Thursday, 29 September 2011

Poole Harbour - DCA Rally

Saturday 24th September was the appointed time for DCA members to meet at Shipstall Point in Poole Harbour.
With a favourable forecast I decided to make the most of the season before the short days and winter draws inexorably closer!

Selsey Bill to Lyme Regis

For coastal areas up to 12 miles offshore from 0001 UTC Sat 24 Sep until 0000 UTC Sun 25 Sep
24 hour forecast:

Wind -Variable mainly south or southeast, 3 or 4. Sea State - Smooth or slight. Weather - Mainly fair. Visibility - Good.
Outlook for the following 24 hours:

Wind - South or southeast 3 or 4, increasing 5 or 6 later. Sea State - Smooth or slight becoming moderate. Weather - Mainly fair, rain later. Visibility - Moderate or good.

I was up at 05:30 to prepare myself for the 135 mile drive south to the launch site near Wareham.

I was afloat without a hitch by 1130, and with lovely sunny weather and a moderate breeze, set off for the sail to the meeting point.
The sailing was near perfect, I was reefed down quite a bit but making a steady 5 knots off the wind towards Brownsea Island. I had my first excitement just off Pottery Pier where, tucked in close to shore, I got caught in irons when trying to tack. The wind at this time was fresh and that together with a strong ebb was setting me down onto the pier quite rapidly. I rapidly started the engine and quickly made a little offing before the engine spluttered to a stop! Luckily I was on a favourable tack heading away from the pier, so I just maintained my course  and made for Shipstall Point up the Wych Channel. I hoisted full sail to get a bit more drive, and throughout the beat upwind the boat behaved perfectly after that. I passed close to a couple of DCA boats and we exchanged greetings.

It turned out a lovely sunny afternoon and as I reached Shipstall Point there were already a few members anchored off the beach enjoying the sunshine. Paradox "Little Jim" was there, and Al Law captured my arrival on film as I moored close by.
Arrival at Shipstall Point - Photo A. Law

Photo A. Law

Photo A. Law

Photo A. Law

Photo A. Law
  A pleasant afternoon was spent just enjoying the sunshine and taking in the sights ashore as a steady stream of DCA members and their boats turned up throughout the afternoon. I believe we had 13 members in all throughout the day.

DCA boats

The joy of shallow draft. Anchored in 12" of water.

Night falls

As night fell, Steve, the organiser, lit the BBQ and we spent the next few hours chatting away and enjoying the late summer weather. Eventually it was time to turn in for the night. I hauled myself about 10 metres off shore knowing that within about 2 hours we'd be high and dry as the water receded. Sure enough after lots of slurping and splashing , I peeked out in the darkness and found we were all high and dry on the mud. I woke a few hours later to that now  familiar sound of the water slapping under the hull and not long after we were again swinging to the anchor. About 0600 I woke, unconsciously aware that some thing had changed. Looking outside revealed a grey windy morning, with heavy gusts coming out of the South West.
Blustery morning

The plans for a sail out to Studland were scuppered by the poor forecast, so heavily reefed we all made our own way to whatever destination took our fancy. I thought I'd take a run down the harbour but when I got as far as Brownsea the weather was deteriorating further, with a strengthening wind and dark clouds. I decided an afternoon ashore wouldn't go amiss, so I about turned, and headed back towards the  Wareham Channel.
Before the wind really picked up.

I had a fast reach  back to Arne point, but as I came round into the wind things got slower and more difficult. Once again my destination lay directy upwind and it was a hard beat into a steady force 5 to get there. A large rain squall came bowling up the channel, the water turning white as it approached. I 'd guess the gusts were at least force 6 and Johanna had the lee rail under several times. Items not stowed securely below were wandering around and finding themselves new homes. I also had my first salt water aboard, when a few waves breaking off the bow sent sheets of spray into my lap. I made a mental note to retreat below earlier next time!
It was an uneventful trip up the River Frome to Wareham where I moored for the night. The wind whistled in the rigging of the moored yachts, but the sun reappeared  and a pleasant afternoon was spent exploring the surrounding countryside with a local sailor and his crew who were awaiting the tide to refloat their boat.
Another peaceful night aboard, woken only by the heavy rain early morning.
Monday I just pottered and got back to the launch site by 1100, recovered, packed and was back home by 1530 just as the summer weather hit us in earnest!
Oh well there's always next summer to look forward to.
Not a huge mileage but an enjoyable weekend and my strongest winds aboard Johanna to date.

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