Cornwall to Scotland days 6 and 7
|11/07/2011||Filled under England|
Day 6 – Today, in the simple process of moving a short distance east along the coast, we put Cirrus and ourselves right in the middle of one of the busiest stretches of water in these isles. And it being a Sunday, it was possibly busier than most other days of the week. For those who don’t know, the Solent is the waterway that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland and for many years it has seen itself as a sailing Mecca, the place to go or be seen if you are remotely interested in the sport. The result is that on any day, and particularly at weekends, there are sailing boats in every direction, many of them engaged in racing with crews all dangling their legs over the side as the boats lean away from them, but many others simply shuffling about aimlessly from port to port. Everywhere you look there are marinas stuffed with more boats, more still hanging on moorings wherever there is a bit of shelter, and then of course there are visitors like us who are just passing through. It is not just sailing boats either. A phalanx of jet-skiers (at least 12) came past us as we approached Cowes and then there are motor cruisers of all descriptions too, like the one whose French owner had to radio for help when his engine had a broken connecting rod (there are no secrets on VHF radio). For us, on our little catamaran, the contrast between here and the seas around Scotland could not be more marked. Even the Clyde at its most congested comes nowhere close to the Solent. Gazing out ahead of us we see a white forest of sails. The water is continuously being churned up by all these craft and there is the constant need to be alert, to be ready to take avoiding action when someone comes too close. This is not, therefore, the sort of place to have a quiet, restful day out. It is, in our opinion, a place to be avoided, if at all possible.
Had it not been for yesterday’s strong winds we would have done just that, avoided the Solent, by sailing outside of Wight around St. Catherine’s Point. But the southern shores of the Isle offer no safe havens and we would have had to sail right through the night had we chosen this route. The thought of doing that with such a sea running prompted us to select the lesser of the two evils, a passage through the Solent. Hence today we found ourselves right in the thick of things moving from Yarmouth to Gosport.
Day 7 – The winds may have been blowing strongly so far on our journey, but at least they have been coming from the west at a time when we were moving east. Today is scorchingly hot but what wind there is still comes out of the west. This is indeed what we and Cirrus like, a fair wind. Weather forecasts are showing us that after today this will all change and suddenly our eastward progress is going to stall, so to make best progress we leave Gosport late morning and turn left again.
Motoring for a time, once past Selsey Bill we switch off the iron beast and the spinnaker goes up, to float us gently over the almost calm sea. Cirrus just nods to the wavelets and we assume our favourite position on the bow, legs dangling forward just clear of the splash-zone. We have a piece of electronics that can take care of the steering in conditions like this leaving us free to lounge about in the sun… whilst keeping watch, of course.
The hours roll by and we sit around reading, eating, making cups of tea and occasionally tending the sails until away in the distance Brighton marina creeps into view. We radio ahead for a berth then motor slowly around to pontoon No.6, tucked away in one corner. This is a busy place and we are positioned just below a row of marina-facing restaurants and bars, whose clientele all observe our berthing manoeuvres, no doubt waiting for us to lose control of the boat. We disappoint them.