Tie a Yellow Ribbon.

Eastbourne to Chichester Harbour and The Hamble

We left Eastbourne mid-afternoon for a gentle sail to Chichester Harbour and the Sparkes marina. Frankly, I remember little about the journey until we neared Chichester Bar – the infamous entrance to the harbour and renowned for its sandbanks and shifting sands. Approach with caution. As we had made good time from Eastbourne we had arrived too early to enter the harbour so were forced to anchor up in a nearby bay and pass the time until we could. I do recall that it was a moonless night and a cloudless night although it remained reasonably warm. We set the anchor and by the time we’d had a cup of tea, or so it seemed, we were ready to set off again.

The subsequent short journey was a very good test of ‘Spot That Light’ as we picked our way along the narrow, and deep, channel. If you are not of the sailing fraternity, you may not know that various buoys and channel markers all have lights of various rhythms and colour. Some red, some white, some green, as well as yellows and blues. They can be on permanently or can flash in differing sequences. Sometimes these buoys carry no lights at all and sometimes the bulb is bust and has not been replaced. Add to that the fact that they can be ‘lost’ in background lighting such as houses, industrial estates and road lighting. That all makes for a very interesting interpretation of what can be seen because,  of course, the old psychology comes into play we can sometimes see what we want to see and not what is actually there. Dangerous stuff in the wrong hands.

Fortunately, we have a good team of spotters and trainee Yatchmasters so were able to pick out the route into Sparkes thus avoiding the embarrassment, and danger, of going aground.


Thursday morning was one for housekeeping. Personal laundry and a spring clean for the yacht. We needed to look our best before we went on to the Solent and the Hamble – probably the UK’s the premier sailing ground. Not the prettiest, if one looks up Southampton Water and the Fawley Refinery, but certainly one of the most affluent with the industry fuelled partly by the wealthy ‘DFLs’ – as Merv would call the Down From London crowd. For me its my home turf, having owned and berthed a yacht (‘Kiki’) for 3 years around the Solent. So this was a bit of a homecoming. Tie a Yellow Ribbon.

The short journey, with Vera doing her first passage as skipper, was made in warm sunshine and winds that were a lot heartier than we were earlier led to believe we’d get. We successfully combined a very pleasant sail with the technical difficulties of sailing in an area packed with yachts, ferries, fast ferries, hovercraft (yes, there is still a commercial one operating from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight), enormous cruise liners (The Queen Victoria sailed past yesterday, much to our amusement) even more enormous tankers, container ships and car carriers. Phew! Quite a navigational challenge. The yachts were out in force, even though a week-day, practicing for the weekend’s ‘Round the Island Race’, a key date in the Solent sailing diary.

We arrived late afternoon and berthed at Hamble Point Marina. Another home-coming for me as this was where I bought my one and only yacht, Kiki. Tie another yellow ribbon, please.


A lovely dinner with Moyna and India in the Bugle pub (unfortunately listening to England lose to Uruguay) and a couple more beers afterward with the crew before the long(ish) walk back to the boat.

A thoroughly nice day.


June 18&19th    Day 74/75


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