Despite appearances I have been sailing this year

It’s been a funny sailing year. May and June have been about the worst I have known. Just nondescript days after days, or very strong winds. I’m not sure I went down more than once each month, if that. But July and August finally gave us some hot sunny weather, which is what I like. Some of the hottest for years. So this is just a bit of an amalgam of a few relaxed visits to Poole.

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One highlight was having an old friend down for a day’s sailing. She is a far more experienced sailor than me, and also provides an excellent picnic lunch. We made it out to Old Harry Rocks, which looked wonderful. They are visibly crumbling away. I am sure the arches through are larger than when I last came out here. Old Harry will fall one day, which will be a sad occasion.

I have done a lot of loafing about in the sun. I anchored off the  landward side of Studland peninsula for one evening and stayed there two nights. Rowing ashore and hiking over the heathland, which was looking at this best. I made it up to the Agglestone, which gives a wonderful view down over the  harbour. Didn’t see a soul all morining.

Watching the sunset is wonderful, but it was almost better looking in the opposite direction. The sunlight was being reflected up onto the cliffs, and as I was watching it ripple, I suddenly noticed that there was a great antlered stag standing on the beach watching me. he ambled off eventually, followed by a younger one, keeping a respectful distance. A stand up paddle boarder landed on the  sand about 50 yards from them, but never noticed them, despite my trying to point them out in silent sign language. He must have thought I was completely unhinged. (Very poor photo I’m afraid, I only had my phone).

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On another day I sailed into the Wareham channel for the first time this year, and anchored in one of my favourite bays, where you can hear the night jars churring in the  evening. I meant to stay for half an hour or so, but impressive misreading of the tides tables found me stuck on the mud for well over two hours. I managed to row out the anchor as a kedge, in perfect Riddle of the Sands fashion, but the tide dropped so fast I couldn’t row back to the  boat, and had to punt it back over the mud with an oar. I only just made it, or I would have been stuck in the dinghy for those two hours, The mud was far too soft to walk on. As it was, it was sunny and beautiful, so I put a cushion on the cabin roof, got out a book and touched up my tan whilst the water disappeared and eventually came back again. It comes back with  surprising speed, once it starts.

I’ve managed to get in a fair amount of swimming, which is always a good indicator of the  quality of the summer. I don’t like cold water. Swimming in the sea is good, although it has been a bit rough on the Studland beach. My favourite spot is on the Little Sea, which is a large , brown fresh water lake in the  middle of Studland peninsula. It is surrounded by trees, full of birdlife and there is never a soul there, even though it is just off the  main path down to the crowded beaches.I can never understand the human herd instinct. It is my number one wild skinny dipping location.

Bank holiday sail

Down to Poole for the Bank holiday. I planned to stay for two nights, but cut it short at one,as the wind was building on Monday and the Tuesday forecast was not great. Managed to get in about twenty miles of sailing and quite a bit of walking. It is a beautiful time of year. Sunday I sailed out into the open sea, towards as Old Harry Rocks. Turned and came back in as the wind was strong and cold from the north. Anchored off Studland and went for a walk over the heath.

The Little Sea Lakes in the heart of the peninsula are beautiful. Dark blue, cold and very boggy underfoot. I have swum in them before, but still too cold for me at this time of year.

Sailing back to look for a night time anchorage, I spotted a good looking yacht, and then noticed it was a Baycruiser 23, my overgrown descendent. No 86 I think, but I didn’t catch the name. It was crammed full of people who waved as they passed. I wondered if it was a maiden voyage. Sailed to Shipstal, but it was very exposed to the north wind, so returned to Brownsea Island, where I anchored for the night. Amused myself watching a couple of kayakers who were camping on the island and having what my daughter would describe as
“a domestic”. The chap eventually paddled away on his own and didn’t come back until after sunset.  Next day they paddled away separately. All not going well. I had a good walk over Brownsea Island, which is a lovely place, but pretty busy on a Bank Holiday. Had a cream tea at the National Trust cafe and watched the yachts struggling in the wind. It is a perfect location looking straight over the harbour mouth. Later I saw a trimaran motoring home, with its mast down and sails all over the deck. Must have been a nasty incident.

I motored back to the marina, to find someone else on my mooring. After some frantic activity I managed to get some fenders out and put into the pontoon. The marina manager said he would go out and move the offending boat. He came back dumbfounded, saying it had been padlocked on to the mooring chain. He told me to pick up another spare mooring and he would sort it out, with a hacksaw if necessary. I was just about to pick up the buoy when my engine stalled. Quick yank on the starter cord, which promptly snapped, leaving me drifting powerless in amongst all of the moored. boats. It was clearly one of those days. I managed to hook another boat with my boat hook and put a rope on it. Fortunately, the marina staff were watching me, and when I waved my arms they quickly motored out and hep to tow me to the mooring. I’ve found an engineer who will go out and replace the cord next week.All in all, very fortunate really. If the cord had snapped when I was the far side of the harbour, I would have had a serious job getting back. These things happen. Plain sailing never does.

Daisy Grace’s new colour

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First view of Daisy G in blue on the water/ I am really pleased with the look. Various compliments have been paid and one noted that she looks bigger in the new lighter colour. I repainted Nellie Grace to match. It is an awful paint job, but looks good towing behind.

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With the open, sun soaked sandy beaches you would think it was the Med, rather than the English Channel. But it was quite chilly, even for May.

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Back on the water at last

Finally back on Daisy G. I launched her 6 weeks ago and haven’t been down since. The weather forecast is good so I am on board for two nights.
Started out with an enormous thunder storm and torrential rain. So much for forecasts. Lighting hit the island I was heading towards, which was more than a little unnerving. Ended up dropping the anchor in my birthday suit in an attempt to keep some clothes dry. Now absolute calm, so I hope the promised sunshine does show up tomorrow.
Boat in good condition, but the self bailer in my ballast tank simply pulled out as I tried to shut it. Now I have a large hole in the bottom of the tank, which I will have to do something about eventually.  Hope the sleeping bag is dry…

Launch day!

It must nearly be summer. Towed Daisy G down to poole and had her lifted in. I know I could launch her at the public slip, but it takes just 10 minutes to go from trailer to pontoon and I didn’t even get wet. She looks good blue and the marina man says it makes her look longer. I motored out and put her on the same mooring as last year. It was a bit of a drizzly day, so I left her there and drove home. A long day, but all done. Now it’s just a matter of watching the weather.

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