Tuesday, March 26, 2024

When to leave? Plan B (2).

Its Tuesday and for the past week my start day has been in doubt with forecasts changing daily and with big differences between the models caused by uncertainty as to the track of an very active depression heading directly for UK and the likely aftermath.

ECMWF prediction on Tuesday for 06:00 Thursday.

With several days of winds with east in them likely starting at some point over Easter it is at least clear that I will have to take whatever opportunity presented itself. But it will not be easy to avoid an overnight trip. The optimum day to leave the Solent is Tuesday 2nd April to take the Portland inshore route (Options for passing Portland are described here) on the 3rd or 4th but most models agree the winds are likely to become Westerly for a day or two mid week.

The inshore route is not available in the morning until the Wednesday the 3rd. Using the inshore route on the afternoon of Monday heading to Lyme Regis or Beer would work but with the strong winds lasting till Friday it is unlikely that they will be viable anchorages, Portland to Brixham might be practical using the route on Monday afternoon but it would be a late finish. 

Another option, if the sea conditions permit, is to go to Chapman's Pool (St Alban's Head) and leave early to get past Portland and hour or two before the tide turns adverse then head for Brixham, Hope Cove (again dependant on minimal seas coming in from the south west) or Plymouth. Or to go to Portland and use the offshore route accepting a long trip.

With trains being replaced by busses on Sunday the current plan is to deliver supplies and load the dinghy onto the boat on Friday (hoping that the wind will no be as strong as indicated by some models and that the club launches or the water taxi will be working), travel back to the boat by train on Saturday and sail to Hurst that evening. After that it will be a. 03:30 start at the peak of the ebb tide to get into Christchurch Bay before the tide turns by which time I'll have seen the sea state and will then make a decision on where to head for.

If I had to bet it would probably be that I'll end up in Portland Harbour on Sunday and be stuck there for several days before crossing Lyme Bay but if the weather gives me a break I could be in Plymouth or further west in a few days.

Update Wednesday:

Friday could be interesting πŸ˜’

Click here for the start of the trip.

Sunday, March 17, 2024


Plan A turned out not to be a complete dud, the winds certainly arrived for Friday but a bit earlier than expected and by mid day on Thursday it was clear that Saturday would be OK and I was able to book a space. I went onto the piles at 05:00 a day and an hour later than planned back in September, this was just before 2nd high water in perfect weather although I could have done with a moon to light the way; why does sailing always seem to involve early starts? 

06:37 waiting for the tide to drop.
As predicted she touched ground a tad after 06:00 and I was able to start power washing at 07:20. Hamble is reported to have the worst fouling area in the country, here is an example of what that means, Sancerre had three coats of a top of the range anti-fouling paint in July last year since when I have just been to the Isles of Scilly and back.

What a winter on the Hamble does to your boat, it would be
worse in summer with warmer water and more light.

The power wash took an hour but apart from the boot line, some of which is a bit thin after I raised it last year, the anti fouling was in good condition. I just had time to repaint the boot line and the leading edges which ablate quicker than the rest. A new anode went on with the water over the sill but I just managed it with wellies and did not have to resort to the waders.

Job done and ready to head off as soon as the wind and tide serve.
It was then a long wait, after an initial rush of incoming water the "New flood stand" resulted in a four hour wait from paddling in the dock to floating off, it is frustrating but does give the anti foul chance to harden a bit, most of the time there is only c 18" of water in the dock which makes the wait seem even longer. 4 days after springs, it was 9 hours 15 minutes from LW to 2nd HW.

Waiting for the water to return, it was pretty much at this level for a
couple of hours.
I just missed my chance of warping onto and along an empty pontoon when both the launches came back from delivery / pick up trips but I got the "bosuns" to take my lines and I was safety through the narrow gap with room to turn, then back to the mooring with quite a strong tide and a breeze on the nose but with the boats up and down stream of me out of the water for maintenance it was a straight forward operation.

The wind forecast for the coming week is not encouraging, and the week after I would have to commit to an overnight crossing of Lyme Bay so unless the weather is particularly benevolent my likely departure date is Easter Monday / All Fools Day to take the inshore route around The Bill at daybreak on the 3rd or 4th. One can only hope.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

2024 Plan A is a dud before it starts

I need to clean the bottom of the boat before departing and that is not going to happen in time to leave on the next neap tides to use the Portland inshore route, even if the weather improves next week to make that possible. I was due onto the piles at 04:00 on Friday the 15th but there is no way to get in and particularly out of the dock with 18 - 33 knot winds and single handed I probably would not get back onto the trot mooring either.

The UK met office forecast for Friday as on Tuesday. It gets
marginally worse later in the day. the ECMWF and GFS
models are similar with slightly different timings.
Sancerre is now booked into the maintenance dock at 04:20 on Sunday March 31st, unfortunately that is a weekend and bank Holiday so I can't start power washing early and I'll only have a little over 2 hours with all of the boat out of the water, plenty of time for power washing but not enough for a full coat of anti-fouling below the boot line as well as that takes just over an hour to apply on a good day. However she had three coats in July and since then I have only been to The Scillies and back so it should be OK for the first cruise, I'll touch up a few places that are vulnerable - like the leading edges and perhaps re do the boot line which ablates quickly because of my hand cleaning. 

I picked up some scrapes to the gloss paint work in a 60 knot storm earlier in the year, the boat behind was out of the water so at a low spring tides Sancerre dropped back onto one if not two buoys with limpets attached, if its a warm day I may just have time to touch that up but I'm not holding my breath. 

With the shops closed on the 30th (and disrupted trains) logistics will be a little complicated but at least the club launch will be operating Sunday and Monday so the plan is a dash home on Sunday after getting the boat back on the mooring with the dinghy and outboard on board, then go back down on Monday by train leaving for the anchorage at Hurst that afternoon and Portland Harbour on Tuesday with no need to avoid the Lulworth ranges that will be closed. Them I leave at 05:00Z, 06:00 BST to go through the inshore route around the Bill about two hours  later than optimal due to lack of light.

If the weather gods permit!

Update: The weather gods allowed a scrub a day late but at the time of writing more bad weather is forecast so Easter weekend still looks favourite, IF we get some decent weather. Click here for the next exciting episode where I spend much of my time watching paint dry.