The forecast in the week for the Jan FC was uncertain, but seemed to be settling down to a brisk N/NW on the day with a bit of a lull on the Saturday morning. So with it being Neaps I was looking forward to an easy passage out from Chichester followed by a crisp hard sail and Charles's course for the day looked very good for all FCers coming from North, East and West.
Friday saw an unexpected lull which made me a little nervous things were moving through quicker, but the forecast was still for NW/N F5/6 when we needed to be punching our westwards so I was still confidant of a good day. Foolish skipper that I am, 5am in Chichester Marina saw snow falling which froze on the pontoon woods and a steadily building W wind. We noted the dredger which is digging out Birdham approach had shut up shop for the weekend in view of the forecast F8s.
Still we carefully took the sail cover off and set out down Chichester harbour against the Neap flood setting a tight 2 reefs in the main. Going across towards HISC we were due W and smack into the wind, I hoped that out in Hayling Bay it would veer to the NW as forecast. The bar still had a SW swell as well as the waves created by the 20/25kts coming directly down fiom Cowes. As soon as we were out of the shelter of the sands we started to bounce up and down and trying to motor directly to Motherbank start saw Ronhilda protest at this course by slamming hard on the waves. Another yacht going west was trying to beat westwards but was making only little Westwards in spite of the Ebb tide and he gave up. Nobody on board Ronhilda wanted to have 2 hours of slamming and getting wet with spray up by motoring dead into the 30kts over the deck so we set a 3 reefed geny and set off beating Westwards ourselves. Ronhilda showed her pleasure at this and we started to make 7 plus knots. I went down below to check out ETA at Motherbank for the start. However as we got into deeper water and off the South Winner Bouy the sea and motion got progressively worse to the point all were harnessed on and wedged as best they could into corners.
The ETA calculations for the start was not good - somewhere between 1130 and Noon and we still had the rougher waters in Spithead to get thorugh. Concenus from the crew was they would be very wet, frozen and tired by the start and then with perhaps another 2/3 hours to finish the actual cruise, with the wind at that time still stubbornly West, the day would not be enjoyable, so the decision was taken to stratch and go back to Chichester.
We accordingly shot back downwind to Chichester bar looking at the surfers riding some good surf now it was ebbing and had a good sail back up the harbour. Back on berth we had completed a round trip of 18 miles without even seeing any fellow FCers but on reflection it was good decision for us,
Andy Chatterton gave us a tour of his yacht later which is looking really good now after all the years of hard work and we enjoyed the meal in Southhampton in the evening. The food was really good.
So thanks to Graham for running the show as usual and Charles for a good course which we sadly did not get to experience this time round. Ah well, onwards to Feb when hopefully the weather Gods will be better.
Chichester Bar reported as having a shallow bit of less than a metre in one spot, we seemed to go over this yesterday. The SW swell topped with W waves made confirming the actual depth a bit iffy.