Having had a good whinge about the prospects west from Dover, the next day the wind gods ignored the earlier forecast and offered us a nice Force 4 starting from the north north west, which gave us a fast passage south west, such that the contrary tide hardly slowed us. The wind gradually backed during the day, and, by the time we were off Beachy Head, came round to the south west, so we made one long tack off the head and were straight into Brighton Marina, having covered 80 nm in 12 hours. The weather gradually cleared throughout the day and we needed the sun cream again. The vast sky-scapes were breath-taking. On Friday the winds were westerly force 5-7 and wet, so this was a cue for a day’s rest after two long days sailing. We felt we had broken the back of it now and the next leg should take us into home waters.
On Saturday the good weather returned with steady Force 4-5 winds forecast, starting from the north west and backing to the south west, so we set off just before dawn with the ambition of passing right round south of the Isle of Wight and making Poole in one passage. The wind was on the light side, and the auto-pilot had packed up, which meant the wheel could not be left for a moment. We considered putting into Portsmouth for repairs, but we would have been stuck with difficult tides and winds thereafter. In the end the wind did establish itself as Force 4 and we made good progress round St. Catherine’s Point on the southern-most tip of the Isle of Wight, with tide helping. In the afternoon the tide turned and the wind stayed in the north west, so we had both against us in the long beat to Poole. Visibility was excellent and, being well off-shore, we had breath-taking views from Ventnor in the east all the way to Portland Bill in the west. Night fell with an absolutely clear sky and full moon and we had our first real night sail on Antipole, which was quite awesome. We sailed all the way to the entrance of Poole harbour, which we entered just after midnight.
On Sunday we moved up to Ridge Wharf and unloaded stuff into the car, completely filling it. We then returned Antipole to her mooring. Unfortunately, the mooring had got thoroughly tangled up by the tides over the four months and we had a struggle with the strong wind and a strong ebb running to get Antipole moored properly. So we were late ashore, but eventually got back to Portsmouth, where we enjoyed our first hot bath — the first for Tony since May! It is very strange being back in the house and we are wading through a mountain of post, etc. We have time now to sort ourselves out, although when we get good weather we will be returning to the boat to do maintenance and start preparing for laying up around the end of the month.
The whole cruise has been a magnificent experience. We have really got to know the Netherlands – even for Ynskje it was new to see her country entirely from the water, which is so fundamental to it. We both feel quite changed by the whole experience. You can see our complete track log here, and you can zoom in and pan around to follow our path. We will let you know once Antipole is tucked up ashore for the winter, but otherwise that will be it for this season.
with much love, as ever
Tony & Ynskje xxx