Sailing my Paradox and country living


A week mooching around Poole Harbour in March . Part 2

This was my first mini cruise this year after the exceptionally wet and windy winter. A nice spell of fine weather and the first of the year. It was the forerunner of a summer which turned out mainly fine and sunny and such a contrast to the winter which was so wet.

Grub’s up.

resized_march trip in poole 022 (90)

resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (88)

There aren’t too many complaints about the cook. I’m not a delicate eater and like a good meal every evening. Vegetables are central  with either tinned tuna fish or eggs and cheese added. Sometimes with pasta or rice all cooked in the same pot.  Lunch is likely to be just a sandwich with cheese, marmite or peanut butter.

There is plenty of fruit to eat whenever I fancy it. The fruit and vegetables keep well in a vented plastic box and can be moved into the forward compartment to give more space in the cabin at night. I do like my bananas ripe  BTW.  There are loads of tins in the lower lockers where they serve as ballast and slowly get rusty. Just sometimes I’ll open a tin of soup or beans if I’m too lazy to make a meal from the fresh stuff, but generally the tins just sit unused. I don’t buy tinned meat – corned beef or the like as I’m suspicious of what’s in it. I suspect that it’s all foreskins  and eyeballs and all the other unmentionable bits that civilised people wouldn’t buy .

I find that nice wholemeal bread keeps OK for up to a week if the weather is not too warm  After that it gets some mildew on the outside which I scrape off as best I can. When it gets black mould inside I dump it and use hard rye biscuits.

The Harbour

I much prefer to stay in the southern half of the harbour where there’s less development and traffic and would be dismayed if too many man-made structures appeared there.

resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (68)

This metal marker post has recently been erected near to Shipstal Point. It replaced a previous simple wooden stake and must have been expensive. I’m not sure of what it’s doing there, or why it’s so elaborate or exactly what the solar panels are there for,  but suspect that there’s a surveillance camera on it somewhere. Sad.

Long Island has a river barge type vessel which is kept mostly on the  beach

resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (69)resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (72) resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (73) resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (74)

The local Poole fishing boats go round and round in endless small circles towing a thing like a rake which they lift out of the water every few seconds and then chuck back in. . I never actually see if they’ve caught anything. When the tide goes out you can sometimes see the resulting circles in the mud.

resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (75) resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (76) resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (77)

The northern shore of the harbour is very built up and not attractive. The apartment blocks are mostly hideous and the marinas too.

resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (78)

Bill Churchouse in Belgean is almost a permanent feature in the harbour. There can be nobody who spends more time sailing there than him. His boat is a modified Westerly 22 and so quite old and he spends all the summers living on board. He’s a veteran of the Jestor Challenge and always ready for a chat

resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (81) resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (82) resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (83) resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (84)

More views  of Rusty Bow Point and its environs . A favourite anchorage for me.resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (89)

Only saw 1 jet sky for the whole week

resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (93) resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (94) resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (91)

Poole is the site of the Lifeboat HQ and their main training centre, so they’re often on exercise there.

resized_march trip in poole 2014  022 (97)

These youngsters were the only other boaters I got to chat to,  apart from Bill ,  during that week as there were so few others about.

They anchored nearby to me one night but the evening was so foggy that I didn’t know they were so close until late the next morning. They’d quietly slipped in unseen from Cowes IoW


Leave a comment

A week mooching in Poole Harbour in March. part 1

An escape from from my usual punishment duties and an antidote to the Great Winter Wet which only stopped after the previous  week was needed urgently, so pretending it was the middle of the sailing season, I pinched a few days to get afloat.
Poole Harbour is normally very crowded but was astonishingly deserted that week in spite of the good weather and settled conditions.
resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (17)resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (18)Forty years ago this curious float was the Sandbanks chain ferry which is now used as a depot by the shell fish men. Quite a smart shed built on top where the double decker buses and cars used to stand for the short crossing on the Harbour entrance.resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (23)

One of the few other boats out enjoying the sunshine

resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (25)

This old Wharram Cat looks very sad. Must have been on that mooring all winter. I wonder how much longer it will be afloat.

resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (30)

The first tripper boat to Brownsea the year?

resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (32)

Brownsea ‘castle’ in the spring sunshine

resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (33)

Inside my Hobbit hole. Just the usual squalor.

resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (38)

The oil extraction works at Green Island.

resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (40)

One of the 4 house on Round Is

resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (42)

This more modest bungalow is near Goathorn Pt

resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (45)

View from Brands Bay

resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (44)


resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (48)

I like Marmite sandwiches

resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (49)

No other boats, on a day like this!

resized_march trip in poole 022 (79)

Another house on Round Is

resized_2014 march trip im poole 022 (49)

Sailing along amongst the crowds…

resized_march trip in poole 022 (83)


resized_march trip in poole 022 (89)

a distant view of Corfe through the morning mist

resized_march trip in poole 022 (92)

Another Round Is house. Almost like a housing estate !

The last night I spent anchored in the middle of the River Piddle, and in the morning (14 March) the fog was so thick that I couldn’t even see the river banks from the middle – and it’s only a piddly river.. .

No pics for then as the vis was so bad that I had to use the compass to navigate from one green stake to the next to stay in the little channel leading to the River Frome .

Apart from the fog on the last day, and a lack on wind for the previous day, the weather was mainly sunny and warm , although the nights were very cold and had me chilly in my two sleeping bags.

Leave a comment

Up the hill again

Another dry day and although  overcast and slightly misty but  not too cold.

So my assistant and me were back in the woods at Duncliffe to stretch our legs again today.

The public car park associated with this Woodland Trust site is about 2 miles from our house and has recently been resurfaced.

Here’s some pictures of the  oldest of our 4 cars, a 1978 model Citroen Dyane which we used today to get to the woods

.resized_Picture 001

r resized_Picture 003 resized_Picture 004

We’ve had this car for about 15 years and I’m  fond of it. Very easy to maintain and cheap to own and great fun to drive.

resized_Picture 002

The stickers in the back window are a memento of a long journey I made in this little car in 2007:-

From the south of England to Dunkirk by ferry, then through Belgium and Holland, all across Germany , Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, to Finland by ferry then drive up to the Arctic Circle in Lapland, then return via the other side of the Gulf of Bothnia. to  Sweden, Denmark , Germany and home. 5000 miles in 4 weeks, camping all the way. Sometimes in camp sites, sometimes in the wild.

I wasn’t absolutely confident that the little old car would make it when I left home on this long journey and did lots of car preparation and took all the heavy tools that I thought that I might need plus a huge amount of spare parts. I had spares for the engine – inlet and exhaust valve, push rod, valve rocker, a piston and electrical bits, a complete alternator, a fan hub, a voltage regulator, suspension parts, brake calliper, clutch and clutch fork  and a full set of gaskets.

The funny thing is that nothing at all went wrong with the heavily laden  car during this journey. Not a puncture or a bulb go, a fuse blow.  Nothing at all.  I never had to get a screwdriver or spanner out once.  I was astonished by just how reliable it turned out to be.

In the whole 15 years that we’ve had the car it’s only gone wrong once when the clutch fork cracked  while I was in Bristol. I managed to drive it home without using the clutch -( start the engine with the car already in gear and change up and down using the engine revs to  synchronise the gear change) and replaced it later after I got back home.  Anyway, enough of the little green car for now and on to Duncliffe Hill.

We’ve had a comparatively dry week, or so, for this time of year, so I thought that the foot paths wouldn’t be too slippery and muddy for my old knees. So we – my assistant and I – aimed to get to the trig point at the very summit of the hill.

resized_Picture 005

The information board at the car park

resized_Picture 006 resized_Picture 007 resized_Picture 008

There’s an area at the bottom of the hill which has recently been acquired by the woodland Trust  which has been planted as an extension to the existing wood.

resized_Picture 010

Most of the grassed area is that nice firm springy stuff which is so nice to walk on. but there are a few spots where the horse riders have churned up the grass badly

resized_Picture 012

We went over the steep bank into the wood

resized_Picture 013

It’s magic in there

resized_Picture 014

Still some fresh looking leaves although it’s nearly November.

resized_Picture 017 resized_Picture 018

This tree is nearly rotted right through. The others are holding it up

resized_Picture 019

More decay

resized_Picture 021

Are these holes the entrance to a badger set?

resized_Picture 022 resized_Picture 024 resized_Picture 023

Great views towards Gillingham

resized_Picture 025

I took a breather here while on my climb to the top

resized_Picture 026 resized_Picture 028

resized_Picture 029 resized_Picture 030 resized_Picture 031 resized_Picture 032 resized_Picture 033 resized_Picture 034 resized_Picture 035

The trig point and view from there.Worth the stiff climb but a shame about the slight mist.

resized_Picture 036 resized_Picture 037

The path’s a bit rough in places and the clay soil gets slippery when wet. This is looking down the slope and taken while descending on our way home.

Leave a comment

Duncliffe wood

I took my assistant to her favourite place today for a nice little run.  I enjoyed it too as the wood is looking lovely at the moment with the leaves just beginning to turn brown and the weather was just right ,not too cold or hot and no rain.. The wood belongs to the Woodland Trust and I did pay to be member a while ago, so like to go there now and again.

resized_Picture 015

Our little car after we arrived in the car park.

resized_Picture 017 resized_Picture 022

The track through the wood was not too muddy.     My assistant sniffing where other dogs had been?

resized_Picture 023 resized_Picture 026

I had a breather on one of the memorial seats. These are seats which have been paid for  by relatives of the departed. I’m not sure how long the payment is valid for , I think that after a few years they take the seat away unless the relatives pay again, which seems disrespectful to me.

resized_Picture 024 resized_Picture 025

I had to brush some leaves off the seat with my hand. The placard screwed to the back of the seat.

resized_Picture 027My assistant waiting impatiently for the walk to get going again. For an old dog she’s very energetic (she’ll soon be 11 years old)

Finally, I got my sunglasses back today    I bought them 8 months ago from the local optician’s shop to help protect my eyes on the recommendation of the optician, as I have a cataract – which is due to be operated on soon.

But the lenses are treated with some coating which unfortunately started lifting off.   So took them back a week ago and now they’ve been replaced free of charge. I’m pleased with the good service from the optician. The sunglasses were expensive -98quid – which is a lot of money in my book. I hope that they now last for a long time so that I can get my monies worth.. We’ll see.

resized_Picture 030

Leave a comment

thinking about the anchors

After my trip in April, when I accidentally lost my best anchor, I decided to carry a better selection on the boat just in case of more losses.  So now have the new 7.5 kg claw anchor which was bought as a direct replacement  and is identical to the lost one. Also a small 5lb Danforth dinghy anchor which is surprisingly effective in mud bottoms and the  12 lb Danforth type , which came with the boat when I bought it from Bill Serjeant .

Then there is the big beast, a 15kg folding fisherman style with 30 metres of 6mm chain. (thats 35lb ,100 feet of 1/4inch chain if you’re American) ,which languishes in the bottom of the boat as ballast all the time. With the chain shackled to it, it’s really  heavy and awkward to assemble and move about . I would guess it weighs about 60lbs with the chain    My rationale for having it is that it would be good as a ‘last chance’ storm anchor if I met conditions that were off the scale for my comfort zone, which I never have and hopefully never will.

resized_Picture 006resized_Picture 005

The big beast assembled ready to go. A locking pin holds the flukes in position in either the deployed or folded position. The cross bar or stock also has a locking plate which slides into place to keep it from falling out. It’s all made from malleable cast iron and immensely strong.

It’s  resting on my home made sleeping mattress to protect the hatch from being damaged. The mattress is 3 inches thick BTW. and very tough yet comfortable.

resized_Picture 008

Folded and stowed in the locker with one and a half litre plastic water bottles to give some scale.

The stock is in there too, just out of sight under the edge of the grey board. It plugs into the round hole on the right of the picture.


Leave a comment

Poole to the Dart and back. Part 3. back in Poole

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (54)

Dried out  at Rusty Bow Point. The rusty remains of an old steel fishing boat on the beach. The vacuum cleaner tube alongside the mast is the end of my flue pipe for the little charcoal stove. It un-ships for when sailing.

Rusty Bow Point is a favourite spot for me to anchor when in Poole harbour . Gives good shelter from southerly, southeast and southwest winds ,  few other boats  there,  firm sand to walk on makes getting ashore for a stroll easy.

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (55)resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (58)

Rusty Bow beach again and the heathland beyond which has some nice walks with few people.

Later, when I returned from my walk I moved only a few yards to an empty mooring where I hoped to be able to stay for another day,. The weather forecast for the following day was for strong winds so expected to have a non sailing day. I usually prefer to anchor but as I lacked a convenient  anchor, I thought that a mooring would be better for me

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (63)Next day the wind was pretty strong and there were some waves even in the sheltered cove. Then a fishing boat appeared  – who asked for his mooring back, so I had to shift to the next one along the trot. The next one was downwind so drifted down to it without any sail up but still with more than enough speed for steerage and managed to grab the mooring while passing!.

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (61)The fishing boat who wanted his mooring back.

During that evening we had some free entertainment. One of those surf boards  with a parachute thingresized_april 2014 cruise 190 (71) resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (72) resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (75) appeared – (not sure what the proper name for them is) . The ‘pilot ‘ got up to a good speed, must have broken the harbour speed limit many times over and put on a spectacular performance whizzing up and down nearby. I noticed that the wind was dropping slightly as the evening progressed and the para man  had  difficulty going downwind , presumably due to his apparent wind diminishing and his ‘chute nearly collapsed into the sea few times.  Going upwind he did a lot better – not at all like my boat!

Before dark, with the wind dropping more, he gave up, zoomed onto the beach, sat on the sand packing his parachute away into a back pack and then, 5 minutes later walked off.    Brilliant   If I was 50 years younger, I’d have a go with one of those!

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (78)resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (79)

Next day did some sailing around in the harbour . a perfect breeze for a change.

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (80)

Spent the night here with just my little Danforth to hold me.

That  next day moved up to spend the night anchored in the River Piddle to be close to the boatyard where I was to load my boat back onto her trailer ready to return home the next morning

Was anchored in the Piddle,  just checking the fuel level in the little Honda engine to ensure that there was enough there for use in the morning to get to the boatyard,  when I had another mishap. As I unscrewed the fuel cap it escaped from its pathetic little plastic clip which is meant to prevent its loss , slipped from my grip and fell into the shallow water..

I couldn’t tolerate another loss this trip as well as the disaster with the lost anchor, so resolved to recover this bit of plastic. I happen to know that a replacement Honda filler cap is an exorbitant 40 quid or so, outrageous for a plastic moulding which must only cost pence to make at the factory.  I really hate to be ripped off.

So, I immediately marked the spot near to where I thought it dropped by sticking a boathook through the shallow water into the mud below. As the tide was by then dropping I used the sculling yulah to try and keep the boat over the exact spot so that I could recover the cap as we dried out.

Unfortunately the water here is opaque due to the mud and sediment and I couldn’t see the filler cap until the water had left us completely when it was of course impossible to move the boat at all. It was  in fact about 10 feet astern of where we lay so my scheme didn’t work as I’d hoped.

Very annoying.   My boathook wouldn’t be long enough to reach and if I tried with the boat hook joined  to the the sculling oar with sticky tape it was likely that I’d clumsily push the filler cap  into the mud so that it would never be seen again.  I thought that I might be able to walk through the thick oozy mud to get it but after testing the mud with my oar decided that there was no way that this would be possible.

The photos below show the situation then.

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (82) resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (84)

You can see where I pushed the oar in to test how firm the mud is. Wouldn’t fancy walking on that.

The only action left for me to take was to wait until daylight the next morning when the tide would float me again and try and position the boat exactly  alongside my precious filler cap  So I was up at first light to try doing that. As the water became deep enough to lift me off – about 9 inches  I lost sight of my objective due to the mud and sediment in the water but moved the boat to exactly where I thought was the best place and reached over the side to grope in the muddy water for my quarry. After 3 or 4 goes I struck lucky and my fingers found the filler cap and grabbed hold of it before it was accidentally pushed into the mud.. Hooray.

And that’s all there is tell about this little cruise. Had mixed fortune, with some really good sailing over the 13 days that I was away. The episode with the lost anchor was a dismal loss and the performance with the Honda filler cap caused much anxiety.

Just a couple more pics of the River Piddle. One showing my friend the seal  who’s always around when I visit there.

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (81) resized_april 2014 cruise 190

Leave a comment

April trip. Poole to the Dart and back. part 2

In Exmouth

Had a comfortable night with the boat drying out on the sand at low tide in the early hours, although it had been a cold night. I lit the Vapalux lamp in the evening to give plenty of light for cooking my evening meal and some welcome heat.. I decided to spend a few days  having a look around the River Exe estuary before moving on towards Poole.

Next day was Good Friday.  I sailed on further into the estuary to visit Lympstone as I wanted a walk to stretch my legs and see what the place was like. With the tide ebbing I picked up an empty mooring near the little town for a while. Later I sculled onto the beach nearby to dry out . Found the beach very stony but by prodding around with my boat hook while the water was dropping managed to find a just big enough patch clear of rocks for the boat to settle.

resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (9) resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (10)

A good sprinkling of rocks at Lympstone.

I had a walk around the village, bought an ice cream and topped up my drinking water bottles from a public water tap. Some pleasant little alleys there and a small walled harbour.

resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (1) resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (8) resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (4) resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (5)

The local sailing club was having a craning in day.

resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (2)The mobile crane was trying to reverse into position around some tight corners.

A load of cyclists appeared from the local railway station and descended onto the pub.

resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (6) resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (7)

It looked like cheating to me as there are only a few yards from the station to the pub. Perhaps they went for a longer ride later.  And I don’t understand why cyclists today carry their stuff on their backs instead of making the bike carry the load.

Someone was building a look out on the cliff top, hence the scaffolding.resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (11)

resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (14)

The cliffs at Lympstone.

When I eventually floated off with the rising tide I moved upriver a mile – just off this house  to anchor for the night where I could dry out again

resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (23)

Dried out.

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (3)

It was another cold night and was glad of the heat from my stove, paraffin lamp and cooker.

resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (25)

The mud on my trousers is from walking on the beach earlier.

The next day I moved up to Topsham and used an empty mooring for a few hours.

resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (27)resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (29)

Again the the local club was having a crane in day  and I had a grandstand view.

resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (30)

A very interesting spherical glazed summer house at Topsham which overlooks the water.

resized_april 2014 cruise 071 (32)

Topsham again

The next day moved down stream to Exmouth  to the same spot as before.

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (8)resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (7)

Dried out at Exmouth again.                                   This Wharram cat was a neighbour at Exmouth

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (11)Exmouth  again. The blue plastic jerry-can with one side chopped out is what I keep my anchor and rode in.

I walked into the town while the boat was dried out at Exmouth to buy few more groceries to stock up before setting off to sea again to move nearer to Poole.

By 21.30 the boat was afloat again and I motored out into the entrance channel against the last of the flood in darkness. Some of the buoys marking the Exe entrance aren’t lit and had to keep my eyes peeled. To hit one of these big steel buoys in the dark would have been a bad idea..  At the seaward end of the entrance channel I killed the engine and raised the sail. Not much wind then . Just a few vague puffs  here and  there.

At 22.30 a light westerly set in and we started to get on our way slowly to cross Lyme Bay. I was wondering if I would be able to see the powerful light at Portland Bill   before it became light. But no, by dawn I was much too far to the west for it to be visible. Later in the morning the wind picked up to give me a welcome bit of speed.

I eventually rounded the Bill 2 or 3 miles off just after noon which worked out fine as by then the tide was still with me .

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (12)Portland Bill from 2 or 3 miles off. There’s some mist about.

After rounding the Bill I skipped across the  shambles shoal to make for the North entrance to Portland Harbour. There I picked up an empty mooring off the Castle Cove Sailing club

My usual practise is to make a passage under sail and then take a day or two off,  to just relax after and that’s what I did there. Also the wind blew hard the next day which helped to discourage me from moving on too soon. It’s a big artificial harbour and can get rough when the wind is strong, so got bounced around a bit while waiting there.resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (13) resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (15) resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (13) resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (25)Portland harbour

Some big ships there too.

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (26)

And had a visitor while there.

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (31) resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (35)

The view at night.resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (41)

Eventually the forecast suggested light winds were coming and  that it was about time that I made a move towards Poole, so left in the morning

.resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (45)

Leaving Portland behind.

At first the wind and tide were in my favour and I made good progress. Then the wind became lighter and lighter and I slowed to just having steerage way., and  as the tide had turned against me I stopped making any headway.

I hate using the engine, generally I much prefer to sail , unless I’m in the right mood for it, so thought that it would be a good plan to anchor for a while to await a couple of hours for the tide to turn and see if the wind would pick up. So dropped the anchor in 30 metres of water. Seriously deep.

An hour later the wind had improved slightly and I judged that I could get under weigh again., but found that I just couldn’t  budge the anchor. It must have hooked into some obstruction on the sea bed.  Bugg*r.

I tried for an hour or so to raise it, eventually using the engine to drive the boat in all different directions  but no go at all. The only thing I could do was to cut the warp and leave the anchor and much of the rode on the sea bed and get going again without it.

Later I noticed that there was a foul area marked on the chart, very near to where I had this disaster. I should have checked that chart first. An expensive lesson for me..

I felt very dispirited after this episode. It had left me without my main anchor and rode and I knew that replacing the loss was going to cost me a lump of cash. So disappointed that I just motored the rest of the way to Poole without even attempting to sail in the light winds. I still had my huge great storm anchor and chain which together weigh 30 kg (65lbs)  which is very inconvenient to assemble and deploy and therefore never used and a tiny 2 and half kilo Danforth which I doubt would hold me in a good blow.

As it turned out the wind became less and less as I neared Poole although the forecast on the wireless said that it was to blow hard tomorrow

So I eventually entered Poole in a flat calm under the power of the little Honda and feeling very blue

The light became strange as I arrived there, as if it was some omen of bad weather to come and the sea was without a ripple.

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (47) resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (50)

resized_april 2014 cruise 190 (51)

I borrowed an empty mooring that night near Rusty Bow Point as I was short an anchor

More  later

. .