With memories of last year’s departure party which included a broken nose, a suspected heart attack, bouncers slinging customers out, lost clothing and massive hangovers we adopted a quieter approach to the start of 2019’s adventure.
So on Tuesday 16th April at 0600 sharp we parted company with our winter home and once again we drifted into our first sunrise of 2019 and in Le Jouannet’s safe hands, we hoisted the main sail. We seemed to have the Solent to ourselves and with the Easter weekend promising to be a mini heat wave, we headed for the Isle of Wight and the quiet harbour of Bembridge.
Access to this natural harbour is guarded by St Helens Fort alongside which there is an old tidal gauge indicating the height of the foreboding sandbar that protects the entrance. The guide book tells stories of boats running aground and strong cross tides in conjunction with this historical and hopelessly inaccurate gauge. With today’s super highway of information this gauge has been replaced with an online depth reading which is updated every minute with an error factor of 0.01 metres. All you need is pure streaming 4G Wi-Fi whilst off shore to avail yourself of this key piece of information – either this or just follow a similar sized boat in and if they should come to an abrupt stop turn around and have another go 15 minutes later when the tide has come in bit.
After negotiating the bar (not the one at the boat club for a change!) we found ourselves inside this famous little harbour where in September 1805 Nelson boarded HMS Victory en-route to the Battle of Trafalgar. We very quickly, and rather comfortably, fell into our 2018 regime of wine tasting assisted by our new neighbours, Phil and Michelle, the crew of ‘Sienna’, who seemed to have a refreshing and relaxed attitude to what a ‘unit of Alcohol’ actually represents. We agreed that a ‘Unit’ is surely what you can hold in one hand (for Example: A large glass of wine = 1 Unit; 4 cans of Larger = 1 Unit; 1 litre of Vodka = 1 Unit…) and following this research Michelle and Nina found the morning was best viewed through heavily darkened sunglasses whilst suffering from a ‘touch of the ‘RAF’s’.
The tranquillity of this little corner of Hampshire was disturbed when over 150 boats arrived for the Easter break and we found ourselves inside a raft of six other boats. The lazy sunny days were spent making boastful plans for this year trip and pouring over charts that may never see the light of day again this season whilst also testing our new outboard. Having proudly fitted this beast of an engine to the dinghy, I proceeded to pull the start cord sufficiently to warrant oxygen and CPR without so much of a splutter. The spark plug was removed and cleaned, and after losing half my body weight in sweat it was then pointed out by one of the gathering audience that I hadn’t turned the fuel on. Having by then ‘humoured’ the gathering crowd sufficiently, the Honda purred into life ….
16th April 2019
Mileage completed 15