Early o’clock

Day 17 – Gosport to Worthing – 6th June – 30 nm

The 07:00 on the water start meant a ‘no way!’ get up time. I needed to get out of the Solent on the last of the ebb and then catch the flood, as it started to flow along the coast. So it was an 05:15 wake-up on our noisy urban campsite. The forecast was familiar once again, a rather breezy start followed by further strengthening winds as the day progressed. The swell forecast was 2-4ft, but I hoped the shadow of the Isle of Wight would take the sting out of things to start with.

Yesterdays’ tricky gravel landing was now an easy sandy launch. Out around the Gilkicker Point as the first of the day’s sailors were just heading out of Portsmouth, I stayed close in to judge the timing and then it was off across between the early ferries. The submerged barrier wasn't, so it was a straightforward paddle through a gap and then off towards Selsey Bill.

The closer I got to Selsey Bill the less shelter I got from the Isle of Wight, it was getting breezy and a little choppy, but at least there was no real swell. The wind was blowing the splash off my blades straight into my ear, so it was on with the Stupid Hat. Aah, dry-eared bliss, hope nobody has a camera.

I was a little nervous of the Bill, I knew that the shallows there projected a distance offshore and could make things confused, but at least the wind and tide were running together for me.

It was white and choppy off–shore, I couldn't be bothered to go all the way out there and so I decided that I would try to sneak an inside route to avoid the overfalls. As I got near I could see plenty of sandbanks but no obvious route, and then I saw the mad-woman waving out to sea once again, so I went in to say Hello - there was no hurry. The flow was shifting well here, and by the time we had exchanged a few words the water had risen enough to form a nice easy inshore channel, and so I sneaked happily around the corner. Another one ticked off.

Around the corner things were nice and smooth, but with the help of the tail wind I was making a nice 5 kts towards... well, wherever. With the wind it was an ‘options day’, a bit of a suck it and see plan once we had rounded the Bill - so the destination was sort of made up as things went along.
Things were going nicely now, I was quite enjoying myself, but it was too choppy to take a pee. By the time I got to Littlehampton conditions were getting decidedly lumpy and the weight of my bladder was affecting the handling of the boat, so I sneaked in behind the breakwater to have a break. Even in the wind it was a busy beach and I had to get fairly close to the sand to get enough shelter to do what I needed to, turning my back on the crowds and surf lifeguards with their binoculars.

To be honest it was blowing a hooley by now; at the end of the breakwater it was pretty chunky. I watched a couple of boats venture out of the harbour and then turn and go back in – hmm, nice. But I figured I could still scrape a few more miles. So I scratched along the beach, dodging the breakers , gesticulating anglers and the endless chain of colourful kite surfers.

By the time I reached the edge of Worthing I’d had enough, it was 30 nm done on a breezy day, that’ll do. So it was in through the gravelly dump, followed by a heavy carry to sit out of the wind on the grass behind the beach, watching the crowds eating ice cream.

It was a 13:00 stack - I looked forward to a blissful afternoon of kit drying and snoozing.  I'm easily pleased.
However, the Team Pie-Power Support Crew were having a bit of a nav faff and so I had to sit in the sun eating ice cream for an hour until I was rescued. Life's a beach...