Exeat, Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2, Cowes
Design Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2
Exeat’s home port is Cowes but we’ll be exploring…
18 May 2022 Crossing Lyme Bay ↙ Report?
As I write this, we’re motoring into Dartmouth in the rain (interminable rain) after a long sail across Lyme Bay in painfully light winds.
Crossing Lyme Bay has been something I’ve been avoiding for the past three years; just the sight of it on the charts makes my stomach flip. And the way other sailors discuss “rounding the Bill”, in tones of awe and reverence, has done nothing to quench my fear. But having (quite happily) sailed to the Scilly Isles last summer, and with plans to reach France next month, I knew I shouldn’t put it off any longer: sailing across Lyme Bay just had to be done!
We left Portland marina at 11am, and rounded the famous bill about 12.30. Spring tides and some constantly changing winds over the past few days had resulted in some massive swells – the biggest our skipper had experienced in this area, (and he’s sailed around the Bill a million times). But though big, it was easier to ride these undulating peaks and troughs than those crashing waves we’d fought our way through a few days ago exiting Poole.
As the wind became lighter and lighter, we wound the headsail in and rigged the spinnaker up instead. It certainly helped, but progress was still a tediously slow 5.5 knots over ground. Rain fell on and off throughout the afternoon, but by 7pm it had decided to dig in for the evening. With the wind dropping off even further, we packed up the spinnaker and reluctantly switched on the engine for the final run into Dartmouth.
So, I can now tick off Lyme Bay in my mental logbook, and thankfully it wasn’t as dramatic or terrifying as I’d built it up to be. But next time (and I’m sure there’ll be many “next times”), Weather Gods, could we have just a fraction more wind please? (and much, much less rain…)
17 May 2022 On our way to Weymouth ↙ Report?
After leaving Newtown Creek on Saturday, we had a fabulous sail across to Poole Harbour in glorious sunshine and perfect conditions. As we passed Old Harry’s Rocks, we decided to briefly stop at Studland Bay for a dog-walk and ice cream on the beautiful strip of sandy beach here – a gorgeous spot, but sadly somewhat ruined by the incessant jet-skiers weaving in and out of all the moored yachts, blatantly ignoring the 5 mph speed limit and endangering the many paddle-boarders, swimmers and kayakers by speeding too close to the shore. Buddy was glad to stretch his legs, but in truth I was happy to get back onto Exeat and leave the noisy jet-skiers far behind us.
In happy contrast, we had a peaceful evening anchored off Brownsea Island, and left Poole the following morning after a brief shower had passed through. Blue skies beckoned, but a strong easterly wind had whipped up the sea overnight, and coming out of Poole Harbour at high tide was consequently pretty hairy. I’ve never sailed in such huge waves before, and even Exeat’s experienced skipper was surprised the sea conditions were quite so dramatic. We spent two “interesting” hours bouncing up and down as Exeat pluckily negotiated the crashing waves and high winds. Eventually, the wind was directly behind us and sailing became a little more comfortable, though the sea remained unsettled for the whole journey. On the plus side, we reached Weymouth in record time! It felt fantastic to enter the picturesque harbour after our short but challenging sail, and once we were safely tied up at Custom House Quay, we had a fortifying hot toddy, before going in search of some dinner.
Of course, nothing much is open on a Sunday evening, so we were lucky to find the most amazing fish and chip restaurant (Bennett’s) which not only served delicious battered squid (the proper stuff, not pub-style calamari rings) but also local, line-caught mackerel in a light batter, cooked to order. We took our spoils back to the boat and ate this seafood feast washed down with a chilled Pouilly-Fuisse. Buddy was thrilled to scoff the leftovers – a just reward for braving the high seas with us!
13 May 2022 Pod of Bottlenose Dolphins ↙ Report?
Click the Vimeo link below to see a short video of the beautiful dolphin pod that sailed alongside us from the Witterings to Littlehampton on Monday:
13 May 2022 And we’re off! ↙ Report?
After six weeks in Cowes getting Exeat ready for a summer afloat, we’re finally off! The nice people at Cowes Yacht Haven gave us a short extension to our winter berth, but with no long term berths available anywhere on the Island, we always knew we would have to move on in May. And with WiFi newly installed on the boat, there was no reason we couldn’t work from the boat (the new WFH!). Sailing from anchorage to anchorage, around the South Coast and West Country, doesn’t seem such a bad option for the next couple of months; and once our kids finish school in July, we hope to head off to France en famille. Until then, we’re slowly working our way down to Plymouth’s Mayflower marina, where we can keep Exeat in between trips with their 30-day flexible berthing option.
Our first pit-stop was a favourite anchorage: East Head Spit, off West Witterings beach – a lovely day’s sail with friends from Southampton, and a perfect spot for a late afternoon barbecue. But wait, I hear you ask, isn’t that in the opposite direction to Plymouth?! Quite true, but before we could head west, Cap’n Jerry had an appointment with a yacht club near Chichester, so after bidding our friends farewell, we set sail from the Witterings on Monday morning and made for Littlehampton, accompanied by a large pod of dolphins who swam alongside us almost up to the harbour entrance. We ended up staying in Littlehampton for three nights, thanks to slightly inclement weather, but happily an old friend of mine joined us for supper on board one evening, bringing with her a tray of delectable cakes from the restaurant she runs in nearby Arundel.
Yesterday, we left Littlehampton in the morning’s high tide (crucial for such a narrow harbour, and the sand bar at the entrance) and sailed back westwards. With the tide with us, we beat our way out into the English Channel (to avoid negotiating Selsey Bill) at around 9.5 knots. As the white cliffs of Yaverland came into sight, we briskly tacked back into the Solent, and sailed past Bembridge, Seaview, Ryde and Cowes. I love seeing these familiar places from the water – we’ve enjoyed so many beach walks, rockpool foraging, family picnics, dinghy racing and more as our Island-born kids have grown up, and seeing this coastline brings back a flood of happy memories.
We anchored for the night at Newtown Creek, after sailing 51 nautical miles in ten hours – our longest sail yet in Exeat! Our patient dog Buddy was very relieved to be taken ashore, and even happier when we decided to hunker down and spend the following day at anchor, while the gusty weather blows through. A long walk through the nature reserve beckons, and a chance to catch up with some work. After all, we’re not on holiday…even though it often feels like it :-)
3 May 2022 Provisioning and preserving! ↙ Report?
After finding a peaceful anchorage at the end of a day’s sail, there’s nothing better than cooking up a storm, pouring a glass of something refreshing, and settling down to dinner in the cockpit as the sunset puts on a kaleidoscopic show for the evening’s entertainment.
Hence, despite the challenges of cooking in a small space (with minimal facilities), Exeat‘s cupboards are filled to bursting with gourmet goodies, ready to rustle up a meal at a moment’s notice. We have stashes of teabags, fresh coffee, instant soups and ship’s biscuits by the hob – ready for “emergency” snacks while sailing. Then there’s all the dry staples like pasta, rice, nuts and couscous, as well as different flours for baking when we’re safely moored up. One whole cupboard in our cabin has been given over to tins of every variety, from chickpeas to chorizo broths. And we even have a spice rack in the galley, since those little jars of culinary magic were taking up so much cupboard space we decided they needed a home of their very own.
One of the ingredients we use most at home is garlic, and I was worrying that the bulbs wouldn’t stay fresh for long, once the weather hots up. Then I thought of confitting it, giving us loads of garlic cloves that we can use whenever we need, as well as some deliciously flavoured oil to use once all the garlic’s been consumed. It’s super simple to do – the main thing to remember is to only use a clean spoon each time you want to fish out a garlic clove, so that you don’t contaminate the oil (as there is a very small risk that toxic bacteria like botulinum could then grow on the garlic cloves).
- 2-3 heads of garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves
- olive oil to cover
- fresh rosemary or thyme
- Put the unpeeled cloves into a clean saucepan and cover in olive oil.
- Add some woody herbs for extra flavour.
- Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat right down so that the garlic cloves are gently poached. If the oil starts to bubble too intensely, turn the heat off for a bit or move the pan to the edge of the heat source.
- Meanwhile, sterilise a Kilner jar or similar.
- After 30-40 minutes, scoop out the garlic cloves and transfer to your sterilised jar. Discard the rosemary or thyme. Pour the olive oil over the cloves and seal the jar.
- Once it has cooled to room temperature, store in the fridge for up to a year.
What to do with garlic confit
Squeeze the garlic out of its papery skin, and smear on toasted ciabatta or sourdough.
Whisk into mayonnaise or a salad dressing to boost its flavour
Mash into cooked potatoes or cauliflower cheese
Add to pasta sauces just before serving
27 Apr 2022 Preparing for Exeat's exit... ↙ Report?
Well, April has passed in a whirl of boat-based activity – not so much the sailing kind, though we did have a glorious sail to Poole over the sunny Easter weekend. Mainly though, we’ve been preoccupied with trying to get Exeat shipshape before we leave our Cowes berth at the beginning of May.
After much mulling (and watching of YouTube anchor videos!) we replaced the old anchor with a Rocna 25, and 80m shiny new chain (visit our Instagram page to see a video of their arrival and installation). We tested them out in Newtown Creek for a short overnight stay and they worked fantastically; we both feel very reassured to have replaced the rusty old chain and anchor that Exeat came with – which I can’t believe had been used recently…or ever!
The next big expense was to install WiFi connectivity on board, via Digital Yacht’s 4GExtreme router and a twin antenna on Exeat’s stern. So far, it seems to work a treat, and allows us both to work on board up to 25 miles offshore! It’ll keep the teenagers happy during the holidays too ;-)
Less expensive installations have been some linen cushions we bought in a closing down sale, and putting up a few of our favourite pictures, both of which make the saloon feel more homely. Cap’n Jerry has been tinkering with some of the boat’s systems to ensure the batteries work optimally, and swapping the existing light fittings for combined LED lights and mobile charging sockets. Charging devices such as phones and iPad is an eternal challenge while afloat, especially as we now use so many Apps for navigation and forecasting. Hopefully we’ve now got enough back-up systems in place so this should be one less thing to worry about. My main job has been to figure out the best way to store all the food, cooking equipment, bedlinen, clothes, lifejackets, books, medical supplies and toiletries that we need, to make the best use of the very limited cupboard space on board; it’s a mission, for sure, and may well evolve as we live on the boat over the next few weeks and months so I’ll post about our storage solutions in another blog. There are some things I feel confident I’ve got right (clear stacking fridge boxes, for example, should make the cavernous boat fridge a lot more user-friendly), but other things I suspect will need a re-think once we’re living on board.
The longest I’ve ever spent on a boat is 2.5 weeks, so knowing that we’ll be on board now for the summer (bar the odd day back in Cowes here and there) is making my brain fry a bit! I’m excited, and can’t wait to start our adventures afloat, but trying to second guess what we will need is causing a few sleepless nights at the moment. Roll on 6th May!
31 Mar 2022 First family sail ↙ Report?
Last weekend marked the beginning of our children’s Easter holidays and the weather was unseasonably glorious for March. With conditions looking favourable for a trip Eastwards, we set sail for Chichester, hoping to stop mid-afternoon at East Head Spit for a swim. However, a stiff breeze meant reefing the mainsail to keep the teens comfortable (our youngest hates it when the boat heels excessively), which slowed our passage somewhat. By the time we reached the Witterings, it was late in the day and the chilly breeze made a dip in the sea seem less appealing than it had in the sunshine of Cowes early that morning. We bailed on swimming, unreefed the sail and made post-haste for Chichester harbour.
Entering Chichester lock was a new experience for me, as we’ve only ever anchored at East Head, or picked up a buoy at Bosham when overnighting in this neck of the woods. But the gentlemen manning the lock couldn’t have been nicer, and were all smiles as they handed us lines and guided Exeat gently through the lock. As we motored through the busy marina to our berth, we left the cold Easterly wind out in the Solent, and looked forward to a peaceful evening after our day’s sail.
The teens made the most of the superlative shower block on shore, and while my husband took our long-suffering Yorkiepoo for a walk, I prepped homemade lamb burgers for our supper on board. We all slept well that night – sun-kissed, windswept, replete and reunited.
Although I would have quite liked a leisurely start on Mothering Sunday, we decided it was best to get going fairly smartish the following morning as the lock can get busy, and we wanted to catch the tide. We compromised by anchoring at beautiful East Head Spit for brunch, and then sailing back to the Island via Osborne Bay. All in all, a perfect inaugural family sail, and a promise of great adventures to follow!
16 Mar 2022 And she's in! ↙ Report?
LAUNCH DAY! With her anti-foul barely dry, and the new prop gleaming in the Spring sunshine, we watched Exeat being gingerly lowered into the Solent yesterday, ready for her inaugural sail with us.
Happily, the Weather Gods were smiling on us, and the short trip across the Solent could only be described as “champagne sailing”. (Although we waited until we were safely tied up in Cowes Yacht Haven before cracking the celebratory bubbles open).
I have to admit she’s a lot bigger than I’m used to, and I was glad to have an extra pair of experienced hands on board while we get to know her. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the heavier lines and bigger sails all become second nature. On the plus side, she sails beautifully and feels wonderfully steady and sedate, whilst going considerably faster than our old Nich. 35 ever did, even on a good day!
This weekend will be a good chance to really put her through her paces, with a bunch of sailing friends staying with us in Cowes for my husband’s birthday on Sunday. After that, it’s just a week before the Easter holidays kick off, and if the weather is as balmy as it often is in April on the Island, we’ll take her out to some of our favourite Solent anchorages. That is, if her new anchor chain and anchor arrive in time! The old chain (still on board at the moment) was so rusty it’s literally unusable. And the current anchor doesn’t look terribly reliable either. So new parts have been ordered, after much MUCH research and head-scratching, and we await their arrival. Until then, we’re limited to staying in marinas or in places with mooring buoys, which rather limits our adventures. Watch this space!
2 Mar 2022 Water, water, everywhere, but not a berth in sight! ↙ Report?
When we started looking for a bigger boat, and then put an offer in on 45.2ft Exeat (which, happily, was accepted), we didn’t spare a single thought for where we would keep her. After all, we live in Cowes…“the sailing capital of the world” (I’m quoting Visit IOW’s website here, which goes on to say that Cowes Yacht Haven has “a wealth of berthing space”)…how could there possibly be any problems with finding a space nearby to keep our new vessel?
How naive we were! It seems that the whole world and his wife has bought, begged or borrowed a boat during the pandemic, and all the marinas and other berthing locations – such as the Medina River here in Cowes – have a waiting list as long as our new anchor chain. We optimistically put our names down for several of the Island’s marinas, and waited patiently while the sale of Exeat slowly progressed. Surely by Spring something would come up?
Well it’s now Spring, and we’re no closer to getting a permanent berth for Exeat. We pick her up from Hamble in two weeks time and she can stay on a winter berth at the Yacht Haven until the end of April. After that, unless we get lucky with one of the Island’s marinas, we’ll have to set sail! My husband isn’t too sorry about this (any excuse to take to the water!), but it’s a crazy situation…and not one I can see a solution to in the short term. First world problems, for sure, but real nonetheless!
28 Feb 2022 Finding Exeat ↙ Report?
For the past few years, we’ve only ever had a part share in a boat – initially, an ancient Nova 27, and most recently a Nicholson 35 from 1973. Neither boat ticked all our boxes for a family sailing boat, but each was excellent value (though required considerable work and investment…), plus the prospect of sharing the running costs initially made co-ownership an attractive concept.
In reality, it soon became clear that we needed something bigger for our family of four (plus dog!). Dividing up the sailing calendar between us and our co-owners also became increasingly hard to do – naturally, we both wanted access to the boat during the prime summer months and school holidays.
So, last winter, we started looking at some bigger, second-hand yachts, not really thinking anything would be available at the time. But fate must have been shining on us, because an advert for Exeat, a 45.2 ft Jeanneau Sun Odyssey popped into my In-box, and we booked a visit pronto.
A test-sail with the owners followed a week later – which actually turned into something of a comic disaster! The engine cut out twice, and we had to be towed back into Hamble by Seastart. BUT, the short sail we managed to have out in the Solent, and the size and layout of this lovely French yacht, convinced us that she was the one for us.
That was back in November ‘21; since then, the owners serviced the engine, replaced the prop shaft (which was what was causing the engine to fail), and we’ve had her anti-fouled and re-painted. She’s due to go back in the water in two weeks time, and we’ll then be sailing her to her new home in Cowes. Excited doesn’t begin to describe how we feel!