I launched at Ridge Wharf Yacht Centre , my usual launching place, on the River Frome near Wareham mid morning on the 13th Sept 2014. Had a slow passage beating down the Wareham Channel that afternoon as the easterly wind was very light. Tried out my new tiller pilot on the way This was the first time that I’d used it and found that it over-steered. Spent some time fiddling with the the settings trying to improve its response but the wind was really too light to give enough speed for steerage way , so gave up on it for a while. . Eventually the tide turned against me and with the wind being so light, we came to a stop just off the old jetty at Hamworthy . The boat was still moving through the water, just, but the current was against us so the net result was zero. I stayed in the the same spot for an hour or so until the wind picked up a little and I could get going again. Incidentally, I saw an actual Lancaster WW2 bomber over the harbour that afternoon. Also some historic jets – perhaps a Hunter and a Swift, but I’m not sure exactly. I presume they were all attending an air display nearby At about six that evening made it to a spot just South of Round Island jetty where I dropped the anchor for the night in 4 feet. Next morning I sculled over to the beach at Shipstal to get ashore for a walk on the heath. Later when back aboard, moved to the deeper water to have a chat alongside Bill Churchouse in Belgean a live-aboard sailor, who had anchored nearby. An old picture of Belgean sailing
The wind picked up a little in the afternoon -still from the East- so was able to sail again and get to Rusty Bow Point after lots of tacking.
Later that evening the junk China Blue, one of the Jester Challenge participants came to anchor nearby, although she couldn’t get right into the cove because of her 4 foot draught I had a chat and beer on China Blue with the skipper – Tim McCloy. She’s far roomier than she looks from the outside when you get aboard. Only 25 feet long, but open plan inside with no bulkheads to divide up the space. Tim lives aboard full time. Next day he was hoping to get more provisions and was seeking information regarding supermarkets in Poole. I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t much help as I haven’t any idea where they are, but suggested that the Hamworthy area may a good place to start looking. Next day the wind was still from the East, forecast force 3 to 4, heading me, since I wanted to go to the Isle of Wight. But I set off anyway with the ebb from the harbour, knowing that the flood would eventually take me in the right direction. Saw the Waveney paddle steamer while leaving Poole.
The main tidal consideration on this trip was to get to Hurst Castle – where the channel is narrow and the current moves fast, before it turned against me. But with the wind against me it would be a beat and there was only a slim chance of getting there on time. Christchurch harbour is about halfway and would be a good alternative place to spend the night if progress turned out to be too slow to make the Isle of Wight that day. and that’s what happened . Made Christchurch easily, but knew that we’d be far too late for Hurst. by the time I would likely get there. Dropped anchor in 3 feet, in the little cove just downstream of the first of the river moorings for the night. . The forecast for the next day was Easterly again, but force 5 or 6 this time, although still warm and sunny, so decided to stay put until the next day. Went for a nice walk on the nature reserve at Stanpit Marsh. Found a visitor centre manned by volunteers there which did cups of tea. But I’d stupidly left my wallet on the boat so had to go without Sorting through my fruit and veg stock while in Christchurch. It looks a nice little pile but soon got all scoffed and only had one item left when I arrived back home. The next morning the wind had dropped back down to 3s and 4s now from ESE , so set off from Christchurch for the Island. Had a good beat through the North Channel, made it through the narrows with tide to spare and arrived in the Newtown River. Anchored in the shallows in Clamerkin Lake at about 5 o-clock.
Stayed all the next day in the Newtown River, although I did move about in the estuary in the morning to see the other boats there.
Most of the other boats were the usual white fibreglass things but there were a couple of steel Wylo class there to add some interest. A pair were rafted up together in the Newtown River. If I was after a big boat the Wylo would be on my short list.
Landed at the black boat shed in the afternoon for a walk. A nice network of public paths there to enjoy.
Next morning with very little wind sculled / ghosted out of the river to catch the tide to get back through Hurst narrows and eventually return to Poole Harbour. The wind – what there was of it – was still from the East, so in my favour now. Progress was good at first as the tide knew what to do and carried me towards Poole in fine style, even if there wasn’t much wind.
Before getting to Hengisbury the wind deserted me altogether and I just lay in Christchurch Bay for a couple of hours going nowhere again. As I just sat becalmed, wondering if I’d get back to Poole before dark, or if I’d end up back in Christchurch again, the East wind came back with a bang and we roared off again at top speed westwards.
By this time I’d learned more about setting up the electronic tiller pilot and overcame the over-steer problem after a lot of experimenting. When sailing to windward there really is no need for it as the Paradox holds a good steady course with the steering lines fixed. But the tiller pilot is brilliant for when the wind is from aft and the boat tiresome to keep on coarse. So pleased now that I bought it.
Arrived back in Rusty Bow Cove , Poole Harbour just before dark, so timing was good although it was mere chance that it all worked out for me.
After a very quiet night at anchor I waited ’til midday for some wind, then set off for my previous anchorage off Round Island.which I made long before dark .
Other parts have maintained formal foot paths to discourage visitors from straying
The next day bought no wind in the morning but just enough during the afternoon to make the River Piddle my final night’s anchorage.
And that was it. The end of my 10 day trip. Next morning I used the engine for the first time in days to get up the R Frome to the boatyard where my car and trailer were waiting.
A pleasant 10 days , although often there was little wind except for one day, when there was too much. But that’s life.