We decided on a school holiday day out to Brighton, which is just over an hour's drive along the coast but for some reason I've only ever visited on business and never to the tourist areas.
Brighton is perhaps the quintessential English seaside town, the day was fine but the sea mist hung around for most of the morning.
The attractions of the east pier beckoned and a couple of quids worth of copper coins rolled down those old moving slot machines, the ones that that potentially push the money over the edge, but never do. Of course a trip to the pier wouldn't be complete without a visit to the haunted hotel.
Looking slightly more haunted the remains of the west pier in the morning mist.
Gradually the day brightened up, we did all the usual tourist sights, the Pavillion and the old cobbled streets called the lanes, where we found a terrific Italian place for lunch, but the lure of the promenade and some especially tasty ice cream drew us back to the sea.
Rowing past Mercury marina I spotted an unusual craft, which turned out to be the Derek Kelsall designed trimaran Freedom of Norwich.
From what I've read she was home built by a doctor some 35 years ago and certainly for a while was based in Chichester harbour.
Interesting detail on the struts which link the hulls, there are two circular section struts forming a triangulation covered a separate deck section above the upper member. It's looks very strong and after 35 odd tears seems to be holding up well given the significant forces which apply there.
Great to see a unique piece of our recent sailing history up close, I'd love to go for a sail.
Hamble River SC had a work party day to get all the boats prepared for the season. Joseph and I joined what was a really good turn out of volunteers down at the dinghy park.
It was mostly a case of getting everything out of winter storage, rigging all the boats, marking up with new stickers and noting down what was missing - bungs, sail battens and a few main sheets.
Richard as always dis a great job of organising everything including a complete revamp of the storage racks.
The club have purchased 6 RS Terra dinghies secondhand over winter, together with 6 paddle boards, which expands the fleet and certainly the Terras offer a good step up from Optimists for those kids who don't have the weight and size for a Pico.
To mark it's centenary I've been digging into the history of our house, which was built for the local strawberry trade, but long after the trade's peak in the late 19th century, which really started with the coming of the railway. Locally the station at Swanwick was specifically built to transport the "Strawberry Coast" summer crops to London before the advent of refrigeration.
We have a covenant on the property which forbids "the sale or serving of alcohol to agricultural workers". It seems a bit hash since anyone else it seems is welcome to come around and get thoroughly legless, which just goes to show the value of the strawberry crop.
After sufficient research I decided to erect a plaque.
Following the mini heatwave in February the weather for the past few weeks has been cold with frequent gales, but at last the sun came out with a very gentle breeze, perfect for an early morning Sunday row down the river and an opportunity to admire the mud exposed by the big spring tide
Stopping off at the cafe, the town quay was showing signs of life with walkers and cyclist taking the ferry across to Warsash and a few racing boats heading out.
Who needs an outboard, the Hamble lifeboat crew showing how to scull a tender.
This small yacht had come ashore in Keyhaven recently and washed up on the shore.
Fortunately Keyhaven is very protected, it would be a very unlucky boat which managed to break from it's mooring and float out of the harbour, perhaps on a very strong outgoing tide, but it would be more likely to run aground or hit one of the other boats.
The boat is well kept and lack of damage suggests that it had only very recently come ashore. Lets hope they got it off and afloat safely, especially so as there was a very high spring tide the following week.
May have arrived a little early this year, with still 10 days to go to the vernal equinox on 20th March.
I was up early watching the dawn with a cup of tea as is my habit on Sunday, thinking that the clear sky might herald the rare opportunity to go rowing, but a look at the tree tops bending and shaking soon put paid to that idea.
Instead I did a loop of the Hamble river by bicycle, enjoying the relatively sheltered woodlands through Mallards Moor and Victoria Country park until emerging on Southampton water at Netley.
Down at Netley Sailing club there were a couple of casualties, I don't imagine there will be sailing today.
I was pleased to find the Pink Ferry running across to Warsash and indeed from the Hamble side the river looked relatively calm, which just goes to show how quickly things can change., as we approached the Warsash hard.
It was a wild day, blowing old boots as the saying goes, down at Hurst Castle the wind data was showing 20-30 Meters per Second which is about gusting 35 to 50 Knots in real money .
Santa brought Mrs BB a paddle board for Christmas, currently still in it's case given the weather we've had over the last several weeks (we saw 50 knot winds at the weekend, definitely not paddle board weather).
Hopefully it'll be nice enough to get it out in the next few weeks, roll on summer and the ideal conditions as above.
Sorting out some old books and papers I found this pristine program from the 1983 Le Mans 24 hour race.
We'd driven down with a bunch of college friends, crossing the channel from Portsmouth to Cherbourg and then a wild night time drive through the French countryside and towns on the old roads as there were no direct motorways or at least we failed to find them.
About five friends had piled into tricky Nicky's old Mk 7 Jaguar, my
friend Malcolm had a Sunbeam Tiger with a 4 litre V8, I struggled to
keep up with them in an old MG Midget.
On the way back the clutch operating arm snapped and we drove all the way back double de-clutching, my friend Mark would push to get the car rolling enough so I could get into first and then he'd jump in. The long straight roads in France were easy and we seemed to avoid getting stuck in traffic or too many traffic lights. Somehow we even made it onto the ferry like that, I can't imagine that would be allowed these days.
One of the most memorable aspects apart from the Hawaiian Tropic girls, were Mazda, the first Japanese manufacturer to enter the race with their quirky 717C rotary engine cars which first time out finished 12th and 18th against the mass of Porsche entries.
For one reason or another beach launching along the south coast of England is quite rare, perhaps we're spoiled by deep water mooring and slipways, and in some cases councils who have banned beach launching for some unfathomable reason. But over on the Normandy coast of France there's good public access to the sea across the beach for both commercial fishermen and pleasure boaters alike.
Extensive hard sand beaches with good access and abundant free parking allow people to get afloat all along the coast between the rivers at Ouistreham and Courseulles. A lot of local inshore fishermen and sailing clubs use tractors, which given the tidal range and the distance across the sand makes a lot of sense.
Clearly it's ok to leave launching trolleys at the water's edge on a falling tide, just keep a careful eye on the time if you're gone for a long time.
Recovery with an onshore breeze is always going to be a challenge, although these guys made it look very easy, the RIB was up on the trailer and away almost before I could get any pictures.
Good idea to check everything before going to launch, it's a long way back to the clubhouse for a missing shackle or other broken item of gear.
While a tractor is probably the favorite launching vehicle, that Fiat Panda 4 x 4 seems to be doing a good job on the soft sand.