Four nights aboard during a heat wave

I’ve hit lucky with the weather this year. I’ve just done four nights aboard, which is one of my longest stays , and it was unbroken heat and sun the whole time. Just after the summer solstice, so the sun was up at 5:00am (I know because it shone into the cabin and woke me up ) and down just before 10:00pm, with some spectacular sunsets.

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I started out very professionally . The wind, tide and busyness were just right, so I sailed off my mooring without the engine even ticking over. First time I have actually done that, but it is good to practice for when it is essential. Many more boats out now, with local X boats racing nearly every day as far as I can judge.

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They are lovely wooden boats, but with a deep keel, which is strange in a Harbour with an average depth of 18 inches. I’ve often seen one on the mud, canted over whilst the skipper tries to pretend he beached on purpose to clean the underside…

I didn’t sail huge distances, just changed anchorages to alter the view. Sailed out one morning to Studland beach, where everyone was enjoying the sun.

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Too hot for a beach run but I did a lot of rowing in the shallows, looking at the birds, fish and deer which abound here. 18 inches is not a problem to a small rowing boat.

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I find I scull with a single oar over the stern most times now, unless the wind is strong or I really need to get somewhere.

I used the cockpit canopy a few times, which wasn’t really necessary, but it reduces any dew on the deck in the morning. Getting this photo involved getting up at low tide (5:30am!) and wading out through glutinous mud, but I wanted a record of how well the canopy fitted.

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And I swam! Several times a day, it was just so pleasant. The water is warm and you just blow dry back on board. I’ve discovered the trick of getting back up a short transom ladder which only projects one rung into the water. I put one knee on first rung, which is easy, and then I can push up with that and get the other foot on beside it . Trying to get a foot straight on is a real contortionist exercise.

I also discovered during some very gentle wind, that Daisy G will hold her course so well I can walk about and sit on the stern or the bow, which is really very pleasant in the sun. I wouldn’t do it in any wind, as she would soon sail away if I fell in.

My trusty but ancient GPS unit seemed to die for half a day. It just said it couldn’t acquire satellites, and was showing the wrong time, which is unheard of for GPS. But after a few hours it suddenly kicked in again. I don’t want a new one, as electrical wiring is not my strong point.

All in all, a wonderful four days in Poole Harbour.

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Two days back on the boat

I’m not going to be able to do any sailing in July, so I have been grabbing short sessions down at Poole when I can . The forecast wasn’t great, but it turned out better than expected. I even managed to go browner and have a short, rather silly swim. Very windy during the daylight, although calm at night, which was a relief. If it is windy I get very little sleep, it is just so noisy. I spend most of the night clambering up on deck trying to track down that INFURIATING RATTLE!

Being windy, I experimented with short rig variations. She sails well without the mizzen, but it is much harder to make a clean get away from an anchorage. She sails beautifully down and cross wind with just jib and mizzen. A very relaxing way to sail as there is no leaning and no crashing about of booms. Double reefed with all three sails is beautiful in a strong wind, and that is how I sailed most of the time.

Explored some Harbour beaches that I don’t use much normally as they are quite busy, because they are close to a road. They were empty these days, because of the wind, even though they were very sheltered. Swimming here is almost impossible because the water is so shallow, but that does make it warm.

My silly swim was to try to recover a tent pole I had been using to support my cockpit cover. It worked beautifully until I managed to catapult it into three metres of opaque, turgid water. It sank like a stone, or rather a bit faster, as it was going at some speed when it hit the water. I got out my snorkel, mask and flippers and tried to find it, without success. Partly due to the water being impenetrable but mainly because I kept forgetting to stop breathing through the snorkel when diving. Sea water really is remarkably salty when you’ve had a few mouthfuls. Must practice more…

The heather is in full bloom which is beautiful. Saw black tailed godwits and a grey plover, which are both rare around here in the summer.

Forecast for the weekend is looking promising…

Two nights, and days, back at Poole

Another hot spell arrived and I had two nights on Daisy Grace. The weather has been so warm now that I was swimming before breakfast and after dinner, a well as several times during the day. The water at Shipstal point is the warmest, but you have to be careful of the tidal current. Although the fall is small, the current is frighteningly fast. I found, trying to swim against it, that I could just hold my place at my normal stroke. If I tried to actually go against it, I would soon be exhausted.

Shipstal is particularly beautiful, and I anchored there in a flat calm both nights.

I’m getting into a routine when the weather is warm. Mornings off Furzey Island, which gets the morning sun and it’s quiet because it is so shallow. Mid day and afternoon often on Studland Peninsula, both on the sea side and harbour side for swimming, beach running, bird watching and general relaxing. Evening anchorage at Shipstal for bird watching and swimming. Often call in at Brownsea Island to use the excellent toilet facilities by the scout camp and the equally, but differently excellent national trust cafe which faces the harbour entrance.

Excitement when I came back to my mooring. The search and rescue helicopter came in to land on the park, where an ambulance was waiting for them. It is their usual transfer point, so you see it most weekends. Don’t know any details of the casualty, but it wasn’t me. Hope it won’t be.

To Brownsea and beyond

The weather has been holding, so I grabbed another couple of days down on Poole. Kept up my beach running, and according to my watch, I am in the top 9% of my age group. I think that is the group “very ancient”. I anchored near Brownsea and went ashore a few times. It’s a lovely island, and they do an excellent bacon sandwich at the Café. The wildlife there is spectacular and very tame.

The views from the cliff tops are also excellent, and have formed a basis of some of my paintings.

I saw the little Willowbay Shilling Margerite which is a lovely little boat. She still looks brand new, although I’ve seen her here for several years.

After taking the bottom over night, I found the centreboard was jambed tight with pebbles or mud. The table lifted well, but I could not push the board down with anything I tried. Couldn’t get enough force on it. Then I realised that my square frying pan just fitted in the slot, with a few inches sticking up. I stood on it, jumped up and down and the board finally popped down. You never know what will come in handy. There was a bit of rain so I had breakfast on the folded down table, which I don’t often use. I need to sit cross legged to fit in.

Scorching cruising at last

This early May bank holiday has been declared the hottest on record, and I had the good fortune to spend it afloat on Poole Harbour. It really was warm, recording 30C in my cabin , which I’ve never seen before . I didn’t go far ,spending most of the time cruising and anchoring on the inside and outside of Studland peninsula .

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I anchored in different spots, off Furzey island one night, Shipstal Point the second and Redhorn Quay the last. I also made good use of the public loos behind the scout camp on Brownsea Island , which are excellent. I’ve yet to see if they have got showers there…

Some of the cruising had to be under motor because of lack of wind , although it blew up into severe squalls on Tuesday .

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The squalls caused a near disaster on the Tuesday . I was on the beach, near Jerry’s Point, looking at Daisy G riding to anchor. I almost thought she looked like she was moving. Then I realised that she really was moving, dragging her anchor. I was half a mile from my dinghy, which is now probably the fastest beach run I have done . Then I had to row down wind for half a mile to catch up with Daisy , who was about 100yds from the Lee shore. Fortunately, the engine started easily and I motored back out to deeper water.

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On checking the anchor, I found that I had dropped it right onto a great block of seaweed , and that had prevented it from digging in. I know I should have motored in reverse to check it’s holding, but it was flat calm when I anchored.

Apart from that little excitement, I spend some time every day swimming in the Little Sea in the centre of the peninsula. It is the most beautiful spot, no one goes there and the water is warm .

But it got so warm that even the sea in the Harbour was warm enough for swimming by Tuesday. First time I have swum in the sea in May, I think.

I prefer the beaches on the Harbour side of Studland. They are smaller , very beautiful and hardly visited . Studland beach on the sea is beautiful and I like to go there for a morning run, but I head back to the Little Sea and the Harbour beaches for the rest of the day. It is idyllic. One of my favourite of all places.

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Jolly flooring

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I found a cheap, non slip mat at Lidls of all places, which had made a surprisingly good, soft floor covering in the cabin. Bit garish, but so what. There was even enough left over to make a mat for sitting on in the sauna, so I won’t scorch my bottom again. That’s got to be a good thing. Not bad for £5.50

First outing of the year.

Can’t claim it is the first sail, I’ve only had the mizzen working. It’s really very windy. I motored over to Brownsea Island to get some shelter. Raised the main and jib at anchor to get the inevitable tangles sorted out. Then motored round to Furzey Island where I am staying for the night due to being firmly aground. It’s a very low tide. Fabulous bird life around. Mergansers, red throated divers, great crested grebes and all the more usual ones. Not another boat around, but tomorrow is forecast to be the hottest day since last August. Hope its true. I can start working on my tan. Cooked dahl for dinner, which was surprisingly easy. Cold night ahead.