A bit of racing!

Over the first few days after the opening of the harbour, I’ve been out many times, once with Signora, including a trip down to Bosham again. So much for social distancing there! The green at Bosham was heaving with picnickers, and I don’t think any were over 2 metres apart! Ah well.

One of the more recent sails was a test to see how long it would take to get to East Head. We’ve had a few Easterlies recently, which makes it easy to get down harbour in good time, but results in a windward slog on the way back.

Blowing a 2-3, it took only an hour to get within spitting distance of East Head, and on the way, I picked up some company from an International 12 creeping out of Bosham.

In principle, the Morbic 12 conforms to the Int 12 design, so this would be a good test, although their sail does seem to be quite a bit larger, and they use a stayed mast. However, I was pretty sure that would be offset by their greater weight, as they are built from solid wood planks

Boudicca acquitted herself very well, showing him a clean pair of heels downwind on the way to East Head. This was on a close reach – not exactly planing, but a good turn of speed. My competitor peeled off to sail up Thorney channel, so I continued to East Head, where about 25 yachts were anchored up and many people on the beach.

I was starting to worry about how long it would take me to get back to Dell Quay, so rather than landing, I turned for the long beat back.

The 12 reappeared and joined me on the sail back to Deep End, and once again, Boudicca had the better of it. In fact, I think the 12er was a bit miffed by her performance. A quick wave of acknowledgement and he was away up the Bosham channel.

I continued to beat up past Itchenor, and Boudicca really is a delight to sail – very well balanced, and you quickly learn how to tack with minimal loss of way. Take it slowly, let off the sail a bit and accelerate out of the tack before the centreboard stall, and then bring the sheet back in.

Against the falling tide, I had to hug the shore, but as we rounded the point opposite Birdham, I could crack off the sheet, and relax. I got back from East Head in 90 minutes. Good reference for future trips!

Escape from Lockdown

Chichester Harbour has been completely locked down since March, so we’ve had to take to the bikes to get around and social distancing has been the rule.

In May, it was announced that boating could resume, even though sailing clubs could not open, which ruled out any sailing at Shoreham for the foreseeable future.

The irony has been that the weather has been almost tropical, with incredibly blue skies and clear air. I wonder if it’s related to lack of traffic and no vapour trails in the sky? Well duh! (as my daughter used to say)

On 21st May, the time had come to get Boudicca back on the water, and with the help of a spring tide and perfect weather, it was irresistible.

A quick trip down to Bosham and back was easily achieved as the wind freshened, and we got back before the tide disappeared. The sad thing is that the Crown & Anhor is closed, so refreshment had to wait until I got home!

One of the nice things about Boudicca is that I get at least one compliment each time she goes on the water. She’s a good looking little boat, and appreciated by other sailors. I have had to explain what she is and who designed her several times.

A lovely day on the water

I suppose the first official sail was when Signora and I went down to Dell Quay for our first sail together. A glorious day, without too much wind, so we hooked up Boudicca to the Panda and set off. It’s only around 4 miles by road, and if you time it right, the parking is not too bad.

It can be a bit tricky launching a sailing dinghy at the quay, as, depending on the wind direction, the wind shadow of the sheds plays havoc. As Signora was going to be on board, I opted for a quick row to the pontoon, before hoisting, and letting the crew on board

The oars which Bill bequeathed me are a bit short for the aft rowing position, but at least they stay out of the way when stowed. I think I will revisit making a proper sized pair of oars at a later date

Our first voyage together went without incident, with a quick trip down to Itchenor, and the crew enjoyed it immensely. Good decision!

Maiden Voyage

This wasn’t supposed to happen but Signora was away in Italy, having her hair done, and I was at a loose end. So I thought “why am I here, I should be out sailing?” so I suddenly got the urge to go down to Dell Quay. The weather was perfect and the tide also, so there was no excuse.

It was a Monday, so parking at Dell Quay was easy, so taking the boat down with the Panda was a doddle. Before long, we were afloat! I’m afraid there are no launching photos, as my friendly photographer was away, but I managed to grab a photo on the iPhone as we approached Bosham – yes, a very brave first voyage, but it was no trouble at all.

Boudicca acquitted herself very well. A good turn of speed and very well balanced on the helm both upwind and down. I learnt how to take the tacks slowly, so the centreboard didn’t stall, and as long as you keep the boat moving, the centreboard bites fairly quickly.

Rather amusingly, on the way back, I almost ran over a swimmer off Cobnor point, and he asked me what the boat was. I shouted “a Morbic 12!” and he immediately said “ah yes, a Vivier design”. I wonder if I will track down the other Morbic 12 on the harbour, which Adrian Donovan had already told me about.

A lovely day on the water.

Official duties

Of course, before we can go sailing on Chichester Harbour, we have to pay our dues. We went down to Itchenor on one of the Harbour open days in the Spring, and while there were stands advertising and selling rubbish to those that wish to fill their houses with rubbish, we took the opportunity to call into the Harbour office to register for a licence. A one-off payment gave me a sticker which had to be affixed to the port quarter, hopefully the first of many……

….and we were ready to go. I was informed that to launch at Itchenor would entail a £5 fee each time, which I thought was a bit extreme in view of the fact you also have to pay for the parking, so I decided that Dell Quay would become our base. The only advantage of Itchenor is that you can launch at pretty much all states of the tide, whereas Dell Quay turns into a mudberth more than 2 hours either side of high water.

However, with some general awareness of tide times, I’m sure that’s manageable, even if it means being stuck at East Head all day waiting for the harbour to fill.

Covering up for winter

Let’s face it, I didn’t time this well. Finishing a boat just as the clocks change is not ideal, so Boudicca was going to have to spend the winter at home. I needed a cover and quick!

I was recommended by Chris Lintern at Shoreham to go to Cover Care who are based in Thornham Marina, just down the road from Emsworth. All I needed to do was get the boat down there, and they would make a fitted cover there and then.

Dave Hockaday was very helpful and, true to his word, I collected the boat with cover later that day. Just as well, as it was pissing down with rain.

Everything was perfect, including a snug collar for the mast where it passes through the transom, and a coverall for the stem.

The maiden voyage would have to wait until next year…….

Any excuse for a party

As we approach the end of the year, we celebrate the attempted destruction of the houses of parliament by Guy Fawkes by having a firework party on or close to November 5th. It seemed a good idea to turn that into a naming party too, as my chums from Shoreham Sailing Club were wondering why I was always covered in epoxy and paint!

I tooled up with some humungous fireworks, and the scene was set. It seemed a waste to smash a full bottle of sparkly, so I found a miniature in the cupboard to do the job. The contents still ended up over Bill’s trousers, but I see that as a good sign!

Fortunately, the brass stem band stood the test and no damage was done – thanks to Lisa, Bill, Mandy, Chas, Mandy and Ivan for encouraging noises. I suspect Chas has possibly got the boatbuilding itch. How long can it be before we have a fleet of Morbics at Shoreham!?

Finishing touches

The Classic Marine website is a dangerous place for the casual browser with a credit card, and I couldn’t resist the odd embellishment.

Here are some gratuitous photos of the finished article…….

Sail and rigging

During the build, I asked the great Michael McNamara if he would make the lugsail for Boudicca. Although he is renowned for his racing sails – he is our nemesis in the Hornet and Wayfarer fleets – I knew that he made sails for boats on the Broads, and had just done a set for a refurbished International 14 at Itchenor.

Made out of the same nice off-white cloth, it came with battens, reef points and tell-tales for a very reasonable price, considering it was a one-off from an A4 drawing!

This had to be lashed onto the spars, and the rest of the running rigging put in place. For the halyard and downhaul, I originally went for a traditional polyester which looked like hemp, but in practice, this was not a good move as the stretch was huge. To get a lugsail set properly, a LOT of halyard/downhaul tension is required, and a low stretch rope is a must.

Fortunately from my Hornet history, I had a bucket of blocks and fittings, so I found a nice ratchet block for the mainsheet, and some Harken ball bearing blocks for the rest. Dead posh!