The forecast had held steady for several days; a F3-4 from the East for Saturday. Thursday was foggy, Jenny & Roy warned us on Friday of fog, and the BBC on Friday suggested that the wind would blow it away.
I started from home in thick fog and a bit of a heavy heart, because Ged has a long way to travel and I hoped it would be worth it. Ged trailed most of the way in bright sun, only plunging into fog at Dorchester.
In Lymington at 08:30 the sun was clear with light mist and the breeze a F3 from the East.
With Ged, Jim and me in the Swallow Storm 17, and Keith and Tim in their new-to-them Topper Sport 14 we left at 10:30 in a good enough breeze which held for at least 10 minutes before becoming extremely light. At the exact time of becalming, Chimet was showing F4 and Bramblemet showing a F5 from the East. We had got as far as the river entrance in 90 minutes.
We could see zephyrs and little bits of wind as it filled in, and soon we were heading for Newton Creek, the Storm 17 pulling solidly in the breeze, full sun on our faces.
I’ve not been in a dayboat style boat before, and it’s a very lovely place to be; comfy cushions, a self tacking jib, great stability and excellent company. I was overwhelmed by the number of sticks and string, and it would take a little while to work out which rope did what. Ged has had Peewit for 4 years and has it mastered.
We arrived late at the entrance to Newton Creek, the ebb had begun both in the main channel and at the entrance to the harbour itself, making it a challenge to get in.
By sailing very close to the shore we got out of the tide, shot the entrance accepting that we were briefly pushed into the main tidal stream, over-stood it by what looked like far too far and powered over the ebb on a close reach. It was a puzzle to solve and Jim did a great job of piloting us in, to find ourselves alone in the little lagoon on the western side of the harbour entrance.
Keith had been fettling the complex set of ropes at the front of his boat, and continued to play in the main channel while we had a very quick lunch and began our return journey.
Many will recall the dramatic speed of the ebb in the Western Solent from previous excursions to Newton Creek. With an Easterly F3 we needed to reach straight across the waters heading North. We passed the big Starboard deep water channel buoy to the East, but were carried to the West of the Port mid channel marker as the ebb was full speed. The addition of a fourth sail to the Storm 17, a mizzen staysail, made a considerable difference to our speed. We all made Lymington entrance safely, landed, packed up and retired to the pub for a natter before heading home.
It was remarkable how warm and sunny the day was, how empty Newton Creek was, and what a joy it was to be out and sailing a ~14 mile daysail in the middle of February in great company and in a lovely vessel. My thanks to Ged for offering me a crewing place and allowing me to helm his lovely vessel on the way home.