Breaking news! Excalibur has left the Solent!

I headed down to Lymington on Friday night, and met Trina at The Angel & Blue Pig for rice and peas, and chicken in a big mushroom #poshfoodgonewrong

Lymington has a distinct lack of taxis it transpired. On a Friday night in town we couldn’t get one single taxi, so had to navigate our way to the marina ladened with heavy bags and 4 metres of medium duty suction hose for the new bilge pump. Should have brought Ted the trolley!

The next morning we left at 11am. I was a tad stressed. I didn’t feel 100% prepared, and knew we’d have a bit of a bouncy ride getting out of the Solent. We popped a couple of sea sickness pills and took off.

We left bound for Studland bay, wind of the nose, F5. Maydays and pan pans were going off over the radio, but that seems to be just a regular day out in the Solent. Engine failures seem to be the main thing around here.

A bloody great big rain cloud engulfed us as we were heading past Hurst Castle. The rain came down sideways, and part of me was tempted to turn back as there was no way of knowing if this was it for the rest of the day, or just a passing cloud of misery. We persevered and eventually the torrential rain cloud of misery moved on, and was someone else’s problem.

 

 

We did a little woop as we ventured out of the Solent. Another little milestone in our journey. I didn’t expect to stay in Gosport for so long, so it felt great to finally push on.

After about 4/5 hours we headed into Studland Bay and dropped anchor. After all our bouncing around it was pure bliss to be anchored in flat calm waters. We enjoyed an Ibiza style sunset with a bottle of wine from Peter Osbornes Fine Wines and some sunset tunes.

Trina’s quote of the evening was ‘I wish I had a review mirror so I could see the sunset and the moon rising at the same time. It was pretty magical.

We slept soundly, the anchor held well. I woke up at 5am and peaked out of the hatch to see a beautiful sunrise.

We left our anchorage without any woes, and were soon sailing. We had 15-20 knots, so we got all the sails up and raced along on a close reach, watching other boats to see when they were going to tack and head back into land.

It’s been such a long time since Excalibur’s had a real good romp, we had her toe rail under the water at times, and we were healed right over. Going down below was a joke. I think we’ll need to consider installing some kind of zip wire to the heads in the future 🙂 I remember Ollie suggesting Excalibur might benefit from a few more grab handles, at the time I didn’t think she did, but I’ve already decided to install two on the inside of the doorway in the heads, so I can wrench myself off the loo next time.

We ventured out further than the other boats before tacking back into land. We pretty much nailed it, and were set on a direct course for Weymouth. Thanks to a strong tide no doubt, we even topped 8.2 knots at one stage!

 

We both took turns napping, and before long dropped the sails and motored in cautiously, as we couldn’t quite make out where the entrance was (to us it looked like there were two entrances side by side!).

Once through the entrance, the river leads you through the town, with boats rafted up left and right. It was a bit of a novelty motoring through the town. I’m not sure we were expecting such a nice entrance, with multi coloured Georgian buildings lining the river. We pulled in just short of the town bridge, and had an hour and a half wait. The rivers pretty narrow (for me) and the visitors pontoon pretty short (for me), so I was quite thankful that we were the first on the visitors pontoon. We celebrated with a beer, and soon after we were joined with more maneuverable boats than us, looking to take their place on the waiting pontoon. Whilst waiting, I spotted a massive catamaran creep along the river towards us. As a small boat the last thing you need is a boat twice your length and width squashing you up against the pontoon. But the conditions were very calm, and after a plea not to squash poor Excalibur, we helped them with their lines to shore. Their boat peter peter was barely touching Excalibur so we were all fine. We had a good chat, the boat had been around the world once, and was in their back garden up in Twickenham for a while, so we had lots to talk about. They were heading to the Isles of Scilly. They also run a sailmakers in Las Palmas, so we may bump into them again the future 🙂

 

After an hour the bridge opened and everyone raced in. We were the last in, which is fine by me, and with the engine in neutral we pretty much just drifted in. Everyone in front of us had found their berth by the time we came along. The wind then picked up a bit as we approached our berth, and unfortunately the wind was on our port, and we were port to, meaning my first approach was bound to fail. Luckily the marina staff helped out, and in the end we turned round and basically sat T-boned next to a boat, whilst someone pulled her in with the bow line.

I recall seeing a boat do something similar in Las Palmas, from a distance it looks like a total cockup, but the crew took it easy and it all worked out in the end. I did a bit of a dance around the boat like a cat on hot coals, making sure we didn’t hit anyone, but the boat wasn’t going anywhere fast, and before long we were in our spot and tied up. Huge thanks to the staff. Next time I know to just motor past, spin around and then let the wind work in our favour instead of against us. But after a long days sail, sometimes brain and skipper are not always in sync.

After tying up we headed to the beach for fish and chips, or for Trina, chips, gravy and mushy peas. Yuk!

We had an early night, and awoke at 5am to catch the train back to London. We stepped over a man in a Parker asleep on the pontoon, with one hand holding out a fishing rod, and the other clutching a bag of birthday presents. Quite a bizarre sight, plus the poor guy had one lonely crab in his bucket.

I was interviewed by a smiley man at 5:45am from BBC Solent once we arrived at the trainstation, about the Waterloo station crisis we were apparently about to be subjected to. He had a few useless soundbites from me, and the crisis never appeared, so at least one of us should have stayed in bed.

So Excalibur is out of the Solent! woohoo! Next stop, who knows. Somewhere past the infamous Portland Bill. The train journeys are getting longer and more costly, but we’ll be on holiday soon, and into new territory, so that’s exciting.

 

 

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