A magical day in the Solent, starting with dawn in Sandown Bay at the eastern end of the Isle of Wight. Although we could smell the ice cream we couldn’t get to it, but a hearty full English breakfast did the trick. And just as well, because within minutes we were heaving and ho-ing on the sheets and halyards, the buntlines and Clewlines, setting headsails and staysails, topsails and t’gallants and finally the big course as we sailed off the anchor – an exciting manoeuvre in itself. We are not a big crew and not a big watch, but we are lovely, and we managed just as well as if there had been twice as many of us. Sadly there was only time for a Happy Half Hour, but the ship is now sparkling clean from stem to stern.
We sailed out of Sandown Bay, past the Nab Anchorage where the big tankers wait to go into the oil terminal at Fawley and load or discharge their cargoes. Then through Spithead, between the sea forts built by Palmerston to keep the French out. Although they were derided as follies when they were built in the mid-19th century, rather as Trident is criticised today, they apparently did their job – there hasn’t been a French invasion since, unless you count the cross-channel passenger and truck ferries that come racing into and out of Portsmouth Harbour..…But at least they are paying their way…
After a robust lunch courtesy of M’sieur le Chef, onto the afternoon watch. More bracing and hauling as we sailed west down the Solent, and dodging and weaving through the many yachts and powerboats that came to admire us. We really don’t know how it happened – perhaps it was too much exposure to the sunshine – but while trying to exercise the underused muscles we had a fine display of twerking on the bridge. No prizes were awarded. Now we’re heading past Cowes, with Beaulieu and the New Forest on the starboard side as we sail west towards the Needles. The navigators are looking at suitable sites for our overnight anchorage.
The lovely Peter’s watch