Selsey Bill to Lyme Regis - Strong winds warning.
24 hour forecast: South or southwest 5 or 6, increasing 7 or gale 8 for a time, decreasing 3 or 4 later. Slight or moderate, becoming moderate or rough. Occasional rain or showers. Moderate or good.
This persisted for the following 2 days with no let up. Monitoring the real time weather at Poole Harbour showed average windspeeds of 24 knots with gusts to 39 knots. This was really not the weather I wanted for a shakedown cruise. Looking at the long range forecast I cold see a window of opportunity opening on Saturday 9th, so with that in mind, I rang into work and told them I would be on leave until Tuesday night!
|Poole harbour - beware the green bits!|
Saturday 9th July
I arrived late afternoon to a pretty deserted yard. Apparently the office closes at 1600 on Saturday. I talked to a few folks working on their boats and they just told me to go ahead, launch, park and sort out with the yard either in the morning or on return.
Rigging was pretty straight forward and quick. I'd noted the mistakes I'd made on my previous outing, and managed to get the halyard, topping lift and furling line in the right places first time. I was assisted by a local young lad who was keen to study the intricacies of the Paradox design.
I was a bit nervous about the very steep ramp, but in the end my fears were unfounded. I'd somehow lost a wheel bearing cap from the trailer on the journey so I didn't go so far as putting the trailer hubs under water. Johanna slid of the trailer with ease. Moored up at the pontoon I spent the rest of the evening stowing gear, loading water, fixing a meal and getting ready for an early start in the morning.
|Alongside at Ridge Wharf|
As the sun slowly sank the fresh wind abated and the sunset had the promise of a better day tomorrow. I soon settled down and enjoyed a warm and humid night on board.
Sunday 10th July
Up early and everything is quiet and peaceful. At around 0900 I get a hail from across the bank from one of the yacht centre's staff. After a quick visit to the office to book in officially and pay launch fees, I'm ready to go.
There's a moderate westerly wind already and I'm keen to get sailing as soon as possible. One thing I have done since our maiden voyage is add a small 2.5hp Suzuki outboard. I thought long and hard about this, but felt that the motor would allow me to take maximum advantage of my free time.
The motor started on the first pull, and I let her tick over to warm up as recommended in the "running in" section of the manual. Ready to cast off, I reached over to put it in gear and before I got there it coughed and spluttered to a stop.
Would it start again? Would it heck. Not being able to find anything wrong I loosened the fuel filler cap and as soon as I started to turn it I heard the hiss of in rushing air. Yes, the breather cap needs more than half a turn to open it up!
Lesson learnt, I'm soon on my way downstream on the River Frome. At tickover we're making 4.9knots over the ground, but we have a fair bit of ebb under us helping us along.
|Wading birds means NO water.|
I hopped over the side and immediately became intimately acquainted with Poole harbour mud! Yes, I sank up to about my knees in thick black gloop. Pushing Johanna back towards the channel we were soon afloat again. I hopped back on board, and what were once pristine clean decks now resembled a newly ploughed field. Attempting to wash most of the mud of my legs, I casually waved at passing motor boats as if it was all planned.
Things were looking up, and soon I was in deep water with a reasonable variable force 3 Westerly wind blowing. I worked my way down the harbour towards Brownsea Island and then started a beat up the narrow channel towards Shipstal Point. Problem number two of the day presented itself. The outboard, which does perform beautifully, is a pain in the rear end when it comes to sailing. Every little protrusion was hell bent on snagging the mainsheet. Luckily with the open rear of the cabin, I was able to lean out and unsnag all but the worst of the tangles. I made good progress up channel and was surprised by the number of boats who motored up rather than sailed.
Approaching the anchorage I noticed I had quite an audience among the moored craft. I mentally picked my mooring spot and started to plan my approach. Sailing among some rather expensive craft I became aware that I was going to have to put in anther tack as I couldn't weather a moored yacht directly ahead. My problem was that bearing off would put me steaming full ahead into another boat, and if I missed the tack and got my sheets tangled, I could well end up hitting a motor boat. Instant decision was to drop sail and scull over to my preferred spot. Problem number three! I started furling the sail and all was going fine until it jammed solid about half way down. Searching round for a reason I find the mainsheet and topping lift wound in a mess around the end of the boom. I was drifting sideways towards Long Island and eventually ended up perched on a sand bar beside two sea kayakers who were standing in ankle deep water. Again as if it were all planned, I hopped overboard for the second time today with anchor in hand, and then sorted out the flogging sail and tangled mess.
|Aim for the sand bar!|
|Anchored for lunch off Shipstal Point|
|Heading up the River Frome|
Once into the river proper, I picked up an empty mooring on one of the trots to furl the sail and sort my self out. Setting off again under yuloh I wasn't making very quick progress against the wind, so turned to the engine, fired it up, and at tickover leisurely made my way up the river to Wareham Quay.
|Wareham Quay and the Quay Inn|
Wareham Quay on a sunny Sunday evening is a hive of activity. There was one small motor cruiser against the quay and further up three huge power boats rafted up together. Without a thought I pulled in in front of the motor cruiser and the skipper jumped ashore and took my lines.
"Is that a Paradox?" he says.
This was the start of a conversation or conversations that lasted about two hours! He first called his wife; she explained that her dad wanted a Paradox, how she wished he were here, took photos, jumped aboard and talked and talked. At this point I realised that I was parked on part of the quay which had a white line which said "To be kept clear at all times". However two locals that started chatting with me said it was for the tripper boat, and with the falling tide he would not be back up river tonight.
|Moored on the white lines!|
The two locals talked for an age, one jumped aboard to have a look around, related his stories of his recent trip to the Gulf of Morbihan while the Quay Inn beckoned me and I got ever more hungry. The locals however were able to point me towards a nearby fish and chip shop which I quickly found soon after getting a pint form the Quay Inn. All very civilized I ate my takeaway whilst supping beer on the aft deck!
Eventually the three huge power boats departed just before dark to return to their moorings less than a mile down stream. I moved Johanna forward, away from the white line, to occupy the empty berth and made fast for the night. Low tide was at approximately 02:00 and I had no idea how far the water would drop. The water was now dropping rapidly, where, when I arrived, I just stepped ashore, I now had a climb of about 3 feet up to the quayside. I turned in at about 2330 and set my alarm for 0200 so that I could check the slack on my mooring warps at low tide. I slept peacefully until about 0100 when I was awoken by 4 youths revving their mopeds up and down the quayside. They soon got fed up with that and left after about five minutes and peace was restored.
I was up early on Monday morning, woken by the bin men (refuse disposal operatives is I believe their proper title). It was a beautiful still morning and a thin mist hung over the river. I made my way into town and bought provisions from the supermarket once it opened at 0800. Back on board I made breakfast, filled my thermos flask, made a couple of sandwiches for lunch and prepared to move off. I made some modifications to the boom tang in the hope that it may relieve the jamming problem until a more permanent fix is achieved.
I slipped my moorings at 0940.
The return journey back down river was in a complete flat calm, but with the engine on tick-over we made an easy 4 knots.
|Back down the River Frome in a flat calm|
|Brownsea Island Circumnavigation|
|Brownsea Castle ahead|
|Headed for Green Island|
As I bore away to the north the wind came dead astern, and I had my first real taste of running with a decent breeze up the rear. Johanna speed along at 4-5 knots but I had to concentrate quite hard to stop her gybing. I put in a couple of gybes as we ran up Ramshorn Lake but just as a tripper boat came up astern I gybed unintentionally. This lead to the dreaded tangle of mainsheet round the engine leg. Because of the pressure on the sheet the only easy way to untangle it was to gybe round again in the opposite direction. As usual, this was in full view of all onboard the tripper boat!
It was an uneventful trip back up towards Rockley Point, where the wind fell light and I mixed it with a group of dinghys racing. Now, in the Wareham Channel again, the wind had of course gone right round to the SW meaning I, and the dinghys, were all beating towards the windward mark together. Of all the Lasers, Toppers and Enterprises, Johanna was the fastest by far in the light conditions and I soon left them in my wake!
I had an interesting beat back up the channel, the length of the boards getting progressively shorter as neared the head of the channel. It was approaching 1700 and with a flood tide, I thought I might try and enter the mouth of the River Trent and drop the hook for a short while.
Alas it was not to be. Concentrating on some boat traffic, I held on to starboard tack a bit too long, just opposite the river entrance, and that unmistakable feeling of sailing through treacle was confirmed when I looked over the side and saw we were once again up on the mud. I threw the hook out and went below and made a cup of tea! I sat enjoying the late afternoon sunshine and by 1730 Johanna was swinging sedately at her anchor with enough water under us to make our way back into the channel.
|Free from the mud|
Three of its occupants were waste deep in black mud trying in vain to refloat her. Did I laugh? Did I heck. Justice seems to have been done. Maybe next time they'll stay the right side of the channel markers and keep to the 5 knot speed limit! With a smile on my face I made my leisurely way back to Ridge Wharf where I arrived at 1800.
I derigged, washed off some Poole mud and made her ready for the road.
Total trip according to the GPS was 37 nautical miles at an overall moving average of 2.5 knots. As this included a lot of faffing around on mud, I expect the average speed to be quite a bit higher when we were moving properly! Top speed of 5.6 knots is very respectable, there were lots of occasions on day one where we were cruising above 5 knots.
There are obviously teething problems to overcome, but that's what a shakedown is all about.
What worked well?
The boat sailed well and I was pleased with her windward performance. Off the wind she picks up her skirts and flies. The engine pushes her to almost hull speed at just above tickover. The stove worked well and I slept comfortably at night.
Issues to resolve.
The furling gear has too much friction and the boom tang is nowhere near stiff enough. This gave me lots of grief on day one, but should be easy to rectify. I need to have a look at improving the mast sheave and using a thicker line for the topping lift which is kinder to my hands. The engine was great but gets in the way at every opportunity to snag the mainsheet. I need to either think of a way to reroute the sheeting, install a horse, or throw the engine overboard! I need more hooks, clips, storage containers, etc. down below to keep things shipshape. Anchor stowage below, to keep mud at bay, needs sorting as does a means to deploy the anchor from the hatchway without going forward. I need some securing eyes for the fenders.
All in all Johanna is a fine boat, I just need to get the crew up to scratch to make her an efficient and happy ship.I had a most enjoyable weekend and am very happy with the Paradox performance. Once I've made a few changes I'll be back for more. Watch this space...............