Easter always seems to mark the start of the boating season with families leaving their berths for the Easter hols and heading off for their new adventures.

My weekend started with the heads getting stuck, very unusual as it was the water intake. I tried once to force the obstruction through hoping it was a bit of seaweed which would break up, nothing happened, stuck fast, I tried again then gave up. I grabbed a screw driver and some tissue and carefully took off the pipe just below the breather at the top of the loop and something moved inside the pipe. I carefully looked inside and something was wriggling. By tipping the pipe over out plopped a four inch fish!! Must have had a bit of a headache after being forced through a pipe smaller than its head. I put it back in the water and it swam away.

My mission for the weekend was to de-weed the boat at the great new Sea Lift in Cowes where you drive your boat in-between two poles then they close in to grab you and a platform comes up to meet your keel, then you rise out of the water, simple. Problem was I had to get out of my berth at Royal Clarence Marina and there was a Catamaran right behind me. It was before 07.00 that I needed to leave by and I really needed someone on the shore to undo the spring and release me. I spied movement on a boat, walked over and asked for a hand, of course. So I jumped onboard went forwards into the spring and with prop walk and tide we went sideways until there was enough clearance, then lines were removed and I reversed out from the pontoon. First mission accomplished, next mission, get to Cowes 2.5 hours away against the tide to remove her beard.

It was cold out on the water so I left the heater on and put the autopilot into action. Arrived at Cowes which was a bustle of activity with ferries, yachts, power boats all jostling for position whilst waiting for the chain Ferry, wait long enough for the chain to drop and OK, go. The tide was rushing in from behind pushing us all up the river at a rate of knots. Sea lift was free so I turned round against the tide and headed back for entry into the Sea Lift. The tide must have been running at about 3-4 knots, reminded me of entering the canal at Mar Menor, where the water was rushing out through a small gap and there was about 6 inches difference of water levels. We had our old engine then with a two blade folding prop and at full throttle, only just made it through. Only just making head way against the tide and keeping our boat straight we entered the lifting device. They locked me in, straightened me a little and I was being raised out of the water. It’s so simple, doesn’t damage the boat, prop and is really quick and stress free.

Hoisted out of the water, high and dry, almost overlooking the local Boatshed Cowes office, her beard was trimmed and her hull was pressure washed off. They do all sorts of jobs there, from antifouling your hull, changing anodes to doing repairs. All finished, gently lowered back in the water, the tide had slackened and off we left to Osborne bay to anchor for the rest of the day, heater on all snug and warm.
The next morning, retrieved my anchor, pulled out the genoa and set the mizzen, there wasn’t much wind but managed to claw my way to windward using the tide to take me home. The weather had turned really misty and visibility was about 500 meters, kept a good look out for ships and dodged a sailing rally heading East. Crept back into the marina, with all lines ready, hoping my berth was free and it was, two people came to help and I gently landed alongside the pontoon. Royal Clarence Marina were fantastic, they’d left me a really large area where I could come along side easily, now that’s welcome customer service.

Boat: Rebel 41
Onboard: Mandy, Poppet & Gimble
The worst bit of the trip: coming out of Cowes a meter and a half wake, autopilot on, Dogs on deck and I’m on the phone to a customer. Had to retrieve Dogs before they fell in! We all wear life jackets just in case.
Best Bit: All of it, FREEDOM
Where next: Plymouth

Useful Links:
Royal Clarence Marina
Osborne House