Portsmouth – Folly Inn – Chichester

Friday

I headed back to Royal Clarence on the Friday as I had to move the boat. Despite being told I was in someones berth, they had rented the berth out to another visiting yachtsman. I was a little chuffed off with all the moving around.

I went to pay up for my stay. Wyn who was running the show that day apologised for the kerfuffle as soon as I turned up. He explained that because the marina doesn’t have any visitor berths, they have to play musical chairs and place visiting yachtsman in bertholders berths whilst they’re out. This all made sense, and the berth I was in was to be allocated back to the bertholder that day and not to another visitor. An explanation and an apology was warmly received, sometimes just knowing why is suffice.

Wyn regaled me with his boating background, big waves and boat building stories. Top chap!

Once again it was blowing a hooey. I wonder when my brain will phase out the sound of wind screaming through the rigging.

I took off the warps that were slack, and left the stern and left a spring on. The wind was going to blow me off the pontoon as soon as I let go, and the tide was going to help too. I managed to squeeze a foot of clearance, with the stern hanging out. I waited and waited for a lull in the wind, or a passerby to offer a hand. Eventually a lull came, and quickly went for it.

Some of the most stressful times seem to be getting in and out of marinas.

I pottered round to Gosport marina, and got Excalibur in with little grace, but she was in.

The staff at Gosport marina are excellent, they were friendly and helpful. The P1 speed boat race was on over the weekend, so the marina was full of shiny sports machines!

Saturday

Trina turned up, and we departed for Cowes after filling up with diesel at 2pm

My biggest fear was making a balls up of our exit from Portsmouth. After the previous week I couldn’t face any further cockups, all was good though and we left unscathed.

We used the inner swashway to exit Portsmouth, lining up the war memorial and the yellow building as a guide.

The wind was on the nose so we slammed our way to Cowes, occasionally with a bit of genoa,

We passed East Cowes and headed for the Folly pontoons that float in the river. Graham on a dory guided us in, and once more had to moor the boat whilst simultaneously being blown off. Good practice!

The Folly was all booked up for dinner so we ate on board and then headed over in the evening.

At first we couldn’t tell if it was Karaoke night or not. As soon as it got dark everyone was on the tables, from 18th birthday parties, to old salty sailors, to a woman slut dropping on the table for her man, it was Saturday night, the kids were with the babysitter, dancing on ice was on record and Carol was GOING TO PARTY!

For anyone wondering what a slut drop is, here’s someone off a show called Loose Women performing a slut drop (work safe)…

The only other notable event that happened was after coming out of the loo. I caught a truly shocking event take place. An old man walked past Trina, she raised an eyebrow and a smile, to which he stopped and began chatting to her. I held back and watched from a distance, we exchanged the finger at each other, blatantly she had realised her mistake and he wasn’t about to leave anytime soon haha

Eventually I  joined in an and prolonged the conversation. Kruger, or whatever his name was had the voice of the Devil himself, a voice so gravelly and dark he could have been in a Stephen King adaptation.

Here’s a spot on impression of Kruger and a few quotes.

 

We took the water taxi back, only just. We didn’t bring any cash and the cash machine was faulty. I found £10 and promised to forward on the rest.

Sunday

On Sunday we left at 12pm, it was a bit of a rush.

I managed to get the main up whilst still tied up.

Just as we were leaving a sailor next to us started up a conversation. A cat owner had come out of Portsmouth two hours before us on Saturday and experienced 40 knots of wind!! We had substantially less than that. I would have turned round and spent the weekend in the idyllic town of Gosport if that had happened to us!

Once out of the Medina we had a cracking sail towards Chichester. Excalibur can really move when she wants to, and we clocked a whopping 7.5knots SOG  (with the tide of course). even with 2 reefs in the main.

We held our nerve as the Isle of Wight ferry made a beeline for us as we sailed across its track

 

Yesterdays naff wind on the nose was definitely worth the pain to be rewarded with a days sail like this.

It was a roly poly approach to the bar, wind from astern, waves from an entirely different direction.

I was very relieved to get over the bar and into Chichester Harbour.

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We tootled up to the entrance of Chichester marina. The wind was howling (once again) as we tried to take down the main. The main halyard had got itself wrapped under about 4 turns around the winch. I know one technique is to use another halyard to take the pressure off the winch, but this was impossible as the main was fully raised. I took a knife to it and cut the halyard. No bother, these things happen and I really need to change the topping lift halyard anyhow as it’s stiff and old 😉

We had a bit more practice getting onto visitor pontoons and into berths with the wind blowing us off, actually that was the theme for the entire weekend. As long as everything is done in the right order then its not a problem, which it did. A little bit of inner pride may have come through as a smile or a nod once we got in. Any time Excalibur gets into a marina safe and sound I’m super happy.

Excalibur is getting some work done by Navigators in Chichester. The Hydrovane will be installed this week, two stanchions replaced as I failed to drill out the screws which are seized into the aluminium plate between the deck. The stern gland is also going be restuffed, as it’s dripping all the time now.

The next morning we headed back to London for work. Slightly bemused by Chichester’s segregated waiting room..

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A week later

I headed down with my folks and had a potter around the marina, Dell Quay and Birdham Pool.

Walking around the boat yard at Birdham felt quite surreal, almost ghostly. It was only about 4/5 years ago I was there last, and a lot has happened since then.

 

I could almost see Excalibur up on the hard. Ben monkeying around on the boat 🙂 Conversations with lockkeepers who have sadly now past on. A guy who was restoring a wooden boat, ready to start a new adventure in the Med. Oliver and Carlotta were starting their first year in the Caribbean.

I think with all these memories its wise not to spend too much time pondering the past as it feels mighty strange.

I can’t wait to move further west than Cowes, this will in my mind signal the beginning of a new adventure as I’ve never sailed further west than this in Excalibur. Time to make some new memories!!

Author: Tim Butler

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