Robin had suggested this Rally to me and so Debbie Wheeler, Stephen Ledraw, Robin and myself all assembled in Chichester on the Friday Evening. I did not want to get tangled up with half the marina trying to leave through the lock before Low Water at 9am so we left at 0630 ( quite late for us actually) and enjoyed a rapid tide assisted passage out to the Bar. With no or very little wind forecast it was a case of cheat the tide after Portsmouth and use the eddies under clear skies. Off Cowes before 9am a big race with lots of International sail numbers was getting under way, They had a downwind tide assisted first leg due to the light/no wind. Even the J boats were only drifting along. Dodging some cable laying vessels off Lepe Spit we kept to the north of the Western Solent, those going west all motoring against the tide, some going East were able to beat up towards Cowes making use of the tide wind. We arrived at Yarmouth at about 1130 and were told our berths were raft out ones. As I wanted to leave early to catch the tide around the Island I decided to go out on the buoys which were already getting filled up. Inside the harbour it was frantic, I managed to take on 8 gallons of fuel but Ronhilda does not have a bowthruster and has no propwash or steerage unless you are moving through the water so some berthed yachts had a bit of a scare as 45 foot of beamy yacht came rushing backwards towards them before spinning on the keel forwards. Anyway we extracted ourselves from the melee at the entrance and picked up a buoy. After lunch in the sun Debbie and Robin went ashore to explore and I changed my tritransducer for a new one as the paddle wheel would not turn in the water.
In the evening we had a really excellent welcome at the Royal Solent by their Commodore and a splendid meal as well. Even though I am berthed in the Eastern Siberia of Chichesterstan this would make an excellent winter fast cruise destination (and we might even get some strong winds to make Ronhilda competitive) I was really impressed by the club and its welcome and our Commodore reciprocated in warm tones our appreciation.
Next morning we slipped at 730am and caught the tide down to the Needles again under clear skies. We found wind as hoped along the South side a bit fluky but that made it interesting. A bit of motor past Atherton Ledges saw pick the wind up off St Cats and here we soon beating into 18kts apparent so left a reef in the Geny. Taking up past Ventnor sadly the wind dropped off till we reached through Sandown Bay under the light air furling geny I have fitted to Ronhilda, 3 knots in 5kts wind not too shabby. Rounding Bembridge it was downwind so we motored to get a berth in Gosport. This was at its busiest I have seen it (normally we only visit in deep midwinter on Fast cruises).
Monday we left at 0830 so a lie in for Ronhilda to get to Chichester at LW before the swarms of dinghies infest the waters and lock queues develop. This plan worked we trundled up to the lock filling up the channel at exact LW much to a couple of motor boaters surprise and concern.
So ended a splendid BH of sailing with the LSC, perhaps not quite the winds wanted but we had a splendid Sunday going around the South of the Island, an excellent time in Yarmouth and the with the Royal Solent. My thanks to my crew as always and to Keith Irons for restarting this Rally.