First steps: Hayling Island to Newhaven…

Today has been a rest day and chance to dry out piles of wet gear.  After two tough days sailing and on Sunday night setting up camp on a beach and packing up in the midst of a torrential downpour which hardly let up for 16 hours I was ready for a bit of R and R, a dry bed and some company.

Winding back… my stay at Hayling Island Sailing Club could not have been better. After a fast downwind sail from Cowes in bright sunshine and large following waves I arrived at HISC, located in a perfect spot at the entrance to Chichester Harbour.  A senior club member kindly put in a word on my behalf and some accommodation for the night for myself and Katherine (visiting me until the following morning) was found at half price… and in addition to Katherine turning up, Keith Morris turned up unexpectedly – so all in all a great morale boost.

I set off the next morning sailing against a NE wind for a rough upwind sail round Selsey Bill.  Banks and rocks extend 4 miles offshore from the bill and cause dangerous conditions with wind against tide.  I’d previously contemplated threading through the middle via a channel called the Looe but this could have been hazardous and I saw a yacht heading for the Looe make a rapid change of direction when the skipper saw an almost uninterupted line of breakers ahead.

After tacking back in towards the land I reached Middleton on Sea just after the tide turned against me.  I had hoped to reach Littlehampton but was making little progress against the tide.  Several lines of rock groynes parallel to the shore presented an opportunity to land the boat safely out of the surf and a local angler gave me a hand to pull it up the steep shingly beach, on the trolley.

The rain intensified but I managed to get the tent up, shed my wet drysuit and make a meal before falling asleep.  Looking at the Met Office radar in the morning showed I was in the middle of an intense, almost stationary rainstorm.  However, a brief lull enabled me to run out the tent and down the beach to check on the boat.  An early morning dog walker refused to respond to my ‘good morning’ and carried onward, perhaps to tell her frineds about some madman running about the beach in the rain, wearing only a tee shirt and underpants.

The rain continued as I packed up and set sail toward Brighton.  As a contrast to the day before, the sea was flat and the wind light.  Spells of paddle sailing kept me warm as I inched towards the outline of Brighton and the white cliffs beyond.
The light following wind became lighter and just past Brighton peir, died completely.  However, soon after, a fresh north easterly wind sprang up to speed me to Newhaven.  Greg had made enquiries and Newhaven Marina were willing to look after Stacey for two nights while I stayed with my sister in law, Jo and her husband, Richard, and son, Mathew.

I’m only one week into this adventure but already so many people have been happy and very willing to help.  To name a few; The Island Sailing Club who found me a room and made me very welcome, HISC as mentioned above, Liz Baker from the DCA who treated me to lunch today, Newhaven Marina who wouldn’t take any payment for looking after Stacey, and Jo, Richard and Matt who have taken me in, made me welcome and helped me dry out.  Also, all those who have sent messages of support and good wishes.

Tomorrow I plan to leave Newhaven before noon.  Not sure how far I’ll get in the light E / NE winds.

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