Detail of previous book-a-berth trips
(what actually happened)

April

Easter cruise

Departed Thursday evening
Returned Monday afternoon

After a hearty dinner at the Castle Tavern on Thursday evening, we all gathered on our yacht for a safety demo and a brief on the plans for the weekend. It was already after 11, but the weather looked good for an overnight sail, so by midnight we had prepared ourselves and the boat and slipped her lines to head off. There was little traffic around at this time and in a peaceful Portsmouth Harbour we raised full main and then motored out past the lights of Southsea. There was little wind, which made for a calm sea and we were able to take in the sights of the Eastern Solent at night. At Bembridge we started our watch pattern and half the crew went below to get some sleep. As we motored south, the sky darkened as a rain shower past over. In the distance, one of the crew spotted the lights of a ship in the first shipping lane, that stayed on a constant bearing. We made a small course change and soon enough the lights of the ship started to move past. We past about a mile behind her huge stern and carried on track – 200º was planned to take us all the way. The skipper dosed on deck, but stayed on watch all night, whilst at 3 am one of the crew called down to wake the off-watch group. Unfortunately he had forgotten the clocks were on UTC and they should have had another hours sleep! The dawn light seemed to come very early and by mid Channel the wind had picked up sufficiently for the boat to sail. She made nearly 7 knots and it was a good feeling to have the peace of no engine, but still making good progress. With a mile or so to go, the wind dropped again and we motored in to Cherbourg at around midday. The crew split up on the Friday afternoon to explore the town, buy some souvenirs and to get some rest. On Friday night we all met up for a meal in a lovely French restaurant. It was particularly nice to have four French nationals on board, some of them visiting Cherbourg for the first time. I think we got better service in the restaurant and international relations were definitely improved.On Saturday morning we had gentle start and slipped our lines at about 10. We had the engine off before we left the harbour and tacked west keeping close in to the shore. Although the main tide was running East, the inshore eddy helped us on our way and by noon we approached Cape de la Hague. The tide had turned by now and our ground speed increased all the time. Off the Cape, the wind against tide made the sea a little choppy, but our novice helm (one of the French girls), did a really good job of keeping the boat steady and we sped off into the Alderney Race. The wind dropper as we turned south and despite the strong tide, the sea flattened out completely. The skipper went below to put on lunch and after half an hour or so we all ate a meal on deck of chicken in honey and mustard with rice. By late afternoon the wind had not picked up, but the tide was soon to turn again and we motored once more. Crossing one shallow bank, the tide caused some distinctive standing waves, but the boat was not phased and we were soon spat out the other side of the choppy water in to the calm again. Approaching Guernsey, the sun came out at last and navigating between the rocks in to the Little Russell Channel was fantastic. In the distance we could see a cruise liner anchored outside the harbour and various other boats of all sizes coming and going. The sea had a blue look to it and we definitely felt as though we were somewhere more exotic. We were overtaken by one of the huge Fast Ferries before we entered the outer harbour and made our way past the moored fishing boat to one of the waiting pontoons. A friendly harbour master told us where to go and supplied Customs declaration forms for us to fill in as we were of course outside ‘Europe’. We waited for about an hour in the outer harbour, just in time to have a cup of tea and watch the other boats arriving. Then the green light announced that there was enough water to cross the sill into the quaint inner harbour where we made fast on the outside of a beautiful 50 foot yacht. And so were had time to have a quick look around the town get a welcome shower and make ourselves ready for another superb meal ashore.On Sunday we had a change of skipper and Gordon arrived early in the morning to replace Martin. One of the French girls Katia also had to leave us later that day and she considered whether she could catch a plane in Alderney, or whether she would have to stay in Guernsey. In the end she stayed with the boat and we set of for Alderney via the Swinge Channel. There wasn’t enough wind to sail, but the combination of engine and tied meant we were in Alderney by 2 pm and there was already a water taxi waiting to take Katia ashore. Gordon had also organised a taxi to whisk her off to the tiny airport and the last we heard was that she had made it in good time. As we arrived early, we pumped up the dinghy and went ashore under our own steam to explore the island. As we decided on an early departure on Monday, we put the dinghy away in the evening and used the water taxi for our last meal ashore at the First and Last restaurant. The sea air must have been developing appetites as huge portions of crab were devoured.On returning to the boat, there was time for only an hour’s sleep before we set off just after midnight. The wind was still light and we motored gently north. On the way were able to cook ourselves a full English breakfast mid-Channel including black pudding and has browns that even the French enjoyed. We were beginning to think this was the end of our adventure, but as we approached the northern shipping lane there was some vibration from the engine that caused Gordon some concern. Out of gear the engine seemed smooth, so it seemed like we might have caught something around the prop, but it was difficult to know for sure. We sailed very slowly north and called Sea Start for some advice. They despatched a high speed boat to our aid, including a diver ready to inspect the prop. After only a minute underwater, he confirmed that the prop was clear and in the absence of wind it was decided that we should have a tow. So we set off again, this time due north to the nearest port in Poole. By mid afternoon we approached harbour and the harbour master kept the town bridge open for us to pass through and in to Cobbs Quay where we finally took up a berth on one of the Hammerheads. Gordon organised transport back to our cars in Gosport, although those that came by train found the service back to London was just as quick from Poole. And so it was a different end to the weekend. Only four days had seemed a lot longer as packed so much in to our time. The whole crew had been a great bunch and we all parted as friends as well as shipmates.PS the problem turned out to be a small air leak into the fuel line which caused the engine to run rough when under load. It was soon fixed and the boat returned on Thursday for the first round of Fastnet Training the following weekend.

 

Here’s the answer to our newsletter quiz.
This picture which looks like a yacht in the Med in summer.
Was actually taken in the Solent on 7 December!! 

Late Gamble cruise – November

Departed Friday evening
Returned Sunday afternoon

Once again the weather had looked promising and the decision not to cross the Channel was a tough one (later forecasts of severe gale force 9 proved it to be the right one however). So on the Friday evening after dinner ashore, we set off for a night sail to Cowes. There was enough wind to have an excellent sail without making it too rough and with the tide in our favour also, we arrived in West Cowes in very good time. The new cockpit canopy was raised turning the cockpit in to a very comfortable cabin for the skipper and first mate Richard. Everyone settled down to a peaceful night with extra space as a result of having two ‘up top’.The plan was to make the most of the next day and depart at dawn. So it was that the alarm went at 6:30 and we slipped our lines soon after first light. We were bound for Lymington, but planned to sail the wrong way i.e. right round the island. This rather longer passage was to make up for the cancelled Channel trip and to give us a taste of the Channel side of the Island. Winds weren’t strong initially and there was a unfavourable tide, so we motor sailed until we rounded Bembridge Ledge buoy. From there on we sailed with conditions varying from flat calm off Sandown (where we enjoyed some bacon rolls), to quite choppy once past St Catherine’s point. At this point we overtook another yacht and settled down to a bit of a race for the next ½ hour before they bore away out to sea. As we headed up towards the Needles, it had been a long time since brunch, and the decision was made to head inshore to anchor for lunch. Freshwater Bay was a new destination for everyone as it is not really sheltered in the prevailing south westerly winds, but the northerly we had would make it very suitable. It stayed choppy as we dropped the main and motored in closed and closer to the bay, but finally the sea flattened and as we anchored in 5m, there was only a bit of residual swell. After a lunch of chicken in honey and mustard sauce with rice and peas, the squalls that had threatened the sky in the morning had moved away and the sun had come out. So with little wind we motored around the Needles passing as close to the wreck as we dare. Then once again the wind picked up and we stormed up the Needles Channel before arriving in Lymington just before sunset.Overnight it was very cold, but the snow never arrived, just heavy rain. The plan to have a lie in on Sunday morning followed by a late breakfast worked perfectly and when we left just before 12 the heavy rain had stopped and the sun was out again. The wind had also picked up and although we never experienced a F9, it did touch gale force. But we were on a broad reach to get back and with two reefs in the main and some Genoa we maintained a very healthy speed. In fact the boat got quicker and quicker until on one surf we touched 13.4 knots which is apparently the quickest ever achieved on this boat. At this point the decision was made to reduce canvas slightly as the ride was getting just a little too wild. So it was made a very quick passage along the whole Solent and entered the harbour only about 3 hours after leaving Lymington. After taking on fuel we put the boat on her berth, tidied up and said our goodbyes. Once again a weekend of extremes and new experiences for all. 

Early Gamble cruise – October

Departed Friday evening
Returned Sunday afternoon

The weather was peaceful on Friday night, but gales were forecast for 24 hours later, so the skipper confirmed that we would not be crossing the Channel as planned. However we were keen to leave that night, so at about 10 after a safety brief, we headed out of Portsmouth Harbour to motor up the Solent towards Cowes. For those that were new to sailing, the trip at night was an exciting start to the weekend. We moored in West Cowes and settled down to a peaceful night, disturbed only by the wash that seems to invade Cowes Yacht Haven every morning at about 5.Four hours later we were up and ready to set off, still with virtually no wind. As we sailed down the western Solent, the wind picked up slowly, but the tide was doing most of the work taking us on our way. This all changed once we were through Hurst narrows and things got a lot more lively. We could see some breakers off the Needles and the skipper took the helm as we entered the rough stuff. It was uncomfortable and exhilarating at the same time. We battled on, passing a small yacht surfing past the other way. It was a little calmer further out, but crossing Christchurch and Poole Bays was still a lively trip and too much for one of the crew. We were all happy that there wasn’t the whole of the English Channel to cross. As we headed in to the lee of the land, things finally calmed down again and we anchored in Studland Bay for a cuppa and to clean up the boat. Our poorly crewman was still a little worse for wear and cold from lying on the wet side deck, so as he headed down to bed, we upped anchor and headed in to harbour.At Poole Yacht Haven we were allocated a tight berth, but the skipper reversed in and the inexperienced crew did an excellent job getting the lines ashore. We put up a canopy over the cockpit, doubled up the lines and plugged in the heating to make the boat really cosy inside. Everyone enjoyed a shower either ashore or on the boat and by 8 pm we were ready to hit the town for a meal. Most of the restaurants were fully booked, including one where only one table had anyone seated, but we eventually found space at an Italian where an excellent meal was enjoyed by all. That night, the boat surged against its lines as the wind became the gale that had been forecast and it howled in the rigging. Inside we were comfortably tucked up in our bunks.Next morning the wind was still strong and the thought of venturing out of the harbour was not very appealing. But quite suddenly the wind dropped to almost nothing and after a full English breakfast cooked on board, we motored out of the harbour and set off back across Poole bay with just the swell left over from earlier. It took about two hours to motor to the North Channel and back through Hurst Narrows with the waves declining all the time.Back in the Solent the sea was quite calm and we raised full sail for a downwind run. Gradually the tide turned in our favour and we switched off the engine for the rest of the journey. As dusk started to fall, we arrived back in Gosport, tidied up the boat and said our goodbyes. The contrast from the lively upwind sailing of Saturday to the calm downwind sailing of Sunday had been quite extraordinary.

Late summer cruise to Weymouth – September

Departed Friday evening
Returned Sunday afternoon

Traffic was bad on Friday evening, so by the time we had eaten and got ourselves ready to leave, it was already 10 o’clock. The decision was made to stop at Cowes, rather than push on to Lymington, not least because of the huge tides. En route we had a great sail in the peace of the night with just a few large ships to keep us company. Next morning we had a relatively leisurely departure around 9 and headed west down the Solent. The adverse tide and light winds made slow progress, even under spinnaker, but once in to Christchurch Bay, we started to pick up speed and by the time we got to Anvil Point, the tide was now sweeping us along at up to 10 knots. As it was calm, the skipper cooked dinner on the go and as we sat down to eat the sun came out to join us. The Jurassic coast was a spectacular as ever and the entrance to Lulworth, appearing from nowhere in the cliffs was quite extraordinary. Once again the huge tides made it impossible to anchor, but it was interesting to see so much of the cove exposed. Onwards to Weymouth, we passed by a ship at anchor in the bay and then threaded our way through a couple of racing fleets, before entering the harbour. It was picturesque as usual, but far busier than expected, as we nipped on to the fuel pontoon with 0.1m under the keel. With full tanks, we slipped around to the bridge waiting pontoon and moored next to another boat that had come down from Scotland. On the stroke of 6, the bridge opened and we made our way through to the B hammerhead in the marina, still with the depth alarm sounding less than 1m. After a relaxing drink on board and some maintenance tasks completed, we got showered and changed before walking in to town. The Ship seemed promising for a meal and everyone seemed to enjoy their meal. Some of the guests went back to the boat, whilst the rest of use walked to the sea front to see the promenade. We had a quick drink, but the sea air had worn us out and we soon made our way back to the boat for a relatively early night. Next morning we were up early to catch the 8 am bridge, accompanied by about a dozen local fishing tripper boats. Once outside the shelter of the marina, the increased wind became clear and with a reef in the mainsail, we headed out into a lumpy sea. With Easterly winds against a strong West going tide, the skipper decided we should head well outside the St Albans ledge and it was a long slog virtually in to wind. After we tacked, the tide had really picked up and we were swept East once more at up to 10 knots. It was a nasty head sea and we were all glad when the Needles Channel came in to view. As we turned at the Needles, one of the Royal Navy carriers past by, the first time the skipper had seen a large naval ship leave the Solent at the western end. What an amazing difference it was to be in the lee of the Island. The sea was now flat calm and the skipper went below to start cooking lunch. As we approached Hurst Castle, the engine had to go on to make progress against the full ebb tide. Luckily the 75hp Volvo was able to make progress, albeit slow, whilst some smaller yachts were swept out with no say about it. So we picked up a buoy at Yarmouth and eat a full cooked breakfast. After this much wanted nourishment, we all felt better and proceeded to motor sail back up the Solent. It was a slog punching the tide and we needed full horsepower to make progress. So it was that we arrived back at around 7 after 11 hours at sea. Everyone’s hair looked a mess and we were all tired, but with a sense of achievement for getting so far in what were quite challenging conditions.

 

Bank Holiday Cruise to Alderney – August

Departed Thursday evening
Returned Sunday afternoon

We arrived on Friday evening around 6 and met the skippers Phil and Steve. As 18 people were coming, we were allocated berths on one of the two identical yachts and we settled in with a welcome cuppa. The evening was quite relaxing as we waited for everyone to arrive and we had a few drinks and a meal in the local pub. After a surprisingly peaceful night (you wouldn’t know we were on a boat), we were up at 7 to get some breakfast and by 8 we were ready to go. We motored out past the Isle of Wight and the sea was flat calm. Unfortunately this was because there was no wind and, after an hour of drifting under sail, we had to put the engine back on to make some progress. It stayed like this all the way across the Channel, but the boat was pretty quick and by late afternoon the Island’s lighthouse came in to view. An hour later and we entered the harbour behind the impressive Victorian breakwater to pick up one of the visitors moorings.Yachts in Alderney harbour
On Saturday evening we got the dinghy’s out and motored ashore in groups of 4. We had been joined by two other Solent Sail yachts that were part of the ‘flotilla’ so in total there was nearly 30 people that made their way to the First & Last restaurant. The atmosphere was special as promised and the food excellent.
On Sunday we went back ashore and walked up the single road to the town. Some people stopped for tea, whilst the more energetic continued to look around more of the island.
After an early night, I was up very early on Monday morning to do start the passage home with some night sailing. Half the crew had chosen to sleep in, but it was a worthwhile experience to leave the harbour in the dark. With a light southerly breeze, we flew the spinnaker for a while, but once again we had to switch on the engine to make progress. The people on the trip were an interesting and varied bunch with varying level’s of experience from Novice to Yachtmaster. I certainly learnt a few things from the skipper as he was a qualified instructor and I would definitely have a go at sailing to Alderney on my own next time, or perhaps as part of a Solent Sail flotilla.

Round the Island Race – June

Departed Thursday evening
Returned Sunday afternoon

Solent Sail had a total of 10 boats entered in the race this year and the logistics of getting boats, skippers, crew and, in some cases, food together was quite an exercise. On one of our Bavaria 46s, five of the crew joined the skipper on board the boat in Gosport on the Thursday and then we all went for a meal in the Castle Tavern. Early next morning the remaining 3 arrived and after a safety brief we started learning about the black art of flying a spinnaker. Even in port with an imaginary sail, it was quite involved, but after a shower had passed, we set off in to the Solent to try it for real. The wind was quite strong and so we started by practicing tacking whilst making progress upwind. By lunchtime we were at Osborne Bay and we anchored with our kedge, the main having been left behind for the race. After lunch the wind had dropped just enough to get the spinnaker up, but dip pole gybing was still tricky and we hadn’t really mastered it when it was time to call it a day. We motored to Port Hamble marina where berths had been booked for most of the fleet and we found our spot next to our sister ship Lady Nadia. When everyone was ready we made our way to Boomerang’s restaurant where the garden had been set aside for our use. Within an hour or so, nearly 70 people were enjoying a special Barbeque and the pre-race party atmosphere. The early start meant we headed back to the boat just after 10 and we were in bed asleep by 11. Even so it was all too early when the alarm went at 3.The dawn was very pretty and we had a light breakfast before getting dressed for sea. At half past 4, Lady Nadia headed out for her start at 5:30 in the IRC class. Although we were on a similar boat, our ISC rating meant that we started 10 minutes later at 5:40. Even so, by the time we had made our way out with the many other boats, there was little time waiting before the gun. We crossed the line a minute or two later with the skipper at the helm. Looking down the Solent there was nothing to be seen but sails zig zaging back and forth. It was an exciting couple of hours before we passed Hurst narrows where our course allowed us to maintain a close reach to the Needles. We rounded well out so as to avoid the crush inside the wreck and then on a broad reach we raised the spinnaker in earnest. Although we were well off shore, the power of the big sail took us past many of the boats sheltering from the wind inshore. Soon after rounding St Catherine’s point, we caught Lady Nadia and maintained our lead until well after Bembridge Ledge buoy. The stretch up to the forts was exciting as we matched pace with Lady Nadia, just staying ahead. As we neared Ryde sand, we headed out a little for some deeper water but the tide was strong and we lost our lead on the boats that stayed inshore. Finally there was another phase of mad tacking as we came in for the line, ultimately finishing at 24th in our class of 47. As we motored in to Cowes, the chances of finding a berth seemed slim, but the skipper timed it right for use to get a great spot alongside the pontoon. We ate on board and then walked in to town to check the results and savour the atmosphere. A great day! Thanks to our operations manager and all the Solent Sail skippers for there hard work this weekend.

Jurassic Coast Cruise to Weymouth – May

Departed Gosport Friday evening
Returned Sunday afternoon

With bad traffic on the M25, some of the crew arrived fairly late on Friday evening, but by 8 we were all set with wet weather gear fitted, safety brief completed and in most cases food having been eaten. First stop was to the fuel pontoon to fill up and then with the sun having just set, we set off out of the harbour. The plan was flexible, we would see how far we got before people got tired and then we would stop for the night. The winds were light, but we made good progress motor sailing westwards and at Cowes the consensus was to continue. So it was around 1 am that we slipped quietly in to Lymington to look for a berth. The harbour was fairly full, but we gently squeezed on to a couple of buoys near the town quay and settled down for the night. Next morning the owner of the 2nd boat in our ‘flotilla’ called to say that he was thinking twice about coming because of the poor weather forecast. HChapmans Poole had an inexperienced crew and made the right call to stay local. So just after 9 we departed in to a glorious sunny morning. The wind was just aft of the beam so we raised the spinnaker and headed down towards the Needles. As we approached them, the wind increased and shifted to the extent that the spinnaker had to come down. It had only been up for 10 minutes, but it was nice to see it. However we maintained speed with the fresher wind and were soon across Poole Bay passing several boats on the way. St Albans ledge was fairly quite as we rounded using the inshore passage and then we turned in to Chapman’s Pool to anchor for lunch of shepherds pie.

An hour later we set off again and made progress west stopping to try some man overboard drills under sail. As time was getting on and there was little wind, we motored the last few miles to reach Weymouth at 5 and we rafted on the waiting pontoon for the town bridge.At the town bridge in Weymouth

At 6 the bridge lifted and glided past the many spectators to berth neatly in the visitors area, stern to. The town was packed and we struggled to find somewhere to eat, but eventually found a nice restaurant by the bridge where we were the last customers of the evening. How the weather changed overnight and in the morning it was colder, windier and a lot wetter. The skipper cooked breakfast on board and by 9:30 we were all set to depart again. We left on the 10 o’clock bridge and raised some sail in the harbour before venturing out. The Easterly wind brought some large swells and the boat pounded through them slowly. Then the radio announced a new gale warning and we listened with anticipation whilst also turning to starboard to take shelter within Portland Harbour. The forecast included severe gale force 9 and reluctantly the skipper decided we should put back in to Weymouth. So we motored and surfed our way back to the relative peace of the harbour. The town quay was still full of boats that had stayed put, so we shot the mid-day bridge and found our old spot still free in the marina. So the rest of Sunday was spent doing the typical things you do in a sea side town when its cold, windy and wet, with a fish and chip supper to round off the day. Overnight everyone found it tough to sleep with the boat shaking from the howling wind. The force 9 was bad enough in the harbour, but at sea it would have been really tough and the skipper’s decision to stay put had certainly been the safe one.Good speed along the Dorset coast, Portland behind.

By 8 the next morning we were all up and ready again and were the second of just 2 boats heading under the bridge. The skipper of the other boat was also heading back to the Solent and we were both happy to have some company on the journey. But this time the Easterly had swung around to the promised Northerly and the sea was much kinder. Staying just a couple of miles off the cliffs, we had the best of the wind and sea conditions and made amazing progress under a triple reefed main and some jib, reaching 11 knots at one point. Even though the other boat had a 10 minute head start as we had stopped for milk, we soon tore past them and rounded St Albans head only a couple of hours after starting. A bit later we tried heaving to, so that the crew could take a comfort break, but the tide was pushing us backwards and we were glad to be back on track again. We kept up this progress all the way home with just a momentary lapse off Hurst Castle where the wind inexplicably dropped to less than 10 knots.

Ultimately we had completed the 64 miles in just 8 hours at an average of 8 knots.

Cross Channel to St Vaast – May

Departed Gosport Friday evening
Returned Sunday afternoon

Weather – North veering South East Force 7 otherwise force 3 & 4’s

Everyone arrived safely on Friday evening the crew being a mixed bunch of people, none of whom knew each other beforehand. Most had either done very little sailing before or were Day Skippers looking to extend both their cruising ground and their all important experience. The plan was to slip our berth early on the Saturday morning and head for the little fishing port of St Vaast la Hougue. This is a very beautiful French village which is well known for its fantastic local fish restaurants. None of the crew had been there before except for the skipper Phil Taylor who had been showing the secrets of this quaint little fishing port to yacht crews for several years.

The sail across the Channel was fantastic with a nice sunrise and a gentle run down-wind with a poled out Genoa and a full mainsail rigged with a preventer. This let everyone have their fair chance at steering the yacht. Later that afternoon the sun was warm and the sea state calm but unfortunately the wind had dropped off to all but nothing, so with regret the iron sail was put on and the engine helped us to close on the French coast. As we got a little closer, the predicted afternoon sea breeze increased enough to have a last fantastic sail on the final part of our journey.

The Day Skippers on board, looking to increase their navigational confidence and experience, were given the task of piloting the yacht the last few miles under the ever watchful eye of the skipper Phil. At low water St Vaast dries out for approx one mile, with mostly rock all around and no room for error. With secondary port tidal heights to calculate as well; this is the unforgiving spectacular French Coast. The entrance has a large lock which was on free-flow for our arrival. We went straight through and found a berth no problem. It was a stunning warm summers day on arrival and after showers and some welcome lunch in the cockpit it was off to find a restaurant for the evening.

If you have never sailed with Solent Sail to France or the Channel Islands and had a meal a shore with us, you should book for that reason alone! The meal served that evening was amazing!!!! Very good value and some of the best shellfish and sea food you will eat. Of course there was also a selection of good steaks and duck on the menu. Some of the crew opted for the 7 course meal at a cost of 40 Euros about £26. The French seem to get the food and atmosphere perfect. Finishing with wine on the yacht, a good evening was had by all.

Phil’s quote was “This has been one of the best kite runs I have had for at least 3 years”.

We left next day about mid morning when the earth had rotated enough to allow the tide to come in and open the lock gates a slow start being welcome after the evening before. One glass of wine too many for some perhaps, but it was still most welcome.

Once clear of the fair way we set the main and went through a spinnaker lesson, as most people onboard had never flown one before. Then it was up with kite for a very exhilarating run downhill again towards the UK. St Vaast to Bembridge taking just 7 hours. After one or two rather spectacular near broaches mid channel we dropped the kite as the wind began to build in excess of 30 knots. This was sailing that the majority of people staying in the Solent never get to experience. The picture shows us going down wind on the 46 with the masthead kit up

Arrival in Gun Warf Quays Portsmouth Harbour brought a welcome rest from the excitement, with a meal and a pint of beer to help followed by a good night’s sleep.

The next day brought us a strong fresh wind with a little bit of spray thrown in for good measure. A quick trip to windward and Cowes left us with a great sail back surfing with just the headsail up averaging speeds in excess of 11 knots all the way. Finishing at Gosport for what was a very fun, mixed and diverse long bank holiday.

 

Beaulieu Boat Jumble Cruise – April

Departed Gosport Friday evening
Returned Sunday afternoon

What great weather for April. This weekend comes close to being the all-time best for sunshine and some great sailing too. Most of the crew arrived on Friday evening and were keen to get out on the water for a refresher. We started gently in Portsmouth harbour before venturing out for an hour in the very lively approaches where ships of all shapes and sizes were coming and going almost constantly.  Safely tucked up in harbour for the night, we had a bite to eat and chatted before returning to our cabins. Next morning was a leisurely departure around 11 after the remaining crew joined the boat. With two Solent Sail instructors on board, there was plenty of one-to-one tuition. Once out of the harbour we set about getting the spinnaker up and enjoyed a great run down the Solent towards Beaulieu. The winds were very light, but there was just enough for the spinnaker to keep us going. We eat lunch on deck and as we were early, we popped in to Newtown Creek for afternoon tea. It was crowded with other yachts, but still very peaceful. An hour after low water, we set off again to cross the Solent and this time we had a great reach in a slightly fresher wind. Unfortunately this got us to our destination all too quickly, and it was soon time to put the sails down. The entry to Beaulieu was shallow and we were at the limit of our entry time, so we crept in with tension building and a minimum of 0.4m under the keel. The trip up river was far more relaxed and very pretty. Eventually we arrived at Bucklers Hard and we were directed to the pleasure pier, just 100m from the Master Builder’s Hotel. After a few drinks while watching the sunset, a shower and a change of clothing, we walked up the Yachtsman’s pub for a great meal. We were woken from a peaceful night’s sleep by the sun shining in and after breakfast we headed up to the marina office to catch the free bus the jumble. At Beaulieu, we were dropped by the entrance and walked in 20 minutes before the start so that we were ready to catch the bargains at 10. Between us we bought various books, fishing equipment, two spinnakers and a jet ski. Then at 4 we returned to the boat for the journey home. The late tide meant that we could not cross the bar until 6, so we sat in the cockpit, and socialised with other boat crews whilst we waited. At about 5, several yachts cast off and proceeded in a slow procession down river. The floor was just staring to cover the bank when we reached the mouth and it was another tense moment as we crossed the bar with 0.3m under us this time. As it was late and the wind was till Easterly, we had no choice but to motor, but we made short work of the journey with nearly 10 knots ground speed. Once again we had some food on the go as we enjoyed another beautiful sunset. Finally it was back in to Portsmouth in time to catch the 8 o’clock train after a really great weekend.

Easter Cruise – April

Departed Gosport Thursday
Returned Monday afternoon

Log by skipper – Phil Taylor
Over Easter, Solent Sail organised a Rally aimed towards taking a small fleet of yachts over to France then on to the Channel Islands before returning back to UK. The yachts that joined us ranged from 30 foot to 46 foot, the majority of the yachts were bareboat skippered by RYA Day skippers. Upon arrival on the Thursday evening there was an informal skippers brief, of the general passage plan. One of the 46’s skippered by Phil Taylor as a lead boat was at hand throughout the whole weekend to help out with the next part of the passage plan or any issues that the bareboats had during the trip. Leaving on Friday morning we slipped early and headed for Cherbourg. With light NE winds it was a gentle sail, although by the afternoon the wind had dropped off and we had to use the engine for the final part of the passage. A great meal was had by all after the normal drinks in the Yacht Club on arrival. On the Saturday we made for Guernsey where some of the yachts had a fantastic spinnaker run all the way from the western entrance of Cherbourg’s huge harbour right through the Alderney Race and the Little Russell (the channel between Sark, Herm and Guernsey). For those that wanted some late night dancing, the delights of the Elvis Bar, the Red Onion and Club Barbados were on offer and fun was had by all. The next part of the voyage was planned to go to Alderney for a meal at the First and Last (Rita the owner being as welcoming as ever). Unfortunately due to the NE winds that we had, it would have made Alderney’s harbour the most uncomfortable anchorage or place to pick up a buoy. The forecast was that it was due to back to W or SW, so we asked everyone if they would like to spend another day in or around Guernsey or the Channel Islands or make for Weymouth on a good NE wind. Then hopefully if the weather had been forecast correctly, the SW wind would take us back to the Solent. The latter was decided and on arrival in Weymouth it was fish and chips all round with a pint in a local pub which had some live Irish music playing.


Log by crew/guest –
Peter Clarke
We were due to leave for Cherbourg at 5.00am Good Friday.

I was late leaving London and arrived at Gosport just before 1.00am with my party of three young lads, Dhani (19), Ben (17) and my son Chris (14). Phil our skipper was still able to guide us to our boat even though it was so late / early. We quickly settled into our berths for a short sleep before our early start.
A few short hours later and we’re back up at 5.00am for a few last checks and a full safety brief from our skipper Phil. We cast off and set off for Cherbourg. We put up full sails before leaving the port and were given a commentary on the naval boats in dock.
Our crew consisted of: Phil, his partner Corinne, John, Martin, Dhani, Ben, Chris and I, providing a full range of abilities, with day skippers, coastal skippers, yacht master theory, and a couple of lads who were experiencing their first time on the water. A choice was given as to how involved each member of the crew became with navigation skills, sail handling and helming. If you wanted to get involved you could, and likewise if you wanted to sit back and relax while letting others take control this was no problem. The boys even managed to watch a DVD while mid-channel.

Little wind on the way across meant we spent a lot of time with the ‘Iron Sail’ up. With the 75hp engine we were able to make a good speed. We arrived in Cherbourg with visibility down to a couple of hundred yards. We took our berth next to our sister ship, another Bavaria 46. Close by were the rest of our fleet including Fine Lady and Touche. Drinks ashore in the yacht club were followed by a fantastic meal at a French restaurant away from the tourist trail.
The spinnaker looking even cooler!!
The following day brought about the best sailing of the trip (if not the year). An exhilarating spinnaker run down to Guernsey, round Cap de La Hage, through the Alderney Race and into Little Russell. Everybody was involved and Phil gave excellent instruction to those who had never had a spinnaker up before. Even the young lads were able to get involved, poling up and down, and helming on the most difficult point of sail. Due to our advantage with the spinnaker we arrived in St Peters Port well ahead of the rest of the fleet. We waited a couple of hours for the tide before we could enter the inner harbour and take our berth for the evening. Drinks ashore in an array of St Peter’s Ports bars, pubs and clubs rounded off a superb day.

With North Easterlies still forecast it was decided to abandon plans for a visit to Braye in Alderney, and we opted for a sail back across the channel to Weymouth taking advantage of the North Easterly winds. Fish and chips on arrival at Weymouth, followed by a quick trip to the pub before last orders.

Monday morning we left Weymouth, winds were slight and visibility was poor to begin with, so we took advantage of tides in our favour and the power of the strong engine as we followed the Jurassic coast, crossed Christchurch Bay, came through the Needles channel where dolphins were spotted, and back along the Solent to Gosport.

A great weekend had by all. Different experiences for different members of the crew; plenty of miles in the personal logs; a fantastic introduction to sailing for the young lads; the ability to sit back and relax letting someone else take charge; an introduction to spinnaker sailing; the ability and chance to make passage plans; to sail on such a well equipped boat.


Isle of Wight / Solent Cruise – November

Departed Gosport Saturday
Returned Sunday afternoon

Lunch at anchorWith Violent Storm Force 11 winds forecast for Friday night and Saturday, the chances of our leaving looked slim and the skipper made ready with extra fenders and lines for a lively night in the marina. As it happened, the winds didn’t reach more than Gale Force 8 overnight and by midday on the Saturday it was turning in to a nice day and it looked like we could go after all. Text messages were sent to retrieve those that had used the delay as an opportunity to go shopping in Gunwharf Quay, and by 3 o’clock we had our full compliment of 5 on board. As we set off there was a brief squall with hailstones and gusty winds that made us think perhaps we should have stayed put after all and done some more shopping. But the weather soon passed and late afternoon sunshine followed the rain. With moderate wind and making good speed, we settled down to enjoy the ride making 7 knots to windward. As the sun set, the moon and stars made for a spectacular evening made even more so by the lightning flashes from distant thunderstorms. All too soon we arrived at Cowes and dropped the sails to find our berth. The skipper reversed us in to the largely empty South Basin of Cowes Yacht Haven, reflecting the decision of most sailors to stay at home this weekend. An hour or so later we went to the skipper’s favourite restaurant Mojacs where we had a great meal disturbed only by the intermittent hysterical laughter of one lady at the next table. Then it was back to the boat and a night cap before bed. Early next morning there was some drama when the bow line came adrift, but no damage was done and we had a most enjoyable breakfast with time also to explore the town. It was late morning before we set off and the weather was actually remarkably warm and sunny.  There were no gales although it was rather gusty and this made for a lively ride home. All in all, a most enjoyable sail, rescued out of what could so easily have been a cancelled weekend altogether!


Gamble Cruise Cherbourg or Local – September

Departed Gosport Friday evening
Returned Sunday afternoon

With some disappointment we heard that the weather forecast wasn’t brilliant so the gamble meant that Cherbourg was ruled out by the skipper. After a good meal on board we set off quite late and there were some doubts amongst the crew about the need to cancel Cherbourg as to the sea was calm. However as we approached Cowes, a squall hit that soaked us all and made us think the skippers decision may have been correct. In East Cowes overnight there was very heavy rain, but it was cosy being tucked up in the boat. Next morning dawned bright and sunny and we set off amongst a group of racing yachts hoisting full sail. The Beken photo launch came by and took some pictures and we wondered if they thought we were in the race. We made good progress down the Solent and out through the North channel in to Christchurch bay. It was lot more choppy without the protection of the Isle of Wight, but one of our novice crew members nevertheless did a great job making some bacon rolls for brunch. With the building wind we were soon entering Poole and managed to get a berth in the Town marina. Some of the crew had been on a previous trip and were already friends, so we had a great meal together in Topo Gigios. Back on board the wind picked up overnight and howled through the rigging. In the morning we had the traditional cooked breakfast before contemplating departure. There was some nervousness since it was blowing hard and gales were forecast for later. The skipper discussed the situation with another skipper and the decision was made to go. It was difficult enough to get the boat out of its berth and to put the main up, so we wondered what we were in for at sea. The entrance channel to Poole wasn’t bad as it was sheltered by the land to the south and west, but as we turned East and made our way across Poole Bay, the wind gusted to 40 knots and the waves built to several feet high. Thanks to Tony for steering us through – the blister on his hands were testament to the work involved. The most exciting part was when we turned to run along the coast near Hurst Castle, almost within a stones through of the waves crashing on the beach. We powered through Hurst Narrows and in to the calmer water of the Solent. Our speed with wind and tide sweeping us along, meant that we were passing Cowes in no time at all and we turned in to Osborne bay to anchor for a late lunch alongside our sister ship Lady Nadia that was already anchored there. After lunch we both departed to sail back to Gosport and on the way we touched 11½ knots through the water, the fastest yet. Once inside the harbour we dropped sails and reversed back in to our berth to end an extremely exhilarating weekend.


Late summer Cruise to Weymouth – September

Departed Gosport Friday evening
Returned Sunday afternoon

Departing Weymouth with the bridge upWhat a great weekend weather wise. It was hotter than Spain and everyone came back with a sun tan. We departed Gosport quite late on Friday evening for a night sail along the Solent. As we turned downwind it was obvious that the wind was stronger than expected and the boat charged forward. We briefly turned in to the wind to adjust the sails and the noise of the wind was deafening. With the benefit of the big spring tide as well, it wasn’t long before we were approaching Lymington and we entered on a very low tide. In the harbour it was very peaceful and with the time now well after midnight, we quietly picked up a mooring buoy and settled down for the night. Next morning we inflated the dinghy for a trip ashore. Unfortunately the new outboard didn’t want to play ball and it spluttered to a stop leaving us to row the short distance to the Town Quay. Shopping done, we re boarded the yacht and set off for our sail west. It was sunny but still quite breezy and with goose winged sails we made good progress. As usual, St Albans ledge provided some lively entertainment for 5 minutes as the boat crashed through the waves and then we rounded the corner to Chapman’s Pool. A combination of swell, wind and shifted sands on the bottom meant that it was difficult to find a good anchorage spot. So reluctantly we departed and continued west to eat lunch on the move. This meant that we arrived at Weymouth a little earlier and some of the crew were able to visit the shops while we waited at the lifting bridge for the 6 o’clock lift. Once through we made our way to the visitors section of the marina and reversed in to a nice corner spot. The evening was spent at an excellent restaurant where the crew chatted as though they had known each other for years. Some people opted for a stroll along the prom before retiring. Next morning the skipper cooked breakfast on board and after a quick clean up we departed in time for the 10 o’clock bridge. We all had digital cameras and were snapping so many photos, we must have looked like a bunch of tourists. With little wind and a flat sea, we set out across Weymouth bay under engine. Astern we admired the Portland rescue helicopter hovering over a powerboat, until it suddenly accelerated forward and hovered just to port of our boat. A board saying 73 in large letters was held up at the open door and the skipper went down to use the radio on that channel. They wanted to practice a high-line transfer and the skipper took up a position to catch the line. The winch man came down next in his bright orange boiler suit and we hauled him on board. After a brief chat with the skipper, he was yanked out of the boat and headed up again exercise over. It was quite an experience. Excitement over, we made good progress East with the powerful engine crossing Poole bay in no time. There wasn’t much wind so we enjoyed the sunshine, the company and the food that kept on coming until we arrived back in Gosport in time for tea.


Jurassic Coast Cruise to Weymouth – July

Departed Gosport Friday evening
Returned Sunday afternoon

Guests arrived on Friday evening as usual. One person was understandably a little nervous as she hadn’t sailed much before and I guess she didn’t know what to expect. She had been in two minds whether to go or not, but on seeing the boat, she was inspired to give it a try. The crew for the second boat came down together and didn’t arrive until quite late. Some people went ashore to eat and others had spaghetti Bolognese cooked on board by one of the skippers. By the time everyone got to bed it was well after midnight. The alarm went at 5:30 the next day and we got the boat ready for sea. There was no sign of life on the other boat, but they had got back from the restaurant much later and we wondered if they would go somewhere less ambitious. We departed Portsmouth harbour with few other boats around, but the Easterly wind started pushing us along nicely as we rounded Gilkicker Point. After a few minutes, we got a call from the skipper of the other boat to say that they were up and ready to go and would try and catch us under engine. We therefore kept a leisurely pace going until near Newtown Creek where the other boat caught up. We had rigged the spinnaker at this point, which increased our speed considerably to match that of the other boat with its engine still on. Unfortunately as we turned to port at Hurst, the wind shifted and rather than getting our novice crew to gybe the spinnaker, we put it away and continued under white sails. Christchurch and Poole bays were a little choppy, but the wind was astern and we made good progress under goose-winged sails with the Genoa poled out. Ahead we saw a line of white water off St Albans ledge, the anticipation of which was quite exciting. We kept well inshore to miss the worst of it, but it was still quite a lively few minutes until the wind and tide spat us out the other side at up to 12 knots. By now it was nearly lunchtime, so we hugged the coast round the point and in to Chapman’s Pool where we anchored and let Lady Nadia come alongside. After a good lunch and a trip ashore for some of the crew in the dinghy, we set off again west. Our next stop was Lulworth Cove where we stopped for tea. It was crowded with other boats and trying to pick a spot to anchor was not easy so we didn’t stop too long before heading off again. As Weymouth neared, the approach was impressive with the lump of Portland off to our left and the sweeping Weymouth beach on the right. We entered the harbour mouth with just 15 minutes to go before the 18:00 bridge lift and motored on slowly through the centre of this picturesque town. At the bridge it was too crowded to moor up, so we held station in the middle of the harbour with increasing crowds of people looking on from the quay. At exactly 6, the bridge barriers came down, the pedestrians were told to clear the footway and the two roadways started to lift like a smaller version of Tower Bridge. As we were still the closest to the bridge, we got the green light to go through first and we followed the Marina rib towards our berth. The skippers turned both boats and moored alongside and stern-to allowing us easy access on to the pontoons. It was a warm evening and the town was heaving, particularly with hen- night parties. We all managed to find somewhere to eat, although not in the same restaurant. The boats and the marina were very peaceful and made for a good night’s sleep after such a long day. Thinking about it, we had sailed virtually all the way and the two stops had broken up the journey nicely.

Next morning the skipper prepared a full cooked breakfast and after a hurried clear up, we cast off to catch the 10:00 bridge. We passed through with many other boats, mostly heading back East. Lady Nadia stopped for fuel, so we took the opportunity to pay a brief visit to Portland Harbour where we saw the new Olympic sailing centre. A dinghy race was underway so we took a wide circle and exited via the East ship channel. We set course for St Albans ledge and in the distance we could see the other boat further inshore. The wind was still light and Easterly so we had to motor to make any reasonable progress. By this time the crew were far more confident and some were sitting up at the bow. It was then suggested that it would be funny if a wave got them wet, but the sea was flat calm. However we could see once again the rough water of St Albans ledge so we altered course 10 degrees to go through some of it. Even with light winds and a neap tide, the two opposing one another made for some steep seas, and the first wave stopped the boat dead in the water. Fortunately for them, the two girls had noticed the bow of another yacht further out, disappearing completely under the water as it crashed through the waves and they thought better of staying put. It was an ‘interesting’ few minutes until once again the tide pushed us through to the calmer water. We kept motoring across Poole bay and past the Needles and Allum bay. It was about 14:00 so the skipper gave us the choice of carrying on or diverting to Newtown for a late lunch. It was a no-contest and we waved goodbye to Lady Nadia as we turned to Starboard with dinner nearly cooked. The creek was crowded, but we found a nice spot to anchor and eat dinner on deck in the hot sunshine. First one then another, we nearly all ventured in to the sea for a swim after lunch. It was cool, but refreshing. Finally we raised anchor for the final leg of our journey back to Gosport, but our timing gave us a final treat as the QE2 steamed passed us on her way to New York.


Cross Channel sailing weekend – June

Departed Friday evening
Returned late Sunday afternoon

The crew enjoying the tripGuests arrived on Friday evening after work and most people decided to eat ashore at the local pub before returning to the boat for the usual safety briefing and a demonstration of the various equipment on board. With the light evening, we lost track of time somewhat and didn’t set off until 11:50, motoring out in to a starlit and pleasantly still evening. The mainsail was raised, but there wasn’t enough wind to sail by and we continued to motor past the forts and on down the Eastern side of the Isle of Wight. As everyone’s adrenaline was flowing, nobody wanted to be the first off watch and so we retained a full compliment on deck until the Island had passed by and we could see only St Catherine’s light. and have dinner as we go watching the sunset. As night falls we will split in to a watch pattern to continue sailing through the night. Eventually some people started to go for a snooze and the skipper took a cat nap on deck leaving the more experienced crew to keep watch. With the dawn arriving, we were still only half way across, and we continued to motor until there was 20 miles left to go. The wind picked up a little and with sails just filling, we continued to make 5 knots towards France. This gentle sail was complimented by bacon rolls cooked by the skipper. As planned, we closed the French course after a great sail and we entered Cherbourg harbour around 10 just behind a giant Fastcat that we clocked at 36 knots on the radar. The marina looked busy, but there was actually plenty of room and we berthed near the end of Q pontoon next to a large Latvian racing yacht and a smaller British yacht that looked like it lived there permanently. Some of the crew disappeared to enjoy the delights of the town whilst others stayed on board for lunch, again cooked by the skipper. After little sleep that night, he caught up with some rest to wake just in time to see England loose on penalties AGAIN. Luckily we had retuned the TV to a French channel and it was rather refreshing to hear the commentary in another language. Later that evening, we all walked in to town, for a great meal in the Cafe de Paris overlooking the harbour. Three courses of great French food for 18 Euros can’t be bad. A pleasant stroll back to the boat was only interrupted by the cheering locals as their team beat Brazil. We enjoyed a circus show by the boat as they allowed one of their trapeze artists to put on a public display outside the big top, whilst suspended from underneath a Helium balloon tethered by two cables. Just when we thought she had finished, they had the idea of towing her around the marina from two ribs which was quite surreal. Despite the car horn celebrations, we all retired for a restful night’s sleep in the marina, one brave sole escaping from the heat by sleeping on deck.

Even after a reasonably early night, when the alarm goes at 4:30 the temptation is to ignore it, but by 5:21 we had a full crew on deck for the departure. Once again we motored out into a completely still morning with a glassy calm sea and a little fog. Visibility was about 200m, but the radar gave us confidence that there was nothing about and we set course of 360º for the Needles. After about 3 hours, the crew started realising that they hadn’t had much breakfast and the skipper went below to prepare a full cooked breakfast whilst keeping an eye on the radar at chart table plotter. Most of us ate together on deck whilst mid Channel and still as calm as a mil pond – quite surreal. As we settled in to the journey home, we were joined on deck by a homing pigeon that appeared to be escaping from two seagulls. It was clearly very tired as it sat on the coachroof appearing to sleep for at least ½ an hour before flying off to the East. This was quite a coincidence as apparently a bird had used the boat as a resting place in almost exactly the same place during an early trip. After this the wind picked up and we tried playing with the sails, but each time we put them up the wind dropped again. Finally the Island came in to view and the wind steadying from the Southeast, we were able to get the spinnaker flying. This made for a lively hour as we stormed along at up to 8½ knots – very exciting. We rounded the Needles lighthouse almost within spitting distance and anchored in Alum Bay around 14:15 to enjoy the shepherds pie we had put in the oven earlier. It was quite hot on Sunday afternoon and there were lots of boats anchored, but a member of our crew was the only one brave enough to go for a swim around the boat. We reluctantly brought the anchor up around 15:30 to head home. That extra hour meant that the tide had turned against us, but the engine 7½ knots and we enjoyed the sites of the Solent. Eventually we returned to Gosport at 18:30 after a long day and a very rewarding weekend.

Alderney and Cherbourg long weekend – April

 Departed Thursday
Returned Sunday

 Departing early Friday morning, we had tail winds of force 4 all the way across the Channel. Once we had rounded Bembridge Ledge, we turned off the engine to find that the spinnaker was taking us along just as fast. That was a great joy and at 8 knots we made good progress. With just a few miles to go, the wind dropped momentarily and the spinnaker wrapped around the forestay. Unable to dislodge it by sailing in circles, the skipper ascended the mast and pulled the wraps out by hand. The crew were bemused when he disappeared altogether at one point in a mass of colourful sail cloth! In Alderney we had a great meal at the First & Last restaurant, but the trip back to the yacht in the dinghy was a bit too lively as the wind had picked up and Braye harbour is fairly exposed if the wind is from the Northeast. After a less than peaceful night, the crew were still up for a full cooked breakfast on board, followed by another trip ashore to explore the town. Then at lunchtime with the tide turned, we headed out to cross the Alderney Race. Wind against the tide led to some choppy water, but the boat handled it in her stride. The only ‘interesting’ moment came when a wave decided to join the crew in the cockpit and it leapt aboard over the port side. The crew sitting on that side, now drenched, descended below to change, only to return looking a bit pale a few minutes later. Skipper was standing at the helm and saw it coming, which shows the benefit of keeping a proper watch! Once in to Cherbourg, all the excitement and cold was forgotten as we settled down to enjoy a glass of wine in the cockpit and enjoy the warmth of the setting sun. How conditions can change from sea to harbour. Another night on the town took us to an excellent French restaurant in a back street of Cherbourg, full of French people rather than tourists and you could see why – the food was nothing short of excellent. After this we all enjoyed a very peaceful night, the boat’s soundproofing dealing adequately with the nearby funfair. We were all up for a 6am departure with the dawn just breaking. Overnight the wind had dropped completely and we motored out in to a mirror like sea. Making 8 knots again, the benefit of a large Volvo was clear as it is incredibly smooth. A little later we got some wind on the beam and with the sails pulling too, we managed nearly 10 knots. So it was that we dropped anchor in Allum Bay for a late lunch at 2pm just 8 hours after leaving Cherbourg. The wind dropped again in the Solent, but we made rapid progress back to Portsmouth after a very worthwhile weekend.

Volvo Ocean Race, Race training, Round the Island race – June

Departed Thursday
Returned Sunday

RTI crew in team coloursOur team of 12 Joined the boats on Thursday 1st June in the evening  and after settling in and having a safety brief, they took a meal ashore at the Castle Tavern. On Friday we departed for a day’s race training . Our aim was to allocate jobs/positions so that we could make the best of the yacht and give everyone including newcomers confidence in what they were doing.

We returned to Portsmouth in the late afternoon in time to watch the restart of the Volvo Ocean Race on the round Britain & Ireland leg. The spectacular fleet of 70′ race yachts was quite a sight as they got going especially with a chase fleet of several hundred spectator craft churning the water behind them. They disappeared more slowly than they would have liked as the wind dropped off.

We stayed overnight in Portsmouth and after a 4 o’clock start, headed out for the Round the Island race start line off Cowes. Tactics were discussed on the way in the light of the very light weather conditions expected. The race started at 7:10 am.

As we circumnavigated the Isle of Wight under sail, the boat’s speed and collision avoidance were our priorities with 1586 other boats on the water. The most congested point at the Needles lived up to expectations, with one yacht a few yards away hitting the wreck of the Varvassi with quite a thump. The normal prevailing winds never arrived but a sea breeze kept us going under spinnaker for 3/4 of the way around. As last year the light wind and clear sky meant that after 13 hours in the sunshine we were a little pink. But there was a tremendous sense of satisfaction as we completed the race and collected another competitor’s tankard for the yacht.

 We spent the night in East Cowes and in the evening walked in to Cowes to enjoy the post race atmosphere and night life. A leisurely start on Sunday saw us cruise back to Portsmouth, stopping again in Cowes Yacht Haven for some shopping, before we enjoyed a last meal together in Gosport.


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