Brixham: Friday 1 June - Thursday 7 June 2007
Hamble Point Marina, Lymington, Newtown River, Portland, Brixham, Dartmouth, Brixham, Poole, East Cowes, Newtown River, Yarmouth, West Cowes, Hamble Point Marina
This cruise was the second for the owners in 2007. James, friend of Malcolm, came along for his first taster of life aboard a cruising yacht. James turned up with a generous gift of beer and wine and numerous wonderful foodstuffs with the announced intent of cooking a couple of evening meals on board. This all promised well for the forthcoming trip. Cruises with the owners on board tended to revolve around pubs, restaurants and pre- and post-prandials. This cruise looked like being true to that tradition and then some.
The six-day cruise began in Bagadeus' home port and the tides on Friday afternoon made Lymington an obvious first port of call. Next day, Saturday, we planned for Portland and with that in mind, we crossed the Solent to Newtown River for a coffee-stop to wait for the mid-day start of the west-going tide through the Needles. This timing gave us a fair tide for most of the passage to Portland, helped by taking the inshore passage past St Albans Head on account of there being no firing at Lulworth Range that day.
The only moment of concern on this leg was a close encounter at around 15:00 with a Condor Express fast ferry. We had been watching the approach of this vessel on radar as well as visually, and our MARPA indicated a very low CPA (Closest Point of Approach), hovering beween zero and, at most, a few tens of metres. The ferry, approaching from seaward on a northerly course at around 40 knots, was the give-way vessel under Rule 15 of the Collision Regulations but we detected no alteration in its course - so, when it was about 2 minutes away, we altered course 90° to starboard so as to present our stern to the approaching vessel. This was the safest course open to us - and was in accordance with COLREGS Rule 17 since it appeared to us that the ferry did not intend to give way. The ferry duly came within 100 metres of us, on its way into Poole. It may have been clear to those on the bridge of the ferry that they were always going to pass clear ahead of us, but this was not at all obvious from the cockpit on Bagadeus. [A formal complaint about the ferry's behaviour was subsequently sent to the relevant authority. An apology was duly received from Condor together with a copy letter that had been sent to all fast ferry captains instructing them to avoid such a situation in the future.]
We entered Portland harbour at around 18:00, moored alongside a club pontoon and after a few introductory beers were treated to the first of James' culinary masterpieces - individual chicken and leek pies. A few more glasses of wine in the cockpit as night fell soon had the world put to rights.
We departed Portland for Brixham next day in continuing fair weather, timing our departure to get to the southern tip of the Bill for 12:15 to catch the start of the west-going tide through the inshore passage. We crossed Lyme Bay with a mainly fair tide and arrived at Brixham at around 18:30, in time for a quick pre-prandial before finding a local restaurant in the old harbour. It rained on the way back to the boat, somewhat curtailing end-of-evening cockpit discussions.
But no matter - Monday dawned bright and clear, and we noticed for the first time a considerable number of jellyfish in the harbour (see picture below). We had encountered poor-sensitivity with the radar during the Lyme Bay crossing so made the brief trip to Dartmouth to consult a Raymarine technician. He found nothing obvious, so we motored up-river to find a mooring buoy and had a relaxed lunch in a sunny cockpit. We returned to Brixham for the evening and sampled another of the harbour restaurants, returning on board at around 22:00.
The weather forecast indicated increasing NE winds, so we brought forward our departure for Poole by twelve hours and decided to depart Brixham at midnight to catch the start of the east-going tide around the Bill. As we were outbound in the harbour fairway we met port-to-port with the Ocean Youth Trust vessel John Laing, just arriving. On the passage to Poole we had NE winds gusting to F6 but only moderate seas because of the wind direction. We saw a number of ships but only one deemed to be a collision risk: about 10 miles off the Bill (which we were going to pass five miles off to avoid the race) we met a container ship approaching us nearly head-on, aspect still unclear. No problem, though; we both altered to starboard and passed port-to-port a comfortable distance apart, all in accord with COLREGS Rule 14. We arrived at Poole in time for a late lunch at around 14:00 on Tuesday. A shower, a doze, an evening meal in Poole, a few post-prandials in the cockpit and so to our cabins for an early start next day.
We departed Poole at 7:30 on Wednesday and had breakfast during the 45 minutes outgoing trip in Poole Harbour, then left the Poole entrance channel for a close-hauled sail across Christchurch Bay. We arrived south of the the SE Shingles buoy an hour or two into the east-going tide, then motored into wind through the Needles channel and on to the Medina river. We lay along a pontoon near East Cowes for lunch, then sailed downwind the short 6 miles to Newtown River on the west-going afternoon tide and picked up a mooring to spend the night in that pleasant National Trust sanctuary, surrounded by the sounds of black-headed gulls, common terns and oyster catchers. A couple of white egrets were also in view, along with unidentified waders, a heron, mallards, Canada geese and swans. The weather continued fine, although the F5/6 breeze made it a trifle cool in the cockpit when the ebb tide turned us stern to the wind. There was time, though, for beer and beer-snacks produced by James (green and black olives, chorizo and cheese - see below) before going below for another fine meal which James put before us (Linguine Puttanesca) accompanied by another fine wine or two.
We left Newtown River next morning, our final day, at around 7:30 while there was still a comfortable depth to get out (low water was around 10:00) and picked up one of the visitor buoys off Yarmouth for breakfast. When the tide turned east-going, about an hour before LW, we dropped the mooring and tacked down-tide, eventually to moor alongside the new public pontoons adjacent to the Royal Yacht Squadron's pontoons at the entrance to Cowes. We walked to the Anchor to sample their London Pride along with something in a jacket potato, returning to find Bagadeus making wild surges against the pontoon after the Red Jet ferry had gone by - a lesson never to use that pontoon again.
From Cowes it was a short trip on engine back to the home berth at Hamble Point where Bagadeus was cleaned, fuelled and watered and handed back to Hamble Point Charter, our charter agents. It had been a great six-day cruise made all the more pleasant by having able-seaman/cook first-class, James, on board.
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