Just round the two headlands of Bolt Head and Start point is Brixham which two of us visited on the way west. Again, the winds are fickle and we have time to read, mend and generally laze around as the red and ancient Devon cliffs roll past.
This time we end up in the marina, but our first born are mercifully spared and for once it is a pleasant experience. The weather is about to turn and we start to plan more carefully the passage across Lyme Bay. With expected SW (at last!) winds of F4 to 6, the Bill and its race are not to be taken lightly this time. The everlasting debate…do we keep out (certainly) and then do we plug on for Poole or head back on ourselves a bit and into Weymouth or Portland. We resolve to see what the wind actually does tomorrow.
23rd June Brixham to ???
The wind in the morning turns out to be pretty much southerly which means a fine reach (fast) instead of a near dead run (sloppy and swelly). However once we are out there, it is very much a steady F6 and certainly not the F4 to 6 promised. With gusts at the top end of 6, it doesn’t take long for the sea to kick up and be only just aft of the beam. This is a day for keeping at least 5 miles south of the Bill and we are comforted by a couple of others who appear to have the same idea. With two reefs in the main and a couple of rolls in the genoa, Heydays is wonderfully balanced. She always responds well to a slightly smaller press of sail than heeling over on her ear. Only the occasional wave knocks the bows or the stern around. 6 hours sees us due south of the Bill and we can see the breaking water in the race.
We decide to call it a day and head in for Portland, especially as the latest forecast for our bit of inshore waters talks about a strong wind warning. We are certainly right in the upper ends of a F6 with gusts well over. We head for the narrowish gap between the race and the western end of the shambles bank with just a genny left flying on a dead run. Even though we are some way clear, the water is still confused and very choppy, but then, all of a sudden, we are free and enter the relative calm of Portland Harbour. We are intending to anchor but a lot of inviting and empty buoys beckon and soon we are riding out the worst of the weather courtesy of the Royal Navy Sailing Association. There is something deeply satisfying eating a meal on board while the weather does its thing outside, knowing that we are snug and secure.
Saturday 24th June. Decision…or chickening out?
The plan is to leave at 4am to reach the Hurst Narrows on the flood before the ebb starts…don’t want to be there in strong wind over tide! At 3.30am the alarm rings unpleasantly with the wind still howling through the rigging having done so steadily all night. The forecast remains at 5 to 7 although decreasing to 4 to 6. By 4am we are back in bed having decided to call it a day. The winds for Sunday are no better and with domestic commitments on Monday and Tuesday we pull into the marina to leave the old girl there until Wednesday.
We keep going over whether we have chickened out, but the yachtie magazines are full of stories of people who left on a timetable and pressed on regardless, only to come to later grief…
The harbour is a playground for fit young men and women and these strong winds are like manna to them. There are kite surfers, windsurfers on foiling boards and most amazingly a fleet of foiling dinghies called Waszps…
Some of course are more proficient than others, but we are still amazed at how anyone can control such an unstable and very twitchy platform…
We are content to have hot showers and to wend our way home.