Winds maintained an unpleasant Force 6 and due to their direction were causing a moderate sea state in the Channel.
It was Tuesday 15th July and still there were yachts coming in to Brighton and no one leaving. Even those who only had a short hop to do were staying put. I searched various weather web site which gave encouraging forecast that things would get better very soon.
At 1600hrs we slipped moorings and left the safety of the marina. The idea was to head straight to Dartmouth from Brighton keeping well south of the Isle of Wight and Portland Bill.
All went well, sails up we slowly started to gather pace. The distance was 136 nautical miles and by my reckoning this should take 28 hours. This meant that we would have 3 fair tides and 2 foul tide over this period and that by leaving at 1600hrs we would make the best of it although also meant passing the overfalls off the southern most point of the Isle of Wight during the hours of darkness. Also we would be passing the east and west entrances to the Solent in the dark as well.
Apart from the normal ferry traffic, a couple of large container ships and some hidden military craft, the seas were fairly quiet. As the night went on the sea state reduced from moderate to slight and then calm. The wind speed also dropped and progress for a while was maintained solely via engine power.
As dawn arose we were clear of the Isle of wight and the next way point some 40 odd nautical miles away was Portland Bill. The wind started to build again as the morning progresses and we past the Bill some 5 miles to its south. It dawned on me that this was really the final bit, crossing Lyme Bay. The tide turned again in our favour and off we sped reaching 9 knots from time to time. Visibility was crap and the wind was just off the port bow at force 4
I recalculated the eta and this looked good at 1730hrs GMT (1830hrs local time). This meant get in, get moored up, get beer and something to eat.
At last I could just make out the daymark on the hill above Dartmouth some 20 miles away. As always time seems to slow down but as the hours past, the day mark got bigger and more familiar sites came into view – Woodbury common, the red cliff of Sidmouth, Exmouth, Teignmouth, then Torquay and at last Berryhead.
I could see the mouth of the Dart completed filled up with boats competing in some kind of mini race.
At 1832 hrs local time we past our outward going track. Off went the tilley hat and on with the beret. I cracked open a bottle of spirits and toasted myself, the boat, Scott and allthose who had helped, supported or donated.
Sailing into Dartmouth was pleasantly uneventful. We were just another boat coming in. No one knew who we were or what we had just done. Then my phone rang. To my surprise it was Duncan the owner of Old Mill Creek moorings. Unknown to me he had been avidly following our progress on marine traffic and had phone up to congratulate us on the trip. He had also very kindly been down to the mooring that morning to check all way OK. Many thanks Duncan.
We moored up on the Port side visitors pontoon, a bottle of champers was opened and a mini photo shoot took place. Then it was a water taxi into town, 8 pints of Doombar and a Chinese.