Poole to Weymouth.
Although it would have been really nice to hang around Poole harbour and Studland bay for a few days i really wanted to get to and around Portland Bill in ideal conditions and that meant pushing Inanda upwind for yet another day and through another tide race. If you are an offsore sailor here you will probably have been around the infamous Isle of Portland and had to deal with the race there. The ideal conditions that i wanted were essentially a neap slack water in daylight but as early as possible to then deal with the long bash across Lyme bay. True to form the wind direction headed us all the way : westerly when we were trying to get around St Albans head and across to Weymouth and then north to north-west as we tried to get up into the north-west corner of Lyme bay and into Exemouth. If i sound a bit jaded it’s because the whole trip so far has been typified by getting up and finding the wind dead ahead……again.
Leaving Poole. Briefly downwind but going east at that point.
Handfast point, Studland bay.
Studland bay has a really nice anchorage and being shallow draught we were able to get pretty close inshore. In the Liberty we could have got much further inshore and i might even have gone in to wading depth but i don’t have that capability with Inanda. I can risk landing Inanda in nice soft mud but not on hard sand bottoms like Studland and later Weymouth so it’s back to doing nearly accurate tidal calculations before anchoring.
The entertainment in Studland bay was during the evening after we had anchored. For several days while in the Frome i had been hearing the clatter of automatic weapons from Lulworth firing range and occasionally the thuds of artillery or tanks firing. The other regular sound especially in the evening was the whine of big gas turbines and thwocka-thwock of helicopter blades. It became apparent that there was a bit of training going on when a big Chinook flew past us quite low with what looked like an RIB slung underneath. When they pulled up about a mile away, descended ‘landed’ the RIB in Studland bay and 4 blokes then roped quickly down into the RIB it became quickly apparent that the SBS, i guess, were out training. It’s hardly a state secret that the very secretive SBS are based in Poole.
The following day was one of the low points of the trip, we got away early and started the long beat down past Swanage and along to St Albans head. It was just one of those days when i couldn’t get a thing right sailing and tide-wise. Which ever way i tried to go i seemed to be the wrong side of wind shifts, the visibility dropped to about 50 yards and i had to feel my way along the coast trying to beat up to St Albans. That headland in case you don’t know can have a small but nasty tide-race and there is only a narrow patch of ‘smooth’ water close inshore. Because i couldn’t see a damned thing i ended up going right through the race and breaking waves. Jackie suffered a bit and eventually just had to bunk-out for a while as i gave up and motor-sailed west. When the visibility did clear it was the strangest appearance as the coast looked as though it was covered in snow and the receding fog bank looked like huge hard edged mountains.
The colours were all extreme blues and violets too.
I think we were both glad to get into the shelter of Weymouth and get an anchor down, we did anchor off the beach and it was ok but a bit rocky-rolly from the swell coming around Portland to our south so we gave up and went into the harbour to go alongside. On previous trips i really haven’t enjoyed being in Weymouth harbour because of the ferry that used to sit on its berth running its generators all night. This time it was much quieter and aside from having to turn out at stupid o-clock to let an inside boat clear out (which we knew about) it was fine. In the morning the harbour master moved us to the small boat berths but then charged us the extra length for Inanda’s bowsprit…..note to make sure my running bowsprit project gets done !.
Jax looks happier after a nights sleep and some food. The owner of the Sadler 26 that came alongside turned out to be a thoroughly nice bloke and a good singlehander as well. As it worked out we left Weymouth almost together the next morning just before first light to make our tidal gate at the bill. Once around the bill he scooted off on a lower and faster course than i was doing but then had to beat back up to Exemouth so in the end didn’t do much better than i did……very kind of him to wait for us as i didn’t have my new Exemouth chart on board and could only take a broad guess where the bar entrance would be even though i had come across in the opposite direction earlier this year. We were both expecting a tough day with a long beat all the way across Lyme bay. Although it was hard work and once again i struggled to balance Inanda in the short chop and fresh breeze we were motoring in over the Exe bar just after high water by 1300 and feet-up moored by 1400.
Silly o-clock start from Weymouth.