Sailing to Chi for a wedding

The plan for the long weekend was to sail to Chichester on the Friday, get in, wash and chang and head off to Tinwood vinyard for some pre-wedding drinks for Trina’s best friends wedding.

Harvey was free and was up for a short jolly to Chi, and turned up for an early 7am start. By the time I got the boat ship shape it was 8ish. I made a rookie mistake and forgot to turn on the raw water valve after giving the basket a rinse. I could tell something wasn’t right, but it did take a bit of time to realise what was wrong. The impeller was mincemeat, and after a quick change we were ready to go.

Harves lost a fender just as we were leaving the marina, we tried swinging around but it was drifting towards the big pier which a cargo ship was moored up to. We zipped out of the marina and doubled back on the other side, picking it up whilst border force motored by with a smile on their faces. One fender was retrieved, and no apologies were necessary (I did the same the other week with Trina).

The wind was light, and the sails went up, the genoa out, and after a while I thought I’d try my luck again with the cruising shoot. I rigged it all up as before, but for some reason the funnel would get stuck 1/4 of the way up. Shall have to lay it out on a pontoon for a full inspection before our hols.

The sun was out in full force, blue skies, perfect day not to be in the office. We felt it was only right to wish one of my colleagues a happy Friday with a picture of us having a morning. My pictures were not very well received.

I decided because it was HW that we should head through the submarine barrier. I haven’t crossed the barrier since my day skipper some years ago, but logic told me we’d be fine at HW.The trip thereon to Chi marina was uneventful and pleasant. My entrance into the lock was a bit of a shambles, but we got in and ended up in a berth like a pro.

Kay came and met us once we were in. Unfortunately I had to rush off to these pre-wedding drinks and couldn’t hang about very long.

The drinks and the wedding were a lot of fun. I managed to thumb a lift from the marina to town which I was pretty chuffed about, but thought asking to be dropped off at Goodwood Hotel a step too far. Staying on the boat in Chi is pretty amazing, full of wildlife and super quiet. Come Sunday we were exhausted, but we were in the best place to relax with a hangover, freshly squeezed orange juice, mugs of tea and bacon sarnies, before heading off to post wedding drinks!

Trina left for a shoot on Sunday evening.

I got out the hammock out in the evening and tested out a new position overlooking the cockpit. The sun was slowing setting and I fell asleep to Dylan LeBlanc playing over Spotify. Possibly the most chilled out evening I’ve had for a very very very long time!

My plan on the Monday morning was to get up super super early and head back to Gosport single handed, as I planned to work from home that day, or technically from the boat.

I haven’t done any single handed journeys since coming in from Brighton last year, so I ran through my checklist of things to prepare before I set off. Flask check, autopilot in cockpit check, mobile phone check, shore power disconnected…..check! etc etc.

I got out my berth without any issues, though the night before my neighbour said a lot of people have bumped him in the past. It was a tight spot!

I wasn’t sure how I’d tie up in the lock as they normally throw two lines down, and with two people you both just hold on, one at the stern one at the bow. Single handed I wasn’t sure how this would work, but I had a plan. The lock keeper was very helpful, and whilst I took the stern line he pulled me in by a shroud and put a rope through it. We discussed about it being low water, and he said he’d drop me down and see how much water there was, but perhaps I might have to sit on the visitors pontoon for a little while. I thought the channel was dredged, and didn’t think being low water would be a problem. My mistake. Once lowered it was apparent there really wasn’t any water, and the lock keeper was hesitant. I apologised for not doing my homework basically, and agreed it would be best to head back to my berth for a few hours. Up Excalibur went. Once back up at marina level, another lock keeper came out and said “You lot never check your tides!” I thought he was being jovial in nature and laughed, to which he replied in a grumpy voice “its a waste of money and energy!”, realising he wasn’t being jovial at all and just plain rude, I stood my ground and said I had already apologised, “are you ready?!”  he said (to cast off) “NO!” I said firmly. With no wind, and a rude member of staff at the lock I just backed out the best I could. Excalibur doesn’t go astern in a straight line, so I’ve never gone very far in reverse, but I just managed to get out. I shook my head at the rude encounter. At 6:30 in the morning the last thing I needed was a telling off, and when I consider a large proportion of my income goes to premier marinas, I was pretty bloody pissed off for the rest of the day.

Anyhow, I got back into my berth without anymore drama. My neighbour very kindly gave me a lift into Chichester. On the way in he confessed that when he first came to Chichester, he was known as the bumper boat, and when he heard someone mutter ‘here comes the bumper boat’ on day, he thought it best to live up to his new found reputation, and gave them a bit of a nudge when turning into his berth. I like this guy! Though I hope to be out before he makes a move!

So for now the boat is in Chichester, the car is in Gosport, the house hasn’t moved, and next weekend I’ve have a whole host of logistical challenges to face.

Oh and I found this by the bins. I admit I can be a bit of a pikey at times. I think I can make some use out of it. I think its to store signal flags, but I might use it for storing pasta. Joke!


Author: Tim Butler

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