Passage 50, Chichester to Littlehampton

I had some doubts about the promised F3-F4 northerlies this day. It was a bright sunny morning and looked like it would be quite warm. This would cause a southerly sea breeze that would counteract that northerly. Never mind, I hoisted my mainsail optimistically and pulled my anchor up in yet another balletic no-engine departure. There was just enough wind to keep steerage through Chichester harbour as I made for the exit with the tide going out. It was delightful to take time and appreciate this beautiful harbour. Unfortunately I had to have my engine ticking over (out of gear) in order to charge the batteries as I’m using the motor so little the batteries are not getting charged enough.

Talking of which I’ve concluded that my solar panel is delivering about 10% of what it should be and that the thing must be faulty. Which annoys me as I installed it especially for this venture and now realise it would have been really useful if it had only worked. A missed opportunity.

Chichester harbour has a “bar” which means there’s a very shallow bit just outside the harbour which can only be crossed when the tide is high enough. So quite a few boats were going out at the same time (around 10am) before it got too shallow. But I was the only one sailing. The tide was doing most of the work for me.

I was right about the wind. It stayed so light that the boat could only go 1 or 2 knots through the water for the whole 24 mile trip. I’d timed things to take full advantage of the tide (as ever) and I reckon I got another 1 or 2 knots from the tide at various times. The net result being that I averaged about 2.75 knots. It was excruciatingly slow. But then it was also very sunny and warm. So I just lounged about and got a bit sun burned. Luckily my autopilot was on its best behaviour today and didn’t lose the plot once.

When I left I had decided that if I was doing more than 4 knots past Selsey Bill then I’d head for Brighton. Less and I’d head for Littlehampton. I was doing about 2 knots. Apart from the nice weather I did, in fact, have another reason to put up with the slow pace. I needed to arrive at Littlehampton after 5pm which is when I could be sure that the tide would be high enough to let me in as its entrance is very shallow (in fact it’s dry land at low tide). So I’m not completely mad.

About a mile away from Littlehampton the wind suddenly changed to, well, become wind and to come from directly ahead of me. So I had to tack a few times to reach the entrance at which point I took the sails down and motored into the harbour.

Once alongside the pontoon I chatted with a couple who had also come from Chichester - but had motored. They were impressed with my sail. It takes a certain obstinacy to keep sailing that slow! Turns out I could have got into this harbour any time after 3pm, not that that would have changed things.

Following morning discovery

Out came the bike and I took a ride into Arundel up the river. This is a quality town. It has a big catholic cathedral, a big protestant church right next door, I castle that looks in fine fettle (not surprisingly as most of it was built a little over 100 years ago) and a little museum that informed me about its history. Having surveyed all this I took a quick ride into some parkland behind the castle which was very picturesque. I didn’t hang about, however, as I needed to get back and on my way by noon. Upon my return, I quickly cycled along Littlehampton’s eastern promenade.

I liked Littlehampton. The east side of the harbour has been recently renovated with a smart new harbour wall which extends to the eastern promenade which is both wide and long. Nice sandy beach (sometimes shingly). The town is understated as a seaside resort which is nice. Nothing fancy, nothing crude.

I’m glad there was no wind the day before as I rather enjoyed visiting this place.


Lightest winds actually sailed for this venture. Force 1 mostly. Half the 24 miles were covered by the tide. 9 1/4 hours of drifting through very calm seas under warm sunshine.

Passage 51, Littlehampton to Brighton