine. So I went to Studland for the night picking up one of the free to use "eco" moorings placed by marina chain "Boatfolk" to protect the Sea Grass beds and the Seahorses that live in it. 

A voluntary no anchoring zone has been established in part of the bay with the threat that it could be made mandatory if not observed, but then the agency has refused to fund marker buoys to delineate the zones and my then up to date electronic charts (all three of them) do not yet show the zones. Really bright, especially as there are already speed restriction buoys in place that could be re-purposed and many users will not have corrected paper charts.

An unusually quite Saturday in Studland Bay.
25 miles in five and a half hours.

Sunday was another lovely day although a bit chilly first thing, it made a welcome change to have five consecutive days of very good sailing. I left at 07:00 and with adjacent boats well clear I left the buoy under sail and headed for the North Channel past the Shingles banks.

A nice, fairly modern Gaff Cutter powering to windward in
Christchurch Bay

Again a plan to do the whole leg, at least to Hurst Narrows, under sail was thwarted, this time by a fleet of Danish Folkboats taking part in an important international regatta.

On this course I would have ended up in the middle of the fleet
and apart from the fact they were racing they were on starboard
 tack whilst I was on port so with the wind dropping on went
the engine at full power to pass ahead of them.
Just clearing the lead boat, most of the leading boats were Danish.
Crews are sitting on the foredeck to reduce wetted area and
probably form drag.
Hurst Channel about as benign as it gets. Less than 30 minutes 
into the flood tide, 1 day before an equinoxial neap tide
and with 5 - 10 knots of wind. 
The paddle steamer "Waverly" heading down the Solent on
route to Swanage with over 400 passengers on board. One
of my earliest memories away from home & school is of a trip
from Weston-Super-Mare to South Wales on her or one of her
sisters, probably in the mid or late 50s. 
I was able to sail from Hurst to just short of Calshot where I took advantage of a lull in the wind to get the sails down before motoring into wind through a lot of traffic to Hamble.

Getting onto the mooring was tough, as planned the tide was slack but I needed to approach down wind and down river to be able to get off again and to have her bows into the prevailing wind. As I got close the wind gusted up to F4 or 5. 

I picked up one of the upstream lines close to the buoy (It's a rule on the river that there are two at each end in case one breaks) but with all of the weed on it I could not get a grip even with my "mooring" gloves on. Finally I was down to the pick-up line and managed to get that through the push pit and onto a winch before I crashed into the boat down-stream saving me from putting the engine into reverse and risking a line round the prop. Timing my pulls with small lulls in the wind I got the stern lines onto the boat at the expense of seaweed from the lines all over the place.

That was not the last problem. I tried picking up the forward mooring lines that attach to the top of a buoy but both were wrapped round the chain riser to the buoy and would not reach the bow, how that happens with another boat on the buoy I don't know. Also the pick-up line to one of the bow lines was cut so it was just hanging down from the buoy. 

With the strong wind holding the boat in line with the trot, it was not an immediate danger but when the incoming tide increased the boat would go broadside and then upstream, so I needed to fix the problem or leave the mooring. I couldn't unravel either line and it would likely take too long to inflate and launch the dinghy to get at the buoy. By letting the stern lines right out and using the Moorfast at maximum extension I was able to get a line onto the buoy so the boat was safe and I took a rest to recover from the exertion and to nurse a few strains. 

I was later able to use the boat hook to get the mooring line not attached to the pick-up and unwind it, so with my rope-chain-rope bridle also in place I was comfortable in leaving the boat for the mooring people to sort out the other line on Tuesday. Fortunately the diver who looks after the mooring passed in the work boat after giving some diving lessons and came back to help and with his assistant lifted the buoy and we freed the line.

The RAFYC launch was operating so I was able to easily get ashore to have a shower, after a quite night I rowed ashore (there being nowhere to securely store the outboard ashore) on the last of the flood tide (07:00) to make may way home on reduced public transport services due to the funeral of the late Queen, with other disruption on the railway it was a 6.5 hour trip home to get the car πŸ˜’.

30 miles in 7 hours.

2022 Summer Portland to Studland and Hamble

2022 Celtic Circuit, Day 42 Salcombe to Portland

Force 6 winds had disappeared from the forecasts the previous evening and I left at 05:40 with light winds increasing to fresh as I approached Start Point, it was then mainly NNW F4/5 until I was south of Portland but varying from N to NW so I was frequently changing sail, varying from two reefs in both sails to one reef in the main and full headsail, it is a good job both systems work without too much effort!

A 400 metre container ship east of Start Point heading towards
Brixham to pick up a Pilot, one of her sister ships was heading
to the same point from Portland.
The first challenge was a 400 metre container ship on a converging course. AIS showed a Closest Point of Approach (CPA) of about a mile, although that varied down to almost nothing as the wind was gusty changing my course and speed. It took some time to establish, by checking the ships bearing from AIS, that it was passing astern, not my favourite as I would be crossing her bow leaving me vulnerable if there was a sudden problem, so care was needed. 

The wind increased but I did not want to lose speed whilst I reefed so pressed on rather overpowered but making good speed. Ducking behind was of course an option but it was a big ship and a way off. In the event I crossed her bow by over 2 miles and she passed a mile astern of me.

A further complication was a French yacht, I was again stand on vessel
but he was having control problems running with a small boomed
out jib the boat was unbalanced and broached a few times. Half an hour
later the skipper gave up and headed up to a broad reach.
I had timed my departure well, helped by a calm sea and offshore wind making the Salcombe Bar a non-issue I had left just after low water and the tide turned favourable as I passed Prawle Point with the fresh wind I made excellent time and carried the tide to south of Portland averaging a fraction under 6 knots over the ground.

The final part of this leg was annoying, as I headed up to pass east of the Shambles Bank the wind suddenly gusted and veered from NW to NE, fast enough that the SeaFeather wind vane steering almost lost the plot only just avoiding having the boat flat aback with too much sail up. I had hoped to get further under sail but the tide was turning against me at a little over a knot but in a couple of hours would be much stronger and sailing I would not make any progress and could be going backwards towards the Portland Race so on went the engine. 

The new plan was to motor to the East Shambles Buoy then I should be able to sail to Portland Harbour. That did not pan out as the wind went back to the NW, dead on the nose so I ended up motoring the rest of the way. With a strong west going tide largely helping once I was past the buoy and the rough water just north of the bank at least it was quick.

Track from Salcombe to Portland, I went well south so that when
I headed up the tide would not push me into the notorious Portland Race.

2022 Summer Salcombe to Portland

70 miles in less than 14 hours.