Crew Log: Swanage to Lyme

View from Polly B, Portland Bill to the right.


Crew Log – Janet Webb

Sailing yacht Polly B with full sails.
Polly B doing what she does best.

Boat – Polly B, Westerly Centaur

Skipper – Jonathan Webb

Journey – Swanage to Lyme via Portland

Date – 16.07.22 to 18.07.22

Engine hours total – 3hrs

Swanage to Portland

After spending two days anchored at Swanage, we headed to Portland with plans to use a marina. At this point we had been at sea and anchor for 8 days. Consequently, our supplies were a little low and we were a little in need of civilisation!  A cracking sail put us outside the harbour mouth in the early afternoon and a call to the Harbour Office confirmed that they could accommodate us.  A call back as we entered Portland Marina established our berth for the night.

The facilities were top notch and the staff were polite and helpful. We made use of their local knowledge – the best time to round Portland Bill, where the nearest supermarket was, who sold the best Fish and Chips; all the important matters.

In the morning the crew (i.e. me) got some essentials from the local Lidl: milk, bread, Kit Kats. I resisted the urge to buy a catering sized pack of stuffed olives, a novelty BBQ set and a pneumatic drill.

Rounding Portland

After taking on water and fuel, we headed off to face the dreaded Portland Bill; we were going via the Inner Passage in order to avoid The Race. For information regarding the dangers of sailing around Portland feel free to look here.

Rounding Portland Bill By The Inner Passage,

Fortunately it was a beautiful day; there is nothing like a bit of sunshine for reducing perceived danger.

View from Polly B, Portland Bill to the right.
A lovely day to tackle Portland Bill.

With the Berthing Master’s wise words ringing in our ears we knew that timing was crucial. There is only a small window when you can get round and if you haven’t timed it right then you will be stuck, battling the oncoming tide and so forced to retreat. Hence, the skipper was unusually quiet (not that he ever shouts in a presidential way.)

There were three boats all standing off, waiting for their moment, waiting for someone else to make a move, like a watery slow bicycle race. As it turned out, we all sailed through the Inner Passage with no drama, the beauty of Portland Bill passing by within meters to starboard.

Portland to Lyme

Sadly the wind died away and we were forced to motor the last bit to Lyme. A swell was forecast and we didn’t fancy joining the yachts we could see moored up in the harbour mouth. The wind was blowing straight in, the harbour walls offering no protection, and so they were swinging about frantically. If we had to be hurled about all night there seemed little point in doing that with the added noise of a dozen other boats.  So we anchored off Lyme, with the bright lights of the amusements on Lyme beach as our backdrop.

And what a night. The noise was not a problem. The experience of being tossed about was. Not the gentle rock of a cradle; more the frenetic back and forth of a Titan’s washing machine. Great for our core muscles. Not so good for sleep. At 5am we gave up and were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise.

Sunrise through the clouds over Lyme Bay
Lyme Bay after a tough night

Lyme had one more Joker to play; we had a struggle to get the anchor up. Our beloved shipmate, a 10Kg Lewmar Delta (with 25m of chain and 15m of rope) held a bit too firm, presumably stuck in a rock crevice. (We now employ a tripping line to deal with this.) With some wiggling about we eventually slipped free at 6am and headed for our next stop; Dittisham, Dartmouth.

The bacon sarnies tasted particularly good that morning.

Tom Cunliffe gives an excellent overview of Portland here.

What happens when you get it wrong can be seen here.