Ronhilda's Febuary Fast Cruise - pass the Marmalade
Yet again the forecast was predicting brisk winds so I kept to two reefs and a furled Solent jib to start the cruise. January's tactic of getting to the start early and heaving to for liquid and food replenishment had worked well and was repeated. However I needed a last minute heads visit so we were at the rear at the start.
Spithead was gustier and bumpy this month and I was soon wishing I had put three reefs in as the leerail stanchions drove deep into the water even after all the mainsail traveller and sheet had been dumped and they sprayed the Solent straight into my face.
The crew scrambled for the windward coaming as the leeward coaming was under the water and cockpit had become quite full, which did not do much for our boat speed. The lead yachts turned after the first mark to head back across Spithead, but I opted for flatter water and thus faster boat speed and held on until I could tack back to round North Sturbridge. Ronhilda was then well ahead so this appeared to work. It was then a matter of Charlie and Jill following, as best they could, my bellowed instructions of in/out on the traveller and sheet for us to make best speed around the course. At this time the winds were around 24-34 knots apparent for us, but on the first downwind leg the wind really gusted and we got moving well with a goosewing 12/13 knots boatspeed and 32 knots apparent at 180 degrees. I tacked too early a couple of times and had to retack to make both Peel and Norris which wasted time.