Poole to St Alban’s Head – and back again! – 19th June 2015

Back down to Poole on the evening of the 18th, via the rural train line from Castle Cary to Weymouth, which is like travelling back in time.

I left Poole next day around 6.00 to pick up the last of the ebb out of Poole Harbour, but there would not be a favourable tide thereafter.  The forecast was force 4 to 5 SW, seas slight or moderate.  There was a good breeze, and once I turned south down towards Anvil Point, it was good sailing, 6-7 knots.  As we drew out of the lee of the land, the wind increased, and I rolled in some of the genoa to reduce the heel.  The seas were rougher than I was expecting, and the pitching around began to make me feel a bit queasy, even though I had taken tablets before setting out.

Brownsea Island
Brownsea Island
The Sandbanks ferry
The Sandbanks ferry

Turning southwest to take me around the St Alban’s ledge, and towards Portland, we were heading directly into the wind, and the waves, and I started up the engine and rolled the genoa in.  Against the wind, tide and sea, Chime was only making a couple of knots over the ground, so I bore away from the wind a little to give some drive from the mainsail, which took us to 3 to 4 knots.  But the motion was extremely unpleasant, and Chime was falling off some of the bigger waves into the next, in a cloud of spray.  I began to wonder whether it would be wise to turn back.  I was feeling worse, and the prospect, at the speed over ground we were making, of bashing into these seas for several hours was not an enticing prospect.  After plugging on a little while longer, to confirm that pressing on was not the right thing, I turned around.  Immediate relief! and my seasickness began to abate a little.

I arrived back at Poole about six hours after I had set out.  A yacht (Dufour 410) arrived later that had set off for France from the IOW, but they had also decided to turn back.  Further out in the Channel they had had 30 knot winds.

Old Harry
Old Harry

On the positive side, I did much better with the autopilot.  I had changed the rudder gain setting from 4 to 7, and this produced much more positive steering.  I also then noticed that there was some slipping of the belt on the wheel, and I think that I had not been engaged the cam mechanism fully to tension the belt.  Especially given the conditions, this time the pilot performed much more satisfactorily.

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Poole to St Alban’s Head – and back again! – 19th June 2015

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