Since my last post, we’ve sailed very little. In fact, over the past year I’ve probably cycled or walked further than we’ve sailed. We’re biding time and staying busy as best we can until we leave; until then, there’s plenty of riding and walking on England’s south coast.
A walk around Brownsea Island takes around two hours. It is the birthplace of the Scouting and Guiding.
Dotted along the trails are interesting quotes and questions to spark childrens’ interest.
Slowly exploring the south coast of England, we discovered the currents in Poole Harbour are particularly fierce at spring tides. After relocating from the South Deep anchorage across to the west side of Brownsea Island we dropped anchor in the narrow waters. In the wee hours with an outgoing tide, Blue Heeler touched the bottom to rest a couple of hours before popping back on the flood tide. The strong current had swept us into the shallows, despite the 25+ knot north-east winds which we’d hoped would keep us in the deeper water.
The west side of Brownsea Island is narrow and shallow with poor holding, and I don’t recommend it to any deep keel boats certainly during springs. To the north of the island are the Poole Harbour Commission moorings – a better alternative for a good night’s sleep. None of the moorings have pickup lines which makes it difficult to grab. Plus, the mooring numbers were difficult to spot with up to 30kn of wind and tide splashing over the tops. An easy method to tie-up to a mooring without a pick-up line is to lasso the entire mooring with a long line, then tie off to the cleat, after which set lines properly through the swivel on the top of the mooring. This proven method was recommended to us and certainly works a treat. The days of strong easterly winds eventually eased allowing us to leave Poole and take advantage of the fast east-flowing current.
The approach to Lymington is clearly marked, but there are literally hundreds of boats here, so it pays to keep a good lookout particularly when the current is strong. The Wightlink ferries on the eastern bank leave for the Isle of Wight at regular intervals, so be sure to check the outgoing and incoming timetable before navigating the river.
Lymington has a reputation for being slightly ‘posh’ and not generally a haven for the budget cruiser looking for an anchorage. However, at the northern end of the harbour, there are fore’n’aft, or ‘trot’ moorings for vessels no bigger than 12m, managed by Lymington Harbour. No bookings required and it’s first-in-best-dressed. The trot moorings are better value at £120 for one week (compared to £55 per night at the nearby marina). The trot moorings are close to the town quay where there’s secure showers and refuse facilities, plus supermarkets and self-service laundry in town a short walk away.
Tying up to a trot mooring can also be tricky. There’s a mooring ball fore and one aft with a line connecting the two. The knack is to use the boat-hook to grab that line and fix it over the forward and stern cleats. But with a beamy boat like Blue Heeler, I could only place the line on the centre cleat. I threw a lasso over the forward mooring, but it had to be threaded through the ring which I couldn’t reach. Skipper helped me fix the line and the Harbour Master came by to lend a hand for the stern line. Sorted!
The town of Lymington has a busy High Street with the typical shops for any seaside town. The Bank Holiday weekend attracted visitors from afar to visit the High Street Market or sit at the quay to eat fish’n’chips while black-headed seagulls squawk and flap about.
During our stay at Lymington, a strong sou’wester with a forecast of over 50 knots blew over us. I don’t think we experienced winds over 35kn, but it was strong enough and had Blue Heeler tugging on the lines and lurching in the gusts. Friends Brian & Chris from London came down to see us which was really lovely to see familiar faces after so long, even if we had to ‘air hug’ (apparently ‘hugging’ will be allowed after 17th May!). And thanks to Dave and Sydney from Southsea who popped by to drop off a new WiFi router and other gadgets for skipper.
Lymington is located at the south of the New Forest National Park. This park was established by William the Conquerer almost one thousand years ago and today it’s a popular place for horse-riders, cyclists, campers and birdwatchers. Due to the relentless logging over the centuries there is plenty of open space to cater for the 5,000 or so ponies residing in New Forest. These ponies are managed by the New Forest Commoners and have right of way on all roads in the forest.
To the east is the interesting village of Beaulieu and surrounding estate. The Beaulieu River is privately owned and the history of Buckler’s Hard harbour traces back through the centuries. Nowadays boats can grab a mooring or stay at the marina.
With less than three weeks until our second COVID vaccine jab, positive news regarding relaxing of rules to enter EU member countries is filtering through official sites such as the Schengen Visa site. We’re hoping a full vaccination will not only give us longer protection from the severity of the virus, but also help us to cross international borders.
The many cycle and walking trails throughout New Forest, plus buses to towns such as Bournemouth and Southampton, Lymington is a good place to hang out, at least for a little while longer.
Until next time…