Finally, the day had come to collect Phoenix of Hamble (from now on i'll just stick the name 'Phoenix')... i'd been watching the weather forecast closel for a few days, as the remnants of Hurricane Katia sped across the atlantic preceeded and followed by a series of vicious lows squeezing against the high over mainland Europe causing blustery and occasionally downright windy SW'lys across the UK.
I'd arranged a friday off work to give us a 3 day weekend for the delivery for a bit of contingency, and relaxed somewhat as I saw a clear weather window for Friday and Saturday, with Sunday still looking pretty rough. When I say a weather window, I mean that the forecast was only for a F5 to F6!
Initial challenge was that the previous weekend, i'd been down to the boat and loaded lots of kit onboard for the delivery trip, and fixed a few things required by the insurers for the trip... i'd also had a rigger on board making sure that the rigging was safe... new bilge pump fitted etc etc... along the way, I discovered that the new Schaeffer furler, lovely as it was, has a bolt rope size of 5mm, and the genoa with an 8mm bolt rope was never going to fit!... so a logistical nightmare to get the sail to a suitable sailmaker who had the tme and willingness to do the work, and then get it collected. Once again, my fabulous friends rallied to the cause, and Jim collected, while Roger picked it up afterwards.... many many thanks guys.... and a big hoorah to Wilkinson sails in Burnham who did the job for me, to a high standard, and with a really helpful attitude... highly recommended!
I also discovered that the one leak I knew about had unfortunately dripped straight into the engine start battery box... which had nicely contained the water, but its fair to say that the battery had seen better days after several weeks underwater!!!
So, gathering my crew (Jim and Alan - thanks for your help - much appreciated) at Shotley on Thursday evening, we loaded up the genoa, new battery, clothes, and a ton of other stuff, and set off... when I say set off, I mean drove to the train station... i'd planned on hiring a car for a one way trip, but that proved harder done than said.... with companies unable to deliver or collect out of hours to the locations needed, or at least at any sensible costs... and the train was a grand total of £57 for the 3 of us... it meant lugging everything across London, but the saving was worth it!
So... by midnight, after facing the challenge of underground stairs with so much kit, we rolled into Portsmouth station, and a short taxi ride via the supemarket to collect food (a great 'bloke' shop - where the trolley never stops moving, and things are grabbed as you go by), we made it to Port Solent...
And then we all crashed out for the night exhausted.
High water was 10:24 the next day, and we wanted this for an easy exit... so by 06:30 we were up, getting the jobs that still needed doing done.... the rigging final tightening, split pins added, the genoa fitted, etc etc...
a quick trip to the office to settle any outstanding berthing fees (ouch!) and we set off... me absolutely full of trepidation, as long keels are famous for going where they like in reverse... so I was pleased that with a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, we made it out safely, and then onto the fuel berth... fuel filler cap was stuck so I had to fill directly into the tank... fill being a relative term, as I 'only' put £200 in... its big tank.
And then, on free flow, we swept out into Portsmouth harbour.
You could almost hear Phoenix sigh with relief... back out at sea, with sails bent on.... she knew what was coming.
A short motor out through the small boats channel, and into the Solent...
The forecast F5 to F6 was somewhat pessimistic... perhaps 5 to 6kts.
And so we set a course for the forts, and then on outside the Looe passage... with the tide against us once we cleared the Solent, we felt it would be quicker to go outside where the rate would be much lower. By the time we turned properly east outside the Looe channel, we had around 12 to 15kts of wind, and so we set the sails and turned the engine off.
She sails like a witch!
A steady 6 kts STW, and she felt magnificent on the helm... i'm going to like her!
And so the trip continued.... after a couple of hours, the wind dropped again, and beside a small moment of panic when the engine wouldn't start, until I realised that I hadn't opened the battery switch properly, we motored. And motored. And motored.
The engine is amazing. 1300rpm and 7.5kts STW.... brilliant!
By the time we had been going a few hours it had started getting foggy, and like most things electrical on Phoenix at present, the radar didn't work. But we plugged on... in the fog pastBrighton and on to Eastbourne. By this time we'd already decided that with the forecast for Sunday, we'd do the whole trip in one go, and so we established a watch pattern, and I took first shift 22:00 to midnight.
Easy really... no traffic... no wind... no course changes!
At midnight, Alan relieved me, and I went to get my head down for my 4 hours, and slept like a log... I was awakened at 04:00 to find us just off North Foeland, where Jim pointed out to me a forest of lights. The new London Array windfarm... not on my 2004 charts. But it was OK... we could see the southerly cardinal, and just left that well to port.
By the time Alan came back on watch at 06:00, we were just approaching the Kentish Knock bouy in the Thames Estuary, and I was awake and fresh, so stayed up. We had what proved to be a completely uneventful trip... perhaps enough to sail on occasions, but marginal enough to not bother trying.
And at 08:30, Walton headland came into sight....
As we approcahed the entrance to Shotley, I glanced at my watch... amazing 25hrs, Portsmouth to Shotley... and average of 7.4kts.
The lock was painless, easy in fact, and the berth not much harder.
In and tied up, with not so much as a hiccup. Can't ask more than that!
...and now to get on with the massive jobs list!
Miles logged 185nm
Miles this season 185nm
Miles since this blog started 5,891nm