I had originally been intending to leave Chime at Brighton until the next chance to continue the journey, but the forecast for the Monday was good (SW 3 to 4, dry) and looking at the tides, an early start would make it possible to reach Selsey Bill before the tide turned foul. It seemed mad not to take the opportunity to reach Portsmouth. Before I set off at around 7.00 I discovered water in the bilges again and had to pump them out. We were able to motorsail towards Selsey in pleasant conditions, although the tide seemed to be taking a knot off our speed, when it should have been with us. I had originally planned to take the outside route around the Bill, which meant going outside the Outer Owers. The Shell Channel Pilot suggested that picking your way through the inside Looe Channel was not always straightforward. However, a couple of other yachts that left at the same time as me were clearly heading for the Looe, so I decided to change plan and go through with them, as it would save quite a bit of time. In the event it was very straightforward in the good conditions.
I had been a little apprehensive of sailing in the Solent, for the first time, singlehanded – shoal areas, a lot of commercial traffic, restricted channels etc., but again it presented no problem. Despite a fresh breeze, the sea conditions were comfortable (unlike at Dover or Eastbourne) and this, together with the chartplotter at the helm, made it easy enough. (My previous yacht had only a GPS down below, and so singlehanded piloting would have meant coping with a paper chart in a plastic wallet in the cockpit!).
Approaching Portsmouth we rounded Horse Sands Fort and I made for the port hand side of the channel. There were a lot of yachts and small craft going in and out of the small boat channel and it was a bit chaotic! Made taking photographs difficult! I had decided to leave Chime at the Royal Clarence Marina at Gosport, based at a former naval yard. It was a good choice, super location, excellent alongside berthing, and helpful staff.
The final word on the leaks: I found that the patent water system drain plug had been leaking, the cause of the water in the bilges this time. I think I have fixed this! I also discovered diesel in one of the cockpit coaming storage caves! Couldn’t imagine how it had got there until I noticed a breather(?) from the day tank set into one end of the cave. I must have really overfilled the day tank when trying to top it up a little more to get rid of the diesel leak the previous day. I will need to speak to Mike Bell about these before tackling this final(?) teething problem.
But teething problems apart, and they have to be expected, I am really pleased with Chime. She seems really capable, and signficantly faster than my previous yacht, which makes longer passages singlehanded so much easier. She is very comfortable to live on too – running hot water, a fridge and a cabin heater make a big difference! And then at the end of the day you can sit back and admire all Mike’s wonderful joinery.
The next stages on this journey in two or three weeks time (?) will be probably be Poole and Portland, and then around Portland Bill and across Lyme Bay to the cruising grounds I know, stopping at Dartmouth before taking Chime into Sutton Harbour at Plymouth. I am hoping for some winds suitable for making sufficient progress without use of the engine!