In the end the overnight stay turned out to be a good call.
Here's Sprite 2 in the marina:
So, I get up at the allotted 4am, scrape the sleep out of my eyes and hit the road about 4:40.
This is the sight that greeted me as I walked back to the Marina after parking the car:
Calm, still.... and way too early in the morning. Check the sunrise times for last Saturday!
Got to the Marina by 5, set everything up and then..... the engine refuses to start. Brilliant.
After running back to the car to get a spark plug spanner (mental note to self: buy one to keep on the boat!) and finding the spark plug was okay. In the end it was the cut out switch that was playing up, still shorted even when pressed. A faff with the switch to pull the contact button away and the engine started on the first pull as usual. Doh!
A quick tidy-up ensued and then untie and off out of the Marina entrance half an hour later than planned. Which sort of shortened the day, but more of that later.
Motoring down the Deep Water channel like the big boys do felt kind of weird. After all, I usually just scrap off the mud, round a shingle spit and I'm in the harbour entrance.
Not many boats about at that time in the morning, although a couple of fishing boats went out at the same time.
Coming out of the harbour I raised the sails and the wind was around an F2. Not a lot of wind but enough to keep Sprite 2 trickling along nicely. The sea was calm as well. The wind was a Westerly, so ideal for getting past Horse sand Fort and the submarine barrier, but not at all ideal for cutting the corner and heading for the gap in the barrier.
So the plan was to head over to the I.O.W. and then tack, heading towards Portsmouth.
I reached Horse Sand Fort quite easily:
The next point was No Man's Land Fort. I got there quite quickly and put a tack in once I'd got about halfway between the fort and the shore.
On the opposite tack I noticed that the wind was behaving oddly on the Portsmouth side, possibly Gilkicker and Gosport had something to do with it. I put in another tack and headed for Ryde. Mainly because the Normandie Express was coming out and I didn't fancy being in the way of her. lol.
A few big ships went through the Solent, so gauging the passage across the shipping lane was important. Ships like this one:
This is where things started to go a bit awry. Getting out of Langstone later than I planned meant I was always on the last of the Westbound tide. With the wind against me it was always going to be a slog up the Solent, but just off Ryde the tide stopped. I must have put in quite a few tacks, but on the compass although I was supposed to be going in one direction, I only seemed to be going Westwards very slowly. On each tack the same point hove into view, or at best only a little further on. The Car ferries loved me getting in the way. One tried to give me a hint I think:
And getting very close:
Then just after Stokes Bay the Wind stopped too.
I mean completely stopped: the water was glassy calm and everyone had the engine on, heading for Cowes. Now my engine isn't the noisiest two stroke in the world, but I didn't fancy burning money just to get Westwards and burn more money in a Marina for a second night. Also by that time I'd had about 5 hours of sailing. That's not bad going considering the longest I've ever sailed in one continuous go was a couple of hours.
After more or less drifting for the best part of an hour, I stuck the motor on and Headed back East for an hour or so.
Then the wind chipped up again, this time from the South East! Yep, heading almost dead into the wind again!
So, up with the sails and make the best of it. This time the wind was an F3 and Sprite 2 romped along. After 6 hours at sea I was having a blast:
By that time all the posh chaps had had their breakfasts and Lunchtime Martinis and had come out into the Solent to play too. By 1pm there were hundreds of sails visible out on the water. This lot were just in the water outside Portsmouth, looking up to the Western Solent it was a mass of white sails.It seems to be a lot quieter on the Eastern side.
I was heartened to see I wasn't the only small boat out there. But it's a shame there weren't more. It was ideal weather for small boat sailing.
I finally got back to my mooring around 3pm after having my best sailing day to date, without qualification. I loved every minute of it. I know it's been almost 4 years since I took over ownership of Sprite 2, but it's taken this long to get confident enough and to have the stable weather to able to plan in advance like booking the Marina and also having the spare cash to be able to spend on a Marina slot. £25 might not be a lot of money to some people, but it's almost a week's worth of petrol to get to work, or half a weekly shop. I don't have much disposable cash so to be able to do this has been pretty damn brilliant.
Yesterday I was thinking about heading out to the Nab Tower and back maybe, but today my body said no in no uncertain terms. I ache all over! Who knew sailing was such a good workout.