Having Checked with Charlie that he had asked for the Start of the FC be in the eastern Solent, I had arranged berths and crew for Ronhilda this weekend based on that information, It was with a little surprise I checked the course on Thursday to find the start north of Cowes over 20 miles from Ronhilda's berth even before we started the 15 odd mile course. Add in a sick dog recovering from an operation so I did not want to be too far from home and I had to accept this FC was a non event as far as we were concerned. However the forecast was good so I offered to the crew a fast blast out to the Nab and back on Saturday and all the crew, Debbie, Andy, Ian and Robin jumped at the offer.
At 6am when we would have had to set off it was indeed murky but it was clear by 9am and we were enjoying a relaxed full English breakfast. Washing up we left berth at 1030am locking out and down the deserted harbour on the last of the ebb as the clouds cleared away and stayed away for the rest of the day. I decided the wind might get up so put in 2 reefs just in case so we went over the bar half an hour before LW with depth of 3.2 metres with 2 reefs in main and 2 in the large geny. Sea was flat on the bar but white horses all around so it was no surprise that the wind rapidly increased to around 20kts true just forward of the beam. Ronhilda likes this kind of wind so we powered on towards the Nab Channel. The wind and sea continued to increase until we were washing the lee rail constantly and we passed Nab 1 in very good time. Debbie found making the beverages a challenge in these sea conditions as the coffee was jumping from one cup into the other cups. The sea had built up considerably and we noted the Britanny Ferry came in following the Nab channel rather than cut across Nab end sands as usual. We were soon rounding the concrete rebuilt and lowered Nab tower looking at the waves breaking over the lower foundations. Romping back the wind continued to strengthen and got up to 27 kts so we wound the geny in to 3 reefs to balance things up and keep water out of the cockpit, most of us got a dump of water at some stage down our necks. West Pole soon arrived and we sailed in over the bar noting the two distinct humps before and after the pole. HISC club were making good use of the wind and two races were in progress but otherwise the harbour was surprisingly empty. We returned and filled up with fuel so back on the berth at around 1530pm, having had what I feel was the best sail of the season for Ronhilda. In the evening we drove around to Southampton for the excellent meal, even getting a bonus of free protein in the form of a live silverfish in my plate. Of more concern was being charged for 25 pints of San Miguel but this was soon remedied as it was obvious a 2 had been entered in front of the 5 we actually ordered as a Yacht. Most crew stayed on board overnight ot help tidy up and left midmorning. So ended an unplanned but most enjoyable winters weekend sailing.