The rather bedraggled Grand Mariner writes:
When you plump for the first week of June as a pretty good bet for warm
sunny weather and good sailing conditions, the last thing you expect is
storm force winds that pin you in harbour for days on end and leave you
fearing for the strength of your cleats and having to balance in your
cabin to make a cup of tea because the boat is heeling so much against
So how do you make the most of the Force 9 tearing through the marina?
By taking a trip out to one of the most feared stretches of water on the
South Coast and seeing how lively the sea conditions are.
It was awesome (in the true sense of the word) standing by the obelisk
at Portland Bill watching the crashing foaming seas – breaking not just
on the rocks, but on the very stretch of water we had sailed through
with reasonable impunity only the day before. Humbling? Yes. Awe
inspiring? Yes. Majestic? Certainly. Dramatic? Hard to think what could
be more so. Were we glad to be tied up safely away from all that!
The next time we sail round the Bill we’ll remember how we saw it – with
the sea thrashing and pounding and surging. And the position of the
overfalls shifting westwards hugely with the change of tide over only a
few minutes – that was very revealing. No point getting to the Bill
early – there’s no benefit to be gained whatsoever. Time it exactly for
the slack and you’ll live to sail another day. You may not have the best
story to tell in the yacht club bar, but you’ll have avoided spooking
your crew and may even have saved something breaking on your boat. And
at the end of the day, it’s all about being seamanlike – not having an
audience in the club for your exploits.
So there’s nothing for it but to sit tight and wait for the winds to abate
so that you can get home safely. And hope for real summer weather to
manifest itself sometime soon.