After waiting for the opening of the swindlery (actually, rather a good one: if we’d had time, a rummage through the second hand bits wouldn’t have gone amiss), the acquisition of some new charts (Imray, shame: I do prefer Admiralty folios) and some provisioning (mainly Old Speckled Hen and other ales, due to the lack of availability of Ollie’s smaller ‘Breakfast Beers‘) we popped over to the fuel barge, which had also finally opened, ran aground briefly and gently (it was low tide and a fishing boat astern prevented us turning) before topping up the various jerry cans and the tank (3 x 5 litres plus 64 litres representing at least 40 hours motoring).
Dodging the working dredger again, we found a stiff breeze outside the sheltered harbour and got our first splashing of the trip, whilst plugged the tide westwards past the endless dreary sussex coast of Brighton, Shoreham and Littlehampton.
After the ritual of coffee, without which Ollie does not function, the coastal monotony was broken by virtue of Ollie’s magnificent ‘Baked Beans with Cheese, Mustard and Pepper’ (or was it the superb ‘Pot Noodles a la fromage, moutard and poivre’?).
After a delayed bar opening, due to the late start, followed by a few tens more miles, hours later we momentously swept into the next sea area in a failing breeze, through the pair of channel markers ‘Boulder’ and ‘Street’ and past Selsey Bill.
The Nab Tower and Napoleonic Forts slid into view, in the familiar welcoming vista of the Eastern Solent, as we chugged along.
Avoiding the shipping and submarine barriers, then skimming the forts during a calm, now almost windless evening, we phoned Kevin, an incorrigible old mate and our shore-side contact here, who’d found a berth in uber exclusive Gunwharf Quays (although not so exclusive that they wouldn’t let an old Varne in).
Incongruously mooring up alongside Leander, the NCP car park magnate Sir Gosling’s* immaculate behemoth Super Yacht (yours to charter for £500,000 per week, I guess excluding fuel – which would probably equal that in a week) we ignored all of the plush facilities as Kevin swung down the pontoon, looking at home. We’d not given him enough notice to roar out in his speedboat (he sold the Dehler 34 a few years before) so it was a short car ride to his Southsea home, followed by Rosie’s Wine Bar then continued kidney abuse during a late-night-kitchen-table-arama… then a real bed for me and a sofa for Ollie, which was marginally more comfortable than his berth, although possibly drier.
*incidentally, we met one of ‘Donald’s’ unassuming, cheerful and well travelled friends at the end of the journey, whilst in Mylor Yacht Club. This came up during a conversation about J Classes (the lucky bugger had helmed one).