Wednesday 29th August Ref: 2007/26
We spent two more days enjoying the fine weather and seaside amenities in Brighton, before continuing our voyage west to the Solent, where we had arranged for the boat to be lifted at Itchen Marine. This would give us chance to look for any damage to the props and shafts incurred during our summer's activities, and we planned to stay in the Southampton area for the period of the boat show, due to start in a fortnights time.
With the wind coming from the north it made sense to stick to the inshore passage through the Looe channel, so we treated ourselves to the new edition of the two Admiralty Leisure folios of charts which covered the passage. We didn't expect to find any major changes but as we also planned to follow the shallower North channel east of the Bramble bank we decided our 2001 editions were probably due for updating.
Taking the same channel in the other direction we crossed paths with an army landing craft, possibly late for the last war, or early for the next one. The pilot boat which accompanied it made sure we gave them a wide berth by heading straight for us until we changed course.
As we headed further into the Solent the radar began to get busier as boats of all shapes and sizes crossed our path. The area just outside the main channel in Southampton Water seems to be the most heavily occupied and several power boats seemed to think that a boat's length away was a suitable distance at which to pass. For these occasions we employ our 360° avoidance manoeuvre, which involves veering sharply off to starboard and describing a complete circle, so that we cross the wake of the overtaking vessel at right angles. The alternative, of being hit on the beam by several metre-high waves, sends miscellanous items crashing around the cabin and is a most unsettling experience.
We arrived in the river Itchen around 5pm, as the 2 knot tide was ebbing strongly and with a lively 15 knot wind blowing downriver. This made the mooring operation a little trickier than anticipated but the introduction of a handful of extra ropes soon had the situation under control. Itchen Marine has the distinction of being one of the cheapest places to keep a boat in the Solent, and as we gazed at the mudbanks on which some of the boats were lying we could see why. However, mud didn't bother us in our spot on the fuel berth and we were pleased that the yard had agreed to attend to our needs promptly and efficiently.
The efficiency continued the next morning as we were greeted at 8am by a team of line-handlers who enthusiastically crewed us round to the travel hoist, and we were out, pressure washed and secured by 9am. There was some noticeable damage to one blade on each prop, but nothing that couldn't be fixed by the lump-hammer wielding yard manager and his mate with the sledge hammer.