Wednesday 29 September 2010

Two Old Gaffers Part 2

After our mornings' exertions it was nice to sit on our cosy pontoon and watch the other boats arrive, there were gaffers large and small but it has to be said not many smaller than Tit Willow.

Now and again the Harbour Master would tour the pontoon in his RIB and do the water equivalent of a Doughnut, creating a fair bit of turbulence, knocking the boats around, and generally annoying everyone.  I suspect he wasn't the real Harbour Master who, in a place like Cowes, must have loads of scrambled egg on his peaked cap, this was some upstart, probably a retired accountant who only gets to show off when the real Harbour Master is off  talking to The Queen or chatting to Dame Ellen. 

A late arrival in the evening was none other than Ocean Pearl, so maybe I'd see her in full sail after all. 

There was to be a Gaffers Briefing in the Corinthian's Yacht Club at 9.00 so we went to investigate the prospect of food. Mmm Cod and Chips, eaten outside, out of the paper, Yummy.

We got to the Corinthian's a bit early and sat there like Derby and Joan waiting for the bingo to start.  
Tom Cunliffe, famous Yachtsman and now TV personality was there to give the briefing which he managed with a fair bit of flair and not a few laughs.

We were told what VHF Channel would be used which would have been very useful had we a radio.

And what to do in the event of retirement, perish the thought, ha! we all laughed. So as not to clog the VHF frequencies with the sound of baling a mobile phone number was given out.

Sailing Directions were in the programme, the actual choice of course would be given over the radio tomorrow morning.
" but we don't have a R......."
and shown on the board next to the start line.
 " Ah O.K." ....................................which is the Island Sailing Club start Line,
 "but this is the Corinthian's" ?

For those sailing without the benefit of GPS, Chart plotters etc, turn left as you leave Cowes and stop before you get to Hurst Castle . 

The weather forecast was given as "worse than today, Force 4 -5 gusting 6 occasionally with more rain".

Tomorrow Evening's festivities, for those who survive, will be a BBQ at the Lymington Town Sailing Club. Not to be confused with the posh place over the road which is the Royal Lymington Yacht Club and who will throw you out if you turn up dressed like that!

Wind - Rain - BBQ, great. 

Saturday Morning brought everything it had promised.  Flags stood horizontally, pointing north east, the sun refused to come out and play, the fine rain came through in drifts soaking everything. 

Cee Dubbs looked at the sky again, "I don't like it, what do you think?

" Well its just what they predicted........bloody awful"

"Do you think we should go ?"

"give it another half-hour its brightening up over there"  it wasn't.

After half an hour we were still saying the same things. In the end we agreed, lets just go out and see what it looks like we can always call it off if we don't like it.

As we set off down the channel towards the start the rain started again, the sky was almost dark, brooding clouds obscured the sun.
We found the twin vertical transit lights of the Island Yacht Club start line beaming through the gloom like airport landing lights.  "can you see what course we're on? " I could identify a square box with a number in it, what that number was, 3 maybe maybe 4.  Must be 3 . 

"Time what time have you got?"
" fourteen minutes ish,"
"O.K. we'll get down over there out of the way a bit" we were back in the moorings where we'd been yesterday, in a pretty good position, well below the line on the windward end.

Its always exciting just before the start of a race, you have to keep an eye on the time, listen for starting guns, watch where other boats are in case you have to give way, and in the mouth of the Medina there's always the Isle of Wight Ferry and a lot more boats to watch out for.  

"What time have you got now?"
"Just coming up 11mins."...............Bang
"That must be the 10minute gun, I'm a minute out"
"O.K. going about, we'll sail away from the line for 5 mins then turn round"   Bang!

"No that must be the 10minute gun"
"Right going about now, we'll head for the line," squinting through the rain and gloom it was easy to see the transit lights "there's the near distance mark "

" one minute gun" trying to judge the speed towards the line. 
"40 seconds."
"O.K. lets harden up"


"Looks like everyone else is going "
suddenly looking in the other direction, down the start line the confusion of boats which were tacking gybeing and jockeying for position have all come round to head in the same direction, they are pointing as high as possible with as much sail as they dare which is a pretty impressive sight.

Bang! we're off. be continued. 

Monday 27 September 2010

Its a small world!


A few months ago Google added a "Stats" tab to the Blogger dashboard, it took me a while to notice it but I'm now fascinated by the results. It lets me see how many hits this blog gets, I think these figures start from May 2010.

Pretty small fry in comparison to other sites but its great to know at least someone out there is looking, thanks.

Flushed by my small success I've added a few extras down the side panel, added a scrolling gallery to the pages section and have re-started work on the individual Boats pages.

And just because I can, below you'll see where my hits are coming from.

keep coming back and I'll try to keep it interesting.

  Cheers Graham (Port-Na-Storm)

United Kingdom
United States
New Zealand

Friday 24 September 2010

Two Old Gaffers in an Old Gaffer go sailing ( with more Old Gaffers)

Getting There.

A while ago I said I'd report back after my sail with Cee Dubbs in Tit Willow. So here as promised is the unexpurgated story. I'm sorry to say there are no photos, my old camera got a dunking at Cobnor, made a brief recovery after a few days in the airing cupboard, but the conditions out with Cee Dubbs just finished it off, which should give you a hint of how things went. 
Thankfully I had the sense to leave my new camera tucked up in its case at home. 

I met up with Cee Dubbs and Tit Willow at Dell Quay in Chichester Harbour around 5.00pm on the Thursday evening. TW is kept on a yard trolley the wheels for which Cee Dubbs keeps at home, they originally came off a light aircraft and are worth a bob or two so he leaves her jacked up on blocks.  Cee Dubbs had the wheels on by the time I got there so we reversed her down the slip and waited.
At a ton and a quarter you don't launch TW you sit and wait until the tide lifts her off, so we had a cup of tea and gradually but surely up she came, we were away by about 7.30.

It was a very gentle evening with the wind in the south so we were able to sail all the way down the channel, past Itchenor to East Head where we anchored for the night. It was getting pretty dark by the time we got out by Furzey Island, the infamous site of the camera dunking but there was just enough light to see the channel posts and keep out of trouble. TW doesn't have any nav. lights, technically she is too small to need them so long as you can show a light when needed. I presume there must have been a torch somewhere. 

Once the anchor was safely set, and Cee Dubbs had stopped fretting that we were too close to the boat next door the boom tent was raised and we settled in for the night. As guest of honour I was given the only bunk. TW's cabin can only be described as bijou, apparently there is a second cot but you have to get married before you can get that close, so El Capitan elected to sleep in the cockpit on his air mattress.   I'm not sure who got the best deal but I now know how the apollo astronauts felt.
 As TW swung on her anchor rode keeping head to wind as all good boats should the rising gale whistled in through the front of the boom tent which acted like a wind tunnel, Cee Dubbs spent most of the night with his pullover round his head.

Due to a myopic malfunction which read 06.05 as 06.55 we were up bright and early!

Thankfully Cee Dubbs likes his coffee in the morning. Proper coffee! so after a couple of mugs the world was beginning to seem O.K.  A fried egg sandwich ( this man knows how to live) and we were off.
The weather gods had promised a blustery force 4 from the south west and they didn't disappoint. First Reef in and away we go, out across Chichester harbour towards Hayling Island, hang a left, keep as close to the western shore as you dare and out to sea. 

Hayling Bay is shallow so the rollers build up especially when the wind is in the South, it also means that the marked channel goes quite a way out before its safe to turn west for the Isle of Wight. We bounced out over the bar punching into the waves which TW took happily in her stride, she really is quite a remarkable little vessel. She is very dry although we did get the odd dunking just to keep us awake. Once out of the channel and heading west it was a broad reach out between the twin forts protecting Portsmouth. 

Southampton is one of the busiest ports in the world and this combined with the proximity to Portsmouth, ferry traffic to the Isle of Wight, and the sailing hubs of Cowes and the Solent  all combine to make this stretch of water one of the busiest anywhere. Its very important to keep a good watch and we had to make a tactical manoeuvre to avoid a tanker coming out of Fawley oil terminal. 

As we came close under the lea of the island the wind dropped a bit so it was a very comfortable sail.  Ah the calm before the .....
As we came abeam of Cowes, our destination, the wind was funnelling right down the river, estimates vary between Bloody Hell and Strewth! We needed to tack upriver to the marina, keeping well clear of the ferries and other river traffic as well as the rows of boats swinging on their moorings.
Cee Dubbs elected to get the outboard out, I agreed.
The outboard thought otherwise. The locker was swimming in six inches of water, and consequently it elected not to bother starting.

We hove-to while Cee Dubbs put a second reef in. 
Composure was maintained at all times and swearing kept to the occasional curse. 

We kept out of the channel down to the east, and dodged amongst British Sailing Academy Lasers which were capsizing around us.
We tacked up amongst the moorings, almost under the bow of the ferry and like a hedgehog trying to cross the M25 made a run for it across the channel and into the marina. 

We had arrived, tomorrow the race!          
To be continued.............................. 

Wednesday 22 September 2010

As I was going to St Ives

St Ives in Cornwall might be the spiritual home of Port-Na-Storm despite the pseudo Gallic derivation of the name. The photo on the masthead of this blog was taken there a few years ago.  We have been going to St Ives as a family ever since my daughter was a wee girl and this year we decided to go once more and introduce our granddaughter to the fantastic beaches and turquoise sea. She loved it.  

St Ives still has a busy working harbour with small fishing boats going out most days to line for mackerel. The harbour dries out which means you can really get down amongst the boats. 

 I spotted this nice little lugger, she is quite similar in layout to the coot in that she has her mast well forward, but her lines seem finer especially the run aft.

She was built in Dartmouth by Butler & Co in what appears to be 2009 but she looks older.

There were quite a few interesting boats in the harbour which is becoming a bit of a centre for traditional lug sails, I'll post more later.

Meanwhile if you haven't seen this before have a go, no calculators allowed!

As I was going to St Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Each wife had seven sacks
Each sack had seven cats
Each cat had seven kits
Kits, cats, sacks, wives
How many were going to St Ives?