Day 16. Departure from Swanage at 9:00 AM. Arrival in Southampton at 3:30 PM. Distance: 25 NM. Conditions: W - NW winds, 5->22 knots(!) Clear skies, 3 knots of current in my direction
Arrived in Southampton by early afternoon, early enough to walk to downtown and do a spot of shopping. The sail over was quite a ride - the day started with a nice warm wind, sun - I took off my t-shirt for the first time since I left France 2 weeks ago - felt like I had entered summer! Of course it couldn't last; 1 hour later I was putting on my rough weather gear - although the wind had only barely picked up, the W-SW direction implied the force 4 announced on the radio was going to materialize. And fair enough - an hour later I was going down wind at 5 knots with 15 knots of wind in my back, entering the solent.
For those who don't know, the Solent is a stretch of water bounded by the engligh coast to the North, and the Isle of Wight to the south. It houses some of the greatest sailing towns in the world: Southampton, Hamble, Lymington, and the famous Cowes. This was a typical sundy: hundreds of boats sailing - some racing, some on speed trials, some just sailing around, some motoring around; it's quite a thrill to see. Of course the flip side is one has to be particularly careful of the rights of way at sea.
Final touch the Solent offers is it also happens to be the main traffic lane for large - and I mean LARGE - commercial vessels. Tankers, container ships, cruise liners. They all go up and down Southampton water as if the hundreds of yachts sailing the Solent simply did not exist. It's hard to describe - but imagine something like a 10 story building, 400 feet long, doing 10 knots (about 13 miles per hour), and small yachts, who usually are zig-zagging all over the place, magically part to let the behemoths go by.
Fun to be in Southampton again, after 7 years; the place has cleaned itself up a little - and seems more dynamic than when I left it.
Final sweet touch is a famours french boat - L'Hydroptere - is moored down the dock from me. There is nobody on board now, but tomorrow morning i'm going to try and get a tour. It's a trimaran/foiler. It is designed to lift out of the water on foils, and can go very very fast. The boat is on the cover of this month's "Voiles et Voiliers", a french sailing mag.
Going to spend 2-3 days here; Babs is meeting up with me here in a couple of days!