We filled in our time waiting for the new autopilot with a night in South Deep, a favourite anchorage in Poole Harbour and then a trip out to sea where we tested out the sails, the furling staysail and reefing the main. It is always good to check we have the numerous ropes rigged properly and sort out crossed lines.
We realised we had forgotten to collect the spare boat keys from Ridge Wharf and so returned up river and went all the way up to Wareham Quay to have an evening meal at The Quay Inn and stay overnight. This was a first for us as Antipole has never been up there and Tony once failed to get his previous boat Santana that far.
Antipole has Wareham registered as her home port as that is the nearest place to Ridge Wharf. A couple of locals were very chuffed to see Wareham on her stern.
On the appointed day we went to Platinum Marine’s base at Parkstone Marina where Ryan and Jamie fitted the new autopilot. We then took them out to sea so Ryan could calibrate the new system up. Amongst other things, it needs to learn how the boat responds to the rudder.
The next day Wednesday we were finally ready to set off and made an easy passage to Weymouth. For a brief stretch we needed to set the spinnaker and it was certainly good to again have an autopilot to hold the course while we worked the sails.
We love visiting Weymouth. Yachts berth in the working harbour rather than being tucked away in a marina and there is always lots going on. This time we were right outside the former Voss’ Hotel, once run by Tony’s Great Great Grandfather.
Our VHF radio was playing up a couple of days ago and, despite it being eleven years old, Standard Horizon had dispatched a backup for us, which we collected from the harbour office.
To reach Dartmouth we faced a combination of head winds and awkward timing of the tide to pass the fearsome Portland Bill. A neigh-bouring boat in Weymouth, with a single-handed skipper, had arrived from France without being aware of the hazards. He told us he was in 8m waves with green water along the decks.
We had an early start – 02:30 alarm for an 03:15 departure. Our concern was avoiding the numerous lobster pot floats on the eastern side of the Bill in the dark. A good moon lit the water ahead of us and, as we approached the Bill, the pre-dawn light allowed us to see and avoid the white water of the overfalls.
Having rounded the Bill we faced a long beat across Lyme Bay. We chose to tack inshore to avoid the worst of the contrary tides. Once off Lyme Regis and by a stroke of luck, the wind gradually backed. Without changing tack we passed smoothly round the rest of the bay about one mile off shore with lovely view of Axmouth, Seaton, Branscombe, Salcombe Regis, Sidmouth, Otterton, Budleigh Salterton.and Teignmouth. From there it was a harder beat to reach Dartmouth in time for a well-earned drink before supper. You can see this curious track here.
Dartmouth is a delight, as so often. It is very ‘boaty’ and you can still anchor in the middle of the river harbour surrounded by Dartmouth on one side and Kingsweir on the other. At night, the lights of the houses up the hillsides almost completely surround the anchorage, as if you are in a crystal bowl.
We climbed up the green hill you can see and looked back over Dartmouth, the river and Kingsweir on the opposite bank.
During the passage to Dartmouth, we found the wind instruments giving very strange readings with ridiculous true wind indications. Eventually, we determined that the wind speed was much less than it should be and when the wind was light, the rotating anemometer was stationary.
So, it was a trip up to the top of the mast to investigate. This is very hard work for Ynskje on the winch, while Tony just has to cling on when passing motor boats create wash. It may be only 17m but it feels awfully high when you have not even reached the second cross-tree.
It turned out that there was a lot of fine grass trapped under the rotating cap. We can only surmise that birds carrying nesting material had been resting on the wind instrument and their material had got caught in the rotating cups 😯.
We face further contrary winds as we head further west.
That’s it for now – Ynskje & Tony x