Boogie Nights

A sweary hyperactive maritime professional, really very keen on laughing a lot, doing their best to avoid all the trappings of societies' expectations by acting on impulse to any adventurous idea that wafts by. Let's go!

bienvenu, hola, ciao!

11 October 2014

Han Solo - Wey to go

Part 3 of 3, a guide to being a loser

Going for a personal best - chapter one

Woken a few moments after sunrise by the sound of the Poole harbour mooring buoy rubbing against the bow of the boat I poked my bleary head out of the companionway, not quite ready to face the world. 

This required a hot serving of freshly made pancakes before any colour would venture into my zombie like complexion.

With a face still wearing the pillow crease marks of last nights deep sleep, I faced the first task of the day. On the table sat a small (Standard Horizon) chart plotter.

It started taking on worrying signs of Poltergeist activity the evening before as I waved goodbye to my best friend at Poole town quay.
The fuzzy screen started blinking with furrowed horizontal lines, deep reds and no contrast were a tell tale worrying sign that I might need to call in an expert in the super natural. It was switching itself on and off of its own accord. I wasn't sure if some sort of other worldly portal might open up through which I could throw tennis balls, which might reappear, steaming and covered in goo, elsewhere on the boat. Most likely at the bottom of the companionway knowing my luck, where I'd slip on them and go arse over tit.

They're here

I unplugged it, half expecting the screen to stay on and emanate a sinister possessed voice, at which point I was prepared to drop kick it overboard. Thankfully it fell silent and black. Once stripped down I found the problem straight away. A small pin hole has burned through the display screen ribbon from where water got in and caused a minor short. So it's temporarily bugger'ood until I can replace the ribbon cable. No Poltergeist in sight.
Curses to the electrical water gremlins on this trip.

Shmokin' Gremlin

First the phone which doubles as mini gps and chartplotter was fried in less than an inch of salt water. Now the proper chart plotter with the AIS overlay is pooped.

This leaves me with one android tablet based electronic chart plotter, an emergency handheld gps in the grab bag and my trusty paper charts.
With an audible sigh I pulled out the charts and started laying in proper waypoints, a passage plan with tidal adjustments and everything. I've become lazy in my electronics induced semi-coma.

Gremlin on a post: my work here is done.

This level of concentration would require further pancake based fueling.
"Is seven pancakes greedy? No? How about nine then?" 
(that should hold me for a while)

Passage plan notes with hand bearing points of navigable interest and anything else of note taken from the almanac jotted down on my scrappy looking recycled note pad (complete with rusty staple) and it looked like the tides were right for a mid day kickoff to blast round from Poole to Weymouth.
I've never been to Weymouth before other than by ferry. (once, 19 years ago)
With the timing it looked like I might arrive at dusk. Reality check, plan to arrive in the dark.
The passage went perfectly. Save for nearly being decapitated and slung overboard.

following a gaff rigger called Duet out of Poole
It took them a while to get their sails set, but when they got it sorted,
it took off and pulled away from me in the direction of France
boat under tow under a moody sky

The wind built up to 25knots which meant I had to reef (for non-yotties this means to reduce the size of the main sail by pulling it downwards) a wildly swinging loop of loose line hanging from the rapidly oscillating boom decided to tangle around my neck.
I swore at it, it let go. So I thanked it for "not killing me today."

The part that I hadn't factored into my passage plan was the minefield of lobster pots around the Weymouth bay area.
Now that darkness had descended it was impossible to see more than a few short metres ahead of the boat so it's a bit of a lottery whether you hit one or not.
The other thing I hadn't factored in was very large inflatable race markers.

While Barbie was left in charge of steering, I nipped down below to check the chart and pilot book for exactly what leading lights I was looking for to guide me into the narrow entrance of Weymouth as I was still at least two miles off.
It was only when I popped back up into the cockpit I heard a noise, like the noise of the bow wave being reflected off of something. I peered into the gloom while my eyes tried to adjust back to night vision.
Before I could react, a large orange inflatable buoy, suddenly illuminated by my red navigation light skimmed the full length of the boat, just centimeters away.
It was so tall that I could have looked it in the eye from the cockpit. If it had eyes that is.

recreation of the event. possibly not quite to scale.

Soon after, I was lining up the lights on the harbour entrance as I made my way in, in increasingly windy conditions.

artist impression of night approach to Weymouth
unusually no red markers outside of the harbour entrance, only green leading lights
with a white flashing light marking the end of the harbour protection wall

This is the book info, however it doesn't show the MAHOOSIVE tower installed for the 2012 Olympics as my book is from 1995 and a hand me down from my parents. Nothing much changes except marina layouts and the odd buoy here and there. So it's fairly common to use older books, alongside my new paper and electronic charts it's easy to spot changes and amend the book. 

So fast forward...

  • Arrive at lift bridge, wait until morning when bridge opens
  • Go into marina, find a spot.
  • It's tight. Very tight.
  • Spend a day in Weymouth. Friend who was supposed to meet, cried off with work. 
  • Jayney-no-mates.
  • Plan to leave the next morning. 
  • Plan the perfect exit maneuver.
  • Execute it badly.
  • Barbie gave it her best. Note new battle scar. #hardcorebarbie #glasgeekiss
  • Accidentally shorten the flag pole. (it was too long anyway)
  • Smile nicely and say good morning to the motorboat owner, whose protruding anchor assisted with flag pole shortening. 
  • Remark quietly to self how quickly a fat person can move when they think their boat might be damaged. (it wasn't)
  • Exit Weymouth entrance. 
  • Eyes forward. 

This could be a fast one - chapter two

With one reef left in the main sail and wind "just-so" Boogie Nights was absolutely flying.  

Rarely seeing the speed drop below 9knots the steady 20kt breeze just kept on keeping on.

The boat was going like this.

The wind was a bit like this.

I hadn't said anything to the ships dog, but he knew instinctively that today was a day he might want to tuck himself below in the confines and comfort of the back cabin where he curled up in a deep nest of king-size duvet and pillows. He left me to it. He didn't emerge for another ten hours.

But what a ten hours that would be.

I was mostly like this

I was faced with a choice after a while, do I turn up to go through the needles channel or do I go around the back of the island. The tides and wind decided I would go around the back of the island where I would have plenty of sea room and boat speed when it turned sporty later.

A beautiful day to set a new personal best
Once I reached the corner where I needed to turn more northerly, the wind started picking up.
A blanket of cloud descended rapidly over the island and shrouded the anchored ships ahead of me. The wind increased from a steady 24 knots to 30 and started showing 30+ at which point I had to physically tell myself out-loud, to "get that second reef in home girl". While running with the wind behind me, it feels easy. But the moment of turning into the wind suddenly that shit gets real.
Waves I had been surfing down with ease were now breaking over the boat.

"Cascades of water run down the gunnels and fly off the back as spray.
The bow points at the sky then at the bottom of a wave, then back at the sky.
I hang on with my toes as I use both hands to pull and winch as fast as I can whilst gripping the wheel with any other spare part of my body"

It's bouncy alright.
Reefing is essential but also tricky when you're solo. The autopilot on Boogie Nights doesn't have the capacity to adapt while I haul on lines and change the motion of the boat, so it overcompensates or under-compensates. Either way, it doesn't really point the boat particularly well which can slow down the actual job of reefing.
Determined not to get lassoed around the neck again with stray lines I pulled hard and winched fast and everything seemed to go like clockwork. More or less. Though the brief stoppage hit my average speed quite hard and knocked it down to 8knots.

Turning back downwind as the wind was howling around 32knots and gusting more, Mr Gibbins the civilised self tacking jib can't handle being dead downwind so had to be rolled away. This meant the boat would be slightly unbalanced and again, the autopilot wouldn't be able to handle it. With the wind behind me, there was a high risk of crash gybing so I resigned myself to hand steering while Boogie Nights surfed at 13 knots down the waves.
It was at this point my MP3 player decided it was going to play me the entire series of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. 
Unable to leave the helm to run below to kick it back to playing music, I listened to the calm voice of Peter Jones as he narrated his way through three entire episodes.
Understandably initially I was vexed at not having music on while I concentrated on not crash gybing and catching waves to surf down. But then gradually the calm voice became oddly reassuring.
Hearing once again the importance of the humble towel for hitch hikers as well as Marvin's sunny disposition as he casually parks spaceships at the restaurant at the end of the universe was actually pretty good at whiling away the time.
Before I knew it, the sun was shining again and I was pointing toward the Spinnaker Tower of Portsmouth with tunes blasting the cockpit and a huge grin on my face.

The route recorded on You can follow Boogie Nights journey progress on here.

The Spinnaker tower can be seen for miles. It's another reassuring sign that "home" is within sight.

And just in case you thought the title of this post had nothing to do with Star Wars

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