After an incredible start to the summer, as the schools began to break up for their holidays the rain came, it turned cooler and the Sun jumped on a plane and ran off on its holidays! Typical! However a few weeks later the Sun returned, made its apologies and has been trying to make up for it ever since!
With the holidays also came some enforced downtime for the crew of Given Time - with everyone off, everything slows down - but with lots of family visits booked over the coming weeks, we decided to take advantage of this and have a little break.
As many of you can probably relate to, when you live and work in an area, you can be a bit blinkered to all the tourist attractions and places to explore around you, as you are generally caught up in the day to day grind - but, having family or friends come to visit is brilliant, as it forces you to stop, take a breath and go explore with them!
My Mum and Dad, came to visit us for a few days, it was their first chance to see the boat since we had moved aboard - and with the first ‘champagne’ sailing day we had seen forecast in weeks, Mum and Dad came straight out for a lovely day sail on the Solent!
We then continued the week in true tourist style! We took the ferry across to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, and jumped on the ‘Needles Breezer’ open top bus tour! We LOVE an open top bus tour, if you’ve never experienced an open top bus tour, add it to your bucket list now! Although one piece of advice, if you ever find yourself on the ‘Needles Breezer’ make sure you sit on the right hand side of the bus, Starboard side for all you sailors 😉 - you’ll thank me later!
During our touristy bus tour we stopped at Alum Bay & the Needles Battery -
The multi coloured sands of Alum bay are truly lovely and even in the crowds of summer it is a beautiful bay, with clear water and sheltered from the prevailing wind! It just so happens to be an anchorage too, so we plan on going back in Given Time very soon. But it was nice to sit on the beach, soak up some sun, close our eyes and listen to the waves wash the pebbles up and down the beach.
The Needles Old Battery, as well as getting you the closest view of the Needles from Land, also gives you some of the most stunning views of the Solent and the Hampshire/New Forest coast line. It is well worth the National Trust entry fee!
You can even ‘time travel’ - the tearoom within the Battery takes you back to WW2, with the staff dressed in 1940’s attire and papers of the time for you to read - you can also sit and enjoy 270 degree vista of the solent from your seat - we even caught sight of a pod Dolphins playing in the waves!
Once family visits were over, we were ready for some quality time together.
The August Bank Holiday weekend was approaching and like all us Brits, you are almost scared to even look at the weather forecast in case you jinx it - British bank holidays generally come with a bad weather guarantee! But for once the forecast was for a hot and sunny weekend! (queue the supermarket sweep on all things BBQ)
So we checked the tides and set our alarm clock for 4:30am on the Friday. You quickly learn when cruising an area with strong tides that to get anywhere fast, you need to work the tide, not the day!
Friday - 04:29……04:30 BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP ! neither of us had slept well and full grumpiness ensued! We tried our best not to wake our neighbours as we slipped out of the marina before 5 am with the first hint of light appearing from the East. By the time we cleared the Lymington channel and entered the main Western Solent, we were treated to one of the most incredible sun rises! Our frowns were promptly turned upside down and we caught ourselves giggling with delight! It is one of the blessings of this cruising life, that we are just starting out on, to see the magic that is dawn and dusk happen each day and it is especially magical on the water in a way that you just never see on land. We made our way out through the Hurst Narrows, past the Needles lighthouse and then turned right towards Studland Bay. A breeze built sufficiently that we were able to get the sails up and make 4 knots enjoying warm sun. We were both excited to be out of the Solent and heading to a new anchorage.
A rolling green hillside, white cliffs and clear water greeted us at Studland. In four metres of water we were still able to see the bottom, which is unusual for UK waters. Lumpy when there is any Easterly element in the wind, (which there was the day we arrived) so it was a bit more rolly than we were used to, but the sun was out and we were able to swim, sunbathe and enjoy what Mother Nature was finally offering.
By evening the sea and wind had calmed down - the day visitor boats had left, leaving the anchorage much quieter and having first set a good anchor alarm app, we had a great nights sleep!
Waking up to sunshine in a beautiful anchorage is never going to get old! We had a nice breakfast followed by a swim - Conor took the time to clean the boats water line and with clear water was able to dive under the boat to check the propeller and the keel for the first time since we launched. The prop had started to grow some barnacles, but they easily came off with a scraper.
The copper coat anti-foul on the hull and keel is holding up really well, with a few odd patches growing longer weed, which easily cleaned off and the vast majority just having a thin coating of dark slime but no other growth, which is great!
Conor was pleased to see that the areas we touched up and re-worked with copper coat ourselves before launch (step 7 - all work no play) are particularly clear of any growth 😎👍 we will likely do the rest of the hull again ourselves before we head south. We are both fans of Copper Coat, but you have to apply it correctly for it to work at it’s best and it will still need to be cleaned off periodically - but with no pesticides in it and being applied only once every 10 years, its the most marine life friendly option we could use, which was clearly important to us both.
The back deck of the boat has proved to be a great place to chill and swim from and even becomes a yoga deck at times too!
Like always reaching for your favourite comfy pair of jeans - the security of the marina was a very welcome crutch to start with, but having tasted the freedom of anchorage hopping, already we are feeling the call of the next anchorage - at the moment it is the need to get the Crowd Science project up and running properly that drives our return to the marina regularly, (that and getting ourselves and the boat ready for much longer trips). Being on the boat full time means we have already sailed more in the last few months than we would have done in many years of leisure sailing.
It's great to feel both of us improving in our seamanship, our team work when out on the water and also feel our knowledge of the boat and our confidence in her increasing all the time.
We are loving this boat! Safe, comfortable, fast and easy to sail she is a true pleasure to be aboard even when its not sunny!