Tuesday 21st July 2015. Up at 4.30 am and a lovely drive down to Lymington. The Car, is how many times better than a boat? !) Gets you everywhere, 2) Quick, 3) Comfortable, 4) Cheap per mile. That's at least four times better.
However, boats it is, so let's remember what happened: I got sails on and stuff chucked in the cabin, and only a couple of pints of water in the bilges. I'd gone down so early hoping the boat hadn't already sunk since launching the day before, because, in the first 20 minutes I saw about a pint of water seep past the keel bolts. What if it had got worse in the night?! I'd forgotten that there is a 1/2" wooden plate between the hull and the bilge keels so this had taken up water and expanded to stop the leaks.
So, off we go - with sails up and down to one mooring line, engine started and we're going forward! Heading, we think, for Yarmouth - and why not? Well, the wind and tide had other ideas. It became clear that with an incoming tide and a force 3-4 headwind we could tack back and forwards for four hours until the tide turned and we weren't going to get there! Change of plan, Newtown Creek is nice too, and two miles down wind and tide. That took about 20 minutes and there were lots of boats heading into the creek. I chickened out of following them in and deployed the anchor which I had handily stowed in the cabin ready for use. The system is: Check the chart for a shallow patch, Check if you can see the bottom (drawing 2 feet it tends to be ok to sail until some sort of murky bottom is apparent.) I could see some clumps of seawead, Luff up to wind, slow down, gently drop anchor and wait for it to catch on the bottom, slowly let out the rest of the chain and some rope, check again for 'bite' and drop the sails. Put on GPS and make a note of the reading. Go to sleep, make tea, etc.... Did I say I was single handed?
Once the tide had turned and the wind had got up to 3-4 with a bit of 5, I reefed the main and set off on a close haul. The tide did all the hard work and we made it straight into the the channel at a cracking 5 1/2 knots - just below the speed limit! I sailed onto the pontoon, dropped the sail, and ripped a bit of sail batten pocket. Worse things could have happened in my first sail in a new boat, the boat's first sail since 2004 and my first single handed cabin cruiser voyage. We'd clocked up about 15 nautical miles, dealt with 3-foot waves, anchored, moored and plenty of other stuff. Most satisfying!