Wednesday, 19 August 2009

In Which We Mess About in Boats

We had just clambered on board when we noticed the approach of a helicopter – it appeared that the RNLI was doing a display – close formation between the helicopter & the lifeboat and demonstrating winching people on and of the boat. Most interesting.

I should perhaps introduce Konnie. She is C’s boat (probably technically a yacht, but that sounds so plutocratic, and she isn’t.) She is a Westerly Konsort , some 29’ long. If you were holidaying for a weekend, she’d be pretty roomy. If you live permanently on board, as K&C currently do, you learn to be really good at packing stuff. (although there is an awful lot of space for storage, if you know where it is!) And K&C have been spending the last few weeks sailing, prior to going back to work at the start of September.

So. After watching the Lifeboat, and catching up, we turned in for the night. If you look at the pictures of an average Konsort , my berth was the one behind the chart table (6th pic down) which is handy, as it almost completely enclosed, and thus virtually impossible to fall out of. This is a good thing, as it turned out to be quite a bouncy night - partly because we were towards the outside of the harbour so not sheltered, and partly because of the wash from the ferries going in and out.

High water was around 10.30 a.m. so we got up in a fairly leisurely way and had breakfast before heading out into the Solent at, or just before, high water.

It appears that the Solent is quite busy, as bits-of-water-for-sailing-on go, and also it was fairly breezy, so we decided that it wasn’t the ideal time for me to practice my nascent steering skills.

We were able to get the sails up and the engine off as soon as we cleared the harbour, and had plain sailing (Ha! See what I did there?) to our destination, Newtown River. Even though we only used the little sail (the Genoa), we made excellent speed, and did a little bit of leaning over sideways, too!

As we sailed, C was giving me a little information about the rules - who has to give way to whom - as far as I can remember, boats under power give way to boats under sail, except when it is the othre way around because you give way to boats less able to take evasive action that you are, which is why we had to give way to the Isle of Wight ferry. Then there are all the rules depending on which tack you are on and whether you are in front or behind.

There were a lot of hired boats out all racing with one another, which made life a little interesting, as many of them seemed not to be paying much attention to where they were going or where any of the other boats were - we had to take evasive action to avoid being run in to by one of them, which was overtaking us (which apparently means it was their responsibility to steer clear of us, not the other way around.)

We arrived at Newtown river in time to moor, just before it started raining on us, and to have lunch, by which time it had stopped raining.

Newtown river, being a smallish river looked after (or adjacent to land looked after) by the National Trust, does not have frivolous luxuries like a water taxi, so, having moored up to a buoy, we had to inflate the dinghy in order to go ashore. (When I say ‘we’ I actually mean ‘C’, as despite my feminist principals, I have to confess that C did lots of energetic inflating of the dinghy, heaving it about and fitting the outboard, and K & I did the washing up & made a nice cup of tea.)

We skittered up the river (and let me tell you, the wash and waves from even quite little boats and gusts of wind seem quite big, when you are sitting in a tiny inflatable dinghy)

We saw lots of birds. The tide was out, so there was a lot of exposed tidal mud, and we saw Oyster-catchers, with bright red legs and beaks, some birds which we think were Bar-Tailed Godwits, and of course also ducks, Canada Geese and a couple of swans.

When we got ashore we walked into the nearest village, Shalfleet, where we found, not altogether unexpectedly, a very nice pub. We were a bit surprised at how near to the river it was – we had read up in advance and were expecting a 20-25 minute walk – instead, it was closer to 10 mins, which did cast a little doubt on whether we had actually earned our beer, but we decided to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt!. It was perfectly splendid beer, light, golden, hoppy, summery ale.

The walk to and from the village was nice, too. Most of it was along an unmetalled road, bordered with brambles loaded with just-ripe blackberries, with the occasional cottage set in beautifully kept gardens bursting with flowers. Even the pub had riotous hanging baskets and window boxes overflowing with flowers.

and the sun came out, too.


Dragonsally said...

Sounds divine (I was trying to think of a nautical term, and couldn't. Oh well) I've never been on a yacht.

Siri said...

How about shipshape and bristol fashion?

I like the plain sailing...

ravyn said...

Been meaning to comment on this but i was submerged in chaos earlier. Looks and sounds like you had a grand time on the water!

Last year i took a basic sailing class, and absolutely loved it. One of my goals is to be able to sail one of those 30-ish-foot cruisers, i hope next year i can go back to the sailing classes.

wv: flypir - a species of sandpiper that spends more time in the air than on the sand.