Poole Camp 2021

Monday May 24th

No surprises that Jenny and Roy arrived first in sunshine but were soon followed by others. The weather soon turned colder, with heavy torrential rain and squalls. Some set up their camp in-between the squalls, and some set up camp with an intermission for the squall and torrential rain to blow through… The air was cold and damp, the forecast looked better for Wednesday onwards, but it was simply nice to not be staring at the inside of a house, and instead allow our gaze to fall on a horizon of beauty. Not even Jenny and Roy saying they were going sailing at 1800hrs was enough to entice others onto the water. You know the saying “there was wind and water”. The wind at that time was sailable and looking at the forecast the only chance for a blast with the kite all week. A squall blew through while they were out, and we were sitting inside the porch of Sarah-Louise’s tent facing downwind.

We very much hoped that they had landed, as the torrential rain was streaming horizontally off the violently flapping fabric of the tent while the squall screamed through. Poole YC has a weather station and the reading for those 15 minutes was 32 knots, which is a Force 7. They had an adventurous sail. They were off the NE corner of Brownsea when the wind came through beating – so only had the 2 white sails up. They practised their capsize recovery several times in 2 foot waves (flipping it 3 times totally) before getting righted and deciding to have a steady sail home (no kite). Roy discovered his dry suit was not so dry either.

Tuesday May 25th

Only Roy and Jenny went sailing again just after a quick breakfast. No one else could be encouraged to join them. There was wind, water and the 2k was rigged. What more incentive did they need? They decided to again sail around Brownsea and back to camp again with the intention of going the other direction – anticlockwise. With the kite hoisted off the north side of Furzey and the boat on the plane Blood Alley was calling. The harbour entrance could have been the next destination but the kite was dropped ready for the beat up the east side of Brownsea. The wind was not so bad off “windy corner” but still piped up a bit but they had an enjoyable and uneventful sail – not like the day before.

Roy and Jenny returned to find people sat relaxed drinking coffee before a plan was hatched to head to Swanage for a fish and chip lunch. We sat by the rowing club huddled behind the sea wall in light rain. Whilst the weather was grim the fish and chips were superb – and Roy got away with counting it as going out for a meal for their 5th wedding anniversary!

It was at this point that Mike turned up at the campsite, less boat due to a tow-hitch problem, and having been scared off by Monday’s weather forecast. By mid-afternoon the rain had really set in so in the evening we gathered in tents for a blend of alcohol and a pleasant few hours of sharing stories.

Wednesday May 26th

The ebb was full on, so we decided on a race to Pottery Pier, with the Kayak going straight there down Blood Alley, and the dinghies going to the North of Brownsea.

Andy stopped off at the first permitted landing point half way down the South shore of Brownsea to go and buy sandwiches, leaving Vanessa to paddle on alone, arriving first at Pottery Pier. The dinghies sailed into a wind hole at the north west end of Brownsea which saw us walking, paddling and motoring for a while, with a paddle-less Trio narrowly avoiding a moored catamaran (a paddle is on order). The breeze filled in from the South, Roy and Jenny took full advantage and headed home in their Lasers and we gathered at Pottery Pier for the return to our launching place.

The beat was fun in full sun. We needed to be back at the top of the second high tide and achieved this with unusual precision.

The heat in the sun was in contrast to the chilly wind, some boat fettling was achieved, Andy and Vanessa rigged their Vision ready for the next day.

Friday May 28th

The day dawned grey, windless and cold. At 7am no sailing was promised so the duvet called out to me to sleep under it a bit longer. Roy and Jenny explored using canoes but failed to find the seals. By 9am the forecasted Easterly F3 had established and Bournemouth called out with a promising upwind adventure. Sarah-Louise and Mark, Anna and Mike, Mel and Steve in Trios, Andy and Vanessa in their Vision set off about 10:15, and Roy and Jenny in their 2k about 20 minutes after, having changed from canoeing to sailing clothes. We made the entrance to the harbour for 11am, and beat to the west of Bournemouth Pier by noon where we beached the boats to keep them from the surf and began to enjoy a packed lunch. An official from Bournemouth Council shooed us off the beach, but was kind enough to give us the 10 minutes that we were looking for to finish lunch and pack up. The broad reach home saw some spinnakers aired and pulling in the increasingly sunny weather.

Roy and Jenny took to the North of Brownsea and the rest headed home but arrived too early for the second tide so extended towards Pottery Pier. We all met up by the West of Brownsea, then split up finding at least three different routes home. We were home by 15:15, with enough water to recover.

Saturday 29th

The overcast morning soon gave way to a bright day with an Easterly F3.

Roy and Jenny 2k, Anna and Mike, Mel and Steve, Sarah-Louise and Mark in Trios, Martin and Josh in their Versa and Andy and Vanessa in the Vision, with Jacki and Stephen each in a kayak, slipped at 10am. We broad reached/paddled round the back of Round Island, with some of the group spotting the famous local Sammy the Seal, and landed at Shipstal.

For the second time in two days we were shooed away, this time by the RSPB warden. (Now we know that there is no landing allowed on most of the south of Poole Harbour beaches, and it is documented at https://www.phc.co.uk/environment/the-harbour/map/ )

The dinghies sailed to Rockley and moored in a safe location away from the swimmers for lunch and ice creams. Meanwhile Jacki and Stephen paddled back to find Sammy – and had a closer encounter than they expected! Jacki was slightly worried, ‘girlie screams’ were heard when it climbed on the back of her kayak, as it moved closer to the cockpit than she expected, and she was waiting to feel its whiskers on the back of her neck and smell its fishy breath. This was a strange experience, delightful since the seal was so close, but also a bit worrying in case he thought that kayakers were worth a bite or two.

Also, Stephen and Jacki feared that the seal would make them capsize and then mistake them for a tasty fish lunch. Stephen, helpfully, said to Jacki, “Hit it with your paddle”, but it was just a friendly, inquisitive seal and its intentions seemed to be honourable and no seals were harmed although the same cannot be said for husbands who suggested beating harmless animals. There is a film on the net, that Andy found, of a similar seal at Littlehampton and it is climbing onto paddleboards. This one may be the same one. This was simply an amazing experience that Jacki and Stephen will never forget. Thank you Cody, they say!

At Rockley, lunch and ice-creams were enjoyed. Two Trios returned directly to the field, the others beat with the ebb tide through a very busy harbour of racing and boating in a steady F4 and bright sun to the Shell Bay Seafood Restaurant and took afternoon tea on the balcony, before returning to the field by way of a spinnaker broad reach.

Sunday 30th

Roy in a Laser, Mike and Stephen, Anna and Steve in Trios, Vanessa and Andy in their Vision, Josh and Martin in their Versa. We launched as soon as there was water into a F3 SE steady breeze and full sun. Getting out the creek was difficult with several boats ending up more West in the shallows than planned.

We mustered at Cleavel Point, then began a broad reach towards the western end of Brownsea Island. Behind me Vanessa and Andy capsized, so Anna got a crash course in getting the spinnaker down in our boat and we collected as a fleet at the capsize. By using the Trio as a safety boat would manoeuvre on Frensham, to get a mast out of the mud by following the forestay up, plus Andy hanging his whole weight under the centreboard we were soon on our way, having gathered a considerable weight of audience as one of the Poole Harbour tourist boats had stopped, and also a gaggle of safety boats and other craft. We became part of the voiceover on the boat “…and that shows how shallow the harbour is…”

We continued to Brownsea, mustered again and Roy reported that the gooseneck on his Laser was loose so he nursed the boat back to the field directly. We continued on and made it to the beach by the Shell Bay Restaurant by 13:00. Knowing that we also needed to catch the tide at the field for 14:00 we missed out on a beverage (although the location was packed with people so who knows how many would have been queuing), and headed straight home. We arrived close to 14:00 and recovered the boats.

Monday 31st

All the remaining campers, bar Roy, spent the low-water morning packing up tents and dinghies. By noon there was enough water for a paddle. Stephen, Jacki, Rob, Andy and Vanessa set off towards Round Island and Arne. Jacki’s navigation left a lot to be desired as they all ran aground in very shallow water. No sign of Sammy this time. Lunch was taken afloat so as to stay legal, followed by a hard paddle back against the headwind. On return to the site, Andy was about to lead the way with an impromptu dip, but sadly the water level had dropped just a little too far and he soon found himself ankle deep in goo. Mike, meanwhile, enjoyed an insanely long walk from the campsite to the Studland beaches, the Old Harry rocks, and return. All that remained was to complete the final packing, say our goodbyes/au revoirs (till next time…) and head home in the intense bank holiday traffic (except for Jenny and Roy who stayed over another night to miss the traffic no doubt, and sail another day….).

Tuesday 1st June

What a lovely summer morning. One could almost (and we do say “almost”) feel sorry for the workers. Jenny and Roy spent the morning leisurely packing up. There was a debate whether to pack the 2k or not because with the wind in the East there could well be water for sailing from about lunch time but the mast came down mid morning. By lunchtime they were all packed with only the kayaks left. There would have been enough water to beat out the creek but instead they decided to paddle to the harbour entrance. Positive paddling into the wind was necessary but the incentive of an ice cream was all that was needed. Once consumed it was a nice paddle back with the wind behind. A couple of hours on the water to finish a splendid week. Back at the field the kayaks were put on the roof of the car and it was time to find that traffic queue for the journey home.

Another Poole camp was over with more stories to add to the Cody history book. Weather, with the exception of the first two days, was marvellous, ideal for sailing. Mike would like to give special thanks to Anna and Stephen for being such good crews/helms. What stories will next year bring …..

We all would like to thank Gordon and Steve for making the camp happen.

This posting was written by many members of the club.