A week afloat

13 Aug 2017

A long narrative of a week afloat, starting the week on Sunday 6th August:

A cruiser race today with a steady F3 from the west. Nine cruisers were taking part. Single handed again and with very light winds in the lee of the clubhouse I decided to hoist and set the mainsail while sat in the berth then reverse out as usual and head straight out to sea. Leaving the genoa furled away until the last minute I got nicely lined up for the start, set the genoa and made good progress to the windward mark. Conditions just about ok for single handed sailing, I seemed to have got the sail set well and was able to leave a few of my rivals behind me. A long run to the second mark, short fine reach to the third, another run to the fourth, then a long fine reach almost closehauled back to the finish line. On corrected time I was 6th out of the 9, all boats finished, we were all pleased with the turnout and were back in time for Sunday roast lamb in the clubhouse.

R9 - 06/08/17 at 1030

Race officer Dick Holden
Start: Start 1, Finishes: Elapsed time, Wind dir: W, Ave wind: 17
RankBoatClassSailNoHelmNameAMSFinishElapsedCorrectedPoints
1Dedicated DancerLimbo 6.69943YDavid Robinson0.817 1;20;321;05;481.0
2OrcaWizard 22 cat Smith & Walker0.968 1;08;151;06;042.0
3CabreHunter Horizon 23130Ron Priest0.778 1;28;511;09;083.0
4DancerHunter Delta8625YDick Holden0.877 1;19;351;09;484.0
5Sooper TrooperSea Wolf 265614TPhil Turnbull0.836 1;28;061;13;395.0
6ElsaSeal 22122Alistair Tyrrell0.779 1;40;151;18;066.0
7Free n EasyWesterly Centaur2157Nick Clare0.743 1;48;001;20;157.0
8AyellaSea Wolf 26 bk91Stuart Gibbs0.801 1;42;301;22;068.0
9BertieLegend 3068409TJohn Hood0.750 1;59;371;29;439.0


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Monday 7th August

With a week's leave from work I decided to go to the club and help out with cadet week. About a dozen or so kids with almost as many instructors / assistant instructors and a week long programme of dinghy sailing and theory tuition. Monday morning I sat with my friend John in one of the RIBs and we helped out with towing strings of boats out to sea, rescuing them when they fell over, ferrying the instructors around, a good fun morning with a free lunch to look forward to.

Monday afternoon I made my excuses and went to the dinghy pen to sort out Prudence the Mirror. She's been sitting there since March and was full of beetles and rainwater but I soon cleared her out. I had a bag of bits from which to make a kicking strap and other adjustments but she was soon ready to launch. With the cadet kids messing around elsewhere I trundled her down to the river's edge, left her on the sand, parked the trolley up the beach and jumped in.

A bit more tippy than I remember but the winds were kind and I soon got the hang of it and set off up the river. Laura in the clubhouse had seen me getting ready and phoned her husband, they live upriver, he quickly launched his own Mirror and came across to meet me. So the two of us, large blokes, one in a black Mirror and one white one, sailed up and down trying not to get taken out to sea on the outgoing tide. Mine seemed to sail at least as well as his though the only way I could sit comfortably was to face astern with my legs towards the back, turning round with my body and neck and trying to see under the jib so I could see where I was going!

After a while I decided to return to the club. The tide had dropped and I knew the beach would be more steeply sloping but as I landed and jumped out, expecting it to be only knee deep....well obviously I disappeared into thigh deep water and nearly tipped Prudence on top of me before squelching up the beach with my boots full of water. Happy memories of childhood! My hat ended up in the river but I went downstream a bit and caught it as it floated past so nothing lost!

I got her onto the trolley with the sails down and part way up the beach then decided that as the cadet kids were still elsewhere I'd go back to the car for my emergency change of clothing, empty my boots and have a quick shower in the clubhouse. I made it back to the boat with dry clothes just as they all came back to the beach so I was able to get Mark to help me pull Prudence up the slope.

I think I need another practice sail before attempting a race or anything but I'm pleased she works and I had some fun!

Tuesday 8th August

Cadet week day 2 and this time I was helping the senior instructor, Rob, driving him around in the club committee boat while he was supervising the morning. We got the cadets sailing out at sea but rain soon came in, we carried on for a while before Rob called for everyone to return to the club. Just as we entered the harbour the wind dropped right away and the west-going tidal stream swept all the kids into the western harbour arm so we had a frantic few minutes with the RIBs and us grabbing painters and pulling them away. No harm done and soon back in the clubhouse though all wet from the rain.

After lunch I was free again so I took Elsa for a short motor up and down the river, the rain having stopped, just for the fun of it! The engine's been hard to start and makes squeaking noises so something needs sorting out.

Wed 9th August

Back again to help with cadet week, driving Rob out to sea in the committee boat, towing a string of dinghies. We set up a start line out at sea and did some practice start sequences, some of the cadets were doing the RYA 'start racing' syllabus so it was good practice. Once again the rain came just at the end of the morning so we gathered up three strings of dinghies for two RIBs plus us to tow back up to the club without mishap this time. Excellent fish and chips lunch. The rain kept going all afternoon so the kids ended up doing indoor theory work and I came home to dry off.

Thurs 10th August

I returned to the club at lunchtime to see them disappearing out to sea. Jennifer and I were asked to drive the committee boat out and anchor nearby where we sat in the sunshine for a couple of hours with bags of sweets handy and ready to take on board any injured or tired kids or act as a floating base for running repairs to the toppers. A decent breeze, bright sunshine and a flat sea so ideal conditions. On the way back in we assisted by towing a string of three dinghies back up the river.

On duty in the evening but it's 'free sailing' not racing. Enough people were already around to man the RIBs and several adult sailors and some of the teenagers from the daytime went off sailing. I was able to leave before 7pm.

Sat 12th August

A cruiser race to Gosport returning Sunday, with several boats due to take part. Elsa's outboard is a little bit unreliable at the moment and the wind was forecast to be around F5 so I decided to leave Elsa in Littlehampton. Stuart and his daughter Lily-Beth were keen to have me as a crew on his Sea Wolf, Ayella. This is the boat I sailed back from Gosport a few weeks ago so I was very willing to have another go.

After a quick lunch at the club we were the last of five boats to leave the river and head out to sea. The idea was to start just as the tide turned in our favour to help us around. Wind was around F4 mostly from the W so we knew we'd be beating most of the way to Gosport. We started our stopwatch at 2pm as we passed the Omar buoy and set off closehauled on starboard tack. Stuart had sensibly decided to put a reef in the main before we even started and with about 2/3 genoa unrolled, Ayella sliced her way down to the Looe Channel. Once again I was glad not to be in Elsa as the sea was quite lumpy with steep waves dues to the wind-over-tide conditions. Ayella at 26' with a lot more beam and a lot more weight was completely fine. We could see the other boats a couple of miles ahead heeling at 45 degrees so we could see what the wind was going to do. We tacked a couple of times up the Looe until we saw the Boulder and Street pair of buoys at the western end. Very strong currents down here especially around the green Boulder buoy so we aimed for the middle of the gap and shot through on port tack soon after 4pm with one of the other boats Nimbus now behind us.

We could now see the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth ahead of us and started to tack our way west. The boat and crew were all in good shape and the sun was out. The wind dropped a little and the sea settled down once we were clear of the Looe. Nimbus was still nearby but the other boats were so far ahead we'd lost sight of them. Lily-Beth was very good and uncomplaining despite the length of the journey! We unrolled the full genoa once the wind eased and Ayella seemed to be well set up and going well now.

After another couple of hours we were only just passing the Chichester entrance, the tide was turning against us, and with a dinner booked for 8pm in Gosport we reluctantly decided to stop racing and started the motor at 6pm, rolled away the genoa and motored directly into the wind towards our destination. Stuart is very good at spotting other shipping and understanding where they are going so we were able to slot into the Portsmouth entrance channel neatly behind the Isle of Wight Ferry and into Haslar where we dropped the mainsail, fendered up, and got berthed right next to our friends who'd already arrived, with Nimbus two minutes behind us.

It was well after 8pm now and I had to get the train home so I got the Gosport Ferry back over to Portsmouth Harbour station then a train back to Littlehampton, followed by a 15 min walk in the dark back to the clubhouse to retrieve my car. I'm not joining the fleet for the return journey on Sunday but I am sure they will have a good sail back.



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