Six hours out, one hour back. Lymington to Alum Bay.

The journey to Lymington was blighted by a 45 minute traffic jam on the way, which caused a few of us to be not as early as we had planned. Had we been able to launch at 09:30 we might have made it to Alum Bay straight away, but the Merlin Rocket Open Meeting commandeered the public slip just as we hoped to use it, and we got away at 10am. Three Trios, a Laser 2000 and a home built boat took to the river.
The northerly wind drove us nicely out of the river and we made it to the centre of the ebb tide in good time, but not early enough to get beyond Hurst Castle, and we found ourselves adjacent to Totland Bay.
One Trio towed the Laser2000 to the beach, the home built boat rowed beautifully, and the other two Trios had outboard problems (one, user error, and one a blocked breather hole starving the engine) so they paddled in. Totland Bay is a lovely place to visit, with a good cafe and a public loo, a mermaid and shoals of tiny fished making dark patches in the clear water across the fine white sand. It’s not somewhere on our usual list of places to visit, and it is now.
After about an hour on the beach the predicted SW F3 blew in, and we headed for The Needles against the wind and tide, knowing that if we couldn’t get there we were up tide and upwind of our launch place.
By keeping at the very edge of the channel it was possible to make against the flood tide, and all bar the Laser2000 got to the choppy waters off The Needles by 4pm when we turned for home.
We were back in Lymington by 17:20, having the neap flood tide and SW F4 behind us, especially the exciting bit of the sail through the jumpy waves that form at the Hurst Narrows. Boats packed up, social conversation at the pub, then we headed home.
Approximately 17 miles, the first 10 taking six hours, and the last six taking about an hour.