As we're very busy at the moment building our new garden sheds I haven't got a lot of time for drawing so I thought I'd show you where I started to draw on a regular basis. In 1992 we bought a sailing boat and moored it in Portsmouth harbour. She was called Chardonnay of Solent and we owned her for19 years before selling her to a family from Wales. We received a postcard from them this week with the news that they had sailed her to the Azores after a major refit. We are absolutely thrilled that she has been used for her original purpose, i.e. crossing oceans, something we dreamed of but never got round to doing.
From March to November we spent every possible weekend on board as well as all our holidays. Our mooring was on a buoy in an area called Porchester Lake and we were taken there on a water ferry run by the moorings company. We had about a dozen other neighbours in our group which had views all round which I enjoyed sketching as we relaxed after a weekend's sailing. This one is looking towards the east and the naval port with some of the big ships moored alongside. We could also see the cross channel ferries as they came and went from their harbour just to the left of this view.
Looking south you see the harbour entrance with all it's old buildings as well as the historic dockyard where the Victory and the Warrior are moored with the remains of the Mary Rose in a specially constructed building.
At the time I had not done a lot of sketching and being on the boat was a wonderful opportunity as I had plenty of time to practise. So many people say to me that they can't draw but really you only have to pick up a pen or pencil and have a go. As you can see I really wasn't very good then but I have persevered and worked hard to be able to do what I do today.
We used to go down to the boat on a Friday evening straight from work, I took my sailing clothes and changed in the public loos in the car park and Bob brought the food and drink as he worked from home. Depending on the tide we would set off straight away or wait till the morning to go west to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight or other popular places on the Solent.
This is a drawing I did very early one morning when the water was a calm milky blue with only one little boat rowing out to catch some fish. Pretty soon the harbour comes alive with motor boats, charter yachts, ferries and racing dinghies all trying to use the same patch of water. It's important to know the 'rules of the road' and rights of way as well as to follow the channel markings as there are many shallow parts where the inexperienced can get caught aground for several hours!
This red port hand marker post was next to our bouy and used by the cormorant to roost while he dried his wings. I used to love sitting just watching the seabirds as they fished during the day and at night they would all gather on the water and chatter as they drifted up and down with the tides.
Looking north from the boat we could see the ruins of Porchester Castle, originally built by the Romans, with the white chalk cliffs behind. I sketched it many times, trying to improve my technique over the years. We kept the boat in Portsmouth harbour for 10 years till we moved to France and had many exciting adventures on her. She was a wonderful refuge from our busy working lives where we could get away from the phone and the boss!
In part 2 I'll start to tell you about some of the wonderful places Chardonnay took us to.