Our second day began bright, sunny and springlike with a few wispy patches of the early river mist still hanging over the water. Having got ourselves out for our morning walk and breakfast, we decided to have a little tour around the harbour. We dropped the mooring and motored out to the channel heading back towards Poole and Brownsea island. It truly is a beautiful expanse of water and we could now see it in all it’s glory for the first time. I tried to identify the various little islands and low lying shores in the background as we chugged along, slowly getting a feel for the relative positions and distances. A bit later on we unfurled the genoa a bit as the channel widened and a light breeze came in from a more helpful angle. As we sailed along the North edge of Brownsea, I thought we might as well get the mainsail up to see how it set. Amazingly well, was the answer to that. We heeled well over and shot off immediately at quite a rate….I put a reef in, we were in no hurry and still had little idea of the area. A very pleasant morning indeed, we soon shook off our tiredness and began to enjoy the sailing.
I was gaining confidence in my new vessel and we had now tested all of her main components . She was very different to “Macavity”. She’s bigger, heavier, faster, more tender and she carries her way much further, but I could see that I’d soon get used to her. As we rapidly approached the chain ferry at Poole harbour entrance, I could hear myself stealing the words of the great Charles Stock “Well, we could just go out and take a look”. Becks looked doubtful as it was nearly midday and the inshore waters forecast had warned of f5/6, 7 later. It didn’t seem too bad though and I had no intention of going far as I hadn’t yet had a chance to prepare a passage plan, I just wanted to check out the entrance/chain ferry/tide combination and maybe have a look at Old Harry.
Turned out she was quite right. It was a bit rolly outside after a prolonged period of easterly winds blowing down the channel. This, combined with the strong tide, meant that although “Idris” made a very good impression with her dazzling display of wave slicing ability and steadfast course holding, we eventually lost interest and turned around. In fact the only other craft we saw on our brief excursion to Old Harry were the royal marines in their black ribs and the offshore lifeboat storming out to help some poor bugger, I should have known really, my poor crew put up a brave show of it but finally cracked after a particularly harrowing period of retching and demanded in no uncertain terms that we go back. Still, we did get a nice distance out from the entrance and could see what we had to miss when we left for real in the dark.
As we sailed back past the chain ferry into Poole again, it seemed strangely different in there. In fact there were white horses among all the waves which were now pounding against Brownsea island on our port side. The wind was indeed getting up…. a lot. Unsure as to what our next move should be, we picked up another of the thousands of empty moorings that bounced up and down all around us and had a cup of tea. It almost looked too rough to take the dinghy ashore, this was a problem as it was now nearly five in the evening and Orla was crossing her legs. We were however, quite close to Brownsea island, a place we’d always wanted to visit, so whilst we were already cold and wet we thought we might as well give it a go. A rubber dinghy ride like no other saw us saturated and clinging to the landing platform in front of Brownsea castle, we’d made it. At this point a smartly dressed chap appeared and cheerlessly informed us that Brownsea island was shut and we should not land but rather we should bugger off immediately and remove Idris from his mooring. The freezing, sodden but mercifully short trip back, was made mildly more fascinating by the fact that although the waves were now breaking over the bows of our dinghy whilst simultaneously submerging the little Seagull on the transom, the determined little thing always coughed back into life just before stopping completely and letting us get sucked back out to sea past the ferry. I love that little Iron outboard.
A tad demoralized, we dropped the Brownsea mooring and headed for the East side of the harbour hoping to get some shelter under the lee of the shore behind Sandbanks for the night. Depths appeared to be quite shallow in that area but eventually we found a spot that would keep us afloat, so we picked up a Sandbanks yacht club visitors buoy. The stove was lit and we hung our wet gear all around it before again clambering into the ancient Avon for a hopeful excursion to the primest stretch of prime real estate in the south. It was a much easier trip, with so much more shelter from the surrounding town, and soon we were enjoying a twilight stroll along immaculately raked golden sand before a warm welcome and some superb food in the club house bar/restaurant. We relaxed and reflected on our day over a couple of beers, a success in all I felt. I knew what to expect on the way out when we got a better weather window, I knew how well the boat went and strangely I’d completely lost any urge to visit Brownsea Island. We ordered another couple of beers. A little later on, we pondered on the wisdom of always carrying a torch with you when on the water, as we struggled to locate Idris in the dark. All was well though, and we let the dinghy find it’s own sheltered spot, tethered at the end of its painter behind our floating home. Utterly knackered we stuffed a load more charcoal on the fire and lay in our bunks with a cup of tea, gratefully absorbing the heat. The wind moaned in the rigging all night and the boat rocked about gently but we didn’t hear it for long this time.