Most FCs this winter are more Neaps than Springs and this made a huge difference last Saturday. Coming from one of the Gulags in Chichester Habour, a neap FC weekend means no creeping over the bar at 6am at LW with little water under the keel to then fight a spring flood all the way, normally beating in a SW wind to foreign waters far way in the west. This weekend saw us up at 6am so an hours lie in compared with last year and the sail to the start was far easier and less tiring and stressful. So thanks to Graham for this and he has been made the Patron Saint of Ronhilda as a reward??
We still have to leave earlier than those being pampered in Hamble berths so whilst others have reported light winds Ronhilda was expriencing F5 gusting 6 when we set off . I had the smaller solent jib on instead of the big 130% genoa, the intermediate 110% was really what was needed but this was in the garage due to the skippers preplanning skills.
So we got to the start in fine form and I was not too bad around the first mark but then Ronhida's age showed and the 27 year old genoa turning block trapped the sheet in between the sheeve and side when we hardened up. So we could not tack or free up the sheet. After 5 mins or so trying to free off the sheet whilst reducing the pressure in the genoa we gave up and put a Spinnaker sheet on as a replacment genoa sheet. Good job I had only go the small solent jib on in retrospect, even tthe load from this sail blew out a temporary turngin block and we had to use a Spinnaker sheet winch for the rest of the weekend. All this fun meant the supply of Bacon and Sausage butties were late on deck as well as us being last on the long course course. We continued in last place for the rest of the course having to give way to container boat as well between Browndown and Mother bank meant we must have been abut 45 mins behind the first finsher. Still not bad for a 27 year old yacht with similar age sails and combined crew age of nearer 400 years than 300.
This did meant we little to do other than gybe around and start the Shortened Course for all on the second FC. I was quite pleased to make East Bramble without having to tack in a midfleet position but we were a little distracted by a Clipper vessel telling us to get out his way nearing East Bramble Cardinal. As he was windward boat we made a suitable reply.
We also got caught up in the drift towards Hook and finish but it was happy crew that arrived in Port Hamble for Ronhilda's normal cheese biscuits and wine before the evening festivites. Finding out the berth for a night was now a few pennies short of £50 was a bit of a shock, I can remember when it was under £15.
The marina was forecasting heavy rain for the Sunday confirmed by the 0735 shipping forecast so we left at 8am along with Day at the Races who appeared to be on a mission surveying the entrance to the creek just off the Fawley jetties for some best known to Barry. The NW wind blew us nicely back to Chichester Harbour for just before LW and we had a good sail up the harbour. One chap racing his dinghy forgot Baraccuda's have quite large mainsails that cause a big wind hole as he sailed past us and promptly did a 180. Must have been cold it took him and the rescue boat several minutes to get upright again.
So we got back to the Gulag at dead on LW and with less than 0. 1m under the keel and rudders locked in as the rain finally arrived.
Ronhilda is having new standing rigging before the next FC so we had a happy time taking sails and boom off in the rain, time flies it seems like yesterday when I had to have a new mast due to the forestay ripping its fixing out of the previous mast wall off the invasion beaches of Normandy but it is in fact 12 years ago. I hope the rigging is finished in for and here's to the November FC