one good deed

One Good Deed…

One Good Deed Deserves Another

Much of my sailing takes place around the Solent in the UK. For those of you that are not familiar with the Solent, it is a body of water that lies on the South coast of the UK. It is sandwiched between an island, the Isle of Wight, and Southampton Water. It’s a great place to sail and it is said that if you can sail in the Solent you can sail anywhere! I think this claim is based on several reasons. Firstly the amount of traffic that frequents the channel. Large tankers visiting Fawley Oil Refinery then cruise ships, container ships, and car transporters all en route to the busy dock of Southampton, also the naval vessels and ferries visiting Portsmouth.  Then there are the strong double tides and sandbanks to navigate and lastly the sheer number of leisure crafts that call the Solent home. It’s a wonderful place to sail with several large rivers, Beaulieu, Hamble, and Itchen, two major ports, Southampton and Portsmouth, lots of old harbours, and then many beautiful creeks, nature reserves, and bays to explore.

Several weeks ago I was sailing with friends on a passage to Chichester. The plan was to leave our Lymington base and bounce around the Solent for a bit before heading over to Chichester Marina to stay the night. This takes a bit of planning because to enter Chichester Marina involves a lock. Ideally, it’s best to time the entry into the marina when the lock is free-flow (lock gates are open for easy entry and exit from the marina) but this is dependent on tides. If it’s not free-flow then it’s always a bit of a mad dash to get to the front of the queue. On this particular day, we approached the lock to find a small yacht already in the lock waiting and another 37’ getting ready to enter. On seeing us approach he waved us on and gave us his place. How lovely we thought. We are 54’ (or 53’ I never remember!) so we are always aware of our size and how intimidating we may be to other smaller boats. We can also take up a lot of space when having to hang around waiting for the lock. We waved and shouted out thanks as we proceeded into the lock.  What a good deed.

Fast forward two weeks to this weekend and we were out again. This time we were lunching on the hook off Osborne Bay (Isle of Wight). Osborne House used to be owned by Queen Victoria and was her favourite holiday spot. Within the grounds of the house is a sandy bay where the queen would bathe. It makes for a lovely lunch stop with a great view of the house and Solent and is a good place for swimming off the boat. We stayed until around 2:30 then decided to make our way back home to Lymington. We were rounding the East Cowes headland and discussing whether to sail back with just the genoa when someone noticed a small boat bobbing around with someone waving at us. Not just a hello wave but an I-really-need-your-help type of wave. We motored over to offer assistance only to realise it was the same boat that had let us into the lock a few weeks ago. The skipper was having engine trouble, he had no power and was drifting towards the mouth of the River Medina. This is the main river into East Cowes and Cowes and has a regular car ferry coming in and out. We offered to tow him into East Cowes to the marina where he could repair his engine. He accepted. Our skipper decided to raft him alongside rather than tow him behind. So with every available fender on our port side and three lines at the ready, we came around again. We threw him the bow and stern lines which he tied off and then we tightened his spring to us so there was no getting away. Off we went dodging race markers and into the river. It was rough to begin with so not something to be attempted in open water, but once in the river all was calm.  Luckily the ferry was nowhere to be seen, just the floating bridge to negotiate then onto the marina where we safely deposited him on the hammerhead. We said our goodbyes and then headed home to Lymington telling stories to the landlubbers on the boat of towage rates and the laws of salvage.

The moral of the story?
a) Sail with a good skipper. Our skipper made a good decision to raft rather than tow and his boat handling skills were awesome, to say the least. He stayed calm throughout and gave clear instructions to all. East Cowes Marina only had space on the hammerhead pontoon between two motor yachts, not an easy manouvere for one yacht let alone two rafted together, but he executed it perfectly and got our small charge safely in first time. If I had boat handling skills one-tenth as good then I’d be thrilled.
b) Be kind, you never know when it will be paid back!

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