trip logs

Trip Log: Yarmouth to Gosport

DBfE5dbXUAAmMxYWith the Yarmouth Gaffer festival in full swing, we had to reluctantly depart. As soon as Alice had raced her Log boat, with the help of the Berthing Master’s RIB, we swung free of the rafted boats and dodged the incoming ferry. We left at that time to catch the flood tide which, combined with the stiff F6 W breeze, swept us along at over 6kts on staysail only. As we passed Cowes, we made directly for Gilkicker Point, which not only was the most direct course but took us out of the main shipping channel. We watched gigantic Cunard liner Queen Victoria wove its way towards Southampton and no less that three more made their way out. The wind was less by Gilkicker Point, so we put upreffed main and sailed into Portsmouth. All in all, a very pleasing end to our trip and we were in plenty of time for a walk into Gosport for a very welcome meal out.

Thanks to Steve Mitchell (@BlackJacksGaff) for our departure shot.

18.4nm in 3h40min; avg speed 5kts

events, trip logs

Trip Log: Cowes to Yarmouth

After a lay-day in Cowes, we caught the ebb tide down to Yarmouth. This involved an early start (ropes off 7.30), but we got away in time to catch nearly two knots of West-flowing tide. This was just as well because the wind did not fill in very much, so we had a very quiet and gentle sail past Newtown Creek. As Cowes slipped behind us, we could see a number of other gaffers making their way to a large gathering in Yarmouth (“YoGaff”). 

We trailed a buoy on a warp and Alice enjoyed a swim alongside the boat; although we were making over 3kts over the ground, speed through the water  was slow enough for Alice to easily swim against. It became a gloriously warm and sunny day, as the sun broke through the early morning mist, so made for a most enjoyable sail. We arrived at Yarmouth with plenty of time before lunch for pottering around the beach; initially we were placed in a visitor berth, but we soon made arrangements to join in with the gaffer event. Formailities over, we wandered around the picturesque town, as the large fleet of gaffers assembled.

Over 100 boats were arriving, each decked out in colourful pennants. The central part of the harbour was taken over, with boats rafting 3 or 4 deep. The boats ranged from modern gaffers (our Cape Cutter, Crabbers and Shrimpers, Yarmouth) to genuinely old gaffers. Time for welcoming beers and a barbecue, followed by a perfect sunset and an early retirement before the events begin tomorrow.

trip logs

Trip log: Portsmouth to East Cowes

This was a trip of several firsts. It was the first time we arrived at Gosport with Aurora ready on her mooring. It was also the fist time I have been to Cowes, but more of that later. We arrived at the club about an hour later than we should have done, and there was some doubt in my mind as to whether there was enough water to get Aurora off the mooring onto a pontoon berth. So, there was a comedy dinghy episode, in which the under-inflated Aurelia was rather more bendy than she should have been, almost leading to me losing the oars whilst the outboard tilted the dinghy transom to an interesting angle. I also spent about 10 minutes trying to work out how to tilt the new outboard engine. The final challenge was my discovery that the centre plate was jammed. No amount of tugging or rattling would convince it to drop. I left it cleated with only a little slack, so that if it suddenly decided to drop, it would not whack the centre board casing. Aurora was eventually on a pontoon berth and we went out for a Chinese meal- surprisingly few options in Gosport at 9pm on a (Bank Holiday) Monday evening. Alice and I spent the night on the boat, whilst Niki and Aimee preferred to sleep in the van.

Our plan for this trip was to work our way West to Yarmouth, but this didn’t fit easily with the Southwesterlies forecast for the next few days. However with little wind forecast for tomorrow I decided we should take it on the nose. The mouth of Portsmouth harbour was busy as usual with its complement of ferries, hovercraft, power boats and yachts. We missed a trick and sailed out towards the channel- there was enough water for us to have kept close to the shore, which would have saved us from a couple of large tacks, as well as the foul tide. We beat our way along the shore, past Gilkicker Point and as far as Lee-on-Solent, before we tacked away. It was only at this point that we were committed to the Island; till we tacked, we could have continued to Southampton or the Hamble.

The crossing was rather wet, as the F4/5 SW picked up a chop, and we used Henry Honda to keep out momentum up. I had hoped that the centre plate would drop down at some point, as the motion of the boat shook the plate. I tried jerking its line too, all to no avail. We eventually arrived at East Cowes with the plate still stuck up. It did not affect the handling of the boat too much. With lass weight down, she heeled a little more and heeled in gusts more quickly. I dare say we also slid more to leeward (or was the struggle to wind more to do with my helming?). I was quite grateful that the approach to the marina berth was straightforward, as manuevering under engine (especIlly in reverse) is much more difficult without the centre plate. That will be a job for tomorrow…

Distance travelled 15.4nm. Avg speed 3.5kts

trip logs

Afloat again

10th April 2017

Today was launch day for a new season. This year is a new departure for us and rather than launching and recovering after each trip, we have taken a mooring in Gosport to see if we can get more weekend trips. We still plan to travel with the boat too, but our new mooring will give us a chance to explore more of the Solent area.

Last season was distinctly thin, with a lack of tow vehicle, but with our new “bus”, we are back in business!

Today’s launch went really well, with enthusiastic help from Alice, and we had the boat in the water an hour and a half after arriving at the club. We will be needing some new kit, not least an outboard for our dinghy, as the mooring is some way from the slip. 

Tomorrow’s project is to fit the mooring gear to the buoy…

trip logs

Cape Cutter week 2016- day 6

We passed a restless night on the pontoon at Wootton Creek; with a strong breeze from the North creating a confused swell in the normally calm harbour. The boats had tossed crazily for most of the evening and it was not easy to go to sleep. However calm fell as the tide ebbed and the boats settled into the mud. By the time the incoming tide floated the fleet again, the wind had dropped and we were greeted by a much calmer morning. 

Fortified by an excellent cooked breakfast provided by Royal Victoria Yacht Club, we left Wootton on the top of high water and aimed at first towards Portsmouth, which was a close fetch against the tide, with minimal avoidance of traffic needed, once we had moved out of the Wightlink ferry route. 

Reaching the fort close to Southsea, we turned for “the dolphin”, which marks the passage through a long obstruction from the shore (a relic of previous defences from wartime submarine attack on Portsmouth). At this point, the fleet were well spread out, which became further exaggerated as the wind became lighter and more variable. 

We reached the mouth of Chichester harbour at the end of the ebb with what little wind there was on the nose, so we motored laboriously against the strong current over the shallow water st the bar. 

The first four boats then anchored at East Head to allow the children to swim and we had a cup of tea as we watched as the rest of the fleet arrive, one by one. 

Arriving at Chichester marina, we then just had time for a brief ablution, before a meal and prize giving by Mike Brooke. A very pleasant end to a regatta, which has been highly successful despite some challenging weather conditions.


events, trip logs

Cape Cutter week 2016: Day 5

After a very windy night, we awoke to the same NNE f6 breeze this morning. The voyage planned for today was a relatively short hop around the island from Bembridge, past Ryde to Wootton Creek. Niki decided to take the land route with Alice, via Monkey World, and caught a bus. I did not have full confidence in Henry Honda, but he started well and ran smoothly in gear at full throttle on the pontoon, so I was reassured.

Aimee took us out of the harbour and it was nice to hear her shout to me “warps and fenders away please”, rather than the other way around. The wind was blowing straight into the harbour mouth  tide, creating rather lumpy conditions. We departed expecting this, with washboards in, but this proved unnecessary. We took a port tack past St Helens fort to give us enough offing, before tacking and allowing the tide to scoop us along the island. Once we were past the outer Ryde sands buoy, we were able to ease off. We carried double-reefed main and staysail the whole way and made excellent time, with  Aimee at the helm. There was a fair bit of shipping to avoid, including the fast cat and hovercraft to Ryde.

Wootton Creek is home to both the Wight Link car ferry and also Royal Victoria Yacht Club, the latter being our hosts tonight. We had been warned that the ferries do not give way to yachts and, sure enough a ferry was leaving, just as we entered the channel. Aimee took us head to wind out of the channel and we took the sails down as the car ferry passed us. The wind was blowing straight into the creek and the water was ebbing, so it was challenging to moor on the pontoon, but with many hands the fleet of ten boats were soon moored safely.

Once the housekeeping was done, there was time for a pint in the club and then a walk through the woods before pie night at the Yacht Club.

events, trip logs

Cape Cutter week 2016: day 4

Yesterday the wind prevented us from sailing, so we had a lay day during which Mike Brooke gave us the benefit of his considerable knowledge of military history as we toured HMS Victory and the Mary Rose mini exhibition (the Mary Rose herself was closed for restoration work). 

Having made alterations to the catering, the Cape Cutter week programme had been put back a day. So it was that we made an early departure from Emsworth en route to go “foreign” and visit the Isle of Wight. 

As the tide crept up the pontoon, the fleet of eleven Cape Cutters left in turn, as soon as each was afloat. We ran dead downwind on double-reefed main and staysail down the Emsworth channel to Hayling Island Yach club and the mouth of Chichester harbour. We were joined by Moth from Chichester, but sadly not Salty Dog or Halcyon, both of whom had technical problems. 

As we entered the Solent and turned further West, we found ourselves in a lovely training run, with speeds of between 5.5 and 6.5 kit for the whole passage. As was usual for running, it did not seem windy until our arrival into Bembridge harbour. With the help of many hands to help, we were soon tied up for a restful afternoon as the squalls blew through.