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.

Night Light Chart and Paper Reader

I use this Fantastic little gadget to illuminate and read my charts and navigation notes. The LED’s only illuminate the Perspex and underlying paper or chart and not your surrounding area. I also modified mine and changed the white LED’s for red which enhances the device for even better night vision protection. I found it amazing as it only illuminates the paper and not surrounding area. You can buy it on Amazon and other reputable on line stores, minus the red LED’s off course, but white works well also, if you don’t fancy modifying. I think red were also available, but I can’t seem to find them on line anymore 😊 Also good for not waking up your partner when reading at night 😊⛵️

More Sea Trials

More sea trails today, this this in 20kts of wind and slightly more challenging conditions. Putting one reef in was a different than that on Yaga, with everything having to be done at the mast.

The procedure was to loosen the kicker then go to the mast and put the cringle for the reef onto the horn.Loosen the lazy jacks, then back to the cockpit and raise the main. Back to the mast and tighten the reef. Quite a lot of toing and froing. I’ll see how this all pans out and may change the reefing system if it proves too difficult in rougher conditions.

Ed and I sailed up Southampton Water as far a Town Quays marina, where we had both kept our yachts many years ago. Passing many cruise ships we thought about pre COVID times where the area was a hive of activity. Hopefully, with a vaccine in sight, prosperity and activity will once again return.

Queen Mary II in her dock, where once Titanic berthed.
Cargo vessel with Azura in the background

Clean up and Bonding with Seraphim

An early start today. Left Esher at just before 0700 and arrived at Universal for a day of cleaning and putting things away.

It’s amazing how much stuff came off Yaga. So much so that I decided to allocate one of the stern cabins as a workshop and storage area. I barely managed to fit it all in. Yaga, for a 30 foot yacht had so much clever space on her.

WIth that job done, which took me most of the morning, I started on the bilges. I managed to soak up 5-6 litres of what tasted and was salt water. I managed to speak to John, the previous owner, and he confirmed that he had taken the log out recently, so it may have been that, will keep an eye on it. Everything looked reasonable and I also emptied the shower tray bilge area, which had a slight blockage.

I bilge area was remarkably cleaned and in great condition for a 20 year old yacht. Paint was all intact and the bow and aft area were bone dry. With dehumidifier and heater on, I left the floors up and had a spot of lunch, which comprised of a pancetta and mushroom and chilli omelette.


After lunch, it was time to attack the cockpit locker. This was a similar and quicker job. I the days clean up process I found interesting items belonging to both previous owners, which ranged from engine spares, cockpit cushion covers, lifting keel sliders and surprise surprise a pound coin in the aft cabin bilge 😊

Time to go home with satisfied and with a feeling that I am bonding and becoming a part of my new Seraphim.


My First Sail on Seraphim

Luckily the COVID restrictions still permitted me to be able to gain access to Seraphim and be able to take her for a sail. I was fortunate enough to have the help of Ed, who kindly came to the marina to give me a hand.

I arrived fairly early and did as many checks as i could remember. Engine oil, water levels, strainer, etc etc etc. Having disconnected the shore power I started her up. Huge amounts of white un burnt diesel filled the surrounding area, but soon dispersed. I left her running for a while and completed a quick tidy up, by which time Ed had arrived.

So, after a walk around and explaining the lay of the land to Ed, we prepared our lines and slowly slipped out and reversed out of the marina. The tide caught us, but we departed with a metre to spare, something I must watch out for in future manoeuvres.

We headed out into the Hamble river and initially performed some reversing and turning manoeuvres , before continuing downstream. It was wonderful being on the water again and especially in my new yacht. Passing Mercury marina, where Ed and I had completed all our courses and YachtMaster instructor qualification, we reminisced about happy times pre COVID. We soon arrived at our destination, a line of pontoons at the mouth of the river, where many yers ago, we practised on our training courses.

Practising reversing onto a river pontoon in the Hamble

We practiced forward and reverse moorings and general boat handling. All rather fun and enjoyable, learning how Seraphim performed. Only 10 knots of wind, so ideal for an initially learn and feel exercise.

Having acclimatised myself to Seraphim, it was time for some sea trials. We headed out past Hamble SCM and into Southampton Water. Raising the full main and completely unfurling the genoa, we turned the iron maiden off and enjoyed the peaceful serenity of the wind and waves. After performing a few tacks and at the edge of the Solent we turned back and headed downwind, with the keel raised off course 😊

Ed, multi tasking with winch and helm.
Me checking the main sail and Ed on the helm

We headed back up the Hamble and decided to top up the fuel tank. Although, I had half a tank, it would be good to top her up for two reasons. One to prevent water accumulating in the tank and two, because in these strange times one never knows when an opportunity like this may present itself again. 120 litres and £151.05 worst off we then continued upstream and back to our temporary home port of Universal marina. I decided to back into the berth in what turned out to be a perfect manoeuvre.

The day was completed with a first meal on Seraphim which we had on deck. A home made tomato and chic pea soup garnished with olives and Feta cheese. The perfect end to a perfect day, with many thanks to Ed for being there and helping me out and forming another strong and shared memory.

The peace and tranquility of the River Hamble