Passage 45, Studland bay to Beaulieu
A day of mixed emotions which I will reveal, if you don’t mind, as the day’s story is told. Suffice to say that, from the get go, if it were not for the rather delightful weather the angry juices in my brain may have got the better of me.
I prepared to pull the anchor up on this glorious morning just before 9am. Before doing so I had rigged purple polly (my big, swanky purple sail for light airs) ready for hoisting. But first I hoisted my mainsail and then ambled up to the front and pulled my anchor up. As if by magic, the boat then started to drift in a not undesirable direction all by itself which allowed me to continue operations on the deck to hoist purple polly. I tried to look as relaxed and professional as possible because I was getting several admiring looks from fellow sailors anchored nearby; One normally uses the engine to assist one’s departure.
Sadly I botched the purple polly hoist. How cool it would have been to get that up smoothly as well. I’d forgotten to secure one of the ropes and it went flying out of all it’s routings in such a way that I could not possibly rectify the situation. So I had to quickly put purple polly back in its bag and set the foresail as usual. That was a disappointment and a slight annoyance. And not cool.
All the same, I made reasonable progress towards the Solent. The wind was very light but I had the tide with me. On several occasions the wind died to almost nothing and I was drifting along with the tide at 2 or 3 knots. I got impatient and was tempted several times to fire the engine up, but resisted. I needed to reach the Solent before 1pm before the tide turned on me and the lack of wind frustrated me.
My autopilot is pretty useless, but not totally. You set a course and it applies continuous adjustments to the tiller as if it it were a master mariner expertly helming with the delicate touch of his little finger on the wheel. Except that my autopilot starts to lose the plot and lets the boat drift onto a completely different course. Sometimes. Like a blind master mariner. This is annoying as you can almost use it, but you can’t trust it. My last autopilot just bust, full stop. It didn’t operate at all which is a much more honest declaration.
I also noticed that my AIS device went AWOL. This device tells me about other ships in the area and what their courses are. Very useful in these waters. That was not pleasing. Funny how these enclosed electronic thingies just pack in.
The wind was just enough to get me into the Solent and I even had enough breeze at one point to push me to 9 knots - 4 of which was tide, admittedly. After 20 miles under sail, however, the wind finally gave up on me and I motored the rest of the way on the dead flat waters of the Solent.
Going up the Beaulieu river was lovely. Wooded banks on either side. I arrived at Bucklers Hard Yacht Harbour by 3pm and went round to check in with the harbour master. Not very welcoming, quite frankly. They had no interest in informing me about the facilities (wifi, washrooms, garbage etc) and I had to ask for each of these specifically. The wifi did not work, the boat yard was short staffed and could not help me with something, the chandlery had no gas for my cooker and there was a faint whiff of sewage. And they called me “Sir”.
So you see, I’m afraid to report that the day was an accumulation of minor annoyances that I had to control and keep in perspective. I was now of a mind to fix two things, come what may. First to get some more gas for my cooker. Second to get some agave syrup.
With the help of google maps on my phone I set to on the bike. I managed to get some gas canisters from Millets in Lymington. Success #1.
I should explain about the agave syrup. This is what I have with my morning porridge and I’d run out a few days ago. It’s quite difficult to get and in desperation I’d got some date syrup in Weymouth. That fell well short of requirements, quite frankly. It looks like I’m squirting tartar sauce on my porridge and, besides, I don’t much like dates. No, I need my agave. I can’t have any other sugary substance, oh no. The local Tesco in Lymington did not have it but there was a big one in New Milton. So I cycled there. I’d now cycled half way back to where I came from - Bournemouth. But I got my agave, success #2.
By the time I got back to the boat I’d clocked up 32 miles on the bike. A long way to go for some porridge sweetener but it’s made me feel a lot better. I also switched my AIS on again and it seems to be back in the room. So the day ended sweet enough.
30 slow miles with very light northerly winds much assisted by strong tides. The tides were probably responsible for about 10 of those miles. Nice sunny day and cycled 32 miles to New Milton and back to get gas and agave syrup.