Thursday 5th September – An evening in Itchenor
David Allison meets us at the jetty and we walk up the Ship Inn in Itchenor. We have not seen David or his family for several years but we enjoyed them as neighbours for several years when we all lived at Blanchcroft in Melbourne. David and Lisa came sailing with us on Sundart nine years ago. They moved to Northamptonshire about two years ago.
The Ship Inn is busy but we find a table and order fish and chips all round. We have much to catch up on. It turns out that the big boat sailing bug bit and they are now on their second boat – a Southerly 110 moored at Chichester Marina. David works for himself as a company doctor and with a number of other enterprises with like minded people. Lisa qualified as a homeopath but also works with David. Their daughter is now nine – Lisa was poorly whilst sailing with us which was thought to be mal de mer but it now transpires was just morning sickness! We are glad it did not put her off sailing.
Supper over, David offers to show us their boat which to too tempting to refuse so he drives us to the marina. The boat (Spirit of Solent) is splendid – in great condition. They have just spent a six week holiday on her and even spend Christmas on her!
Too soon it is time to return to Sundart as David has to drive back to Northamptonshire.
Friday 6th September – A day around Chichester Harbour
We sleep until after 9 and are awoken by the harbour master’s assistant knocking on the side of the boat for the harbour dues.
Our friends Ros and Terry O’Connor have kindly arranged to visit us today. They duly arrive at Itchenor a bit earlier than we had expected so it is a rush to get ready and off the boat. Ros’s cousin Adrian is the Deputy Harbourmaster at Itchenor so she has already had a chat with him in the harbour office.
The weather forecast is for overcast wet weather but this seems to have blown through overnight so Ros and Terry drive us round to Bosham where we have a coffee at the Anchor Inn. It is a spring tide today so we watch the tide cover the road between the village and the harbour.
The pub has some strong watertight doors on the river side and most of the houses have permanent barricades across the doors or very short doors with high steps to protect them against high tides. Global warming is a real threat here!
Coffee taken, we walk around the harbour. It is pretty and quaint with traditional flint and brick built buildings and also some weather boarded buildings including the old tide mill which now serves as the yacht club. John fancies taking Sundart up to Bosham to dry out against the piles at the quay and inquires about the costs from the Quay master. These are high, like many things in this part of the world.
The quay is owned by the “Hundred and Manor of Bosham” – a kickback to feudal times when the manorial hundred was the standard way the land was divided up.
We decide to lunch at the café on the front and enjoy some excellent sandwiches. Lunch taken, we decide on a walk round East Head at the entrance to Chichester Harbour so we are driven round there.
Chichester Harbour is a large area of rivers, salt marshes and saltings and is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. East Head, which is owned by the National Trust, is sand spit at the entrance to Chichester Harbour at West Wittering. It is managed by the NT to allow access for walking but also to provide protected habitats for the many varieties of bird that nest here such as the ringed plover. The spit, being in effect a huge sand dune system, is constantly moving and has rotated by about 90 degrees around its southern end over the last 200 years or so.
We enjoy a good walk, with Ros and Terry being knowledgeable bird identifiers. With their help we spot lapwings, starlings, curlews, red and green shanks, godwits and sandling (although these latter could have been grey plover). We are keeping a record of the different species we have seen and this increases our tally to over 60 different birds on our trip.
Tired by the walk, we all return to Itchenor and after a stroll along the shore we retire to the Ship Inn – again – for another good supper.
Ros and Terry depart around 8 pm and we motor back to Sundart in the dinghy. It has been a good day and even the weather behaved itself.
Saturday 7th September – Itchenor to Birdham Pool
The night was wet and squally – thank heavens it held off yesterday! We plan to go to Birdham Pool as Janet will be leaving us today and we need a convenient place to meet up with various other people. However, it has a tidal entry via a lock so we will need to wait until midday. We do various jobs about the boat and in due course leave the mooring and sail up the river with just the genoa. It is not far to the end of the navigable river, which is where both Birdham Pool Marina and the much larger Chichester Marina are located. We radio in to arrange the lock, which turns out to be just big enough to fir Sundart in, and are soon in the pool, moored up against one of their wooden staithes.
Birdham Pool is the oldest marina in the country, dating back to 1936. It is located in a former tide mill head pool and is a picture postcard rustic. The lock is a traditional type, albeit now automated, and the “pontoons” are in fact fixed wooden staithes rather than the floating finger pontoons that most modern marinas use. We later learn that the planning authorities oppose any development here that affects the old world aura of the Pool. Certainly it is relaxing and charming and a nice change from the big modern marinas.
Janet leaves us after lunch by taxi to Chichester station to return home. We have enjoyed her company.
Our first visitor this afternoon is Sue Allen, who is a trustee of SUDEP, our charity. Sue lives a mile or so away and contacted us via the SUDEP office. She arrives by bike and we enjoy an hour or so with her, learning more about the charity, how it was founded and has since developed. We discuss where the funds and express our wish that they either be used for research or to support the Register that SUDEP has recently set up to record the facts and circumstances surrounding each death from SUDEP to provide a statistical basis for research into how the risk of death from SUDEP can be minimised.
Sue departs. John’s sister Ruth and husband Jono are visiting this evening so John cooks up a pork casserole, whilst Yvonne uses the marina laundry. Later we relax and read.
Ruth and Jono arrive in the evening and we enjoy a good evening with them, catching up on news.
Day’s run: 0.5 nm
Total miles to date: 2442.9 nm
Engine hours: 0.4 hours
Total engine hours: 298.4 hours
Hours sailed: 0.5 Hours
Total hours sailed; 536.6 hours
Sunday 8th September – Birdham Pool to Thorney Island
It is a bright and breezy morning. We plan to leave Birdham today to anchor near the entrance to Chichester Harbour but need to wait for the tide after lunch to be able to get out of the lock and over the mud flats in the river. We breakfast then use the marina showers. These turn out to have under floor heating, which is a great novelty.
We walk to nearby Chichester Marina via the Chichester Canal to the little convenience store for the Sunday papers and milk. We pass Chichester Yacht Club and see a sign celebrating Jack Holt, who was a member here and sailed his Solo dinghy. Jack was one of the great dinghy designers who designed many of the most popular dinghies and bought sailing to the masses.
A few jobs done, we relax with the papers before having lunch. After lunch we wait for a shower to pass, then fuel up at the pump in the lock and leave. We motor against the wind past Itchenor. Just past Itchenor, the wind picks up, peaking at 27 knots on our wind instrument and the heavens open. The squall wreaks havoc on the dinghy sailors out in the river, with at least one dinghy capsizing and requiring the harbour launch to assist in its recovery. Other dinghies take shelter in bays off the river until the squall passes. The rain stings our faces but after turning away from the worst of the squall, we resume our course, turning off the main river to one of the permitted anchorages behind Thorney Island.
It is a lovely spot which we have to ourselves and once the rain has passed the wind drops and it is very peaceful. As the tide drops we sink below the level of the surrounding land and have a lovely sunset to round of the day.
In the evening we talk to Nigel and Di Pepperdine, who kindly offer to collect us and our stuff from Dartmouth when we complete the trip.
Day’s run: 4.1 nm
Total miles to date: 2447.0 nm
Engine hours: 1.3 hours
Total engine hours: 299.7 hours
Hours sailed: 2.5 Hours
Total hours sailed; 539.1 hours
A following wind and fair weather to you all.
Yvonne and John