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The GOSSIP

Number 151 / December 2003

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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Adventure On The South Coast (PeterB)

The 'besisika' and I have failed to make recent OCSG meets but found time for a late September outing on the South Coast.

Six in the morning saw me lashing my boat together under the railway bridge at the western limit to navigation of Portsmouth Harbour at Fareham. The aim was a 2-day voyage from Fareham to Chichester taking in Portsmouth, Langstone and Chichester harbours. This is tidal water and the early start was necessary to catch the tide. The forecast was SW force 3, but as the rising sun shone through the mist there was not a breath of wind. No sailing in prospect, only my paddle strokes disturbing the water's mirror surface. Steady paddling took me down Fareham Creek to where it enters the broad waters of Portsmouth harbour. Large ships

Peter and the 'besisika' at Rutland Water last year.

can be found here, frigates and navy tugs, but all was quiet in the mist, no shipping today. On the Springs it is possible to pass North of Peewit Island, but there is little water on the Neaps so I had an extra mile to go South before turning to follow latitude 50 49' 40" by compass bearing through the mist towards Tipner 3.5nm distant. Still no wind and I was in a world of my own for a couple of miles before the submarine scrap yard and motorway bridge emerged from the mist. Submarines always look rather fragile to me, but a tap with the paddle shows just how thick the pressure hull really is.

Under the M275 bridge and Ports Creek runs around the top of Portsmouth. The first set of road bridges are rather low and impassable on a high Spring tide, but now, 2 hours into the ebb, the water was just right, deep enough to paddle but plenty of headroom. A little further along under the high span of the footpath bridge, an artificial reef of dumped supermarket trolleys makes it impassable after about tide, no one was on the bridge intending to add to the reef and the water still deep enough, so I paddled on. The railway bridge just has headroom even at high tide, but it is only a steel lattice and the 3rd, electrified rail looks very close to your head. The Creek now starts to open out, under the Eastern Road bridge, and into Langstone harbour. Still flat calm and I was able to brew up on board without danger of the kettle spilling. Just as well, since there is nowhere convenient to

Map of area cobbled together by the editor. It's worth following Peter's route on the O.S. version.

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

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