Sunday 11 September…and a surprise.

We are up early (for us) and leave for the gentle sail down Southampton Water all the way to the Hamble River. We have an appointment to meet Debs and her husband Cole on their boat Lani. We have for some time been concerned about the toxic impact on the environment of the ani-foul which we slap on Heydays’ bottom every year. We have come across a product called Finsulate which is essentially a self-adhesive velour-like substance which has been used for some time in The Netherlands…and a few boats so far in the UK. The company have put us in touch with Debs so that we can see what it has been like to use in practice.

Southampton Water is its usual hectic self with pleasure boats and commercial stuff all vying for supremacy. We have a SE breeze which is almost dead on the nose (of course) and settle in for a tack back down to the Hamble.

The old Paddle Steamer Waverly churns magnificently towards us while we hop out of the way of a container ship (we cheat and have the motor running just to make sure of keeping out of harms way).

Oddly, in all the years of sailing locally and even internationally, we have never taken Heydays back to the Hamble. As expected, it is absolutely choked with boats and marinas and moorings, but it also hass a charm which belies its position wedged between the two cities of Portsmouth and Southampton.

We are all very pleasantly surprised by The Mercury Yacht Harbour even though it is now owned by the ubiquitous MDL group. Our mooring is on the shallow and tight side, but our view from the stern is just one of gentle woodland and egrets fishing for their supper in the retreating shallows.

Debs and Cole give us a really warm welcome aboard their UFO 31 and are happy to talk about their mixed experiences of the new system. This year has been one of heavy fouling and Cole is a scuba diver and has already been over the side to clean the bottom twice. This is not really what we had hoped to hear, but while the weed has grown, it appears to rub off really easily…with the added bonus that scraping/brushing does not release yet more toxic stuff into the water. We realise that if we go down this route, we too will have to scrape a couple of times a year. However, with our bilge keels that is no real problem across a drying tide. We already need to beach her or have her lifted out for a pressure wash in the course of a season, but would have no problem even hosing her down on a public slip given the lack of anti-foul.

Lots to ponder, but we decide to go for the environmental benefits and have Heydays wrapped in Finsulate. No doubt the coming months will see the fruit of this decision one way or another.  The marina has a small bistro attached and we have our Sunday lunch (late) looking out over what has so far been a surprising and pleasant find compared to our expectations. The remainder of the afternoon is spent snoozing gently in the last of the sun before we decide to make the minimum effort of a walk along the river bank. Given the number of Porsche, Astons and Teslas in the car park, we are surprised that there is a healthy number of slightly scruffy (in a bohemian way) liveaboards on the mudflats. This reminds us almost of the myriad walkways and old boats lying in the mudlfats of The Blackwater in Essex.

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