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May 11th – Star date 2015.134

A very auspicious day. It’s my Mothers Birthday. I am sitting in “Enterprise” in Haslar Marina, Gosport. After all the send offs and explanations of my “proposed” – or more accurately my “supposed” – route, I feel a bit of a fraud having reached the not so exotic port of Portsmouth.

Yesterday I sailed singlehanded for only the second time in my life. I safely managed the boat and the arrival and mooring on my own. The physical effort and concentration were thankfully punctuated with sending pictures of the crew surveying the set of the sails, or eating a scotch egg, to friends and family. I am sure this made for riveting communications. Even as a retired computer geek I still marvel when you can get a full 3G and WiFi connection 12 miles out at sea. This technology does make life a lot easier. But, I know that in the not too distant future all these life lines to civilisation will be stripped away and I will be left with just a simple ancient Egyptian device called an Iridium satellite phone.

The sail along the south coast was – for once – not into 30kts of South Westerly winds. Instead, I had an unbelievably benign 10/12kts of warm S or SE winds care of a high pressure system over Europe. Good visibility, sea state slight to moderate. If I had had company I would have used my brand new cruising chute contraption. But I decided to keep things simple and just use my white sails. Plus, the dinghy was strapped to the fore deck and I had visions of tripping over the extra ropes and going for a final and fatal bath.

What a relief it was that everything worked. All the navigation electronics (a recent firmware upgrade -ugh) ; the electrics (recently serviced inverter / generator); and the sails (re-cut genoa; main sail cleaned and repaired)  – everything did what it was meant to do. Only the Skipper played up when he stupidly kicked one of the cowlings off the air vent – sending it to its demise at the bottom of the English Channel. It was good to have some yachts in the vicinity also sailing for the Looe Channel. In particular “Bull” a Dutch registered 65ft sailing sloop who I tried my best to keep up with – all good fun!

I had chosen Gosport to sail into for nostalgic reasons since, when en route from Brighton to the Solent, I had often stopped here. It is a very convenient day sail, it is easy to get into at all states of tide and there is room to manoeuvre in the massive harbour entrance to Portsmouth. So long as you avoid the high speed hovercraft; IOW ferries; commercial cruise liners; Bilbao Ferry; bulk carriers; and Naval vessels.

As per usual the marina staff didn’t answer on VHF Ch.80 – so I had to call them on the mobile phone – all the time trying to avoid other sail boats circling around trying to get their sails down; put out fenders; set up mooring lines – as indeed I was – but on my own. I was very pleased to be told that I didn’t have to go on the visitors mooring but was allocated E50, the mooring of an absent berth holder. I was even more pleased to see that although the channel between the finger pontoons was narrow – I could come in bows first and starboard side to – the only side where I have a gate. With all my lines set and placed on the deck I sailed straight in – stepped off on to the pontoon tied up aft spring and aft line simultaneously, one line with each hand – walked to the bows – picked up the line and tied the bows with the boat perfectly moored. Climbing back on board I turned the engine off – and only then did I dare look around to see if anyone was watching!

On the way into the berth, the notion that other boat owners may be sitting on their boats sipping G&T and watching me was horrifying – now of course I was extremely pleased to look up and see that indeed the lovely sunny Sunday had provided me with an audience who could only look on and see a bearded single-hander bring a 44ft yacht into a mooring with total control. If only they knew ! Yes, I know, “Pride comes before a fall” Smile

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7 comments to May 11th – Star date 2015.134

  • Hannah

    Well done dad! Really proud! And don’t listen to Gerry, I like the Saul-from-homeland look xxx

  • Paul Humphries

    Good winds Russ our thoughts are with you. Can I come to stay when you get somewhere nice……..

  • Well done Russell ! Need change of clothing for the Caribbean! Doubt you will be allowed entry looking like Saddam!

  • Russ, I’m impressed that you even got as far as Portsmouth – not because I doubt your ability but just because I can’t imagine doing anything like this! I’m really looking forward to “travelling with you” via your blog and wish you Happy Sailing and lots of love! xxx

  • Desiree Harper

    I can hear Mum saying “Well Done Son!” you can achieve anything you set your mind to! Do you remember that one – another one of her sayings?
    May I add my Congrats to your 2nd solo sail. You have not been far from my/our thoughts and I am sure our God planned fair weather and good sailing for you Russ. My prayer was that you would enjoy the sail and get to Gosport safely – and so it happened. lots of love from Wm & me 😉 xx

  • Darren

    So come on who is taking the photo’s…..don’t give me that self timer nonsense…Cameron Diaz?

  • David

    Could have made your own sandwich? That looks shop bought to me! 😉

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