I’d called the lock keeper at Chichester on the VHF the previous evening and he was estimating we might clear the channel outside the marina by 1100. We were listening to the radio during the morning and trying to assess if they’d be a massive queue to contend with as well. So we slipped our moorings at around 1055 and were next into the lock.
Outside the marina, there was no where near enough water over the channel to cover our draft and we got some great advice from someone else waiting on the pontoon. He had a 1.9m draft, worked at the marina, kept his boat there and reckoned on the water coming up past a peculiar mark on the fourth pile being his ‘go point’. Who were we to argue? As we slipped from the waiting pontoon we reading zero under the keel and we could just feel it dragging through the mud the whole way out.
With the wind behind us, and the prospect of more dinghies racing, we sailed out with just the jib out – no pointing in adding risk to gybes under pressure and we made good way even against the rising tide. We hoisted the main sail just by The Winner and once out of the harbour set sail for the submarine barrier. We were almost on a dead run so set a gybe preventer and trimmed the sails as best we could giving the variable winds. A good proportion of our trip was engine assisted as we didn’t want to miss our return cut off at 1700 – we’d only left the harbour at 1330.