August B/H Cruise in Company to The Solent

NE Setting in and Clearing Morning Mist for CrystellaDorset Waterfall CloudDulcibella abeam the NeedlesThe fleet heading to Newtown Creek in calmer timesThe fleet entering Newtown CreekChilling out - that's what you call service!Steve doing what he does best - being himself!A penny for your thoughts Murray!Another amazing Dorset sky

With a persistent High pressure system sitting over the North of the UK, and hence a moderate North Easterly and good weather forecast for at least a week, it was full sail ahead for our next WSC cruise in company to the Western Solent.

A very respectable 5 boats made the trip, all with slightly varying itineraries but based on the core B/H days staying at Yarmouth and Lymington. Steve and Josie on Rumrunner and new members Roy and Christine on Bo Skip departed on the Friday and enjoyed a cracking sail direct to Yarmouth followed by a “rest” day on the Saturday. David and Gill on Nutcracker also departed a bit later on the Friday and made for an overnight stop in Worbarrow Bay. Murray on Dulcibella (now my Latin is non-existent, so my original radio calls to “Dulce Vita” or “Dulcelatta” are excused! I did get it right in the end though!) and Ray and Lesley on Crystella departed on Saturday morning. Nutcracker joined them as the others passed Worbarrow, again all had a cracking sail in the North Easterly F3/4 until reaching the Needles Channel, with wind on the nose motors were engaged. Arriving at Yarmouth around 2pm we took the last remaining available berths, rafted 4 deep! Phew, that was a relief on a busy B/H weekend.

With all 5 yachts in close proximity we met up in various sunshine lit cockpits for late afternoon drinks before most of us headed off to “Off the Rails”, a quirky cafe/bistro at the disused railway station on Yarmouth's outskirts. With everywhere else fully booked we were a little apprehensive about what to expect, however, we sat outside at a platform table in a delightful countryside setting and enjoyed a very good meal from a menu that included “off the wall” versions of lamb terrine and pork belly, very nice and worth checking out if you're in the area.

Sunday dawned, and another glorious day. Bo Skip decided to stay put and chill in Yarmouth for a few days whilst they had a berth, possession being nine tenths of the law! The other four boats went out into the Solent to watch the powerboat racers go by on their way to Torquay, quite a spectacle for all of five minutes!! We all then headed for Newtown Creek anchorage for lunch and a few hours chilling out in a wonderful natural setting, however, on arrival it was soon apparent that the whole world had a similar idea, including some motor boat revellers intent on breaking the peace! We departed mid afternoon for a play in the Western Solent before heading to Lymington Town Quay where our berths were booked and cocktails were consumed in Crystella's cockpit. Plan A for a pub/restaurant evening meal had already been thwarted many days in advance “no room at the Inn”. Our banker Plan B for fish and chips was then thwarted because we left it too late, they had closed. Time had slipped by unnoticed probably due to the entertaining banter in the cockpit, or was it the flow of cocktails!! Plan Z was hatched. We all rustled up food from our galleys to share and it was back to Crystella for an impromptu picnic, it was actually a feast. The red wine flowed, some of it down our throats, some of it over Crystella's “precious” teak benches and deck (no damage done fortunately) and the stories got louder. Our turn to be the annoying revellers breaking the peace!

B/H Monday saw a 7am start for the return trip to Weymouth for Rumrunner, Crystella and Dulcibella, all taking various options back across Christchurch Bay for sailing efficiency reasons. Rumrunner took the North Channel out of the Solent to then give a good downwind spinnaker run to Durlston Head, that was very brave 2 up in a NE5, but that's Steve, well done Josie (we won't mention the wrap!). Crystella goose-winged down the Needles Channel to then give a decent broad reaching angle. Dulcibella, with sufficient water under her keel and not too much of a chop, bisected the other two routes and went straight over the Shingles Bank, making good use of its cutter rig flying a yankee and a jib without main. All 3 were always in sight of each other, and then as if by magic, all converged a few hundred yards apart off Durlston Head. St Albans Head was reached just in time at slack water. Then at the turn, with a good NE4 we had a cracking reach all the way home.

Nutcracker extended the trip for a few days starting with a windy beat up the Solent from Lymington to Bembridge on the IOW for a couple of nights. The next day was a windy run back to a sheltered East Cowes, a good choice as boats in the Haven at West Cowes were bouncing around in the strong NE wind. It was an early start the next morning to catch the tide back to Weymouth.

It had been a grand late summer cruise despite being a busy Bank Holiday in the Solent, and as always on these WSC cruises in company, there was great company and much joviality.

Submitted on Saturday, 18th September