Thursday, April 26, 2007


Over the Easter weekend, we shared a water taxi from East to West Cowes with two very nice members of the Chichester Yacht Club, who recommended heading to Bembridge for a pleasant weekend.

We'd thought of going last year, but been a little, well, scared of the shallow, winding channel into Bembridge Harbour. I mean, when the Bembridge Harbour website itself has not one, but two pictures of boats aground, it's a bit worrying for novices like us.

Well, we're supremely confident veterans of almost two trips to the Isle of Wight now, so we say "pfft" and "pfffar" to the dangers.

A little light passage planning showed high tide to be at about 2pm on Saturday and access to Bembridge is about 2 1/2 hours either side of that. Ideally we wanted to be in on a rising tide (so that if I did accidentally get stuck, there'd be at least some chance of getting off) and about 4 hours to the trip, meant we needed to be away by around 9am. So instead of Friday night drinks at the George, we headed down to Chichester (and dinner at Dell Quay) so that we could have an early start.

A little more passage planning would have made me realise that low tide at Chichester was at 8:06, so there was never a chance of quite meeting our deadline. However, we did get away from the dock just in time (about 10:00). We were able to head straight for the lock, but by the time we actually got through it, they were already giving out number 20 in the queue to a boat calling in.

Nothing much to report about the short (14 mile or so) trip. We had a nice SE wind, perfect for our SW journey. A little stronger than last week, but Missy was just about able to cope with the extra swell.

We reached the Tide Gauge which marks the entrance to the channel and were relieved to see that there are enough buoys marking the channel to wonder how him up there managed to finish up on the sand like that.

The Bembridge Harbour guys were great. They found us a spot on the pontoon and were able to talk us into the tiny gap between yachts rafted three deep in front and behind us, took our lines and generally couldn't have been more helpful or friendly.

So time for a picnic in Bembridge Harbour. This is Missy replete after a little light lunch and a couple of glasses of pink wine.

If Clemmie looks a little strange, that's the tail end of a yawn going on.

The pontoon leads through the Duver boatyards and straight onto sand dunes and the beach, so it's an idyllic spot.

Clemmie had a great time, but got into severe trouble. In the picture above, there's a straight wall just underneath the line of the trees. That's a wall that crosses the harbour, enclosing a tidal mill pond. Half way across it, Clemmie decided that a patch of floating weed was solid ground and jumped onto it, ignoring my yells.

It took some effort and scraped knees and elbows to scramble down the wall and pull a very chastened and scared little dog out of the water. She heard the words "You Stupid, Stupid Dog" quite a lot over the next day or so.

Dinner was at the Vine up the hill in St Helens. A fairly no-nonsense local, but with a decent food menu and atmosphere. Yet another dog-friendly place. We've been really lucky so far, Clem even got biscuits from the barmaid.

An early night this time. We were both exhausted and even Dark Side of the Moon played late and loudly by the Jeanneau in front of us didn't bother us much. (It bothered most of the other boats though!)

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