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Cruise 3rd - 10th October 2020

Swanwick to Brighton

It's October and I am sitting outside (it's a bit chilly, but needs must these days) the tennis club savouring my pint.

"Haven't seen you for a couple of weeks".  It's 'Bill the busker'

"I was away sailing last week"

"That'll be that boat of yours then"

"Well strictly speaking it's the club's yacht, but we buy shares in it and I like to drop "my yacht" into the conversations.  We all treat it like our own yacht anyway."

"Thinking about it, wasn't the weather a bit extreme last week?"

"Perfect for sailing, f5-6 most of the time!  BB, that's Brighton Belle, loves it and so do we. Mind you we got back to Brighton on Wednesday, had a rest day on Thursday to swerve rain and storm force winds, then took a potential member out on Friday for a spin.  It was all going to plan: towed off the pontoon because of strong cross wind, exhilarating beam reach for an hour or so giving the guest a go on the helm, hove to for afternoon tea and cakes (joke, actually an Ainsley cuppasoup), then close hauled back to Brighton.  We could see the forecast rain coming in so decided to reduce the canvas, and whilst I was up at the mast sorting the main sail reef out, 'pow', force 9 winds and 2-3 metre waves."

"Sounds a bit dicey"

"Oh no, it was great fun.  We were creaming along afterwards with a reef in the main and two in the headsail, and blasts of seawater flying off the bow over the helm.  The guest said afterwards, she loved it too and realised just what a great boat BB is.  Steady as a rock, but we all got saturated!"

"Think I would rather poke my eye out with a rusty nail!  What about the rest of the week.  Whenever I looked outside it was either very windy, raining or both."

"Well we did have to play chess with the weather a bit I suppose. Saturday we whizzed down to Yarmouth tacking all the way.  We were going to anchor in Newton, but BB has a deep draft and I didn't fancy the stress of anchor watches in a tight place, in f7-8 winds and rain, then finding we had to move in the middle of the night and go to Yarmouth anyway.  Also Sunday was going to rain all day so we had a Marina day."

"Marina day?"

"Yeah.  It means we have a feast the night before, sleep in late, full English breakfast, then make use of the marina showers, etc.  There's always bits and pieces to repair on the boat as well, then eat well again, and early night ready for the next day. Monday we started making our way back, anchored in Osborne bay for lunch, overlooked by Osborne house, Queen Vic's cottage by the sea, then went back round the corner into East Cowes.  We had a bit of time to spare so Joan, Lynn and Mike had a few goes at mooring BB, wind off between two other boats, about as tricky as it gets."

"That actually sounds like good fun."

"Yep, steady f5-7 and sunny periods all day, sails up, nothing better!  Celebrated Lynn's 39th birthday with a quick drink in the evening as well.  Tuesday was great fun too.  Fast sail over to Chichester harbour, turn right to Itchenor by which time we had 25, sometimes 30 plus knots of wind and 2-3 knots of tide.  Tried to lasso a buoy, but the lasso wouldn't hold on the buoy so then found a perfect anchorage. Unfortunately, the combination of high wind against tide started us drifting towards the drying area.  As is the law in these cases (Murphy's that is) it started "sipping" it down with rain the moment we tried a second anchorage.  This one held all night despite the wind and tide.  Couple of hours each on anchor watch."

"What?  You spent two hours each watching an anchor instead of sleeping?"

"Well, yes I suppose it does seem a bit odd to you bar flies! That's not all really.  Wednesday we set off back to Brighton because Thursday was forecast pretty grim again.  We averaged about 7 knots, but still only just made it into Brighton before low water.  Just as well as plan B was anchor outside for 4 hours in a big swell until the tide came in again.  Wouldn't have been pleasant.  Also, the forecast storm started building not long after we arrived.  An experience to be avoided.

"Sounds, how should I put it, challenging? Oh well,  good to catch with you.  I think you must all be a bit bonkers."

About the author

Steve Benham

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