Monday 30 July 2018

British summer at its best!

Friday 27th July to Monday 30 July 2018

After spending a very pleasant evening out in Brighton, we had a leisurely start on Friday morning. We had a lie in until 8am!

We both love Brighton and wished we could have stayed longer, but we are keen to get to Falmouth as soon as possible, so sacrificed a weekend of fun in Brighton!  

We left Brighton en route to Portsmouth at around 10am. We new that we would be motor sailing all the way to Portsmouth as the winds were blowing in from the west and we were heading west.

The weather was fair and forecast was good, so we settled down for another dull day of motor sailing. 

Mark spent the morning below busying with man stuff and I was on watch, playing spot the next crab pot. 

Nothing much to report when Mark came on deck at around 12ish, just how many crab pots I'd spotted.

As we were quite away off land, there wasn't any scenery or people watching to be had, so I went below and made lunch.  However, I had noticed clouds starting to form in the distance and pointed them out to Mark. My instincts were telling me something was brewing and it wasn't just the tea.

By about 2.30pm, the clouds had really formed and were getting darker. I said to Mark I thought we should get our oil skins on as I had a feeling that things were going to get interesting.

By the time we had put our oil skins on, the first thunder storm had taken hold, the rain was lashing down, the wind had whipped up and the sea was getting angry.

There were a couple of times when visibility was really poor and we listened on the radio to people notifying the coastguard that they were in the Looe Channel (which is narrow, shallow and with rocks either side) and that they may need assistance.  Luckily they didn't. 

The squalls lasted a couple of hours and made for interesting sailing, certainly different than the previous couple of days of windlass calm seas.

Entering Portsmouth harbour on a Friday afternoon at about 5pm was like being in a parallel universe. On one side was a fort flying a pirate flag, on the other side was a fort with a wedding taking place.  Mix this with ferries crossing the channels with car alarms going off, hovercrafts flying past and hitching up on the beach and cloud formation that looked like something from a sci-fi movie, I was glad when we motored into Haslar Marina, turned the engine off and had a very large glass of wine!

Flying the flag for Pirates

Watch out for flying Hovercraft

There's a storm a brewing! 

British Summer at its best

Friday 27 July 2018

Brighton Rock

Thursday 26th July 2018

Dover to Brighton was a hot and windless trip. The thermometer showed 43 degrees C in full sun in the cockpit .

We improvised shade with an umbrella and sheets which made the temperature bearable. 

Nonetheless, motoring over calm seas soon got dull though, so we took turns sheltering in the cabin, which benefits from three fans. Bliss.

We passed two key headlands today: Dungeness and Beachy Head. The contrast between the two is amazing.

Dungeness sits low and long, its strange shingly bleakness overwhelmed by the huge nuclear power station.

Beachy Head
Beachy Head on the other hand is a huge and beautiful piece of geography in its own right.  They have just one thing in common; their lighthouses are dwarfed by their surroundings. Can you spot them?

Our other milestone today was crossing the Greenwich meridian. We switched from our familiar Eastern longitude to the more exotic and adventurous Western longitude.

The run to Brighton is dominated by more chalk cliffs. And lots of Dutch yachts. Really really lots. More than English yachts, which is nice, cos I like the Dutch. Except they don't get queuing, well not the English way. They do queuing,  but then let their friends in front of them . Or their Dutch compatriots. Or... well, you get the picture. Luckily Teresa is both more diplomatic AND assertive than I am.  At the point I started effin' and jeffin', she steps in and says "if you you have passports and ships papers to deal with, could we go  first? We'll only be a minute." Ten minutes later, he regrets letting his mate go in front in front of him. 

Anyway, queuing beefs aside, Brighton Marina is good. They are managing to fit in an endless stream of visiting yachts, the showers are spacious and there's tons of bars and restaurants to choose from, if you like restaurant chains, anway. Pity we won't get to see the city, because we're moving on to the Solent today to take shelter from some strong westerly winds that will block our progress towards Cornwall.

Blue skies over the white cliffs of Dover

Wednesday 25th july 2018

After two days of being anchored in the River Stour whilst we caught our breath, we weighed anchor at 6.30am on Wednesday 25th July. Oh my, was that hard work! I don't think either of us had been up and about at 5.30 am for the last year!

One of the key pieces of equipment for our refit was a manual windlass, one of those just in case purchases.  We hadn’t expected to use it quite so quickly,  but it proved invaluable when the electric windlass just stopped and we (Mark) had to pull the anchor on board by hand.  Thank heavens for a good boat jumble purchase as we may still be sitting on the Stour.

So, after a slight delay we left the River Stout and said our goodbyes to Harwich Harbour, Felixstowe Port and  Landguard bouy.

Our planned route to Dover was to go past the wind farms, through Fisherman's Gat, across the Thames Estuary and down the channel to Dover. Glad to say everything went to plan route wise, although the passage highlighted a few snagging problems but nothing too serious.

The wind was so calm that we had to motor most of the journey, although we did manage to get all 3 sails up at one point and turned the engine off for a couple of hours.

Seeing the white cliffs of Dover from the sea in Offbeat was a sight to behold. This was a major milestone for us because it was the first leg of our adventure, the white cliffs are a national landmark and it’s a turning point from heading south to turning west towards Cornwall. 

In keeping with our traditions, we celebrated by going to the pub and having fish and chips.

Monday 23 July 2018

Goodbye Ipswich, Hello World!

Sunday 22 July 2018

On Sunday 22 July 2018 at about 1.30pm Mark and I finally set sail, leaving Ipswich on a glorious sunny afternoon.

We wanted our departure to be low key, as whilst it's a momentous step that we are taking, it's not a final goodbye forever to our family and friends. Having said that, we didn't slip away unnoticed as some of the neighbours were there to wave us off.

All ready for the off!

Rob, Nathan, Becky and Malcolm waving goodbye!

Heading out of Ipswich Haven Marina was quite emotional as we have spent a lot of time there and it has been home to Offbeat for quite a while. For me it was also very nostalgic as I grew up in Ipswich and have seen the transformation from working dock to vibrant marina.  

As we were passing the quayside, the sound of traffic and chatter took me back to days gone by, when we were children cycling along the dock trying not to get the wheels stuck in the train tracks, but hurrying along so we weren't late for tea.

Mark, leading the way.

Teresa, being nostalgic!

As we motored along to the lock gates, it made me realise that we were only 2 steps away from following our dream and starting our adventure .

The first was to go through Ipswich Lock Gate. No free flow for us, we wanted to do things properly! Unfortunately we hadn't taken into account that it would be a busy Sunday afternoon, so after what seemed like hours (but was only 20 minutes), we entered and tied off in the lock for one last time. Luckily, everything went smoothly and we managed to get a selfie for posterity.

The second milestone was passing under the Orwell Bridge.  Again it was a moment of nostalgia as I remember the bridge being built - we could see it from where I lived as a child and where we played on the River banks and in the woods. It was also a point of comfort when I was working away as I knew that as soon as I saw it, I was nearly home.  However, this time it was different, I was travelling away from it, which has a much more fundamental meaning.

The photo that I took was really important to me as it will be my comfort if I get homesick and epitomizes everything that's important to me in Ipswich. 

For Mark, his moment was passing the Orwell Bouy, which marks the entrance to the River Orwell. It is a river he has grown to love over the years and brought back memories of sailing adventures he's had with family and friends, through various seasons and weather conditions.

Mark often says to me 'Don't look back, you're not going there' and how true that is, especially now as this is is where our future lies.

Friday 6 July 2018

The Final Countdown!

After years of talking about our dream of sailing off into the sunset, the day is rapidly approaching when we will lockout of Ipswich lock and not be returning for a very long time.

We are still doing final touches to Offbeat, but as we have achieved some key milestones this week, we have set a tentative departure date for Thursday 12 July.

Teresa agitating the ropes!

Mark agitating Terry and Nathan!

We have quite a lot to do in our final week, making sure that Offbeat is ready and fit to go and we have everything thing we need for our adventure. We will also be spending every evening  seeing all our wonderful family and friends before we go.

How's it all going to fit! 

Over the last few weeks, we've started to say our goodbyes to our family and friends and there have been tears, but with the promise of free bed and board to those that visit I think we'll have lots of visitors!