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Plymouth to Gosport 3-10 August 2013

I love the journey, and my week's journey on Brighton Belle started by getting the car to Gosport, in readiness to bring some of us back to Brighton in 7 day’s time. Next a ferry crossing to Portsmouth. Then 3 trains to Plymouth. Easy.

The "girls" that run the restaurant Jolly Jacks in Mayflower Marina Plymouth amused us as we enjoyed our first supper together. The saltiest of those present looked at the weather forecast this Saturday evening and considered matters. Bob was skipper and we had the options laid out. Outcome ..  We are going to Alderney. 0315 get up 0400 cast off. Passage plan by Neil, interesting lights to view on the way out of Plymouth in the dark. Hold on tight we'll need foul weather gear on this passage, and we did. But we did have decent wind and sailed all the way.

We arrived in Alderney (98 miles 16 hours) on Sunday just in the nick of time .. to use facilities ashore and get a couple of pints in at the Divers before we returned to the boat for supper.

The weather window was such that we should hurry back across the channel to the big island, so it's a 1pm start Monday. Passage plan by Steve. Decent wind again and we sailed all the way.

Under sail, mid channel as we crossed the west bound shipping lane we spied a large vessel sort of coming in our direction. In what seemed like a good idea at the time .. we called them up. "Hello" we said "This is Brighton Belle .. we can see you .. please hold your course" the reply was "Yeah ..  we can see you" then we said "We will either slow down or go round the back of you". The reply was  "I think you better had". Oh and by the way she was 40 metres wide and 1000 foot long.

Entry to Portland harbour was in the dark with good visibility  .. Expertly handled.

Tuesday, sunny but no wind. Bob had invited his niece down with her two to visit the boat so all the crew got to show their grandfathering skills. But the afternoon was to practice other skills that of sailing by the wind without instruments, and using the cruising Shute. All very good fun, a good learning experience with plenty of help on hand. Neil, George and Phil managed all the string associated with the cruising Shute and it flew beautifully.

As we approached Portland Harbour on our return, by the entrance, we heard a Mayday call on the radio apparently from someone in distress 200 meters from the breakwater. .. At exactly where we were heading .. We radioed we will help if we can .. To be met with a wall of silence. Two fast Ribs from the sailing school came screaming out to help having heard the call. But no one could be found. Why oh why do people do this?

The Wednesday forecast was accurate .. Not much wind. So the decision made to try a little light cruising again. Whilst we were at Portland the single handed dinghy .. Toppers .. had their national championships. The fleet went out as we left, so we waited for them to go. All 300 of them. As we made our way across the harbour we made a slight change of course for a dingy sailed with 4 young boys on board. As they passed we had the joy of their enthusiastic "THANK YOU" shouted at full pitch. I bet they had a fabulous day.
Little wind today, so we made a little motor along to a cove for lunch, then a motor back to Portland Marina.

Thursday. Time to move down the coast. Another perfect day to deploy the cruising Shute for a comfortable cruise to Studland bay. Anchor up by Phil.

En-route Skipper invited Keith and Gordon to prepare the passage plan for the Friday run into Gosport. Key considerations: 1. Get into Gosport Premier Marina not later than 1800 2. Go via south of the Isle of Wight in order to miss the Cowes Week racing 3. The tidal considerations.

At supper the key time and tidal influences were put to the crew. Basically two choices. 1. Anchor up and away by 0620 and have powerful tidal currents with us and likely get there early afternoon or alternatively 2. Have a lay in and fight some significant tides. Guess which won?

Friday we were away on time. There was a fancy watch system created so that the helm changed every 30 minutes together with an appointed formal lookout. We tried to sail, but admitted defeat mid-morning. Engine on, and it stayed on until we were moored up. That way we kept the tides with us for the remainder of the trip. Entry into Portsmouth Harbour at 1500.

I have really enjoyed this week and this is my account and mine alone. Thank you to my fellow member / sailors. To Bob our skipper, Phil, George, Keith, Neil, and our guest Steve. Thank you all for a splendid week sailing, for your company and the unique contribution each of you made to my week.




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