Just a little bit bitter sweet

23rd October - 9th November

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This time of year for us is always a little bit bitter sweet. We are always a little sad to see Katherine being hauled out, a little exhausted from the preparation and packing but always excited to be heading home to spend time with family and friends. But we weren’t prepared to give up on touristing right to the drive to the airport. There is always a little bit more to see in this wonderful land of the United Kingdom. (And thats something we certainly never would have said three years ago.) 

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Our last update had us sitting in the fishing harbour of Weymouth - a favourite harbour for us with its colourful buildings, active fishing boats, cobblestone High St and long beach promenade. Restaurants are plentiful, the hardest decision is always to decide which one for our weekly venture out for a special meal. For Weymouth we opted for the Tapas restaurant recommended by the Harbour Master and definitely not disappointing. Next year though we really look forward to the real deal when we sail through Spain and Portugal. 

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Three hours north of Weymouth Birmingham was holding its annual Dive Show, so with time on our side we decided to head north for the weekend. The drive through Dorset with its thatched cottages and rolling countryside was very pretty and the Gloucester Farm Shop off the motorway took dining and fresh food for a road stop to a whole new level. As for the dive show? So worth it not just for the dive gear that was available but for the contacts and ideas for future destinations. Of particular help was a representative from Malta - now thats somewhere we certainly had never contemplated when launching Katherine. 

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Back onboard, yes and with a little extra dive gear, our next port of call was Lymington just 45nm east of Weymouth in the Solent. As is with sailing the sail is not over until you are at anchor or safely docked. Well if anyone was watching our track that day it certainly was creative. We had to manoeuvre around an active military zone, unfurl a rather contankurous staysail that had twisted and tripped our winches, then just when things were settling down including the wind that had been blowing to 30knots the main sail would not furl. Now anyone that has been onboard Katherine knows that our main sail is rather large. Thankfully we had two reefs already set so we only had two thirds of the sail to try and get down. So after a little thought and creativity, with the aid of the A1 and topping lift (ropes) we managed to contain the sail in a manner on the boom just after passing the infamous landmark of the Needles. That alas meant we lost precious time and had to negotiate the Lymington entrance in pitch black. Sailing is certainly never boring. 

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The saga of the day was soon forgotten when we were welcomed into harbour by Barbara and Ron Chester from Darwin who had a heart warming roast dinner awaiting our arrival. Barbara and Ron have been at  Berthon Marina working on their boat Blue Finn of Hamble a Moody 60 that they purchased several years ago and will be launching next year after some serious refitting. Lymington is another pretty town with cobblestone old streets. We had hoped to get to the National Car Museum at nearby Beaulieu but as we found out Lymington may have a big town but taxis are a rareity and a 15 minute drive was going to take 2 hours on public transport - so thats on the list for next time. 

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Our final run to Hamble was a motor. A few days prior with sun shining in Lymington we had taken the opportunity to drop our staysail and genoa and store them while dry. The main sadly sat reefed and tired to the boom - a challenge to be sorted in Hamble. As is common at this time of year with sunshine comes fog and sometimes lots of it. We were thankful for our fog horn, ais, radar and instruments as we motored. We shadowed a cargo ship for most of the way and it was not until close to Hamble that it along with a ferry and several yachts literally appear out of the fog. 

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The last few days in Hamble involved the usual chaos of packing up though we do feel we did it with a lot less stress this year. The biggest relief came when getting the main off, after much analysis and effort to unfurl the remains of the sail out of the boom by hand we were able to determine that the motor had not failed in the boom but instead a simple breakage in the wires for the clutch had brought everything undone. A gerry rig of wiring and the sail was out oh so easily.  So now, as is usual, Andrew is on the design path to ensure that this can hopefully be avoided in the future. We certainly have to say thanks to the staff of X-Yachts in Hamble who not only assisted us with our lift out but will be looking after Katherine over the winter once more. Peace of mind for us knowing she is in good hands. 

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As always we never leave Katherine and head straight for home in fact we seem to have an adversity for taking the direct route anywhere. With three days up our sleeve after haul out we enjoyed a night in Hamble-Le-Rice dining once more at The River Rat and catching up with proprietor Francine before driving east through Surrey Hills and staying in a quaint hotel called the Percy Arms. We passed through towns like Albany with its artistic chimney pots and travelled roads with scenic outlooks such as Pleasant Stille. Such is the benefit of time to drive off the motorway. The real highlight though was our last stop in Faversham and the countryside of Kent that was dotted with Tudor style houses. The foundations of the hotel “The Sun Inn” in Faversham dated back to the 1500’s whilst the actual building had been established in 1698 as a brewery. Our rooms had beams that reflected their age as did the floor! The town itself had existed from pre-Roman times and established itself in the 1500 and 1600’s as a seaport and centre for brewing. The shipping industry may be gone but the Shepherd Neame Brewery founded in 1698 continues it brewing tradition to this day in the town. Dotted around the streets were buildings dating back to the 1200’s including the Masion Dieu a hospital commissioned by Henry III, the age of these buildings still in use today defy comprehension at times for us as Australians who have such a relatively short history in comparison. 

So ends our cruising season for 2015.  Another 3185nm season that has seen us sail to The Channel Islands, the North Sea coastal countries of France and Netherlands, through the Kiel Canal, enjoy time with family in Denmark before running to the Outer Hebrides and being inspired by the scenery, wildlife, historical buildings and the people of the Outer Hebrides, St Kilda and West Coast of Ireland. 

Definitely not a bad way to spend the sailing season of 2015.


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© SV Katherine 2017      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Faro Portugal with Askari of Australia