A testing passage

Yachting Monthly|Summer 2020

A testing passage
Natalie and Nathan Hamilton experience challenging conditions while cruising the south coast between the Solent and Salcombe
Natalie and Nathan Hamilton
From my position at the helm I was fixated on the red light of Nathan’s headtorch bobbing around on the foredeck. I then started running through man-overboard procedures in my head. We were approaching Salcombe on La Ina, our Hallberg Rassy 352, shortly before midnight, with the wind gusting up to 30 knots from the south-east. We had just changed course from having the wind behind us to a beam-reach, and Nathan was up on the foredeck setting another reef in the main sail. The helming was livelier now, with the boat on more of a heel and waves frequently sloshing over the deck. It was hard to believe that earlier we were enjoying a very comfortable sail into the sunset across Lyme Bay poled out, with the wind blowing a steady 15 knots from astern.

When Nathan returned to the cockpit, I breathed a sigh of relief. Now rapidly approaching the entrance to south Devon’s Salcombe Harbour, our thoughts turned to whether it would be too rough to cross the bar at the entrance in the stiff breeze. As we came into the shelter of Bolt Head, the sea state calmed down considerably, and we picked up the light on the transit with ease, passing over the bar on a falling tide without any drama.

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Summer 2020