To take wild chances and trust weather and sailors: wintersailing in UK

So, the sailing trip in West UK was a no-go. But I did not want to give up the adventure - I was after all already in the UK, with all the sailing gear, eager to hit the winter seas. So after a bit of effort (or magic), an opportunity popped up. A yacht ready to go out to English Channel!

The Grand'Large Dufour, in Gosport facing Portmouth

I hurried to Gosport, which took another day of travelling by buses, trains and cars, and reached the Haslar Marina in the evening. A Dufour 385 was to become my home for the coming time, with own bunk and everything! I even got myself a hot shower in the marina. That did wonders for the motivation, I'd been freezing since the second I left the plane in Stansted.

The skipper seemed to be as crazy as I am, so we headed out to English Channel against all tides and common sense. Before leaving, I helped the skip with mast inspection, and some minor jobs around the boat. The morning was chilly, and the woodwork extremely slippery because of all the ice. That caused a slight misfortune - skip had slippers on and... yes, slipped. A Man-overboard situation was avoided by a small margin, and it was a nasty fall. But we pulled out our two first-aid kits, the skipper got patched up, and became good as new.

A view on Solent / Northern English Channel and the traffic present, given that this is the turn of the month November/December. In most Scandinavian waters, this would be high Summer

You know what they say about sailing the English Channel? Yes, it can be precisely compared to standing in a cold shower and tearing apart 100-euro bills. Everyone I had met, who had ever sailed those waters, agreed to that it's true. Now, the season being winter, I expected it to be even worse.

Unfortunately, or rather luckily, it was not at all like that. The fog, rain, and gales gave way to gentle sunshine and very soft wind. It was still cold, the traffic was still heavy, the tidal streams tricky (tidal changes are 5 meters around the area), but we cruised out to Solent and towards English Channel without any challenge. We easily avoided the shoals, the forts, the war ships, and the commercial traffic, and took every moment to enjoy the surreal feeling of this improbable sailing adventure.

At the helm of the yacht, manouvering from the marina

If I were not heading to Gatwick for the flight back Thursday morning, then we would have had time to come all the way to Cherbourg and had a nice dinner with some French wine! But I had to get to the next trip (to NYC for a wedding), so we turned back just in time. The crossing will wait; this Spring, there is a possibility to deliver the same very yacht across the Channel, via Biscay, to the Med. If no other adventures are planned during that time, then I will definitely be there again.

No Man's Fort and HMS Iron Duke 
On the way out, we sailed past No Man's Fort with its randomly exciting history, and were passed by HMS Iron Duke and a couple of other war ships. Totally worth while.
The calm seas at the dusk, Solent, UK - November/December 2016
Until the next adventure, mateys!