Tuesday, 27 September 2011

End of Summer (sic) cruise

The plan was to have a full week off work and take Jelly Bean to the Solent to properly explore some of the great anchorages and harbours that can be found there. However, as shown in my last blog the weather didn't want to play ball, and the weekend just didn't happen. Hurricane Katia was in her final death throws over the Irish Sea and it was just too windy to take Jelly Bean out to Sea.
I  kept an eye on the weather and it was looking good to go around Tues / Weds. I gathered my things and on Tuesday evening I made my way to the boat . I planned to make my way to Emsworth Via the South side of the Isle of Wight, potentially stopping at Freshwater or Bembridge on the way depending on wind & tide. Then make my way back through the Solent to meet up with the EDSC rally at Yarmouth on Saturday. On Tuesday the forecast was looking good for the Weekend.

Tuesday - A false start,   I loaded the tender and motored out to Jelly Bean, as I approached I noticed the boom didn't look right and the sail was hanging out of the boom cover.  Once aboard I could see that the Goose neck fitting and the shackle from the rear of the boom had gone missing. I wasn't sure if they'd been stolen or just shaken loose in the wind. It seemed a bit inconceivable that so much could have just come loose!
I settled in for the night and cracked open the cider as I was clearly going nowhere.  I set the alarm for 5.30 as there was going to be a very low tide I there was just a chance that I'd be able to find the missing parts with the tide fully out. 
Wednesday - Can you make one of these?,  Up at 5.30AM and I had a good wade around  but gave up after the Barfluer came in and the wash came over the top of my wellies.
I changed tactics and spent the day, firstly looking for a new Goose neck then seeing if I could get something fabricated.  I eventually found someone who could make me something suitable for about £45 but it wouldn't be ready until Thursday... sometime.   I had no choice so the deal was struck.
I went back to the boat to tidy up and as the tide was on it's way out I had another wade about and 'hey presto'  I found it. I got the boat rigged and ready and by 8pm I was on my way to the Isle of Wight.

First days route from Poole to Freshwater.

I had to fight against the tide to leave the harbour with the engine running flat out I was making 1.5knots SOG but once out of the harbour the tide was OK and with the breeze coming from the SW I made good time across the bay towards the needles.  Even in the dark I could see the wave crests near the needles, I started the engine again just as a precaution but there was no need. The passage to Freshwater was nice and easy.  I anchored in the middle of the bay. There was surf breaking all around but right in the middle of the bay the water was calm and there was no pull on the boat.  I slept well from about 12 midnight until 6am.

Morning in Freshwater bay.
Thursday - Put put kaput, The morning in Freshwater was beautiful, although I was unbelievably cold. The light was fantastic and the mist was just sitting on the water.  I had my breakfast and a cup of tea before dragging up the anchor and sailing off towards St Catherine's point. 

 Once again there was a bit of chop just before the lighthouse but nowhere near as bad as I thought it was going to be. As before I started the engine to motor safely around the headland.   The weather was perfect and it fealt like I was a million miles from the busy Solent.  I saw just one fishing boat between Freshwater and St Catherine's.  The island seems a bit baron from the sea along this part of the coast, probably due to the amount of erosion. The coastline after the headland changes instantly, Greener landscape, pretty cottages and villages, and as you approach Ventnor there is a very Victorian feel to the area.
I stopped the engine and put the kettle on for a brew.  I was able to bungee the tiller centrally and balance the sails to allow me to brew up while still making progress.  Something that I was never able to do a few seasons ago. 

The Victorian town of Ventnor
As I approached Bonchurch the breeze dropped and my progress started to slow, I would have to motor if I was going to make it to Bembridge today. The outboard didn't want to run, it would start eventually but would not run under load.  The GPS showed me drifting towards the shore so I threw the anchor over to give me a chance to look at the engine.
Bonchurch - I wasn't to get much further today.
 I pulled the spark plugs out and one of them was dripping in oily water.  I cleaned it, started the engine again but it still didn't run properly.  I pulled the plugs again and the lower cylinder was fouled again. I wasn't sure of the cause but one possibility was that cooling water was getting in through a gasket or even worse had broken through.
A couple of fishermen on the shore shouted over to see if I was alright, I told them my outboard was kaput and they offered me a tow.. I wasn't sure what they intended to tow me with as I couldn't see a boat but as I couldn't see any other offers of help  I accepted.  Within 5 mins they had launched a Catamaran  fishing vessel with two big 90hp engines on the back,  they called Ventnor Haven and after confirming Jelly Bean could take the ground we were on our way back to Ventnor.
Safely tucked up in Ventnor.
 Ventnor Haven isn't designed for yachts and even Jelly Beans 2' draught is a bit too deep.  It is however designed for the local fishing fleet and is home to a success story for the island.  The local fishermen land their catch here, there is a processing unit built on stilts where the fish are packed and sent to Brixham for market.  It's brought jobs to the area and saves fishermen fuel as they previously  had to land their catch in Portsmouth. The boats that they use are built on the harbour side as well so it's an all round win for Ventnor... That said it really does stink.  The haven naturally collects sea weed which can't get out again and rots away releasing it's stench... nice.
As time was pressing on I immediately got to work trying to find a replacement engine. I started by asking everyone I met if they knew of one for sale. I have to say, the people I met in Ventnor, from the Guys who towed me onwards were all super helpful and friendly.  I went to the cafe and a chap there offered to drive me to Bembridge to pick up an engine, unfortunately Bembridge Outboards had nothing suitable for me.
Pie, peas n gravy.. oh yes.
 Despite the rancid smell it was time to make tea,  I trialed a technique for cooking pies on a single burner and I have to say it worked a treat.  It involves taking the pie out of the foil, placing  the foil upside down in a large pan, prod a few holes in it, put the pie onto of the foil, put the lid on the pan and stick it on the burner. It gets so hot that it only needs to be on a low heat.  Mine burnt a little on the sides but it was cooked through and with some Gravy, Peas and a glass of Cider, it was 'ansome.
Back to the job in hand, after chatting to a couple of people with regards to my engine problem it was suggested that I checked the fuel.  Sure enough I could see globules of water in the bottom of the tank, I propped it up and left it for an hour to let all the water sink to the bottom corner, I then used the fuel tube with the priming bulb to pump out all the water.  After cleaning to plugs again the engine fired up and ran beautifully, pumping water like a fire engine. Although I was chuffed I still wanted a new engine as I had lost confidence in this one.
Jelly Bean settles in to the stinking weed of Ventnor  :o(
Although I was sailing alone I was soon to find out that the sailing community is a great resource when you are banjaxed.  I contacted everyone I could think of to let them know of my plight and within a few hours (probably quicker but the 3G signal in Ventnor isn't great) offers of help and advice were coming in.

The forshortened route from Freshwater to Bembridge... Ending in Ventnor.
It was time for some relaxation so I took a stroll to the Spyglass Inn, a Traditional seaside pub that, as I remember from previous visits, serves good beer in a good atmosphere.  Tonight was no exception, as I walked in I could see there was going to be some live music,  I nearly laughed out load when I saw them, They had a definite hippy look to them, he was kinda 'Ozzy Osbourne'  and she was more 'Joan Baez' but when they got going it was really enjoyable.  The sound was Jazz blues with a feel of Bob Dylan. Either they were good or the beer was because they were then join by a harmonica player who went on to do a didgeridoo solo.. as I write this I can't believe I'm admitting to liking it! If you're ever on the Island and you see a band called 'Grimshaw' I can recommend them for lifting your spirits after a stressful day.
Friday - Not a great start! As I had to wait for the tide before I could leave Ventnor I decided to drop a couple of bottles of beer off for the guys who dragged me in.  They had obviously gone out to sea long before I saw the light of day so I left them on the seat of their tractor with a thank you note.
Jelly Bean eventually started to float so I turned her using the warps and jumped on, started the engine and motored out through the entrance.  The waves were breaking in the entrance making it quite interesting getting out.  I noticed that the engine had stopped pumping water, it was obviously blocked with seaweed but I couldn't turn it off or I'd have been smashed on the breakwater.  As soon as I'd made a bit of distance from the rocks I pulled the jib up and made sure I was heading away from shore before switching the motor off.
In my hurry to get the main sail up I brought on another disaster.. I slipped and braced my foot against the shroud, snapping the turnbuckle in the process.  With the sail Half up and the wind putting strain on the remaining shroud I removed the sail completely, using my safety knife to slice through the reefing lines. I had to get the sail off as quick as possible.

Broken shroud turnbuckle lashed down.

I lashed the broken shroud back down again and took stock of the situation.  We were heading at 6knts SOG in the right direction. There was no way I was doing to attempt to sail back into Ventnor and all the fishing boats were out.  At this rate the best thing to do was to keep sailing under jib and try to clear the engine.  I had been told that there were visitor moorings at Sandown so that gave me the option of tying up there and waiting for a rescue if needs be.

Sailing nicely with Jib alone.
  There was no way that I could clear the engine, I checked the tidal stream atlas and I had enough time, with the jib up to use the tide to get me into Bembridge or maybe the Solent. Either of these would give me a safe base to make repairs.

As I approached Bembridge the Wind was dying, I knew the forecast was for more blow in the afternoon so I decided to strengthen my temp repair and put the main sail back on. It worked out well, my speed picked up again and I was definitely going to make the tide into the Solent.

Portsmouth to Ryde Hovercraft.. Always makes me think of thunderbirds :)

 As the phone signal reappeared I was able to return to my search for a replacement engine.  I'd had a great response from the Guys at the club, I'd been offered several suitable engines so I set about phoning around to see what they were like.  I secured a low hours 6HP Tohatsu long shaft with sail drive for a very reasonable sum, what's more is Paul from the club agreed to bring it to Lymington on Saturday evening for me.  He was going to sail to Yarmouth for the Rally but that had been cancelled due to impending bad weather.
Yep... He's got right of way :)
 All I had to do now was make it safely into Cowes with a broken rig and no engine and then get across to Lymington the following day in winds forcast as F5 with F7 gusts... No problem ;~p
The Waverley.. I keep meaning to book a trip on this.
Once in the Solent the wind started to pick up so I put in a double reef to take the strain off the weak shroud.  Between Ryde and Cowes the original piece or cord that I'd used snapped leaving a very stretchy piece holding the rig together. I found a much more substantial piece of spare main sheet which I used to make a much stronger temp repair.  The wind was well into F4 by now but the boat was well balanced and sailed beautifully.
Sailing into the Medina without an engine wasn't too hard but trying to get any further than the ferry terminal was proving to be impossible.  I had hoped to get as far as East Cowes SC where Arran (A fellow Fantasie owner) was waiting for me.  In the end I had to abandon that and tie up at Sheppards Wharf. That was a feat in itself as the lack of wind and current made it difficult to aim for the gaps between boats.  I eventually got a line to someone on the Jetty and secured Jelly Bean until the mooring officer could tow me into the marina.

Once secured inside the marina I set about getting my engine running again.  With the added pressure of a hose I managed to blast this lump of seaweed out of the outboard leg. I started the engine and it pumped water fine again, however it had obviously overheated coming out of Ventnor and was now making some unpleasant metallic sounds when revved.  I would have to use it sparingly and only around the marinas (Cowes & Lymington).
It was about 8:30pm so I had a shower and got changed ready for a night in Cowes, then I blinked and it was the next morning.  Still at least I looked smart for my morning stroll to the washroom.

Saturday - Hold onto you hat! Due to the tides I couldn't leave Cowes until after 12noon but I had some shopping to do anyway. As soon as the chandlers were open I was off to find a new turnbuckle.  It had to have the correct thread as mine was crimped onto the wire.  Fortunately the first one I tried fitted so with that and a couple of shackles to replace ones which had disappeared into the ogin I headed back to the boat to make her sound again.
Arran popped in during the morning on his way to the Southampton Boat Show, so after a quick natter we headed off to Tiffins for a coffee and a comfy chair.

The smallest best balanced sail config that I have for heavy weather.

I then got Jelly Bean ready for the afternoons ordeal, I wasn't looking forward to this but it had to be done.  It's deceptive inside the Marina as there is no indication of the conditions beyond the river mouth. I had Jelly Bean reefed right down and checked and double check the rigging. 

After the heavy shower things calmed down significantly.
I motored out of the Medina into the Solent and the wind and waves were really going for it. The wave frequency was around 2 or 3 seconds and even with the small rig the angle of heel was over 30degrees,  Regardless of this Jelly Bean was making good progress  and felt responsive. The GPS couldn't cope with the punishment and kept switching itself off.  The waves were crashing on the coach roof so I had to keep the washboards in and the hatch shut.  There was a particularly heavy shower approaching from the West and when that hit the waves really picked up. At one point I had two crests under me at once.  The sea was just white foam but Jelly Bean still felt safe and responded to my input.

A short Video clip of conditions after the shower. Sorry no video or pics from when it was rough, both hands needed for the boat.

Well balance and with my patent tiller tamer Jelly Bean sailed herself for much of the crossing.
  After the shower things calmed down significantly, I was able to get the GPS working again, take some photos and even the wee video clip. After such an intense period it was great to be able to leave the tiller and sit at the front of the boat and just admire the view. The picture above is proof of how balance she is. I sat at the front for about 10 mins while she took me back across the solent.

A good feeling to be in the safety of Lymington

The GPS couldn't cope with the weather and bouncing so the track between 6nm and 14nm has been added in afterwards.
Once into Lymington I started up my ailing outboard which chugged along until I was about 10 foot from the town quay, at which point it died, leaving me to drift away again... much to the amusement of all around. I managed to control it again with the Jib and got her close enough to throw a line. All secured and off to the pub for a shower... that's right, the pub has a fab shower with hot water and good pressure. On my return to the boat Paul and Marie were there with my new outboard. Also another fella who lived in Lymington who was interested in buying Jelly Bean, She wasn't looking her best and I probably wasn't overly helpful as I had other things to address and little energy left to address them.
With a bit of faffing and some fresh petrol we got my new outboard fitted and started. Marie kindly let me put my stinky old two stroke and fuel in back of her pristine car, we then retired to the pub for some much welcome food.

Sunday - More petrol please.  The earliest window for leaving Lymington was about 12noon so I went in search of strong coffee. The forecast was slightly better than yesterday with F4 gusting F6 but today I would have to get through the narrow channel and spend most of the day in very open water. I set off a little early (11am) as the Hunter Horizon that I was moored against wanted to get going.  I didn't mind as it meant I could get used to the conditions before really going for it. It's hard to see on the track but the first two tacks I did once out of the channel had me going backwards, not surprising really against wind and tide.

 I decided to motor sail through Hurst channel, it work really well as although I was still slightly against the tide the wind and tide were together keeping the conditions quite calm.
I carried on motor sailing towards the needles, I'd not taken this route before and in hindsight this wasn't the day to try. The waves were really mounting and by the time I got to the needles they were huge. The next two photos are the last I took before putting the camera away and closing the boat up.


I continued to motor directly at the waves using the sails for stability until after about 3 hours running the engine stopped... That's not fair, its supposed to be a good un.  I'd actually run out of fuel, as although I'd filled it to the top I hadn't clocked that it was a relatively small tank and I'd been motoring hard against wind and tide for at least 3 hours.

The first sudden change of direction about 12nm in shows where this happened.  Without the motor the waves were pulling the boat up short and on the other tack I had too much sail out.  There was no choice, I had to change the jib for smaller one and reef in the main again.  I tied myself to the boat and once at the front laid down as the boat was pitching all over the place. Apart from getting dunked a few times the sail change went well and with the reduce sail the passage was much more comfortable.
As well as running out of petrol the battery gave up as well, this caused me some concern as it was going to be dark by the time I got back to Poole. As the afternoon moved on the wind and waves decreased and I was able to change sails back again.  Jelly Bean was showing me that she knew best as every time I touched the tiller we slowed, if I left her to her own devices she just ploughed on as quick as she could.
As I got nearer to Poole I went below to get my camping lantern, I thought it better to be showing some light rather than no light.  As I popped my head below I saw something flashing red. I picked it up and realised it was some LED bike lights that I'd bought from Tescos several years ago before I even had power on the boat. Tesco were doing an LED bike light set were the back light was red and the front light was green? I'd bought them as emergency nav lights and forgotten about them. I lashed them to the cleats on the mast facing out at roughly the right angle and hung the lantern off the pushpit as a make shift stern light.
I entered Poole harbour just as the tide was turn which helped me in past the chain ferry and I was soon on my mooring.

I'd had a testing few days but had also enjoyed them immensely.  I had never felt scared or in danger.  I had been presented with problems, some my own doing, and had had to overcome them.  The wee Fantasie has shown once again that she is a better boat than I am a sailor and I felt looked after so long as I didn't ask too much.
Now wouldn't it be nice to just have a pleasant summer sail with a warm F3 blowing on the beam all day long until you moor up to a free quay side and a pub with well kept complimentary real Ale..