Saturday 5th May and finally we are away again, let the 2018 adventures begin!
It was a lovely farewell from our marina family in Ipswich, with crews from Trimilia, Navigare & Phoenix all turning out on J Pontoon to wave us off. Many goodbyes, lots of pictures, videos and the wonderful sound Trimilia’s horn as we departed.
The initial journey was only a very short one, 10 nautical miles down the Orwell to Harwich (where the Orwell River meets the sea), we overnighted and then took the tide out the next morning destination at that time unknown, maybe Ramsgate, maybe direct to the Channel Islands it was all to depend on how Red Roo performed after being stopped for so long.
And of course as one would expect, half and hour after we decided all was well and we would go direct to the Channel Islands we had a minor hick up with the engine, we had a gear box oil leak, so into Ramsgate we went. Turns out that the leak is only very minor but it did give us a fright. We will need to monitor it closely, keep the old girl topped up with oil and then of course plan a full repair, which could be quite the task IF we have to remove the entire engine to get to the suspected leaking seal, fingers crossed lets hope not. Also on the list already is the starter motor solenoid which is playing up and needs some attention, but at the moment it is getting a very specific tap with a spanner when it plays up.
Anyway with the very light winds we were having to motor sail, which obviously isn’t really the way we prefer to travel, so the decision to stop at Ramsgate check the engine over then just do day trips down the coast using the tide and current to give us a boost was an easy one. From Ramsgate we did a couple of short days and anchored off the beach at Sandgate and then Eastbourne for a night each in calm waters.
We then learnt of friends who were currently in Brighton whom we last saw in Cherbourg, France in 2015 when John and Jan actually ate Christmas lunch with us on board Red Roo. We needed no further excuse to stop and it was great to catch up with them especially as they are in the process of moving off their 1938 Hillyard 14 ton wooden sloop sailing boat “Winfrith” and onto their new boat/home “Eilean Dubh” a narrow boat on the English inland waterways.
From Brighton we finally had some decent winds and sailed with our new main sail down to the Solent and anchored just inside Chichester Harbour. We took the dingy further in upstream to catch up and share a bottle of wine with Rob and Jo on Cyclone of Langstone whom we spent a lot of time with in the Baltic last year. They have taken a morning buoy in the harbour for the year, although that may change as it turns out on low tide they are on the mud and on a considerable lean of 15 degrees.
We then looked to set ourselves up to cross to the Channel Islands, so we headed to the western end of the Solent and anchored in Newtown River for the night. Again only a small trip but with a LOT more yachts on the water than we are used to. That’s the Solent for you, the home of yachting in the UK, Chichester Harbour alone is home to over 10,000 boats, thats not counting any in Portsmouth or on the Isle of Wight in Cowes etc. We motor sailed for about half the journey then joined in the fun and tacked back and forth, back and forth across the solent to make our way into Newtown River.
We had a great day on the water sailing from Newtown River to Alderney Channel Islands. Averaging 6-7 knots speed most of the way in 16 – 20 knot winds. We took the tide out of the “Needles” (the rocks at the end of the Isle of Wight) at 10:30 am and was on the water all day arriving into Alderney after dark around 10pm that night (73 nautical miles). We had been to Alderney before so despite the fact we don’t like entering harbours at night it was one we were familiar with. Despite this, it was very off putting to find one of the leading lights coming into the harbour wasn’t working, very pleased we had electronic charts and were able to use them to get in safely. We picked up a buoy behind the breakwater wall only to be up again at 5am in the morning and moving further into the bay on anchor as the rolling motion on the buoy was terrible and uncomfortable for us both, the anchor closer to shore was much better.
We spent the day on Alderney walking and enjoying the sunshine and catching up with young locals Jake and Lucy whom we had meet on our last visit in 2016 when they were working towards sailing away. It was very exciting to hear that they were finally departing, indeed in the coming few days on their adventure exploring Spain and Portugal for the remainder of the year.
Our last leg from Alderney to Jersey was again in sunshine and mostly fair winds. The wind did increase as the day progressed and the swell started to build a little which was unfortunate for one yacht also on passage as they caught themselves foul on some fishing tackle (suspected pots on the bottom of the ocean), the buoy was below the surface and the current strong keeping it under. We heard their pan pan call go out and could see them so changed course to check and assist. We got to them and although we couldn’t assist to get them off the fouling we offered to stand by until help arrived, in the end it wasn’t required as the lifeboat was dispatched and helped them get clear.
Next stop France!