Hamble again on Easter Monday

An earlier start this morning as we had to be away earlier to make the most of the tide. Showers in Lymington not bad, but I was pining for Hamble.

Aphrodite's Spirit, LYmington

Aphrodite’s Spirit, Lymington

We misjudged the departure a bit and ended up sailing against the tide much of the way back to Lymington. But the sailing was fun, a few strong gusts gave us a weather helm and the Solent was quiet. Got to see The Needles for the first time as we left Lymington which was also fun. At the worst we were sailing against 3 knots of tide, but always making steady progress. It took us about four hours to get back, with the odd tack when we had to turn in to Hamble.

Kevin with S&CA Burgee and cup of tea

Michael, Guy and Kevin on Aphrodite's Spirit

We hit the packets of cup-a-soup quite heavily on the way back to counteract the cold! Feasted on left-over simnel cake, pate etc. when we arrived in the marina, then had to pack and give the boat a quick once-over. While we were having lunch we were rammed very hard from behind by a large yacht leaving the marina that was caught by a side wind. The life raft took a hard knock and crush. Hmm…

Said our goodbyes and then had the long drive back to Cambridge, The traffic was OK, a bit slow as we approached the M25. Back home for 9pm.

Photo’s available from my Flickr Photoset

Solent Photo Map

Easter Sunday sail from Hamble to Lymington

I made the tea rounds this morning, which turned out to be another late start! Another excellent shower at Hamble marina. A simpler breakfast today that featured some super-chilled bananas from the stowage beside the hull below the waterline. Rainy and cold again, but the wind wasn’t quite so ferocious. Better forecast: W or SW winds F4, increasing to F5 or F6 this afternoon. So, we were off. With lots of layers on (5 for me!) we had an excellent sail with wind and three knots of tide in our favour to scoot over to Lymington in less than two hours. We managed to avoid the rain and it was all very pleasant.

Michael and Guy

Michael and Guy

Kevin slid us into Berth B13 very comfortably then we were welcomed to Lymington by a heavy hail shower just after we moored.

Hail on deck Lymington Lymington hail shower (flash)

Michael at Lymington Marina

Pasties and cup-a-soup soon warmed us up. However, my feet were like iceblocks and there was a noticeable lag for the warmth to reach that far down! Had a walk into Lymington and visited a chandlery where we bought various sailing bits and Michael bought a pair of much warmer, heavy-duty winter sailing gloves is expectation of tomorrow’s sail back to Hamble. We ended up in the Mayflower pub for a nice pint of Goddard’s Fuggle-Dee-Dum, brewed on the Isle of Wight. We had a look around St. Thomas and All Saints Church which was lovely and warm and also had a friendly and open feel. We were able to look at the organ and have open access to the church in a way that you don’t often get. I also found one of the stained glass panels rather friendly too, with the message reminiscent of the Village People, but open to personal interpretation.

The church had choral evensong at 18:30, and despite my best intentions to go along I ended having a sleep on the boat, whilst Guy walked back up to the church on his own. It sounds like it was an impressive affair.

In the evening we ended up at the Stanwell House Hotel for dinner. We met up in the lovely camp bar with a sofa made of a mattress, that it was hard not to snooze on.

Stanwell House Hotel bar

Our meals there was excellent: foie-gras with ginger crumble, avocado and spring onion mousse with gazpacho, scallops, venison, fillet of beef, all washed down with a lovely bin end Argentinean wine, which was excellent value.

Second Day at Hamble

This mornings tea in bed was courtesy of Sacha, and we had a much warmer nights sleep, courtesy of Guy’s fan heater and shore power. Guy made a great English breakfast that we scoffed, with the wind whistling by outside. The smoke alarm had to go out on deck, and was later rescued by Michael from a hail shower and 42 knots wind squall.

Big Breakfast, Michael, Kevin and Guy Big Breakfast, Graham and Sacha

There are excellent showers at Hamble Point Marina and we made every use of them before we met to discuss our future plans. The skipper offered us a bit of rough if we stuck it out till tomorrow, and we moved venue from the boat into the Ketch Rigger for beer and chips and to read the newspaper. Sacha left to go back to London about 4pm, and the rest us went back to the boat to eat simnel cake. Food continued to be a theme for the evening with lobster bisque, Guy’s homepage stew, and apple pie. This was followed by whisky and chocolates. That’s a good way to sit out a storm. We heard over the course of the day that we were now the only boat left in the S&CA Easter Rally: Dave, Andy and Jonathan from Flawless had headed home. We’ve been in this sort of position before with S&CA rallies! The wind dropped and the weather brightened up as we headed into the evening—just to tease us!

Hamble Marina

S&CA Easter Rally

After a cold night in the cabin, we had a lovely start to the day with cup of tea in our cabin, courtesy of Guy. However, this was followed by a disappointing forecast of Force 6–7 wind, gusting F8 and lasting for a few days. So in somewhat gloomy spirits we sat the morning out while we waited for Sacha to arrive from London. The weather looked like it would make the full social (and sailing) programme of the S&CA Easter Rally hard to achieve:

  • Fri 21st March; Meet late afternoon at Shamrock Quay Marina for dinner before heading out on the Southampton Scene
  • Sat 22nd March; Cruise over to the Folly Inn on The River Medina for an evening of table dancing
  • Sun 23rd March; Morning – S&CA Painted Egg competition—all boats to submit an entry; prizes for the best! Afternoon / Evening—Cruise to Lymington for dinner at Lanes Restaurant.

Sacha arrived exactly on time at 10:30 only to discover that we’d probably be sitting out the day in Hamble Marina. A man from the charter company came to turn on our central heating for us, but with our stern to wind this proved to be only an intermittent source of heat, so Guy brought his electric fan heater to make our ‘caravan’ extra toasty. We were impressed that he’d come so come well prepared.

The wind was getting up and we were somewhat surprised when the charter boat moored inside and ahead of us on the pontoon wanted to leave with a novice crew of five on board. To allow the other boat to get out, we had to leave our berth, sail about for a bit and then decide what to do next. Oil-skins on, lots of prep! The skipper of the other boat was very pushy and confident and ‘helped’ us out of the berth. With a strong tail wind gusting over 30mph it was a tricky maneuver to get out, and Guy did a great job to handle the boat (and the other skipper!) under the conditions.

Force 6, Hamble Marina Sacha, Hamble Marina

On the water and with the wind, Aphrodite’s Spirit looked like a handful: the maneuvering (above) in 30mph winds looked like great fun from where I was on the safety of the pontoon. I only thought it fair that I helped the other boat leave and wish the novice crew safe sailing to Yarmouth (ouch!). Guy aborted one mooring attempt in a 30mph gust, but had a beautiful line in on the second attempt. Safely berthed again we tied up the boat with enough ropes to makes us feel almost part of the pontoon, then went straight to the pub: the the Ketch Rigger which (amazingly) has its own web site.

Guy cooked up a Jamie Oliver speciality, pasta with purple sprouting broccoli, for a lovely lunch (excepting the washing up). By 4pm we decided we’d had enough of Hamble Point Marina and drove into Hamble town for a look around.

Hamble High Street Hamble Rainbow

All the pubs in town were busy, but the the streets were empty and the shops were largely shut. Explored for a bit and had a good walk in the bracing air. We walked past The Gun House, which looked very interesting, and it was about here that Guy acquired a new pair of woollen gloves from the pavement that he may or may not have dropped. He still wasn’t sure by the end of the long weekend whether they were his gloves, but he has possession now and Michael benefitted from this in the end when he borrowed them on Easter Sunday. Good views of Fawley Oil Refinery and Power Station from Hamble Point.

Fawley Oil Refinery, horizontal smoke Fawley Power Station

Kevin kindly drove us to Southampton to Shamrock Quay, self-guided apart from for the last two minutes when technology kicked in when we managed to get Sacha’s GPS programmed via the postcode from a Google search on Michael’s mobile phone. We met up with Dave, Andy and Jonathan for for a lively meal at the Waterfront Bar on Shamrock Quay. There were eight of us were there for a good meal and chat, but this was cut short by a notably dire Blues Brother tribute duo who were revelling in how bad they were. This could have been fun for 5 minutes: we stayed for about 50. Michael managed to catch a couple of pieces of seafood in his soupy fisherman pie (lost at sea) and exchanged this with bar-safe scampi. Eventually though were were driven out by the endless tribute numbers and bad jokes of the band. Notable highlights were the blue floor spotlight for ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ and the matching black and white check of the wrist sweatbands and guitar straps. There were no musical highlights. Went back to Dave, Andy and Jonathan’s lovely power boat, Flawless, for a few glasses of cava, reclining on their white leather chaise longue seating. Kevin navigated us back to Hamble Point Marina without technological aids, perhaps using the stars as it was a lovely clear starry night with a bright full moon. It was also freezing, so we had the fan heater on overnight and jumped into the sleeping bags!

Dash to Hamble Marina

Jumped in the car after work, loaded up with a packed supper from Michael, and managed a quick trip down to Hamble where we met up with our skipper for the long weekend, Guy from the S&CA, already aboard Aphrodite’s Spirit a Beneteau Oceanis Clipper 323 chartered from Hamble Point Yacht Charters. The journey took us just over three hours, which was good going as it was just before Easter and there were very gloomy predictions about the traffic. We had a bottle of greek wine with Guy, snuggled around an electric convection heater from the charter company, powered by a dodgy mains adaptor. We sat in the boat with the wind getting stronger and stronger—quite a lot of rocking! We had to turn in before Kevin arrived, and he was very considerate sometime about 12:30 am when he arrived and let himself on board. It was a bumpy wild night of weather.


When I got home from the Sea Survival Course, I decided to go A&E at Addenbrookes to see if my eyebrow needed a stitch (it was gaping a bit). And so I spent three hours there, while Michael went to see Equus Equus Poster for the Arts Theatre Cambridge at the Arts Theatre, starring Simon Callow and Alfie Allen. I left with my eyebrow cleaned and glued, and managed to make a quick dash to the theatre just in time for the second half of the play. It was a great second half, and the final scene was very powerful. I was lucky to get to see this much of it.

From the Arts Theatre web site:

‘An electrifying evening of theatre’ Sunday Times
Peter Shaffer’s Oscar award-winning play Equus opened at the National Theatre in 1973 and instantly became a worldwide sensation. The 2007 revival, starring Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe, became one of the biggest hits ever seen in the West End.
Now you have the chance to experience this theatrical masterpiece with one of our greatest living stage actors, Simon Callow, and introducing Alfie Allen, most recently seen in the blockbuster film Atonement as troubled teenager Alan Strang.
Pyschiatrist Martin Dysart is brought the most testing case of his career by magistrate Hester Saloman (Linda Thorson). He has the task of trying to cure seventeen year old Alan Strang whose obsession with horses and an encounter with stablehand Jill (Laura O’Toole) has led him to behave in the most devastating way…

Alfie Allen in Equus

Finished our evening with a nice curry at the Curry Garden in Regent’s Street.

Sea Survival Training

Michael and I left home at 7.15 to go down to London for an RYA Sea Survival Training organised by the Sailing and Cruising Association. The course was in Greenwich at a somewhat shabby RYA training school run by Captial Sailing. There were 16 of us students there. The morning comprised lots of chat, questions & answers and an RYA video that was rather sobering: seeing two Olympic swimmers coping with cold shock and the effect that cold has on swimming coordination. Also learned that as the body cools down in cold water, the heart and circulatory system are supported by the hydrostatic pressure on the legs, as these are lower in the water. When you get pulled out the water after a long period in it, the hydrostatic effect is withdrawn and gravity can then also pull the blood to the feet, leading to a large drop in blood pressure, which can be lethal. We all watched the video in silence! The trainer, Steve Windoe/Windle?, was a very interesting chap: he used to be a Naval diver trainer and has been involved with a lot of sea training for the Navy

We had lunch in a noodle bar in Greenwich village with Mark Gedrych before heading over for a pool session at St Georges Pool on The Highway (Shadwell). We wore our foul weather gear in the pool, and practiced swimming alone and in a conga line. Then we had a bob around in our inflated life jackets and had to climb 1 foot out the pool compared with, say, a 5 foot climb onto a real boat! My bruises are coming up nicely from this! Then the four-man life raft came out and it took us about 5 mins to actually get it inflated once it was in the water. We practiced getting in it (as photo below from the Captial Sailing web site)


then getting out it. Then righting it (assuming it had been inflated upside down), then getting out an upturned life raft and getting back in again with a casualty. It was all exhausting and despite the best efforts of the 12 other students kicking their legs in the water to recreate a Force 8 Gale, I always aware that this was in a nice warm pool, with no waves and in bright light. Quite an eye-opener. Also an eye-opener because I managed to split my eyebrow when turning the life raft over, quite a small cut but quite a bit of blood! Mark as some photo’s which I’ll append if available. Left with our certificate, actually from ondeck training centre. Sadly we had no time to go out for group drinks afterwards as we were heading home to see Equus.


Michael went to work today whilst Steven and I mooched around town, buying bits and bobs. Bought a couple of poetry books in town and then we headed out to The Queen’s Head in Newton. I haven’t been there for a five or six years and it hasn’t changed much in that time. Had the ever-lovely ham sandwiches with massive bursts of mustard. Headed over to Scotsdale and Steven helped me plan my window boxes, and bought me the plants for the upstairs window box as a present. Upstairs is a tiny Kilmarnock Willow, planted with lemon and silver thyme on either side. The catkins on the willow are lovely at the moment. On the ground floor is a dusky flax (from NZ) with some lovely silver-white variegated agapanthus foliage on either side.

Craig finished the work he came to for at 5, and we met up at King’s College for Evensong. With it being Holy Week and a Friday, the service was rather more sombre than normal (and no organ):

5.30 p.m. EVENSONG Men’s voices

Introit Lord, hear my prayer—Dowland

Responses plainsong

Psalm 73 Tone I

Magnificat primi toni

Nunc dimittis secundi toni

Anthem 20 De lamentatione Ieremiae prophetae—Tallis

The Tallis anthem was superb.

Headed back home with a half bottle of sherry for some braised silverside—red poll locally reared at Lavenham (and bought there yesterday). Had a very nice last night meal with Steven and Craig.

Lavenham for Lunch

Michael and I drove out with Steven to Lavenham today, the scenic route via Clare and Long Melford. It was a bit of an overcast day but the countryside still looked lovely and the villages very pretty. Lavenham was a successful a wool town that grew to be one of the 15 richest towns in England in the 15th century. Many of the lovely, timber-framed buildings date from that period. We bought a good guide from the Parish Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul, Lavenham

From this we learned, surprisingly, that the today’s popular style of black exposed wood is a victorian fashion. Originally many of the timbered building would have been plastered over completely, or the exposed timbers whitewashed with lime to preserve them. The National Trust Guildhall of Corpus Christi is an example of the whitewashed building and it looks really impressive, but perhaps not as ‘smart’ as the blackened version.

Michael and Steven, The Angel, Lavenham

We had lunch in The Angel Inn off Market Place, which had a really lovely menu. The food was fabulous and Michael’s suet beef and mushroom pudding was great. Steven had a beef pie that was also suety and I had a baked aubergine and sweet potato curried dish that was good (but I should have had the meat pudding!). We shared a rabbit and pigeon game terrine to begin which was very meaty and 1/3 of the dish made a good starter. Full of lovely lunch, we headed for a self-guided walk of the town, taking in Shilling Street, Water Street, and various sights. [“Walk Around Lavenham” (David Dymond), Suffolk Preservation Society] I think the photos’s will need to speak for themselves:

Market Lane, Lavenham Guild Hall of of Corpus Chrisi, Lavenham

Little Hall, Market Place, Lavenham Shilling Street, Lavenham

Water Street, Lavenham Dr Vere House, Water Street, Lavenham