We have managed to book in to Bembridge for tonight…it has been full for the last few days, so after a leisurely breakfast we slip out of Haslar, past old historic Portsmouth and out into the Eastern Solent once more.
The dark clouds overtake us despite there being not a breath of wind, and soon we are looking our usual best in oilies (when were they last actually oilies?) as we motor past the forts once more.
It turns out that these old Napoleonic defences are up for sale at a snip of £1.7m for all three. Horse Sand is derelict, but the other two are reasonably together apparently in a chic sort of way….not that you would notice from the outside…
The entrance to Bembridge is narrow and shallow and we follow the GPS, whilst also being aware that they reposition the buoys regularly to reflect the changing pattern of the sand banks. We count them down assiduously as it is easy to go from one red to another and completely miss an intervening dog-leg.
The scene as we approach is very ‘Isle of Wight’ with the heavily gabled houses and even the horses on the beach…
We were last here a couple of years ago, rafted 4 or 5 deep, but they have made enormous improvements recently and changed the layout to finger berths…reduced capacity, but it means we don’t disturb anyone when we leave.
The afternoon dries up and against the background of a sailing school, we take the little water taxi across the harbour to find a co-op and look at the little shops in the village.
Look is all we do, as the people of Bembridge while having remarkable hair (the numerous hairdressers are open), seem to be able to do without other opportunities to spend cash…even the pub is shut. We assume that the rest of the island must be reached only by rough dirt tracks and boggy impenetrable marshes…judging by the preponderance of big 4×4 vehicles.
As we prepare to return there is a big barge and houseboat with two attendant tugs standing off in deep water waiting to come in.
John spends the rest of the afternoon cooking a curry while the rest of us (except Chris) help by generally
lazing keeping out of his way. A very smart and refurbished Moody 33 by the name of Blue Tack ties up next to us and makes poor old Heydays look a bit shabby. Our thoughts turn to the winter works and general refit…and the cash required.
As we are tucking into our marvellous curry, a dog (with owners) decides to relieve himself against our electricity mains cable (and that of the boat next door). Fortunately for the dog, he is short and the socket is high. The owners prepare to move on until we say “sorry, but could you wash that down?”. Why is it that we Brits say sorry when other people muck up? Anyway, the bloke is ready to challenge but fortunately his wife is very apologetic and hoses it down…the rest of the evening is spent talking through some Ricard, some Reisling and the remains of some red.