A Parker 235's Summer Cruise 2007

This article by Paul Burton was written for Witham Sailing Club, and he won a trophy for it! He has kindly agree to let us reproduce it here. At the time he was sailing a Parker 235 "Lady Penelope".

We had been to Brixham for a week in July and the weather had not been kind to us. The drive down had been long and we were not looking forward to the drive back again. Kiala and I decided to find somewhere on the south coast to leave the boat for a month, so we could return for our main summer cruise. After ringing round we found that Hythe on Southampton Water would be a good choice. So we recovered the boat from Brixham and towed to east to Hythe. We left the boat there and carried on home to return in Aug. On Friday 3rd Aug the forecast was for a good weekend so we jumped in the car and headed back to Hythe. We hooked the boat on the car and carried on to Bucklers Hard on the Beaulieu River. We had a good weekend and left the boat at Bucklers Hard, fully rigged, on the trailer ready for the main cruise.

Friday 17th Aug

Log reading start 424Nm

We set off from Sleaford at around noon; 4 hours later we were hooking the boat on the car ready to launch Lady Penelope. By 5pm we were motoring down the Beaulieu River heading for Cowes. Joe took the helm while I prepared sails and Kiala unpacked and stowed all our gear. I put one reef in the main and hoisted, we unrolled half the jib. The wind was blowing a good F4 from the West and with wind over tide there was quite a swell heading from the Needles. We headed across the Solent heading due south where I thought the swell would be less due to a lee shore.

The log was showing over 8 knots as we surfed down the waves. Once near the Isle of Wight the swell did not subside. We had a couple of kite surfers come fairly close and the showed off doing some tricks off the waves. After we fell off a couple of waves and broached I thought it was time to take down sail and start the motor. We were only a mile or so off the Royal Yacht Squadron so it did not take long to get into sheltered water in Cowes.

We headed to Shepherds Wharf - I had been into there in May and found its facilities were very good. I called them on the radio to arrange a berth for the night, there was no response, so we tied to the outer pontoon and waited. The harbour master turned up and asked if we would like a more comfortable berth for the night, we accepted. He moved the harbour masters boat and we moved into the berth. We got electric hook up, water and 4 showers for £15, bargain (this is Cowes after all!). We stayed aboard and ate a chicken casserole and had an early night

Log reading 431Nm.

Saturday 18th Aug.

The next morning the forecast was not good - F6 southerly and rain. We went into Cowes and had breakfast in the world famous Egons, we wrote our names on the wall and gave a donation to Cowes inshore lifeboat. We had a good look round the shops and walked round the front of the Roayl Yacht Squadron. At around 2pm we left Cowes and headed up the Medina towards Newport. As you go inland you can see the moorings are getting cheaper and cheaper. The river narrows and gets shallow, but we stayed within the markers and lifted the keel.

Newport has floating pontoons which makes mooring very easy, and for £11 for the night you get a key to the showers and toilets as well. We headed off into town to explore, then the heavens opened and we headed to the cinema. We then had a very nice meal at the Bargeman opposite our mooring. We returned to the boat as she was starting to dry out, all the bilge keelers around us were well out of the water. Lady P settled with a slight lean to port, nothing too bad though. We watched the ducks, swans and seagulls walk past us on the mud. We must have floated at around 4am and settled in the mud again.

Log reading 433Nm

Sunday 19th Aug

We headed in to the town for breakfast while we waited for the next tide. At around midday we were afloat again, but only just. We set off very slowly with the keel still up. We left all the bilge keelers still aground and didn’t see many moving boats until well up the Medina near the Folly.

Heading back up the Medina we saw Ellen Macarthur’s Trimaran B&Q for sale. Advertised as the fastest sailing boat around the world.

After negotiating the ferries and other boats around Cowes we entered the Solent heading for Yarmouth. The weather was NW 4-5 and we had a good beat towards Yarmouth. The sun was shining and the wind was good, as a bonus we had a good tide running with us. On entering Yarmouth there are a huge number of boats, but then a launch appeared that lead us to a visitors pontoon. The pontoon does not have shore access, there is a water taxi, but we pumped the dinghy up and headed ashore to check out the showers which were very nice.

A small boat entered the harbour and headed straight for us, and then I noticed the PSSA (Parker Seal Sailing Association) pendant of which we are members. He rafted alongside and we introduced each other. He had sailed from Chichester single handed and was heading west from the next week. He gave us some very good tips of where to go in Poole. As we were planning to get to Poole and had to go through the Needles/Hurst I asked for advice as I was a little apprehensive about that part of the trip.

He put my mind at rest a little and told me there were no problems. We ate on board, I had cooked a chilli before we left home and had frozen it. Kiala heated it up and did some rice to go with it. We had not had electric for a couple of days and the kids Nintendo games were flat and needed charging. These Nintendo’s keep the kids happy and quiet for hours so we NEEDED to get them charged. We asked at the harbour office if they would charge them for us and they were very happy to do so.

Log reading 448Nm

Mon 20th Aug.

We were planning to head to Poole. The tide runs east to west 1 hour before HW Portsmouth and runs for about 5 hours. The forecast was NW going N 5-6 then 3-4 variable later. HW Portsmouth was 04:37 so we would have a fair tide till 08:37. We would need to leave early around 06:00 to get through the North Channel past Hurst point. We woke up at 06:00 and after much discussion it was too late to leave. So plan B was to leave Yarmouth around midday, and see what it was like, maybe head to Keyhaven. The afternoon tide would not run east to west until 16:00 but we could still make Poole in daylight, about 15Nm.

We left Yarmouth just after midday and the weather was good. The wind had dropped to a F2 and from the east. The sea was calm so we headed for NE Shingles cardinal buoy. The wind was over tide and we were pushing a strong tide against us, we had full sail and we also had the engine running. Once out of the North Channel the tide was not as strong and we made good head way. I had been warned about the crab pots on Christchurch ledge. There were a lot and the kids enjoyed being on pot watch. The kids also got the hang of plotting our position on the chart every 10 mins, they took compass bearings and plotted them then they took the position of the GPS and plotted that. They were not too far out most of the time.

Once past Christchurch we headed inshore for a better view of the coast line and Bournemouth pier. The wind picked up but stayed in the east, the tide was now with us and soon picked up the East Looe channel which would take us into Poole. A fleet of RS400 dinghies were heading back into the harbour after racing in Studland bay. There must have been 100 boats taking part, and we were in the middle. We started to motor due to the chain ferry and got through just as it set off, this split the dinghy fleet and gave us a bit more room.

The wind had now picked up to at over a F4 so we stayed under engine to get us to Poole town quay marina. We had been warned that this was one of the most expensive marinas on the south coast. Kiala phoned ahead and got told there was space and to go on the back wall!!! We entered the marina and were unsure where to go so Kiala gave them another call. They said go past the fishing boats and next to the wall... We found the wall but the gap between a boat on the pontoon and the wall was about 8 foot, we have an 8 foot beam. It was tight but we got in, we were right next to the main footpath that the public used.

I thought Kiala would not be happy with everyone looking down on us...but it was the opposite, she sat there people watching. As usual we checked out the shower...very posh. Next food, it was around 7pm by now and we were hungry. A very short walk along the quay we found a Weatherspoon pub, cheap and cheerful, the food came quickly and was much needed. Back to the boat and bed.

Log reading 472Nm

Tue 21st Aug

Strong northerly winds forecast so we decided to stay put for the day. We walking into the town centre and did some shopping. The wind indicator got broken during trailering and I found a replacement vane in Piplers of Poole. The afternoon was spent lowering the mast to change the indicator. Lucy did some crabbing and Kiala read her book. Joe insisted that we went to a sweet shop called truly scrumptious or a bag of sweets each.

It turned out to be bike night on a Tue. We were right next to where all the bikes would be and we requested another mooring, the staff found us another mooring and we moved to a much quieter spot. We eat onboard and headed to the quay for a pint and pudding and to have a look at the bikes. There were hundreds of motorbikes on display and the town was packed with everyone in good spirits. We had a pint and a pudding in the Weatherspoons which was packed out.



Wed 22nd Aug.

The forecast was still for strong N winds. We decided to head on to the south side of Brownsea Island and anchor for lunch. We paid £46 for the 2 nights with electric and showers, that included harbour dues. We had a very fast run down the Wills Cut channel and into Blood Alley round to the south side of the Island. We well in the lee of the island and well sheltered. We lifted the keel and anchored in about 2 foot of water. I took the kids onto the beach for a game of bowls. Kiala hates sand, I went back to the boat to see if she wanted to go ashore, she did but spent most of the time trying to keep sand off herself... I couldn’t get my head around the double high tides in Poole, but we were on neap tides and the difference between the highest and lowest tides was only half a meter, so I didn’t worry too much about them.

We decided to head to Wareham for the evening. We motored back up the Wills Cut then headed west under sail looking for the Wareham channel. It is not easy to pick out the buoys amongst all the moored boats but we made our way up the river Frome towards Redcliffe YC. As we approached the club house we saw the club house with a long pontoon right out side, there were several members on the pontoon who were happy to catch our warps.

When we left Brownsea I left the anchor on the roller secured with a mooring line, the anchor was quiet muddy so I didn’t put it in the anchor locker. As soon as we got along side the pontoon the anchor fell off the roller and took 15m of chain with it, Kiala had not known I had used the mooring line to secure the anchor. We had every joke under the sun about anchoring and not showing an anchor ball.

The OOD asked us to move off the pontoon and onto a trot just off the pontoon as they had several visiting members coming in that have use of the pontoon before non members. The fore and aft moorings were only 20 foot off the pontoon, I used the dinghy to take a line out as there was a strong cross wind and the river was ebbing. After signing in as temporary members, they gave us a key to the clubhouse and showers. Temp membership, mooring, showers and water for £10. We walked it the town and had a good meal at the Black Bear, then a pint on the quay. It is about a 10-15min walk from the town to the club.

Log reading 483Nm

Thursday 23rd Aug.

The forecast was still for strong north winds but decreasing as the day went on. We thought we would head to Brownsea again and decide what to do once there. Up to now the weather had been okay but not great, Kiala threw a tantrum about the weather and within half an hour the sun was out and the wind had eased. Again we anchored in shallow water in the lee of the island.

Lucy started crabbing with a fresh piece of bacon. She was pulling them out 5 or 6 at a time and within half an hour the bucket was half full. We tipped them out and she started again. The day flew by and by 5.00pm we thought we had better head back to Poole quay for a shower. I radioed them to make sure they had room for us. They did and they told us to go to D19, we had a marina plan this time so new where to go.

Kiala took the helm all the way until we got to D19 where there was already a boat. A call on the radio told us to temp raft to the harbour masters boat. After a bit of sorting out we sent to D2 with all the big posh boats. Thursday is curry night at Wetherspoons so back to the pub for a curry and pint.

Log reading 493

Friday 24th Aug.

We woke up to a glorious morning, sun shine and Studland was our destination. I nipped into town for some supplies; Kiala sorted the kids and boat out. We left Poole and headed towards Poole entrance, we took the inshore channel and went through boat moorings after boat moorings. We had full sail up with the wind behind us. We headed out through the Swash channel following the training wall until we had a clear run into Studland. I headed for the nudist beach, as you do, and then followed the shore to the slipway. We dropped anchor and waited until it held. We were in about 2 foot of water, again with the keel and rudder up, about 50 yards of the beach.

As usual the kids were on the beach. The sun did come out though the pictures don’t show it. The plan was to spend the night at anchor in Studland beach with a visit to the Banks Arms pub. At around 4pm we headed toward the other anchored boats at south beach. We found a clear area in between all the other boats, dropped the anchor and let out about 20m of chain on our 6kg Delta anchor, the depth was about 3 meters and the tides were on neaps with very little difference between high and low. The kids did their usual and went swimming of the back of the boat. They kept telling me how it wasn’t cold, I jumped in and it was cold. Kiala felt left out so she jumped in as well.

Once dried off and changed we decided to leave Lady P on her anchor and go to the pub. It was high water and we still only had 3 meters of water, the anchor showed no signs of dragging, the sea was like a mill pond, and there didn’t seem to any tide/current. We all jumped in the dinghy and headed to the beach, there must have been 40-50 boats at anchor or moored in the bay. The beach was almost empty and we pulled the dinghy up the beach and tied it to the wall.

I was a bit worried about leaving our dinghy on the beach, but there were 10 or so similar dinghies also left on the beach. We strolled up the path towards the road and the pub. We sat in the pub garden and had a fine meal with a couple of glasses of cider. We then strolled back to the beach and to my relief the dinghy was still there. The bay looked idyllic so we took a few photos with Old Harry in the background.

You can just make out our black Pirate flag. A quiet night at anchor followed.

Log reading 500 Nm

Sat 24th Aug

It was time to head back to the Solent. I had worked out that we would not have fair tide until around 4pm. So we headed for middle beach café for breakfast and a few supplies from the village shop. Then we spent the morning on the beach until around 1pm. The wind was SW force 3 so a nice broad reach would take us all the way back to the Solent. The weather was "hot hot hot" as I wrote in the ships log. I was covered in factor 25 lotion and still I was burning, I ended up putting clothes on the keep the sun off.

We were pushing against a knot or so of tide, but we were in no rush. I had planned to have the tide with us through Hurst point. We had a great sail and as planned got near Hurst at around 4.30pm. As we rounded Hurst the overfalls were very strange, the sea was confused and choppy but we just seem to go through it with out any problems.

Our plan was to go back to Yarmouth, but as we approached all the outer mooring buoys were full and there was a cue at the harbour entrance. There were 2 big red neon signs saying "harbour full". I got Kiala to ring them on the mobile phone to see if they could squeeze a small 23 foot boat in, the reply was "not with a shoe horn". Boats were running in to each other trying to get into the harbour. There were a couple of ribs stopping boats getting in.

So we headed at full speed (6 knots) to Lymington. Again the entrance was very busy but we kept going past both marinas to the town quay, the harbour master greeted us and guided us to a fore and aft trot, within minutes we had a motor sailer rafted along side.

We were in need of a shower and some food. We had the dinghy still pumped up so headed to the shower block. Then we headed into town for some food, even though every pub and restaurant had free tables they all told us they were fully booked. So fish and chips it was.

When we got onto the pontoon to head back to the boat there were quite a few people standing around and the water taxi had its engine cover off. I offered a taxi service for a pound a person and they were very keen. I dropped Kiala and the kids off at the boat and went back to assist the stranded people.

I took 2 men back to their boats who were going to pump their dinghies up and head back to collect their wives, they offered me a bottle of wine but I declined and went back to pick another couple up. After dropping another couple off I went back to Lady P, I didn’t charge anyone for the taxi service.

Once aboard I found that we had no power left in the battery and the lights were very dim. Kiala had left to fridge running while we were ashore. We got the torches out and went to bed. We decided that due to the Solent being so busy and us being out of electric it was time to head home.

Log reading 522 Nm.

Sun 26th Aug

It was time for the last leg back to Bucklers Hard, the tide would be against us but we needed to be back at the slipway by lunch so we could get Lady P out and de-rigged and drive home within a reasonable time. We went ashore to get a couple of supplies and we bumped into Steve Roy, another Paker owner who used to be a member at the Witham Sailing Club, he has a Parker 275. Steve was on the pontoon but had about 5 boats rafted to him. Bet he wasn’t too happy about all those feet passing over his decks.

We left Lymington in a NE 4, so far I had taken the sailing steady and reefed early. As we left cleared the entrance I put full sail up and headed off on a hard beat, the foul tide made it slow going. We ended up starting the engine and heading inshore to find the entrance to the Beaulieu River. I started to de-rig on the way up the river.

Once at the slip I fetched the car and trailer, one of the trailer brakes was jammed on. I thought that driving it to the slip (200yards) would free it off, it didn’t. I thought once the boat was on it, it would free off, but trying to reverse with a wheel locked was not easy. I got the trailer into the water, now the boat!

There was a strong out going tide which was going to make it difficult, but with a few well placed warps we got her spot on first time. We need to get the keel which is about 2 inches wide onto the trailer which is about 4 inches wide. The wheel/brake did free off as soon as we pulled her out. We were soon ready to head off home, 220 miles and we would be there. We arrived home at around 7pm after an untroubled journey home.

In total we covered 113 nautical miles and visited 9 places. Once Kiala had her tantrum we had good weather, no one was sea sick. We had very little cross words except for the sibling rivalry between the kids. We didn’t have any long passages or sailing in full oilies. Every marina had decent showers and friendly staff. The roughest sea was on the first day.

Joe says it was Exciting.

Lucys says it was Fantastic.

Kiala said it was Relaxing.