…or old haunts?

Saturday 9 July

image2The Mate got the sewing machine out this morning, and used up some of the vast quantity of sewing and haberdashery she seems to have managed to smuggle aboard to make a couple of very cute cushions…as if I don’t have enough already.  The crew manoeuvred me safely out of the berth and we set off back to Chichester on a lovely broad reach: I do love to flick up my petticoatimage1s and romp along at seven knots or more.  I settled happily on my anchor for the night in my usual spot in Chichester Harbour, snoozing to the chorus of the late night water birds.

New horizons…

Friday 8 July

Mate disappeared again for the morning with a bag of laundry, while Skipper continued his quest for safe storage and stowage in my Tech Room.  After a lunch of homemade croque monsieur/madame with salad at the cockpit table, they went off on their bikes again, took the chain ferry across the River Medina and came back with a shiny new boat hook and two new sets of charts – looks like we’re finally going somewhere new and interesting!

East Cowes for fresh supplies all round

Thursday 7 July

So much for the summer weather – today I felt showers on my deck.  Skipper jumpstarted my engine, which seems to be necessary more frequently than it should be, and Mate steered me expertly out into the Solent in only two metres of water.  With very little wind I felt the pull of the tide and took us comfortably to the fuel dock in Cowes, and then across the river into East Cowes Marina.  I have a few bruises from a previous visit here, but this time Skipper took no chances and the crew tied me up safely in time to enjoy a delicious Spanish omelette with the last of the leftovers.  They wiggled the folding bikes out of my innards – the Technical Room Store, built them on the pontoon, and rode off to Waitrose for fresh supplies, returning for supper of fresh trout and cherry tart.  They took advantage of the excellent Marina facilities to freshen up me, and themselves, for a good night’s sleep.

Unwind at last

Wednesday 6 July

P1000097Another quiet day in Newtown Creek for the crew to begin to relax into their new lifestyle.  However, too little activity led to stiff and creaky bodies, so the yoga mat came out onto the foredeck and some stretching and exercises were performed in the sunset.  It’s good to anchor where possible to keep berthing costs down, but the crew does have to accept (for now) limitations to power and access to WiFi.

The morning after

Tuesday 5 July

The weather’s definitely warming up, and it actually feels like July.  All visitors dispatched, we left Yarmouth with only minor stress for my crew as they just managed to stop me bumping where I shouldn’t when the wind didn’t cooperate, and we motored East to Newtown Creek, still on the Isle of Wight, where they dropped my anchor on a sandbank, as revealed by the new chart plotter.  After a little shuffling when the water depth allowed, they let me settle to bask in beautiful sunshine and just a light breeze to keep me cool, while they came to realise that now they were really on their own with me, and our adventures are just beginning.  It’s very peaceful here, especially once the day boats have left, and I enjoyed the company of a pair of seals on the near shore.

Who’s half a century?

Monday 4 July

P1000093Seems like today was the second special day in a week in my world: Mate disappeared to the launderette while Skipper and Second Mate dressed me in a set of signal flags reading ‘Happy 50’ which made me look suitably festive.  Not sure if the pegged out washing improved my overall standing in the Harbour, but needs must when your crew live aboard.  A birthday picnic was packed and they all left me for a bus ride to the Needles for the view: shame it was thick low cloud and visibility up there of about five metres, but it sounded like it was a success anyway.  In the afternoon Second Mate’s younger brother arrived from the North Island by ferry, more presents were opened, cards read, texts shared and champagne drunk before the whole birthday party disappeared off for a wonderful celebratory meal at On The Rocks in Yarmouth, where I hear you cook your choice of steak or seafood on red hot volcanic stones.  A great time was had by all, who returned for birthday cake and MORE champagne, as I suppose you do when you’re half expecting a telegram from the Queen.

To Yarmouth across the Solent

Sunday 3 July

No sooner had I settled back in than it was time to set off again.  Second Mate was more alert this morning after a good rest yesterday, and helmed me very competently (after all, she has had OYT South training aboard John Laing, you know) down the Inner Swashway and West.  First Mate raised my lovely big mainsail into a grey and overcast sky, Skipper added the genoa for balance and off we romped into a sunny Yarmouth, Isle of Wight.  My crew were reminiscing about the wealth of experience they have gained sailing the lovely waters of the Solent over the last four years.  I’ve got some of the grazes to prove that, but some interesting miles under my keel too (a well-known nautical expression, not meant to be taken literally for this boat – see technical page: Ed).  The Mate’s mother had travelled from North Wales to join us aboard for supper, cooked by the Mate who seems to enjoy my galley facilities.  Tonight’s menu was fresh salmon pasta bake with cavolo nero stir fried in olive oil with garlic and cherry tomatoes, a lemon meringue roulade (thanks Waitrose) and a bottle of good Gavi.  Feels like the holidays are here!

Looks like they’re here to stay

On Saturday 2 July the crew finally let slip the lines, stowed my fenders and we pottered across the notorious Chichester Bar without incident, turning West towards Portsmouth.  I wasn’t very aware of the Second Mate on deck for most of this first passage; between you and me I think she was carefully studying the interior of the guest cabin.  It was a fast and busy sail into Royal Clarence Marina in Gosport, a place I’d come to think of as home over the last eighteen months, but not being my own berth, as I was now only a visitor, Skipper found it a little tricky to tuck me in, just grazing the sandbank near the entrance channel, and I found myself right up against the walkway to land – a little more public than I’m used to, but after all I did have a clean bottom to show off.  The Mates took the opportunity to stretch their legs and restock the fridge (about the only storage with any space left) at Waitrose – how civilised.

Bonjour mes braves

Yes, at last, it really is me here, l’escale, with a moment of the Mate’s time to finally start bringing you up to date with my busy doings.  Today is Wednesday 19 July 2016, and I am at anchor in Pyefleet Channel, North of Mersea Island, near Brightlingsea in Essex, on the East Coast of England.  The sun is shining and the wind is a good Force 4.  My crew struggled to get me to settle at anchor here, but I’m now happy with their third attempt as they await high water at around 1300 local time to take me into Brightlingsea Harbour to provision and spend some time on shore while I get some peace and quiet.

So, what’s been happening since my Skipper and Mate moved on board permanently (of which more later) on Friday 1 July?

Well, during June I was on the hard in Itchenor, Chichester Harbour having my bottom cleaned and repainted with shiny new antifouling by the nice boys at the old Northshore yard and my crew.  The crew arrived with the last of their house stuff and the Second Mate and loaded it all into me on the Thursday evening, and early on a grey damp Friday morning Toby my tractor friend came back and pushed me back into the water…oh it feels good to be in my element again.  It was very windy as I lay alongside the pontoon all day, while my people sorted themselves out, stowing enough of their stuff that we could sail safely.  I had some company briefly as the local dinghy fleets tore past me, some a little close for a first acquaintance, but they were having such a good time, and I basked in warm sunshine in the afternoon.

PS: My editor has apparently taken liberties with the time travel machine in order to catch up. He thinks it’ll make more sense this way.