Earlier in the week the forecast seemed good for an expedition to France so I took off the Dutch Charts and put back on the French ones. Sadly the weather forecast turned unpredictable with winds in the North on Monday so I wimped out and decided to go east on the UK side.
So Saturday at dawn saw Ronhilda leave Chichester at dawn (the lock keeper saying we were the only boat to leave on his watch) and creep over the bar with less than 1.8m at LW. Wind was from the NW so we lowered the keel, hoisted full main and solent jib and set off.
Tide had turned with us through the Looe but clouds were getting rather black behind us. A Ronhilda breakfast of Sausages and Bacon was cooked up and eaten. Off Littlehampton the rain came down in quantities greater than I have seen for many a year, we had a waterfall off the boom which overflowed the toe rail. All this rain had wind gusting to 30kts with it and although the sea was flat visibility came right down so I furled the jib and we sailed on main alone at over 6 knots.
Next came the thunder and lightening, some of it quite close and the flashes really brightening up the daylight. Nothing for it but to continue and by Shoreham the rain and thunder had stopped. The crew were very wet ( your scribe staying below on the pretext of navigating) so we decided to stop for the night at Brighton, mooring up amongst the returning Dutch cruisers just after mIdday. The rain came again during the afternoon and over night but we did have a very good meal in Zizzies. Custom seemed well down due to the weather.
Next day we left at 11 to go rock-hopping along the coast towards Eastbourne and we saw lots of walkers on the cliffs, racing in Seaford bay and people on the beach at Cuckmere haven and Birling Gap. All the time the weather was improving with long periods of sunshine and the wind had shifted to the North reaching a F5. This was too good to miss so we turned around off Beachy Head and romped back at 7, 8, and even 9 knots boat speed reaching 10 over the ground with tide. All the crew had a good time playing with Ronhilda at speed in the wind which got us back to off Littlehampton in record time before easing off to 4 then 3.
Even so we past through the Looe still with a couple of hours to spare and again went over Chichester bar an hour before LW to sneak a spare buoy for the night from HISC. Monday we spent in Hayling Bay just doing nothing, going nowhere in particular but enjoying a full English breakfast in the light winds from the north before returning to Chichester Marina with the tide to beat the lock congestion.
So after a damp start a really good sail of over 100 miles for the weekend. Many thanks to my crew of Debbie Wheeler, Mike Ryder and Stephen Ledraw.