The joys of pot­ter­ing in Poole

Olly Perkins and fam­ily head west out of the So­lent for the first time and have a fun week ex­plor­ing the creeks of Poole Har­bour.

Yachting Monthly - - CRUISING LOG -

We had never be­fore left the rel­a­tive calm of the So­lent and gone through the treach­er­ous Hurst Nar­rows. This year, how­ever, the weather was per­fect to visit Poole. My par­ents, my younger brother and I had a week to sail in our Beneteau Ocea­nis 361, Rh•m. We slipped the moor­ing from Bosham in Chich­ester Har­bour and em­barked on our long­est sail yet. Af­ter mo­tor­ing for a cou­ple of min­utes an alarm sounded – our en­gine had over­heated. We hastily tied up to a nearby moor­ing and, af­ter an hour try­ing to fix the prob­lem, we re­alised that we couldn’t make it to Poole be­fore the tide turned against us. Hav­ing re­solved the is­sue, we in­stead caught the tide as far as New­town Creek.

The next day we weighed an­chor at 0600, a hor­ri­bly early start, which was re­warded, I un­der­stand from my par­ents, by a beau­ti­ful sun­rise. I was, how­ever, still tucked up down be­low!

I got up just as we reached the Hurst Nar­rows to wit­ness the an­tic­i­pated drama. I stepped up on deck and was pleas­antly sur­prised by the tran­quil waters and com­plete lack of wind. We had four knots of tide go­ing with us so we were quickly through. The Nar­rows didn’t quite live up to its men­ac­ing rep­u­ta­tion, but I know it can be a good deal worse. As the air warmed the wind slowly filled in on our port beam and we hoisted up our pa­tri­otic red, white and blue cruis­ing chute. The con­di­tions were per­fect for a re­lax­ing sail with clear skies and light airs. As the wind had been from the north for a few days there were no waves.

About a mile from Hurst Cas­tle we saw some dis­tur­bance in the wa­ter ahead of us. We were con­cerned that it might be rougher than we ex­pected once we were out of the lee of the Isle of Wight. This con­cern was quickly put aside as we drew closer to the dis­tur­bance and no­ticed that it was a thin strip of sub­stan­tial waves not mov­ing an inch, yet foam­ing and roar­ing. We put the mo­tor on to help us drive through the stand­ing waves and se­cured loose items in the cock­pit. We ap­proached the men­ac­ing tur­bu­lence with cau­tion. The boat tossed and turned through the waves although it wasn’t as event­ful as I had hoped and we were through the waves in a mo­ment. The rest of the pas­sage was largely un­event­ful but it was great to have the cruis­ing chute up and it was the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to prac­tice po­si­tion fix­ing.

We had a few hours in Stud­land Bay as we waited for the tide at Poole en­trance. We used the time to visit Old Harry Rocks with our ten­der and pad­dle­board. It was re­ally in­ter­est­ing see­ing the size of Old Harry close up. As I pad­dle­boarded round to the other side of Old Harry I no­ticed that a small swell had built up, and whilst pos­ing for a photo, I fell fully clothed into the sur­pris­ingly warm wa­ter.

Go­ing with the tide

Be­fore long the tide had turned and we sailed to Blood Al­ley, where we were to spend the best part of the week. Blood Al­ley is sit­u­ated south of Brownsea Is­land and there is a pool large enough to fit a few deep-keeled boats. We had done our home­work on nav­i­gat­ing the shal­low chan­nel lead­ing up to it and knew we could just make it through. We fol­lowed the chan­nel and the depth read­ings got lower and lower un­til our echosounder

‘Us­ing the old lead­line we pro­ceeded at snail’s pace’

was re­port­ing zero be­low the keel. This called for the old lead­line and we pro­ceeded at snail's pace. The chan­nel was clearly not per­fect for our deep-keeled boat as we could see the bot­tom. All the other boats here were cata­ma­rans or bilge keel­ers. Once safely an­chored in the pool, how­ever, we could re­lax and ad­mire the stun­ning sur­round­ings.

The next day we went for a pre-break­fast walk on Brownsea Is­land. We rigged a dinghy out­haul on the beach and walked up into the for­est on the is­land. The is­land was cov­ered in a blan­ket of mist and there was no one about as the fer­ries to the is­land hadn’t ar­rived yet. On our walk, we saw pea­cocks, red squir­rels and we even got within me­tres of a sika deer.

An in­ter­rup­tion

Af­ter spend­ing a few days in Blood Al­ley we had to go and top up our wa­ter tanks and get more food. This was the worst part of the trip; it was a lovely sunny morn­ing but rather than en­joy­ing the tran­quil­lity of Brownsea we had to visit Poole town. We mo­tored up and moored in the town ma­rina. Af­ter re­stock­ing and vis­it­ing chan­d­leries we hur­ried back out.

The next an­chor­age in Poole Har­bour was Goathorn Point in South Deep. We an­chored north-west of the penin­sula where there were a few more boats but a sur­pris­ingly empty beach. Af­ter we landed we re­alised why there was no-one ashore. It was the site of a hid­den oil rig and ev­ery­where above the high wa­ter line was pri­vate. We still en­joyed a lazy walk along the beach and stayed a cou­ple of days there and we did lots of read­ing, wind­surf­ing, Op­ti­mist sail­ing, pad­dle­board­ing and swim­ming.

Sadly af­ter a week in Poole, it was time to head back. We left the har­bour through East Looe Chan­nel, a shal­low short­cut lead­ing east. We fetched to Hurst Cas­tle in a mod­er­ate south-east­erly breeze. It was a fairly lumpy pas­sage and my brother was feel­ing a lit­tle bit queasy. We had to tack to make it through Hurst Nar­rows but with a strong tide we were pow­er­ing through at over ten knots.

Our last stop was New­town Creek for a night and some Op­ti­mist creek crawl­ing. We re­turned to Bosham in a fresh southerly breeze. It was a great trip and per­fect for fam­i­lies and new skip­pers to leave the shel­ter of the So­lent.

Olly acts as safety boat while Ben sails and his mum Hi­lary pad­dles

A calm pas­sage was a good op­por­tu­nity to prac­tice with the sex­tant

ABOVE: Olly with dad, Chris and brother, Ben in Poole

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