As the title suggests, this was not  a successful holiday 🙁 grr

Saturday evening I had to clear up my logistical mess from the previous weekend, and pick the car from Gosport and head to Chichester to pick up some bits from the boat and drop a few bits off.

I met up with Paddy who was on a weeks jolly on Polikara for burgers and beers that evening, and swapped sailing stories. We bid each other a farewell the next morning as Paddy returned to Brighton, and I ventured back to Reading.

Tuesday morning was to be the start of a two week holiday, eyes set on the Channel Islands, or sailing further west were on the cards.

The trains were screwed, which made my boat Sherpa trip a bit more challenging.

I met Trina as the station and we headed to the boat in glorious sunshine, taxi packed to the brim with food supplies and Trina’s birthday presents.

We decided to take it easy and stayed in Chichester that evening, and celebrated Trina’s birthday by taking her new birthday roller blades out for a spin.

Another birthday present also made an appearence, one that I was quite dubious about buying at first. A request for a manual food processor was made, and after seeing an onion diced up into tiny its after 4 pulls I can now see why. Here’s what it did to some peppers that needed chopping for evening fajitas.

That evening the sky filled with thunder and lightening. We took our chances sitting on the bow under my parasol, and watched the evenings lightening show.

And so began a familiar set of events for the rest of the week.

We awoke to a soggy miserable morning, with gusty winds and sideways rain. We poured over the forecasts, but knowing what we’d be faced with we opted to call it a boat job day.

Trina cleaned the heads from top to bottom with a toothbrush. Fixed a bathroom cabinet, and spent the rest of the day making a net to keep items in the cabinet from falling out, that turned into a nightmare job I wish I hadn’t suggested (felt pretty bad about that). I got to work on my saloon table prototype that’s still in the early stages of development. All the lockers under the saloon seating got unpacked and repacked, as was the same for the cockpit lockers. I’ve now managed to free up 3 big lockers, in preparation for next years trip. I’m determined to keep them clear!

That evening the rain cleared, so we took Ted the trolley packed with bbq food, birthday prosecco and suitcase camping stove, and had ourselves a nice little dinner on a pebbled beach to ourselves.

The next day we awoke to….sideways rain. We looked at the weather forecast, and eventually came to the agreement that another boat day was to be had.

Trina cleaned the galley from top to bottom with a toothbrush. I emptied more lockers, cleaned out the forepeak and packed away a bag of odds and sods into the forepeak locker.

Excalibur now has in the forepeak locker a spare main, a high cut no.2 jib (I believe) and a lighter weight jib, metres and metres of rope, from spare old sheets, to 3 strand mooring lines, there’s also a spare CQR anchor, that I don’t expect we’ll be needing for some time.

Other important jobs included making a place to store the skateboard in the forepeak.

We chatted about what sort of stuff we want to take away with us on our travels, and what we’d like to get out of next years adventure. I think we both agreed that simply visiting places as a tourist wont quite cut it. We want to do more eat and drink our way around the Caribbean. My main ambition broadly is to learn to play musical instruments, and perhaps this will be a way to connect with people on our trip. There’s also been talk of producing a podcast. I’m not keen on making a sailing YouTube blog as it’s way to time consuming to produce and curate videos, though do expect a few videos here and there. I’m still anti-drone, mainly because I find them invasive and the noise they produce just pisses me off, buuuut perhaps we might get one and use it when we’re on our own..

So essential non-boaty items I’ll be packing will be fiddles, banjos and guitars. Trina who’s an avid bookworm has hinted that we’ll need at least a months worth of books onboard, so I’m finding more places to screw in these net holders around the boat to carry our floating library. We’ll also be carrying some art supplies. Other recreational items will include a spear gun for fishing, snorkels, and arm bands for me (unless I learn to swim by this time next year).

Looking ahead at the weather forecast, we decided to can the holiday and head back to work the following week. I think if we hadn’t had such glorious sunny weather before our holidays we may have persevered, but these are the choices you have to make.

I admit I’m a cautious sailor. Unless there’s a reason to push it and get out, I’d rather work on the boat and leave it to a brighter day. Each day we’ve looked at the forecast, there’s been a spell of heavy rain, sometimes fluctuating from 7.5mm to 12.5mm! winds gusting to 35mph, coming from the direction we wish to head in. Frustrating as it is, sailings supposed to be enjoyable, and there’s little you can do about the weather.

Friday morning, little bit of sunshine, then more rain. Trina put down the toothbrush, and we worked on installing a new, mighty bilge pump.

Cue the almighty Rule 4000 and Rule Superswitch float switch! The bilge pump is completely oversized for Excalibur, and garnered shocked gasps when I revealed I needed a 2″ hose in a chandlery for a bilge pump, the assistant didn’t stock hoses that big, and was even more shocked when I said it was for a 30ft boat (and not the QE2). I have a fellow sailing friend Dan to thank, he put me on to this monstrosity, and given the price difference between this beast and something smaller, it really didn’t seem worth cutting back on the pump. I think I paid £160 for this incredibly powerful bilge pump, and as it could be a potential lifesaving piece of a equipment I decided to go for it.

We used a bit of starboard (Dave I owe you), and screwed down the pump and switch to the base, we then attached a long vertical piece of teak, which will be screwed into the oil drip tray. I still need to get the piping, and the Rule bilge pump switch needs replacing as I wasn’t able to get the fuse holder out (the plastic just shredded).

Here’s a video of the pump running anyhow.

We decided Saturday would be the best of all the days to go out. Sunny in the morning, rain forecasted later on.

After paying a fair chunk of money for 2 weeks mooring, my main memories of my stay in Chichester comprise of grumpy lock keepers, rain, wind, and finding out after paying up we could have got a deal whereby if you stay 5 nights you get 2 free. So fair to say I don’t wish to go back for some time.

We left Chichester on freeflow for minimal interaction with lockkeeper.

Anyhow, we were off. The skies were grey, spitting with rain. We passed Eric the Viking taking a couple out to see if they fancied the sailing life.

We saw a dinghy do a last minute 180 degree spin as it nearly careered into a the yacht in front, who hadn’t given way. The yacht jumped like a cat seeing a cucumber. We also saw a seal.

We got the main up before heading out, 3 reefs in. Here’s a vid of us coming out over the bar..

There’s not much else to say to be honest. Trina succumbed to seasickness after making a cup of tea as we bounced our way over Chichester bar (grr to sea sickness! luckily no fish were fed). We were hoping to get to Lymington, but decided to call it a day as we neared Cowes. The weather was foul. We got into East Cowes and warmed up, in bloody July! with baked beans on toast.

The rain didn’t abate, and soaked us through on the ferry as we headed to Cowes for dinner.

The next morning we sat and had breakfast in the cockpit whilst overhearing a sunsail instructor chat to his students. We all watched one cocky muppet reverse out of a berth at a crazy speed, fortunate for him his wife managed to slip the bow line just in time.

Then came our turn to get out. Unfortunately for us, we would need to reverse out against the incoming tide, with the wind wishing to blow us into a culdesac of rusty corrugated fencing. I spent a good few minutes debating how to get out, scrolling through Excalibur’s you’ve been framed mooring archive of cluster fucks, to determine what could happen. So what we did in the end was to keep the bow line on, and let the tide and wind swing the boat 180 degrees to face the direction we wanted to go in. There’s nothing more nerve racking than performing this maneuver for the first time, with a yacht instructor and his boat watching. Luckily for us everything worked out fine, and we overheard the yacht instructor praising our actions ‘letting nature do the work for us’.

We set out for Lymington, wind against tide, on the nose. We bashed our way to Lymington, the genoa wouldn’t furl the last scrap of cloth, so we called ahead and asked to get a berth that would allow us to get blown on to. My folks met us at the other end for a Sunday roast in the Ship Inn. The heavens opened and the wind howled as we rushed to pack the boat up and get on home.

End of holiday.

We’ll try our luck again in August, and squeeze in some long weekend between now and then. At the very least Excalibur is becoming more and more prepared for what adventures await.

Next time, we’ll aim for Poole or Weymouth. Funny to think how small our ambitions are some days. We’re talking just a few nautical miles, next year it’ll be a few hundred or a thousand…

…………and I would just like to mention (not that anyone reads this), how bloody awesome Dan and Dave are for sailing up to Norway and the Orkneys, and for making the national, well international press for assisting Dan’s friend in doing a slack line along the Old Man of Hoy!………and for both of them sailing back singlehanded. Makes my pisspot antics in the Solent sound like a walk in the park. Well done guys!

Author: Tim Butler

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