Ambition II had a new engine fitted in March/April, and we spent most of May getting stores aboard, painting and finishing some essential maintenance. We had sailing friends and family aboard several times (keeping up our function as RSA floating clubhouse to the last). Also we had some pleasant short-trips, including days with J’s ex-colleagues Jill and Julie, and Lena and Meg from J’s CELTA course. We also had a farewell party at home, greatly assisted by our children and their partners, where it was good to see many sailing and village friends.
It was time for the May Bank holiday weekend RSA cruise to Kent, so we planned to tag along and then set off South. But with delays leaving the house and strong winds, only one boat, Gem, made it to the Medway. Three others, Pakljhawa, Sea Jay and Ambition II joined her at Harty Ferry on the Sunday. Meanwhile we had a convivial Saturday night dinner aboard Ambition II with the crews of Ulabella and Pakljhawa on the mooring at Paglesham.
Motley crew at Harty church
After a late lunch at the Harty Ferry inn (we just made last food orders at 4pm), and a walk to the ancient Harty church, we had farewell drinks aboard Gem before turning in. Jon and Dawn did sterling service ferrying us ashore and between boats. Overnight we had thunderstorms with strong NE gusts which dragged anchors of both Ambition II and Sea Jay, but no harm done. We weighed at 05:30am and made our way from the Swale via the Gore channel to round the Foreland. The tide remained in our favour almost to Dungeness, and despite headwinds all day we reached Beachy Head in thick fog by 19:30. It was so thick at Newhaven, we could not see the south harbour wall from the entrance channel, but we got in safely and rafted alongside a Dutch yacht. Naomi was joining us, and appeared with the lady in charge of the marina, who proceeded to tell us we could not stay. It seems that much of the former visitors pontoon is taken up by wind farm boats. We had tried to contact the marina by phone and VHF, but no reply. So Naomi jumped on board and we cast off, and motored on to Brighton, fortunately with less fog as it was dark by the time we arrived. The HM had Ambition II on record, incorrectly, as a smaller boat, and put us alongside in rather a tight spot, but we got in without causing any damage in spite of the strengthening wind.
Off at 07:00 while there was still enough depth in the entrance. Motoring into the SW wind all day, arriving Newtown anchorage in the evening. A man on a motor boat anchored nearby proceeded to play the Scottish bagpipes for half an hour, to applause from the other moored boats! We launched the dinghy and had a walk on the South side.
Naomi negotiating Selsey Bill
Recipe: Yoghurt Chapatis (thanks to Naomi and Tom)
Mix 1 mug of plain flour with a heaped teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt, then add enough yoghurt to make a dough. Roll into golf-ball sized balls, then roll (with self-same mug) each ball flat and thin (lots of flour here). Dry-fry over a high heat, and eat immediately.
Next morning after several phone calls to local Yanmar agents, R managed to book the 50 hour initial engine service which was now due. But this meant 6 days to kill in the Solent. So we walked the coast path to Yarmouth – very attractive with early summer flowers and woodland. At Yarmouth we bought 7 day rover bus tickets, and took an open top bus ride round the southern tip of the island (hairy on the hairpins). This was followed by fish & chips and a bus ride to Shalford, then another long walk back to the dinghy.
Anchored just inside Newtown entrance bar
Thu 1st June
We had a very brief morning walk as far as Newtown church, as otherwise the dinghy would be left dry on an extensive mud flat. Later when the tide rose again, we set off to Yarmouth where Naomi needed to catch the ferry to Lymington and train home. At the quay we were kindly offered a lift by a local lady, “E”, who took us to the New Inn at Shalford to catch the bus. As we had time to wait, we are our picnic in the churchyard, but Naomi realised that her phone was left in E’s car. She found the car parked in a drive, and retrieved her phone. E invited us all to tea, so we had a nice chat in her house full of pictures and models, family portraits, trains, boats and planes.
In Yarmouth we visited the ice cream parlour and waited for the ferry. The coming weekend was the YOGAFF festival, and already the gaffers were arriving, with several dressed overall. Stalls and marquees were being erected.
After waving goodbye to Naomi, R & J set off back to Newtown on the bus, and after another hot walk had a dinner of foraged sea-kale bubble & squeak with lemon sole.
On Friday R&J took the bus again to Yarmouth, this time rowing to Shalfleet quay, which is a much shorter walk from the bus stop. YOGAFF was in full swing, with lots of boats to see, bands playing on the quayside, and acres of attendant funfair. Saturday was fine but windy (not safe to leave the boat unattended for long), and the anchorage was crowded with lots of kids sailing as well.
Boats at YOGAFF
Sunday was a little less windy so R rigged Tringa, our nesting dinghy, and we had a lively sail up the eastern creek, then out to the shingle spit at the harbour entrance. We walked along the beach to the point, and ate our picnic watching the boats on the Solent. Later we packed the dinghy on deck and after some difficulty weighed anchor (very weedy and dug in to the clay) to sail up to East Cowes Marina, where the engine service was booked for next day. After tying up the boat, we walked out of town in search of the river path (but got lost in housing estates). Eventually we found our way to Whippingham and the path to Folly Inn, where we had dinner on the veranda before walking back.
J took a bus to Newport to get the last of her vaccination jabs, meanwhile David from Odessa Marine came to do the engine service, which included checking the valve clearances and engine alignment. All went well, except that the latter was only just within tolerance, and to carry out proper adjustment would need the boat to be dried out for access to the stern gear. We resolved to look into this further along the coast. By mid-afternoon the weather had deteriorated with very strong southerly winds and rain, and it looked to stay that way for a couple of days. So we are hunkered down in the marina with a list of jobs to do and books to read!