The first leg of our voyage was from Lymington to Falmouth on Bank Holiday Monday. We were then due to hop to Weymouth, Brixham and Plymouth, to arrive Falmouth on Friday. The tide turned at rather civilised hours, so we were up at 7.30 with a view to set off an hour later. The marina was wrapped in the promised fog, but the forecast was for a sunny day, so we expected it to burn off. On my way back from the showers visibility was getting worse, can you spot the Isle of Wight ferry? Quite. We decided to give it an hour.
An hour later things were a little clearer and we set off. Once out of the marina we were in a murky world, reminiscent of an old horror movie. Way markers loomed at us out of the fog, their shapes and colours hard to define. We heard the mornful horn of the ferry somewhere ahead. I went to the bows to keep watch. In my mind I could hear Bill, our instructor’s voice,
“…..well, when it’s like that you just wouldn’t go out in it, wouldn’t go out in it”. RYA advise for if you were caught out in it was to anchor off the channel and wait for it to clear and I could see a number of mooring buoys to starboard and suggested we pick one up. No. We came to the end of the passage and a thick blanket of fog lay ahead. The horn from the ferry sounded nearer somewhere ahead. Word came from the wheel that we were turning back, to give it an hour. We crept back, the channel markers no clearer and were turning into our pontoon as the ferry loomed out of the grey, like a floating office block.
So our first voyage lasted about an hour all told. We tired up and headed off up into Lymington for a coffee.
Just a few yards from the marina it was a totally different day. Here was the glorious bank holiday we had been promised. We sat on the quay and drank scalding hot cappuccino from paper cups. By the time we had finished the weather over the marina looked much clearer, so we set off back to have another go.
We slipped the ropes and motored out to muscle our way into a queue of similar minded craft. Everyone was heading out. It was like trying to leave a packed car park after a rock concert. Away all boats! Blithely we were all racing towards a great bank of cloud hanging on the water ahead.
One by one we entered, risking close encounters of an unfortunate kind. It was not as forbidding as the earlier experience, but visibiltiy was reduced to a few hundred yards around the yacht. John had a wonderful time with all the gadgets. The chart screen had the radar overlay and the AIS targets flashing, down below the screen was just radar, the south coast a vivid red and yellow archipelago against a black background. Every so often Graham would go below to check out a blip on John’s screen with the clearer picture from the pure radar. Fog horns sounded. John sounded ours in response. It is a penetrating high pitched wail, which John likens to the whoop of a destroyer and I feel is more Thomas the Tank engine.
Then followed a long passage under motor, listening for noises beyond those of our own engine.
We had the following spectacular view of the Needles. As the day progressed we had similar visions of England’s famed Jurassic coastline, which we could have explored quite closely as the firing range was out of action for the bank holiday. Most important we did not see anything alarming or unexpected, a couple of boats we were tracking on the radar came into view and passed us by, the rest remained voices off. Finally the screen showed we were approaching Weymouth. Graham was of the view the fog would lift as we approached land. This seemed a reasonable viewpoint.
Sadly it was wrong. We were converging on Weymouth together with a number of our targets, suddenly manifesting themselves and tried to form an orderly line. Fortunately once inside the harbour the veil lifted and by the time we had tied up we were bathed in glorious sunshine. We explored Weymouth, which was very pretty, the atmosphere in the port enhanced by the presence of a rally of Old Gaffers, captivating old boats with stories to tell. The harbour was thronged with people eating fantastic looking fish and chips. We wandered the back streets, bought post cards for folk at home and took a picture of Lyra.