I have a 2 year old Gull dinghy (GRP) which I want to set up for cruising and wondered if there are any other members already cruising Gulls who could advise me. Don't really want to reinvent the wheel. I'd daysail initially but would like to be able to overnight and join a group sail in the not too distant future.
I have no experience of the Gull but I do recall there is an article in the Archive that describes a south coast cruise in one, written by Jack Whitby, dating from 1966. I post it here for your interest. There is a single paragraph at the end that describes some practical arrangements.
Cruise to Littlehampton in Babette, Whitsun 1966
The overnight forecast, as I slept in the Club House at Netley (Southampton Water) was dry, cold, with a Northerly force 3-4 wind. High water was at 4.48 B.S.T.
By 9.30 I was afloat; with some sunshine and a moderate N.E, wind. Roughly an hour later, off Calshot, I picked up the first of the east going stream and the wind freshened a little. By 1 p.m. I had passed outside Horse sand Fort and was hove-to enjoying much needed coffee and sandwiches. It was now grey and rather cold with a lumpy sea. A newly fitted ratchet sheet-block certainly removed some of the hard work in beating, but I was not too happy about its quick release mechanism and decided to replace it when I reached more sheltered water.
I began to beat up towards Chichester Harbour listening for the 1.55 shipping forecast on the little waterproofed transistor in my tunic pocket, Suddenly what
I had feared happened; an extra large wave, a sudden gust of wind, the sheet jammed and I was over. I remember noting that the little radio was still playing merrily in its plastic bag and that the water wasn't so cold as I expected, but twenty minutes later when the boat was bailed out and sailing again the radio and a paddle had floated off and the world seemed far less rosy. I decided to carry on to Chichester Harbour and entered with the last of the flood tide about 3pm
Feeling very cold and wet I crept up to Mengham Rithe, borrowed a mooring and
put up the cabin tent to keep out the cold wind. Dry clothes from the forward buoyancy compartment and the last of the coffee improved things a little but I was disappointed to find that some water had got through the neck of the rubber bag into the bed roll. After a hot meal I felt a little better and decided to bed down as best I could and see what the morning would bring.
Saturday morning was sunny but again rather cold with a strong NE wind, f4-5. Conditions seemed pretty settled, so with the offending block replaced I rowed down to the harbour entrance - the outboard hadn't recovered from its dunking - and set sail about 10.30. I headed south at first to the Chichester buoy then turned almost due SE on a reach so as to keep about two miles off shore and avoid Pole Sands and the broken shoal waters of Bracklesham bay. Even so, it was necessary to bale at frequent intervals as heavy spray came over the bows.
It took nearly two hours of hard sailing to reach Selsey Bill, and only in the last 10-15 minutes could I pick out the two buoys marking the Street channel among the very rough water around Malt Owers.
Once past the Bill, the north-east wind seemed even stronger and the waves bigger but more regular. It was with considerable relief that about 20 minutes later I was able to head north toward smoother water by the lifeboat station but it came as a nasty shock to find it shoaling steadily to little more than 12". With the centre-board right up we scraped through and hove-to for food and hot coffee.
For the next couple of hours I tacked steadily past Pagham Harbour keeping a watchful eye for Bognor Rocks and the nasty bit's and pieces that the chart vaguely describes as "numerous obstructions". At 4.15 I passed Bognor Pier, but at 5.30 the tide was ebbing strongly against me and although the sun was still shining it was clear that Littlehampton, although In sight, was beyond my reach that night. Reluctant to turn back I scanned the shore and spotted a little forest of masts not far ahead at Middleton-on-Sea. Hopefully I headed in and eventually got a half swamped boat through the surf onto a steep shingle beach. With the help of members of the Elmer sands Boat Club I got it above the high water level and on an even keel. I slept in the boat again that night after making a telephone call home, and next morning spread out all the wet clothing, charts, bedding etc, to dry in the sun.
During the morning I met several club members, the commodore and secretary and,
to my surprise, a colleague from the Government Laboratory, there on holiday. My wife arrived with some clean dry clothes, more food and some caustic comments on
the peculiar way in which some people 'enjoy themselves'. I thanked her and presented her with the long suffering outboard to take home.
By 4 pm I was afloat once more, dry and re-provisioned. The tide was flooding eastward against an easterly wind (force 4-5) and it took the best part of twelve hours hard beating before I could enter Littlehampton Harbour. The water in the entrance was turbulent and the wind fickle but the tide eventually carried me through into quieter waters where I could lower the gaff before passing up river under the old toll-bridge. Gliding gently upstream I eventually caught sight of Arundel castle glowing in the setting sun and anchored for the night near Ford. With the tent up and a hot supper disposed of I climbed happily into a dry sleeping bag and by 10.10 was fast asleep.
About midnight I landed with a thump in the bottom of the boat. Although anchored well away from the bank I was aground on the steeply sloping and surprisingly rocky river bed. There was little I could do but keep my fingers crossed, move as little as possible and make the best of my new sleeping place.
Next morning we were afloat again, luckily undamaged, skylarks were singing in the clear blue sky and fishermen watched me from the river bank. It was a long hard row after breakfast before I could hoist sail again below the bridge and not until 11.30 did I leave the harbour with a fair easterly force 2-3 wind. It was sunny and much warmer with a following wind. With the sails goose winged the boat almost sailed herself on a 210° course, passing Bognor about 1.15 p.m. and Selsey lifeboat at its moorings soon after 2.30.
Rounding Selsey Bill soon after, at nearly low water, it was surprising to see people paddling apparently far out at sea. Passing through a series of little tide rips I set course (285°) for Ryde Church just visible in the distance. The tide gradually strengthened against me and the wind decreased until just after 7pm I began to row the last two or three miles, past Ryde Pier and eventually as the sun set, into Wooten Creek - a most enjoyable day's sailing.
During the night I took the ground again but it was soft mud and the boat remained upright. In the morning I was awakened by a large inquisitive swan who insisted on sharing my breakfast.
By 9.30 a light easterly breeze was carrying me up toward Calshot but it was such a lovely day that I decided to follow the Island coast past Cowes, pausing at Gurnard Bay to 'phone home then on, close into Thopness Bay, over Salt Wead Ledges and eventually up into Newtown Creek where I lunched, anchored near the bird sanctuary.
At 3pm I left and taking advantage of the early east-going flood tide, came across to the mainland near Beaulieu Spit, then, reaching up past Stansore Point, rounded Calshot Beacon about 5pm and slowly came up past the vast bulk of Esso Spain unloading at Fawley to reach Netley foreshore at almost exactly 6pm - a round trip of rather more than 120 miles, some of it rather exciting, some frankly frightening but all of it thoroughly enjoyable - in retrospect.
N.B. 'Babette' is an 11ft Gull dinghy, with built in buoyancy compartments at each end, gunter rig and fitted with side benches which unfold to form a sleeping platform. An air bed and sleeping bag are slung underneath in a rubber canoe bag. The tent is a converted army 'bivvy' slung from the gaff lowered to horizontal and supported at the stern. We showed the boat at Crystal Palace earlier this year in the C.C.P.R. Conference.
many thanks for taking the time to find this article and send it to me. My tardy response is due to the birth of our 6th grandchild and consequent support duties! All very enjoyable.
I hadn't thought of folding bed platforms so that's helpful. Reassuring too to read of the 'frequent bailing' as my gull tends to ship water in lumpy waves so it's obviously a feature! Encouraging to read and stimulating - can't wait to get the boat set up. Though I'll have to until my tennis elbow has recovered - shades of ageing.
Thanks again John.
There is a dedicated Gull dinghy web page and blog , I am sure that a thread there would bring you lots of good advise from the hard core gull cruisers .
Do a google search for gull dinghy forum. HTH
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