With a threatening easterly we left the Helford for the security, at a cost, of Falmouth. The anchorage is tucked into a space close to the town, with access to both dock and shower...but at a cost of £11.00. I don't know of any other country that charges you to lie to your own anchor but they certainly do in Cornwall. Does the high cost of tying up in a marina have any connection with the few foreign flags to be seen on yachts on the south coast? Who knows but we knew there would be a charge so paid up, showered and then checked out the town before heading out the next morning for Plymouth. The seas were a tad confused as the strong easterly had given way to a strong westerly but with our reduced rig we romped along happily and were sailing into Plymouth Sound and on toward Saltash long before daylight faded. Once anchored we were visited by Alan and Kay to warn us of the impending storm that the media was full of. A lot of conjecture at that stage but it did seem to be promising strong SW or W winds. The anchorage is a little exposed to the SW but we preferred to be at anchor than taking up their kind offer of a fore and aft mooring with the subsequent strain on the boat. The moorings we knew would be fine as they're maintained by Alan and Kay (mostly Kay I think) but nevertheless from our brief experience of them before, we knew the self-steerer comes under a lot of pressure as the lines get dragged across it. So we spent a bit of time the following day anchoring and re-anchoring in an effort to get as much shelter as we could. Finally we were satisfied only to find that the area we were in suffered from a counter-current and despite the wind we frequently ended up beam to the wind and moving slowly in toward the mud. We moved further out, dug in well and settled down to wait. With no internet access but some great texting from Pete who was at home feeding us weather info and regular listening to the radio we were able to monitor the progress. For us it was an anti-climax as we doubt winds were much above 45 knots whereas the Isle of Wight got a much trumpeted 100mph and was, coincidentally, where we were next bound. October storms are a fact of life aboard Hannah it seems; dodging hurricanes on the other side or the effect of those huge lows that seem to come out of Ungarva Bay and pulverize the UK. Whatever they pass and we made ready to move on. As it was quiet we took up the offer of the mooring buoys finding, as we did so, that our windlass had jammed! By the light of torches we dismantled it, located the nut that had come off and reassembled, heading out the following morning. Progress was good despite still not having a mainsail; at at one time it looked as though we might make the Needles channel in the early hours of the morning. As ever with these things, the wind eases, speed drops and with 15 miles to go we opted to pull into Studland Bay, rest up and then head through with the next favourable afternoon tide. A wise choice in the end... There are two ways to get through the Needles; either the North Channel which, with SW winds puts you on a lee shore but avoids the worst of the seas or through the main channel with the problem of overfalls etc. With no main the North entrance wasn't really an option and in the end the main channel proved relative easy, particularly in daylight. By the time we reached Hurst at the narrows we were zipping along at 8 knots and shaped our course for the nights anchorage: Newtown Creek, a narrow, shallow creek east of Yarmouth. Oddly enough there were a number of boats in already (one aground) but two left as we searched for an anchorage. Our first choice, in a rising wind, gave us very little water underneath the keel and with all the deep water claimed by buoys I opted for one of them. Bee smoothly picked up a spare and we both noted the proximity of the adjacent boat.... A couple of hours later we felt a bump....then another one...The other boat was about 45' and modern with little underwater profile other than a deep fin and was consequently "sailing" around the buoy it was occupying and then clattered into us. As we were the last boat there we should move but the other guy said he would, recognising he would find it easier to move than us. He was absolutely right of course - the tide was roaring in, the wind was rising and Hannah has the maneuverability of a tram at the best of times. With his bow thruster and powerful engine he did, eventually, get clear and motored up to the other end to pick up a buoy. All this in the dark with rain falling. We thought about letting go the buoy and anchoring or even fleeing the anchorage as the wind was still increasing but neither were a sensible option - the creek has no lit marks and a simple mistake could mean disaster so we stayed put, leaving around 7am the following morning.
The journey to Quayside was uneventful, boring and under power as little wind was available. We noted the changes we could see, more housing, less industry, more pontoons and then we rounded the final bend and saw the pontoon ahead. We tied up around 11am.
We've been here 6 days now and as we stare out over the, so familiar mud flats at low water, you can't help but wonder whether the last 7 years actually happened....
Itchen River, Southampton