With light winds forecast the Ronhilda Immates of Gulag Chichesterstan gathered on the Friday evening to have a 0430 Saturday morning bunk call. After getting everybody awake, up and through the Marina Lock, the Spring ebb was in full spate and we were taken down to Chichester Harbour entrance to get across with about 0.8m over the two humps on the bar.
The wind was dead on the nose and the tide was now flooding against us at 2 knots so carrying on under motor we went through the Dolphin gap in the Submarine barrier, the concrete blocks being exposed to the landward side, and the shallow depth requiring a keel lift to get through. Off Gilkicker we took the small 90% jib off and set up the old 25 year old 140% geny to make best use as we could of the light westery winds. Now sailing we got to the start on time at North Sturbridge, seeing the tide was running hard over the shoal just to the south.
Practising tacking with the big overlapping geny to ensure the crew knew what to look out for as this geny easily catches on the mast and fittings I missed a blue pot marker and the port rudder snagged it. After saying "oh bother, we seem to have caught a pot buouy chaps" the geny was furled and main dropped, this allowed the rope to slide down the kedge rudder under the shoe and away. We then started the cruise and seemed for once to be keeping up on the first beat when I missed seeing the same pot marker again. Saying "oh dear what a poor show", I was relieved to see it safely pass down the side and away. Actually in over 16 years of ownership I have only caught 3 pot markers, and have never been trapped by one, Ronhilda's keel and rudders normally allowing her to pass over. For the cruise itself, the wind was fairly constant F3 so on the legs were we were hard on the wind we could get to 10/11 kts of apparent wind, have a bit of heel to reduce the wetted surface area and keep up with the more modern hulls and sails, however once eased off, our speed dropped off, we went flat and stuck to the water and could only watch others draw ahead. Apart from a couple of minutes off Norris when boat speed got up to 9knots in a gust under a cloud edge, that was the story of the day, so another last place I suppose.
Anyway we had had a good days sail in some sun which is main point, so lowered the sails and pottered up the Medina were we were surprised and grateful to find space on the outer raft at the Folly pontoon and thus electricity for the cabin heater overnight. The Folly does not change and does not need any explanation from me, so with my hips getting tired and stiff I retired after the meal, leaving the attractions of dancing on tables with large Isle of Wight peroxide blonde ladies displaying tatoos on both arms for others to enjoy. Being on the outside, Ronhilda was able to slip away next morning at low water before 9am to enjoy a geny sail back to Chichesterstan arriving at Noon. Still flying the clubs battleflag from the pontoon we advertised the Little Ship Club to a surprising number of little dinghies in the harbour, half a dozen races were taking place requiring a bit of dodging in spite of requests from crew to bag a few. Packing up on the pontoon we reflected on a good 2013 sailing year. Best wishes to all and good sailing in 2014, Brian