Beaulieu Revisited

Today is brighter and warmer than the previous day. Indeed, it’s tee-shirt weather. Our plan was to take a trip up stream, on the river Medina, and to the capital of the Isle of Wight, Newport.

But, all plans change and Ed decided to stay on for another day and we both decided to return to Beaulieu. We were going to have another attempt sailing towards the village as I was disappointed that I backed out on the first attempt.

We booked our lock exit for 1130 and had to be ready by 1115 for instruction from the marina. Promptly, at 1115, the marina radioed us. We were instructed to slip lines and make our way towards the lock. This time it wasn’t free flow. We entered the lock and were thrown bow an stern lines, by the marina staff. Once locked in, the water emptied and we dropped some 2 metres to the level,of the welcoming river Medina.

Entering the lock
Ed being thrown a line
Leaving the lock. You can see how shallow it is by the grounded red buoy.
A glance back and a fond farewell to Island Harbour

We motored downstream crossed the Solent and to Beaulieu. Passing Bucklers Hard, we continued upstream, for our second attempt at reaching Beaulieu village. This time I was braver and more determined. Passing the point we had reached the day before, the depth kept decreasing and the river narrowing. However, this time my resolve prevailed and after a few more bends we reached the village and could see traffic crossing the small road bridge, that prevented any further progress, well that and the fact that we were running out of depth.

Objective achieve – Beaulieu Village and the road bridge.
A very happy me, with Beaulieu village and road bridge in the background

Goal achieved, we headed back downstream, and to Bucklers Hard. This time we had a very private berth on C9. Another meal and refreshments at “The Master Builder” beaconed.😊⛵️

Chart showing the Beaulieu river, not the green area near the village. green indicating drying area.
Chart showing the depths as one approaches the village
Tidal heights for the day. The air pressure was 1027, standard air pressure is 1013, so we would have had less water than indicated on the charts and tidal curve.

20th April 2021 – Universal to Bembridge

Today is another sailing day, this time with Jacques, a friend from my Ealing days, who I met again in 2009 by sheer coincidence. I re met him, hen I was returning to my then home berth at Town Quay marina , Southampton ,and had a noticed a motor boat next to me. This time someone was one board. At a closer glance, they looked familiar. After mooring we had a chat and discovered that we knew each other from the 1980’s. Some coincidence.

Anyway, back to sailing. Our plan is to sail to Bembridge, my favourite place within the Solent area. We slipped lines at 0855 and motored downstream, through familiar sights along the Hamble and into Southampton Water and the eastwards towards Bembridge.

Within the hour we raised sails and turned off the iron maiden. The silence of our surroundings was, as usual wonderful. We sailed towards Horse Sand Fort and as we approached put a tack in. The tack got us through the channel and we soon passed No Mans Fort. A couple of more tacks and we were in sight of St Helen’s Fort and the approaches to Bembridge.

No Mans Fort
Bembridge beckons

We dropped sails and engined our way towards the small buoys marking the Bembridge approaches. We were on low water neaps , and this was the first time I had entered this channel on low water, only made possible by my beautiful lifting keel beauty, Seraphim. The depth went down to 1.5 metres, but with the keel lifted and only drawing 0.7 metres, it was not a problem.

By 1330, we were moored up and having a beer on deck. Later that afternoon I showed Jacques a little of Bembridge, taking a walk to the other side of the harbour. We walked to the beach, where we were going to dry out. We didn’t attempt this, as we were on neaps and didn’t want to risk being neaped.

Seraphim at her berth at Bembridge

Our walk back took us past Bembridge Sailing Club and Brading Haven Yacht Club, both of which we visited for a pint or two. Then back to Seraphim, where I prepared a homemade Tuna and rocket spaghetti.

Next time I will beach Seraph8m here
Bembridge Sailing Club
View from Bembridge Sailing Club
Jacque, with wine and Tuna spaghetti

Lovely day, great company and in one of my favourite places.

The Draw of the Beaulieu

Last time I went sailing with my friend Jacques,we talked about inviting his wife Stella for a day on the water. That is exactly what we did and we decided to sail up the River Beaulieu and moor up as far upstream as we dare on a low tide.

We arranged to meet at 0900, and as usual Jacque and Stella were on time, in fact early. So we had a cup of tea and slipped lines at 0918.

Seraphim at universal, just before departure

With no wind we motored up to the entrance of the River Beaulieu. Depth went down to 1.2m, but with the keel and rudder up, and only drawing 0.7m we were well wishin imits.Eventually, at 1300, we picked up a mooring buoy opposite a luxury house, which seemed to be built entirely from glass. Settling into our quite and peaceful surroundings, we proceeded to have a lunch of home made quiche and salad, helped down with a glass of red.

Making our way upstream, with Jacque at the helm and Stella navigating

With not a soul in site we relaxed for a couple of hours, taking in the breathtaking views and enjoying our solitude.

Our home made lunch, care of Stella
Stella and Jacque relaxing after lunch
This is how far we got
Just short of the village
Not much water here !!

At 1500, we left on a rising tide and as we entered deeper water I lowered the rudder for more control. A little too early as we grazed the bottom and the hydraulic rupture plug did its job, ruptured and release the pressure from the hydraulics, thus preventing damage to the rudder. Easily replaced, we continued with our journey and even got to sail most of the way back to Universal.

Just manage to out run the rain

Reversing into our pontoon, Jacque stepped off the stern bathing platform, tie our rear line and we were safely in and within notime enjoying a beer and homemade cake.

A pleasant day had by all, and Bembridge beckons for our next adventure together.

Universal marina at dusk

Island Harbour

Another fine, sunny, but brisk morning in Beaulieu. After ablutions, in the refitted and prestigious shower block we returned to Seraphim for a light breakfast and preparation for our next adventure.

Today we decided to take our chances and head up the Beaulieu river and to the village of Beaulieu itself. The river dries to almost 3.0 metres. This means that only boats with a shallow draft can venture this far and this only on a high tide, which toady was 3.4 m at 1420.

We progressed gingerly upstream, passing yachts on their mooring buoys and amazing scenery and houses along the banks of the river. I had previously only ventured this far out on a small tender, with Alex some year back. This time it was a different kettle of fish, with a yacht of 12 metres in length. It was an eerie feeling and I backed out a few bends short short of our destination. The feeling of the river narrowing and the depth going down, was simply too much. And so we turned tail and set our course downstream and towards another shallow destination, Island Harbour, on the Isle of Wight.

Making our way upstream

The crossing was uneventful and we were soon at the entrance to the marina which is locked in. We radioed the marina and we’re told that we could enter and transit on a free flow. This means that both lock gates are open, as the tidal height of the river matches that of the marina pool inside the harbour. The entrance to the marina has a drying height of 1.7 meters, so not accessible to all yachts and all states of tide. Once moored up and refreshed we paid our dues to the marina office and set about exploring.

Familiar Solent traffic
Chart, showing shallow entrance to the marina
Ed and I, looking up and talking to the lock keeper as we enter Island Harbour
Through the lock and into the marina basin
Mooring up

Exploring meant visiting the Breeze, the only restaurant in the harbour. We were lucky enough to get a table and although sitting outside and under a heated lamp, it was a pleasant experience. Being able to eat out at all in these COVID times is a luxury that we haven’t had for almost 4 months. And so, the end of another interesting day, full of new experiences and delights.

Island Harbour
Cold, but grateful. Me having a burger and pint at the Breeze restaurant

Yarmouth to Beaulieu

Another beautiful clear and crisp morning. We prepared Seraphim for a short jolt over the Solent from Yarmouth towards Bucklers Hard in the river Beaulieu.

Leaving Yarmouth

We slipped lines at 1020 and once out of Yarmouth harbour, raised sails and tacked our way over to the entrance of the river Beaulieu. Seraphim performed wonderfully. She was easy to sail and tack and almost performed like a large dinghy. By 1200 we were sailing the transit and over the bar and into the river. We almost sailed the entire way to Bucklers Hard, but unfortunately the wind died and we had to engage the use of our engine.

Sailing across the Solent
Sailing the transit into Beaulieu river

By 1315 we were at our berth and 20 minutes later sitting in the serene gardens of the Master Builder, supping a pint of real ale, first one for many months.

Bucklers Hard around the next turn
View from the Master Builder

It was here ,in the early 18th century, where many naval ships and others were built and launched. In those days there must have been a hive of activity here. Indeed you can still the cut out shapes of hulls, where the ships were built and subsequently launched. The is a maritime museum here and in Beaulieu itself and motor museum, Beaulieu house and the ruins of an abbey.

Seraphim at her berth

Seraphim Solent Sailing

Today the long awaited date of semi freedom has arrived. The day began with the usual early rise and drive down to Universal Marina on the river Hamble, Seraphim’s home. I arrived at the marina at 0700 and began to ready Seraphim for our trip to the Solent. Ed and I planned to sail the Solent for a few days and get some resemblance or normality back in our lives.

Our initial destination was Island Harbour Marina and and an appointment with Terry from Richardson’s Yacht Services, with a view to getting a quote from Terry for some work on Seraphim which will be scheduled for October/November.

We slipped lines at 1030 and with no wind motored across the Solent and up the Medina river. Sailing past familiar sights, such as the Royal Yacht Squadron, the chain ferry and the Folly Inn we arrived at the waiting pontoon at 1245. Now having a lifting keel, I gained added peace of mind in shallow draft environments.

Ed at the helm, with Port Hamble marina in the background. Behind the fuel pontoon, was the location of our first berth for our first yacht, Edal a Virgo Voyager. I believe we were on B25, and the annual berthing costs were more expensive than our yacht.
Our future generation of young sailors, being towed out of the Hamble, for a days adventure on the water.

Terry arrived by 1300 and spent a good hour taking a look at Seraphim and required work. By 1420, we had slipped lines, immediately raised sails, cut off the iron maiden and set sail smoothly downstream and back towards the Solent. There in nothing better than the silence of a sailboat gently cutting through the water with river banks either side. We were even rewarded by a fly past of a Spitfire with its amazing and unique sounds, as it also sliced through its medium of travel.

We tacked most the the way to Yarmouth, our destination for the evening. With open arms, we were welcomed and moored on Pink pontoon between P6 and P7.

Arrival at Yarmouth
Ed at the helm, mooring Seraphim, in a classic stern manoeuvre. Yarmouth RNLI, in the background.

And so we settled into our new home from the evening with a walk into town and a fantastic treat of Fish’n’Chips, from one of my favourite restaurants, “The Blue Crab”. Take away off course 😊⛵️

Seraphim in Yarmouth Harbour
Well deserved fish’n’chip take away from the Blue Crab
Amazing Yarmouth Sunset

Major damage to Seraphim

On Friday the 9th of April I hit HOOK lateral mark in Southampton Water.

The accident happened at 1145 and I had full Genoa and main up and simply didn’t see the buoy

Damage seen from a distance. You can see the damage extends downwards som 40 DMS as the blue line seems to be distorted. The upper deck has also collapsed a few cms.

Newton Creek – First trip of 2021

The long awaited day has come. After over three months of lockdown we were finally allowed to venture out onto the water. I had arranged to meet Jack, a friend of mine from my Ealing days. I arrived earlier, 0730, to prepare Seraphim for her first sail of 2021.

The morning was glorious and Universal marina was drenched in sunshine. A perfect day for a sail with light winds and certainly no more than Force 4 from the South West.

Jack arrived promptly at 1000 and we were soon springing the bow out, using an aft spring and entered the mid channel of the river Hamble. After a few manoeuvres, to familiarise myself with Serphim, we motored towards Southampton Water, raising the sail as we headed into wind.

A quick wind check when leaving Universal marina
Leaving the berth, with Universal marina in the background
Westward view of the river Hamble
Jack, showing the way

It was wonderful motoring out through the river Hamble. Many memories flooded back of my early sailing days. It was here that I did all my yacht training, from Day Skipper to Yacht Master Instructor. It was here that I sailed my first yacht, Edal, co owned with my best friend of 55 years, Edward. Familiar home waters and the very heart of English sailing.

Once in Southampton Water, the engine was turned off, and we were under the graceful power of the wind, probably the most wonderful sound in the world, is the cutting of the engine and the gentle splashing of wave against the hull of a graceful yacht. There was not much traffic, but we were greeted by two Isle of Wight ferries.

We tacked our way through the Solent and towards Newton Creek. Seraphim performed wonderfully and gracefully. And we managed to sail all the way into the creek and if we a little bit more adventurous would have picked up the mooring buoy under sail, but we only just stopped short of that.

Being in the creek again was serene and we settled into our tranquil surroundings with good lashings of homemade soup and homemade sourdough bread.

The homemade sourdough bread I made for our trip
The tranquil surrounds of Newton Creek

After lunch, and with the tide turning Eastwards, we made our way back to the river Hamble. We goose-winged eastwards down the Solent and the entered Southampton Water with the wind on our beam.

Goose winging eastwards in the Solent
Familiar sights of Southampton Water
Jack at the helm
Something caught my eye ?
An unfortunate yacht, caught out by one of the many spits in this area.

We finished the day, arriving back on our home berth at just before 1800. A beautiful day, with great company.