Enjoyed the luxuries of Lymington Yacht Haven after a few days at anchor.
Lymington Yacht Haven is a good spot if you have kids and dogs. It has everything really. A lovely coastal walk accessible from the marina, which is great for the dog, and on the way into town is the sea water swimming pool with all kinds of kit including kayaks and zorbing balls, and then a little play park. For the adults it has shops, cafes and pubs aplenty. And let's not forget all the chandleries.
Back at Studland I'd found myself locked out of the boat. We'd left the dog on board for a short while and I'd locked the washboards up. I wasn't worried about security so much but just wanted to avoid the dog knocking the washboards out and disappearing, so I'd locked them.
The key was turning the lock round and round but the mechanism wasn't working. Luckily I'd left the forehatch unlocked so I was able to get in.
So back in Lymington job number one for me was to fix or replace the lock. Unfortunately the bolts holding the lock on had mostly corroded and seized. I was able to remove some and snap the heads off others but needed to drill two of them out. All I had on board was a hand drill. I bought some new bolts and a drill bit from the chandlery and then set to on on the pontoon. Luckily soon after I had started our neighbour turned up and took pity on me, lending me his electric drill.
The fix was simple once the lock had been removed. Two small screws inside had come loose meaning the mechanism wasn't being held together, so the catch was slipping. Once tightened up and the lock reattached with shiny new bolts, security was restored!
Job number two was to clean the topsides. Each year they get a bit stained from the water at her mooring. There's some gel called Y10 which works like magic. You paste it on, all you need is a sponge. Wait a few minutes, then wash it off, and the boat looks like new. I was actually intending to do this while aground in Studland as it is then easier to do standing on the sand, but I'd run out of the magic ingredient, so bought some in Lymington and did it from pontoon and dinghy instead.
On Tuesday morning we left our mooring, topped up with fuel at the fuel jetty and left for Wootton Creek.
Lovely short sail along to Wootton. So far we've had amazing weather and good wind for sailing. They don't always go together!
Wootton dries out. So I'd timed our departure to arrive at Wootton around 2 hours before high water so we could go in on a rising tide and work out where to moor. The entrance is narrow and crowded. I guess the locals have used every bit of floating space. And all along the creek are houses with private moorings. I admit to feeling a little envious!
Friends Nic and Kath live there on a barge. There was talk of us lying along side their port quarter, but I was concerned about space and whether El Nino would sit upright. At Studland she sometimes lists slightly as one side sinks more into the sand than the other and I wouldn't want to lean in to the barge and risk damage to the rig.
In the end I opted to anchor a short way off them, using two anchors to keep her parallel with the stream and ensure the anchors stayed dug in. All the other moorings around there are fore and aft moorings too, so it seemed the right thing to do. We'd not used the kedge anchor before.
Our kedge anchor has delusions of grandeur. It's the same size as the main anchor. Has about 15 metres of chain and then must be 50m of rope. Goodness knows where the previous owner wanted to anchor this shoal draft boat. I keep it down below under a bunk to keep the weight low and central. Yeh, so that means it is rather a back breaking workout to get out.
Anyway, we managed to anchor quite neatly, dropping the stern anchor first, going forward and paling out, then the bow anchor, then sinking back.
Once anchored we dinghied over to the New Close, our friends barge, where we spent the rest of the day, ending the evening with a barbecue on the aft deck, with lovely views of the creek and watched the water recede and El Nino take to the mud.
We were able to get back on board at around 11pm, with just a few inches of water beneath the dinghy.
The following day (Wednesday) we waited for sufficient water to get back to the New Close, and decided we would spend the night on board the barge as it would be too late for the kids to get back on board El Nino. So at around 11am we rowed over and after lunch Nic ferried us in their Transporter to Butterfly World where we saw hundreds of varieties of colourful butterflies and moths.
That evening we enjoyed another barbecue on the aft deck of the barge watching the sun go down. At this juncture it's easy to say "It's a hard life". But for some people it really is.
Kathryn had a near fatal car accident three years ago. The doctors said she wouldn't live. She proved them wrong. But the lives of Kathryn, Nic, Zoe and Rebecca changed in an instant. Today she is in constant pain, has had dozens of operations, needs a scooter and a wheelchair, is learning - very slowly - to move her limbs again, and get tone back to her muscles. Nic has become a full time carer, losing his business. The girls are child carers. Through all of this Nic has somehow found time to adapt the barge from a 30 berth B&B operation to something that works for their family. He works hard. There's still stuff to do but what he has done is amazing.
People always ask me "Why the heck do they live on a barge then?". They moved there after the accident. Well if you visit them I think you'd understand. The environment is therapeutic. The sea air, the views. It's actually pretty spacious. Yes she needs help moving around but she would in a house too. There were too many bad memories where they lived before. And one things for sure, for the money, the barge is the only way to afford such a beautiful location. And Kathryn is a fighter. She won't accept the norms. To accept the norms would be to admit defeat. To do what the doctors and nurses say or accept their prognoses would mean she wouldn't be able to do what she can do today.
But I digress. I don't need to retell their story - you can read more about it here: http://www.kathrynclarkefoundation.com
/ - please do and please do what you can to help.
So yesterday it was time to leave. We got back on board after a walk in the woods at about noon.
Then came the saga of ... THE MUD OF WOOTTON. Oh. My. Goodness!
The anchors were well and truly embedded in the soft, gloopy, black, tar like clay. Not having a windlass on the stern there was no way I was going to get the stern anchor out where it was. It was well and truly set.
So we pulled forwards to the bow anchor and extracted that first using the windlass on the bow. Up came the chain and anchor absolutely covered in thick black mud. It. Went. Everywhere. In order to free the single bow roller I had to get extremely messy lifting the anchor - quickly - and putting it in the anchor locker.
We then walked the stern anchor chain forwards to the windlass and proceeded to bring that up the same way. MORE. THICK. BLACK. MUD.
Now I had two very messy anchors up front. Mucky chain piled on top of mucky chain. The rope rode from the kedge chain along the deck to where it was secured at the stern.
Ang got the boat under control and I looked gloomily at the mess before me. I already had it up my legs, all over my hands and arms, the foredeck, some of the aft end of the side deck, on my feet and all I could see was an anchor locker full of the stuff. I dared not move for spreading it. I kid you not it was black like tar.
At first I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I figured I needed to just try and make both anchors fit on the bow, shove everything in the anchor locker, wash the decks down and worry about it later.
I managed to do that eventually. By the time we had exited Wootton Creek I had the main anchor in the locker with the kedge anchor lashed to the bow roller, with chain and rope of both bundled in and somehow, after several attempts, I was able to close the lid of the anchor locker on the sorry mess inside. By this time I also had even more of the stuff all over me.
As Ang motored slowly out into the Eastern Solent I proceeded to throw a lot of sea water over everything and eventually managed to get the decks and myself clean enough to start sailing eastwards round towards Bembridge.
In Bembridge once tied up alongside the visitors pontoon I started all over again. Carefully but with difficulty I managed to extricate the kedge anchor, the rope tied to the pontoon, lowering it and the chain into the water. Ang and the kids then got it onto the pontoon and washed it all down.
I again had to wash the decks, and myself. The spare gas cylinder which lives in the anchor locker also needed a clean.
The main anchor and chain is still rather messy, but at least it is concealed inside the anchor locker and will get a clean next time we anchor.
Finally I was able to bundle up the kedge anchor and chain, and rope, and get it back down below.
I'm now thinking if we make a habit of doing that I want a smaller kedge anchor. Or maybe just don't make a habit of it!
I don't think we need such a big kedge anchor and it probably doesn't need chain either. We rarely anchor in more than a few metres. With rope it would be less heavy and we could use the genoa sheet winches to haul up. And if we didn't have the optimist lashed to the transom I could have some chocks on the swimming platform to put the dirty anchor on, keeping the mud outboard.
But actually, if we visit the Clarkes again and now that I know the lay of the land I think we might drop the bow anchor then drop back to the barge and tie stern to to them.
Fun and games. The joys of sailing! But it was lovely visiting our friends and in such a picturesque location where we were the only visiting yacht.
So we are now in Bembridge. We met up with the Clarkes again at the cafe on the beach. What a lovely place and great for Kathryn as they can park right by the beach, by the cafe and she can use her scooter on the promenade.
This evening I took the boys sailing in Sea Biscuit up at the end of the harbour.
Tomorrow we plan to head to Beaulieu for the weekend. Assuming we can get a berth. It is Cowes week, so I'm concerned the entire Solent could be a bit busy! Stay tuned.