Saturday, 26 July 2014


This is a view of the Needles, the western extremity of the Isle of Wight with it's chalk stacks marked by a red lighthouse, a tricky place to sail because of the strong currents flowing with the tides.
Every weekend in summer while we were living in England we went down to the boat, to sail if there was enough wind but otherwise we just lazed on deck and watched the world go by in Portsmouth harbour while we listened to the cricket, sketched and had lovely long lunches under our homemade bimini. ( a converted sheet that we stretched over the boom to give some shade)
Our favourite destination was Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, a good 4 hour's sail to the west down the Solent. Once there we picked up a buoy outside the harbour which cost about £12 a night at that time.  If we wanted to go ashore there was a ferry or we could pump up our own dinghy for the short distance.  When we found someone trying to steal our dinghy one day we decided that it would be better to use the ferry at a couple of pounds each way than risk the loss!  While on shore we loved to walk along the old railway line to the south of the island to Freshwater Bay where I drew this sketch as we had a tasty lunch washed down with some of the local real ale.
The view from the boat was lovely, as you can see there is an old church in the village and the remains of a castle dating from the time of Henry VIII as well as several good pubs and restaurants that serve excellent food so the place is always buzzing.  The ferry from Lymington comes in several times a day full of visitors by car or on foot.
Yarmouth was a very popular place in summer and the harbour used to fill up very quickly on a Saturday so we never bothered to try to find space in there, preferring the tranquillity of the open sea.  That wasn't always the case, if the weather was a bit windy or some unsociable motorboats came too close and we were rocked about! 
We have also visited Yarmouth in the autumn and I well remember one November weekend when we were inside the harbour wall with the whole place to ourselves, using our old paraffin lamp to save on the batteries because the sun set so early,  playing scrabble to keep ourselves amused.
One of our favourite walks was over Tennyson Down on the top of the cliffs leading to the Needles.  We took the open topped bus to the end of the line and then walked back to Yarmouth, stopping for lunch in a pub somewhere along the way.
We used Yarmouth as a starting point when we crossed the Channel to go to France or to the West Country for our holidays.  We timed our departures for the early morning when the tide was turning so we had a good push to the west.  The currents can run at 6 knots in the Needles channel so you would be standing still with the motor going at full speed if you left at the wrong time with the tide against you!
I painted this picture on the last weekend we spent here before setting off for our new life in France.  We chose our new home at Perros because it has a yacht harbour and we had spent most of our sailing holidays here over the years.