It was a pleasant surprise to log onto the Web site and find the first start was just off Portsmouth so even though the weekend was Springs we could have a later start from Chichesterstan Gulag. Even so I had to leave on the Friday evening as I would not be able to get out of the Marina at LW springs so we went down to pick a bouy up in Itchenor reach. Looking for the Boathook I found it was missing, somebody must have borrowed it and dropped it/not returned it on Ronhilda's berth. We then found it was difficult to raise a pick up bouy with a brush using torchlight so we approached stern to and made a bridle across the stern from the bathing platform. This worked well and we had a peaceful night under a clear sky with many stars shining brightly.
It had clouded over in the morning but we motored down and crossed the bar close to dawn with a slight sea so continued and motored dead into the wind against the tide to Portsmouth. After Bacon butties we raised sails in the light winds with no other option but full main and full geny. Starting we followed Day in the Races towards Gilkicker to dodge the tide which seemed to work well. Sadly the down wind leg saw us predictably lose places in the long cruise fleet to Saddle mark and this was repeated out to the last turning mark, Cambrian Wreck Cardinal. So we were last over the line at Warner bouy finish. Graham must have been keeping a beady eye on us as he started the second cruise barely 15 mins later giving us just enough time to get the sausages in the oven.
Rounding the first mark having had the butties just after Juno and following her beating down to No Mans Land Fort gave me chance to reflect on the good sail shape of Juno's main and geny, far better shapes than Ronhilda's 27 year old Geny and 15 year old main can achieve and these were Juno's second choice sails I suspect. The same happened as before, losing places on the downwind legs so we were last again rounding No Mans Land Fort for the second time. The tide was taking us quite close to the fort so as we were last anyway I decided to go out again and get better clearance on the fort - my fault for trying to cut it too fine.
So we finished well last yet again at after 1500hrs but had had good sails so were happy enough to berth in Gosport Marina. Here we could not see any other LSC yachts so we had Ronhilda's traditional post cruise Wine and Cheese in the last of the Sun in the cockpit. Some crew then went to the Frostbite Dinner but I and two others went to the Castle Tavern. Here we had a plentiful good solid meal ( more than we could eat) and wine for less than £15 and it remains my favourite value for money place to eat in the Solent.
Up early we Tavernites were updated on the Frostbite dinner and we left berth at 0830. I gave all the crew helming practice and we sailed right out to Nab End and back with several 9.7 knots recorded and more on the log.
Not a lot of saiing was going on upon entering Chichesterstan so we finished off by sailing all the way up the harbour through the moorings before taking the sails down to motor up the approach channel. Here Chichester Yacht Club dinghys were milling about each side of the channel and in it and one chap capsized right in front of Ronhilda with the tide behind us. He looked a little apprenhensive with 45 foot of wide beamed yacht bow aimed straight at him but I shouted to him to stop struggling and watch his backside as I dodged out of the channel around him as I had my keel lifted. Bet he will be more careful in future.
So safely on the berth we reflected on having sailed 54miles during the weekend, for 18 hours with a fastest speed of nearly 10kts in wind conditions that that really were not strong enough for Ronhida's old sails. I will never be competitive even if I invested in new hi-tech sails with the fixed handicap, the club Progressive one is more of interest to me.
Still everybody, David H, Stephen L, Emmy H, Debbie W and Mike R all enjoyed themselves which is what these weekends are all about after all.
Many thanks to the organisers as usual
Till next time