Following weeks of hot weather, it’s a bit disappointing for the weather to deliver a wind of force 6 to 9 and 25mm of rain overnight. However, there’s every expectation of an outbreak of sailing this evening when the rain has stopped and the wind abates.
The sun had clearly got to four frazzled Cody sailors who decided it would be a great idea to sit in an open boat in near 30-degree heat for two days. There had been an ambitious plan for some time to attempt a ‘round the island’ but with the recent light winds the plan was scaled down to a sail from Lymington to Bembridge, with an overnight stop in Bembridge, making good use of the fair tides in both directions.
Steve and Zak (Comet trio), Ged and Simon H (Storm 17) arrived at Lymington car park early on the morning of Saturday 7th July – which was just as well because there was a regatta taking place at Lymington Town Sailing club and within half an hour of arrival, the car park was jam-packed with hundreds of trailers, boats, rigging, families, dogs and grannies etc. It felt like embarkation for D day (apart from the grannies). With light airs forecast but with the possibility of building to F3 once the sea breeze kicked in, we were on the water by about 10.15. Heading out of Lymington towards Jack-in-the Box, we were greeted by the magnificent sight of 1200 or so yachts in full sail, hugging the north shore of the Isle and gradually reaching their way West through Hurst point and on to the Needles.
Keeping out of their way, we chose to sail close to the north shore which also avoided the last of the west flowing tide. Once the tide turned an hour or so later we headed out into the main channel and benefitted from a gradually strengthening tide and stiffening breeze from the SW. We were looking good for the plan to make Bembridge by 6pm, so that we could land on the beach at high tide and settle the boats using fenders before readying them to sleep on. But the best laid plans and all that….
At about 3pm and after a delightful but uneventful sail East, the wind just died. We were about a mile East of Wootton Creek and clearly not going to make Bembridge. We had a conflab. Plan B was agreed. Let’s make for Wootton Creek and see what we can find. Steve was aware of a small shingle beach just up river from the Victoria Sailing club next to the Ferry terminal and we might be able to use the club facilities. Drifting to Wootton creek took some time and Ged and Simon resorted to the auxiliary power plant (oars). When we got to Wootton creek, sadly the beach had been ‘requisitioned’ and had become part of a swanky new house with equally swanky new signs, making it strikingly clear that we were unwelcome – not swanky enough?
Ged has rigged up an amazing sleeping arrangement on his lovely (dry) Storm 17, with boom tent and beautifully engineered sleeping boards, but the Comet Trio is not really set up for sleeping aboard, unless the boat can be beached and the water drained from the hull. Although there was space on the Victoria sailing club pontoons, we decided to beat up Wootton creek in search of a suitable landing site.
Sadly, or gladly depending on your point of view, we made it all the way to the Sloop Inn by the bridge at the top of the creek but without finding a suitable overnight location.
After 6 hours in the boats we, erhm, ‘re-hydrated’ and gulped down a delicious supper at the pub and enjoyed a quick run back down to the sailing club in a rather strange, late evening, fresh southerly – a katabatic wind off the Isle perhaps? The sailing club was quiet but very welcoming and there was space on the pontoon for both boats (£1.50 per meter for the night, facilities included). I’d say that we had a good nights’ sleep but Victoria Sailing club is cheek by jowl with the Ferry terminal to Portsmouth. I hadn’t realised that it runs every two hours throughout the night, and having been the Round the Island race, there were plenty of ‘well-oiled’ sailors enjoying a late-night excursion in both directions. The 5 am ferry however, was the perfect alarm clock so that we could make our intended launch time of 6 am, and again benefit from the west flowing tide to arrive in Lymington before the tide turned foul into the Harbour.
Once out of Wootton creek and heading warily into the main channel, to avoid any possible wind shadow in Osborne bay, we were greeted by a very amiable F3 off the beam and were set for a very pleasant sail back. But this has been the summer of light airs to beat all others and after about an hour, and shortly past Cowes, the wind eased right off. In truth we got home through a combination of drifting (see left), rowing, paddling and with the occasional assistance from the slightest puff of wind. It was all very relaxing, convivial and chilled. Actually, not that chilled because as the morning wore on and the sun came up again, it soon heated up and by the time we made the slipway at Lymington, almost exactly 24 hours after setting out, it was getting decidedly warm. Once again, the carpark was crowded and we had an amusing hour or so observing various bouts of frayed tempers and carpark rage whilst de-rigging. The weekend was rounded off with a pint and a burger at the Mayflower, followed by another drink on the balcony of the Lymington Town Sailing club. All-in-all a fabulous couple of days.
What did we learn?
· The amount of fun you have in a boat is inversely proportional to its length (but we probably all know that anyway)
· Stopping overnight somewhere adds a significant amount to the sense of adventure
· Stopping overnight somewhere next to a ferry terminal subtracts a significant amount to the hours slept
· Take ear plugs, like Ged did
· Youthful optimism and middle-aged wisdom are equally valid strategies when bedding down somewhere strange for the night
Following an early morning departure for most of us from home we met in the Lymington Town Sailing club car park at around 8.30 to 9.00 am in the morning on what was a warm and sunny morning (definitely one for the sun tan lotion). Godfrey and Jan in their Comet Trio, Gary and David in a Club Trio, Andy & Vanessa in their RS Vision, Giles and Deb in a Laser 13, Steve & Mel in their Comet Trio, John and Edmund in the RS Feva.
Everybody was set up and ready to launch by 10.30 as we needed to get on to the water before the club Laser Racing started and to also ensure that we reached the entrance to Newtown Creek before the top of the tide.
After having the initial briefing, we launched from the slipway and sailed out down the Lymington River to rendezvous at the Jack in the Box platform ready to cross the Solent to Newtown Creek. With a flooding tide and north easterly wind we had a small amount of wind over tide as we set off across the Solent, maintaining a course slightly to the west of Newtown creek entrance, to allow for the incoming tidal stream.
After a pleasant sail all boats rendezvoused at the west cardinal maker outside the Newtown Creek entrance at around midday and it was agreed then to take the opportunity to go down the Creek to Shalfleet Quay. With almost a dead run down the creek we were able to moor just south of the key where we were tied the boats up on the bank and then walked down Shalfleet Quay Lane to the New Inn Pub for lunch. Sitting in the pub garden in the bright sun we all enjoyed a good lunch and refreshment for an hour, before John as our OOD for the day decided that we needed to return to the boats to catch the outgoing tide.
Unfortunately, the wind had failed to veer to the south over lunch, remaining from the north east and hindering the ability of a sea breeze to develop. With the wind dying this made it challenging for half the fleet to sail back down the narrow creek to the entrance beating against what little breeze still existed.
Eventually all boats managed to rendezvous outside the entrance to Newtown Creek ready to sail across the channel. However even though we had set an effective course to steer, to take account of the now ebbing tide; with the wind dying this meant that the boats were being taken further down the Solent than we would have liked. In order to counteract this and avoid being swept past the Lymington entrance we had to get the paddles out and provide additional assistance to make progress across the channel. After about an hour and half of sailing and paddling we were in sight of Lymington and the breeze started to pick up again which enabled us to sail in and around the entrance to the harbour and to then return down the channel with relative ease. Arriving back at the slipway around 4.15 pm the boats were then tidied away and made ready for departure and a rush to the pub ensued, for some light refreshment.
All in all, an excellent day and thanks to John for expertly undertaking the role of OOD for the day.
Good, better, best? We had a really lovely sail from Seafarers to the Jolly Sailor, at Burlesdon, well inland up the River Hamble. This was a cruise that almost did not happen. Light winds, F2, were forecast and some members pulled out because of this. In the end we decided to act on the traditional sailor’s maxim that, “light wind sailing is more challenging than strong wind sailing” and we were richly rewarded. The continued heat wave meant that we were warm throughout and the conditions were very pleasant.
Andy and Vanessa sailed their boat with Andy acting as both AO and OOD; thank you Andy! Phil and Stephen took a Club Trio. We launched easily from Seafarers into a F2 as promised. This was Southerly in the morning with a touch of East in it. So, up went the spinnakers and whilst Andy and Vanessa sailed serenely on, Phil put his dinghy instructor hat on and gave Stephen some welcome coaching in Spinnaker techniques. The conditions were perfect for this and much fun was had and much was learnt. In the end we sailed all the way from Seafarers to the pub with the Spinny up. We guessed that probably few dinghy sailors had done this recently! The Hamble looked pretty as did the several million pound plus houses on its banks. Finally, we made the pub and had a nice lunch. Stephen believes that word of mouth is an important way to grow the Cody Club membership so when the nice barmaid told him that he she wished that she could do things like sail to the pub he immediately told her to look at the Cody website and join!
The wind had strengthened a little on the way back, to a F3, and it was a long beat out of the river, dodging moored yachts and pontoons as we went. Of course, it was not a race, but there were times when our two dinghies were only feet from each other as each sought to make the best of the available water. Exciting stuff!
Once out of the River Hamble we found that the wind had gone around more to the West and we began with a fast beam reach and eventually it was time for the Spinnakers to go up again. For the last few miles we were planing at times in near perfect conditions with the Solent looking lovely.
The two boat crews agreed that this had been a very special trip with great variety and interest and we were so pleased that we did it.
We launched from the public slipway near the RNLI station in Lymington, with six boats in the fleet. The cruise was a gentle straight line sail from Lymington, out to the Isle of Wight. Newton Creek is a beautiful place to sail to.
There were two possible lunch stops, either at the creek’s entrance/ picnic on the beach, or venturing further into the creek, landing at Shalfleet Quay. The decision was taken to go for the quay, landing with the boats nose-in to the shore. We then had a short walk to the pub for some lunch and local ale, before returning to Lymington. The weather was glorious, and a good time was had by all.