A sail around the Isle of Wight

I arrived in Beaulieu in my folks campervan with Trina.

The plan was to take the folks out on Saturday for a little jolly, and then early Sunday morning sail around the Isle of Wight with Trina.

It was mums birthday on Monday so what better way to celebrate by pottering down the River Beaulieu, and out into the Solent in October, in the rain. Well you can’t have it all. Before long, everyone was down below whilst I helmed in the rain, drinking prosecco and raising a glass to soaked sailors heading back in. This was the second time mum came out, the first time was on Moonpenny when the engine failed on the Thames, and this was the third trip out for dad. I really want to take them out on a nice sunny day, with enough wind to sail on a flat sea. That time will come.

We came back and got the heating on as quickly as possible. Trina’s homemade lasagne came out, along with party hats and a refined Brexit chat.

I think Beaulieu is one of the most beautiful places I’ve sailed to so far. Absolutely stunning.

I had a pretty bad nights sleep that night, images of swirling whirlpools, Excalibur being carried out to sea past the needles on a ferocious tide. I had read horror stories of boats making their way west, meeting terrible seas around the needles, and submerging into waves. The following morning I lay in bed, debating whether or not to get up. The last thing anyone wants to do on a fresh Sunday morning at 5:45am is to get out of bed. I ran through some alternatives for the day ie walks in the New Forest, or cycling, horse riding, pretty much anything other than sailing.

I opened the forepeak hatch, and the morning was so still. Sod it, lets do it! Grumbling away I got up and cursed under my breath as to why anyone would get up at such an ungodly hour voluntarily. I often question why the fuck, why the fuck, why the fuck would someone opt to sail in a circle for 12 hours, why the fuck would someone opt to sail in autumn instead of relaxing in front of fire in the warmth of a cosy house.

Anyhow, we got our arses into gear and got going. The time between getting up and slipping your lines is pretty special, its special because time disappears in a blink of an eye, and before you know it you’re late, your timetables gone to shit, and you’re backing out of your berth with the shore power still attached whilst brushing your teeth, wearing one welly and your salopettes around your ankles. We didn’t quite leave in that manner, but we did have to gun it for the bar. We sped along the river to a beautiful sunrise, which helped make up for the lunacy of our plan to sail an island.

We got over the bar exactly 2 hours after HW, which is the max time stated in the shell pilot for boats drawing 1.9m, so not a problem for us tbh.

The main went up, genoa out, engine off, kettle on.

We arrived at the needles bang on time, just as the westerly tide ceased, and the easterly tide set in to take us around the southern side of the island. We were one of very few out on the water.

The tide taking us through the needles caused us no issues. The sea was flat, and we had enough wind to sail. Perfect.

I took a nap whilst Trina helmed.

There was a lot of disturbed water around St Catherines point (the southern most point of the Isle of Wight) as I took over. We headed out to avoid being bumped around.

As we started to round the eastern end the wind was on the nose. Trina’s lasagne wasn’t sitting well on either of us. We had done well. I whacked the engine on and we motored the rest of the way to Gosport. We got in as the sun was setting.

Although it was an early start, we had made the most of the day from sunrise to sunset, a satisfying end to the day. That’s why we do it 🙂

Question now is what to do with Excalibur. I had ambitious plans to end up in Falmouth for the winter, though it was only a rough plan. Winter rates in Gosport are very attractive, and a hell of a lot cheaper compared to what I’ve been spending over the summer. For example, 2 weeks in Beaulieu was about £360, but now a month in Gosport is £220. Compared to a 12 month berth in St Kats, the summer rates per month were a couple of hundred pounds more in the Solent, however the winter rates are about £400 cheaper, roughly speaking. So I’m hoping berthing costs will level out now.

I’m happy to move on from the Solent now, as I’ve been to the following this summer:

  • Chichester
  • Gosport (numerous times)
  • Bembridge
  • Cowes (both East Cowes and The Folly)
  • Yarmouth x2
  • Newtown Creek x2
  • Lymington
  • Hamble
  • Beulieu
  • Loop around the Isle of Wight

apart from Wooton creek, I’ve ticked off all the places in the Solent that were on my hit list.

Weather, time and berthing fees will all play their part as to what I do next. I could call it a day for winter and get some much needed work done on Excalibur whilst the winter rates are cheap, or find out how competitive the marinas are in Poole, which will be my next stop.



Author: Tim Butler

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