DAY 17 – Friday 6 May 2022 – Cowes to Brighton

Miles logged: 48
Total miles logged: 574
Days since leaving Fleetwood: 17
Days at sea: 12

The plan was to leave Cowes at 0730 then head out into the eastern part of the Solent before crossing over to the Portsmouth side, thence to follow the coastline to Brighton. The eastern Solent is an extremely busy shipping lane, giving as it does access to Southampton docks, so crossing the channel is something to be attempted with care. Waking early, I went up to the very plush amenities at in the marina building to savour them one final time. Walking back to Bubble afforded a view over the Solent; of course, given my concerns about crossing its waters, the Solent was shrouded in fog. Pagets Lady and Bubble both have the wherewithal to ‘see’ ships in conditions of poor visibility but it is reckoned that the bigger ships do not concern themselves with yachts’ AIS traces and, in any event, it would be impossible for the gigantic vessels which ply those waters to change course at short notice, even if the channel were wide enough for them to do so. I was filled with dread at the prospect of sailing the Solent in fog and considered suggesting to Mike that we should remain in Cowes, but by 0730 we felt that it was safe to commence the passage as planned.

There was little wind as we slipped our berths so, as has become our lot thus far, we expected to motor for hours. We enjoyed making our way eastwards along the Solent, watching the ships, admiring the beautiful coastline of the Isle of Wight and having a close look at two of the huge, nineteenth century Solent Forts. One had been converted into an expensive, very isolated hotel but the other appeared to be undeveloped and I found that one much more interesting. The Solent coastguard, doubtless jittery to see yachts flitting around such a busy channel peering at things, called Bubble on VHF but after explaining what we were doing and that we were on a round-Britain cruise, we were wished well and continued on our way. 

Horse Sand Fort, off Portsmouth. Its opposite number on the IoW side has been developed into an hotel

We set a course for Selsey Bill – yet another headland with an attendant tidal race – and had a good look at the Portsmouth skyline as we watched the Solent and the Isle of Wight fade into the distance. Again we had made sure that we had favourable tide with us so we made good way. Selsey, in the light winds, could throw at us nothing more than a slight swell. Soon Mike called me and suggested that we set sail. A light breeze had picked up and we were able to run b before it, goose-winging with poles, at around 5 kts. As the leg wore on the wind increased steadily until as Brighton appeared in the distance we had getting on for 20 kts and both yachts were barrelling along at well over 7 kts under full sail.

Approaching Brighton after a cracking sail from Selsey Bill. By this time the wind was in excess of 15 kts

Brighton Marina is huge. It is a purely artificial lagoon, well protected by substantial breakwaters. But outside, in 20 kts, it is a bit of a struggle to prepare the yacht for entry, especially when single-handed. So Mike and I set out our fenders and lines whilst our boats pitched and rolled. Had we been more familiar with the marina we might have prepared for berthing once inside but we were unsure how much space there would be. Inside, we found that the shelter was much less that we had expected and hoped. Both yachts had quite a game to get berthed safely – always a struggle when single-handing in tricky conditions – and we were glad to be settled once we were safely tied up.

Brighton Marina entrance. From the east it was very difficult to identify the entrance until almost upon it
The visitors’ pontoons are the nearest to the entrance. The breakwaters cut out most of the swell but the wind made it difficult for both Mike and I to get our yachts onto our allocated berths

I have arranged a couple of family meetings in Brighton so there is likely to be a break of two or three days before the next report is posted

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