Solo sail today

7 Sept 2014

A calm morning today with high tide around 1030, I haven’t been out for a few weeks now as we’ve been unlucky with the weather the last couple of race weekends. I knew there was a big ship due to come in on the high tide so I was up early and at the boat before 0900. Other people had the same idea and were getting ready to go out including my neighbour who set off about 0915. So I had the berth to myself. I got myself ready, mainsail cover off, lines untied, stepped aboard and did my usual reverse drive out of the berth and in to the river at 0930.

There was a gentle breeze but directly from the north and blowing down the river and I couldn’t find a still enough spot to leave the helm and clamber around the mast to pull the main up. I got the fenders in then decided just to motor out to sea and see what things were like outside. Slightly misty but a very flat sea, sky bright but high cloud and little direct sunshine. I found about F2 of wind, unrolled the genoa and shut the engine off. So there I was headed east towards the Angmering beach under genoa only and against a bit of tide we were making about 2kts. I was in no hurry so didn’t bother with the main, too lazy, or too relaxed! I thought she might be unbalanced with genoa only but she was very happy and sat straight on course. Our neighbouring club AYAC had a large fleet of dinghies out scurrying around a race course so I stayed well offshore away from them. Looking back towards Littlehampton and with my radio on the harbourmaster’s channel 71 I watched and listened as the big ship entered. After about 45mins heading East I’d only gone about a mile but it was very pleasant. Just bubbling along, no heeling, a light breeze on the face, watching the genoa telltales and fiddling with sheets and tiller.

Once the ship was out of the way I tacked around and went back towards Littlehampton. Our own AYC dinghy fleet were starting to assemble outside for their 1100 race, they’d all had to wait on the shore till the ship was past before they set out. Going West with the wind more behind me and the tide with me, we were doing over 4kts so got back much faster. I went a little way past and continued west for a few minutes - there are rumours that a pod of dolphins has been seen recently but no sign of that today.

Nearly 1100 and keen to be back for lunch I rolled the genoa away and started the motor. The tide had turned by now and it was coming against me as I motored in. No need to stow the mainsail as I hadn’t used it. Back in my berth at 1115, banana, kettle on for coffee.

I had the boat all packed up and I was in the clubhouse just after 12 and ready for my bacon baguette and a helping of chips. A very nice morning, 1hr 45mins under way, just under 5 miles on the GPS trip log. I should do this more often, it feels like autumn is rushing towards us and we’re running out of weekends. And it’s good to reassure myself that I can manage Elsa completely on my own if I want to!

I met a nice family in the clubhouse, they have just joined, I took them down to look at Elsa and I think their boy Archie, who is 6, is probably the youngest person I’ve had aboard.


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