land amongst the soft mudflats. The only movement, the wash of a gravel dredger heading out to sea from Kendall's wharf. The ebb carried me down to Eastney and the harbour entrance. The Spring ebb is very fast here, but on a Neap it is an easy ferry glide across to the Hayling Island shore. Still calm and I had a couple of hours to wait for the tide to carry me back up the harbour so I landed on Sinah Sands to stretch my legs. The turn of the tide brought the promised SW force 3 so it was rapid progress downwind and downtide to the top of Hayling Island. The narrow gaps in the piles from the old railway bridge can be a problem in a headwind, but no problems today. The road bridge may have headroom for a sail at low tide, but numerous gouges in the concrete under-surface tell of damaged rigging from miscalculations.
On into Chichester Harbour and I landed at Fowley Island off Emsworth as soon as the tide was high enough. This is not much of an island, accessible 2 hours either side of HW, but has a place to cook on dry land and a sheltered mud berth. I rigged my tent, slept on board as the boat went down onto the mud and woke just as she floated again. A leisurely breakfast bird watching and waiting for the ebb took in an unwelcome change in the weather. After yesterday's lack of wind, today Southerly force 6.
My proposed route was to take the ebb to the harbour entrance at Black Point then to head up the Chichester Channel with the flood. The tide was much higher than forecast due to the wind and low pressure and the ebb correspondingly fast. Despite this it was a very hard paddle 'close hauled' to the wind and the wind-against-tide kicking up a disagreeable, sometimes threatening, chop. The weather forecast told of the wind turning westerly and diminishing, but conditions at the harbour entrance were not nice at all, now gusting 7-8, with a strong risk of swamping or being driven downwind onto the lee shore of Thorney Island, where the military are not at all welcoming to shipwrecked mariners. So it was caution that won and I headed back up the harbour along the Hayling shore, buffeted along by the wind and tide, only needing the odd paddle stroke for steerage. The boat was just ashore at Hayling Island bridge, when the heavens opened with icy rain from a spectacular cold front and the wind turned and died.
Twenty-five nautical miles covered, plenty of paddling, good sailing while it lasted, and the project still open for completion at a later date.
Canoe Sailing In The Deep South West (PeteW)
Over the last few years in the far South West of England, the number of open boaters