November 24th…we must be mad!

However, in mitigation m’lud, we’ve had so little time on the water in the last 12 months or more that we really felt the need to get some proper salt-water rushing under Heydays’ keels. Loads of excuses for not getting out more (although the spring and summer was peppered with a few day sails up and down the Solent), some of which revolved around the dreaded covid getting in the way of finishing some jobs we had started and which rendered our poor old boat more like a workshop.
We finally sorted the windows at the third attempt, although again (excuse alert) not entirely our fault. Some of the sealant we had used at the first attempt seemed to have lost all elasticity and had become almost crumbly. Not a good material for keeping out the green stuff. We are now using a two-part seal in the Aluminium channels for the Perspex itself and neoprene to seal the whole frame to the boat. Everything connected to us is now crossed, but some heavy weather may or may not confirm….
We had planned to spend four or five days around the Solent and to visit some small harbours and anchorages. In the event, an increasingly frail 98 year old mother means that we need to be in reasonably quick reach of Southampton. We are also aware that storm Arwen is due on Friday night and Saturday so we are planning to be well tucked up by then.
We got to Lymington for lunch on Wednesday and completed the first stage of the cruise…500m from our pile mooring in the river, to the Lymington Town Sailing Club pontoon for an overnight stay prior to an early start on Thursday to catch the tide going East. Actually, it was great just to be back on board and to start to feel at home again in our separate cabins. Lunch in the Monkey Brewhouse was reasonably liquid and then our attention turned to dinner which was a pre-cooked fish pie to be warmed in the oven. This led to lesson number one and a reminder of the boiling points of Butane and Propane…and the benefit of having an ex-chemistry teacher on board. The oven takes an age to heat and the gas heater on board works intermittently. The standard gas in use in this country is mostly butane with a boiling point around -2C whilst propane has a boiling point of -42C. It turns out that the temperature in the gas locker is cold enough for the butane to produce very little in the way of gas. We don’t have propane on board sadly but a judicious use of a new (warmer) bottle plus warming the old one (not really recommended) does the trick. Now, finally we are really toasty on board.
The alarm at 7 the following morning is not especially welcome but the sun is just rising as we slip our mooring and glide gently out of the Lymington river.

Not another soul in sight…apart from both IoW ferries coming at us from different directions and with not much room to move at low water. There is something wonderful about an early start (once you are started), especially with a warm croissant and a steaming cup of coffee in hand. The morning is crisp and we have set our sights on the glories of Portsmouth for the night. It is good to be out on the water and to have the Solent to ourselves. Heydays ghosts along with lightish winds and the new flood tide helping us out and soon we are off an odd looking Calshot Spit. The Fawley refinery chimney which has been our landmark since forever was blown up two weeks ago and it looks strangely bare without it. We keep out of the way of a couple of ugly commercial boats rounding the Brambles bank and head directly for the beautiful spinnaker tower in Portsmouth. In the summer this area is like Piccadilly Circus with the commercial stuff in and out of Southampton mixing (not always amicably) with the pleasure boats out of Cowes and the Hamble. But today, our peace is not disturbed by the usually incessant roar of the floating pe****s (or Sunseekers as they like to be called) charging about burning diesel as if it is going out of fashion (which we suppose it is).

The entrance to Portsmouth itself is strangely narrow and even quaint given that it is home to the Navy and some of the largest warships afloat, not to mention the ferries and occasional cruise liners.

Haslar Marina is actually in Gosport, but is right next to the harbour ferry and is always very welcoming. With Heydays snug by midday, we set off to look for lunch and take the ferry which lands right in the shadow of the tower.

The Ship Anson is o lovely old pub on the harbour-side and is as warm, welcoming and friendly as you would want….unless you support the nearest team in red.

Yee Tak and Chris decide to spend the afternoon in Gunwharf Quays sorting out Christmas presents, but seem to get distracted by mulled wine along the way (perhaps that was their intention all along…just sayin’).

John and James mooch about the old dockyard and have a great afternoon poking about inside the Victory with almost no other visitors to get in the way. James has recently been reading the Captain Aubery books and it is good to see the reality of what was described as he sailed in Napoleonic times around the globe. Harsh does not even begin to describe it, unless you were an officer.

Back on board we while away another toasty evening as the wind begins to pick up ahead of Storm Arwen which s already making its presence felt in the north west and Scotland.

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