Easter Rally to Weymouth

 

Only one boat made it to Weymouth, Athena, skippered by member Gordon Bentley who kindly wrote the following .......

 

Captains Log – 29th March

Left Gosport marina at 0730hrs hugging the coastline towards the Isle of Wight to avoid the spring tide against us for the first 4 hours. Icy East wind behind us as we sailed on a dead run so no wind chill factor. Passed down the Needles and took the inner passage for St Albans head to be met with moderate over-falls most of the way. Coastguard gives out totally unexpected Force 8 gale warning as being imminent (less than 6 hours away) – where did that come from ? Increasing wind led to us surfboarding down waves Hawaii 50 style at 10knts over the ground.  Arrived in Weymouth, home of the 2012 Sailing Olympics, just after 1600hrs and decided to berth on the Town Quay for convenience of departure rather than in the marina. All of us more tired than cold.

 

Captains Log – 30th March

Our day of rest. Out of the 12 boats registered for the Haslar Yacht Club Rally to Weymouth we were the only one to make it. So we celebrated in style at the Royal Dorset Yacht Club, who welcomed us as minor celebrities for the evening, offering a Hog Roast and live music to dance to. We were even given recognition for our efforts by the RDYC Commodore in his after dinner speech. Just nine months ago it would have been Olympic sailing medal winners who would have been standing next to us. We felt proud of ourselves and had our photo taken in front the club trophies and the Olympic Burgee flag used in the 1948 Olympic sailing events

 

Captain Log – 31st March

Easter eggs were left for later as we departed early from Weymouth at 0800hrs with the cold North-East Force 5 wind in our faces and rolling waves to give an exhilarating close hauled sail with 2 reefs in the mail sail making 8 – 9knts speed over ground. Once again St Albans Head gave us problems with a confused sea even 3 miles off shore. So we put the engine on and motored into Poole Harbour for the night. The wind was ominously howling in the rigging as we put our heads down in the warmth of our cabin berths.

 

Captains Log - 1st April

It was no Aprils fool joke with the wind blowing Force 5 to 6  and nasty looking waves greeting us at No 1 Buoy as we left the Poole entrance channel at 0830hrs. It was touch & go whether to take it on. Wind was between 18 to 25knts, and when we approached Needles peaked at 31knts. It was the coldest day yet at sea and only the spray hood saved us from freezing temperatures and sea spray rising up and over the cockpit. Not another yacht in sight until we reached the Solent. We put the motor on again to speed up and run for home as the shipping forecast indicated a Gale Force 8 in the Channel was closing in. By 1400hrs we moored up in Gosport on our home berth all safe and sound. Great feeling of achievement, and our Easter eggs finally got consumed with a hot cup of tea !

 

Lessons Learnt:

During unsettled periods of weather do not make a decision to set sail until the latest possible time.  We had no snow and the air temperate never dropped below 5 degrees.

Hot drinks and snacks every hour was the ideal time to have a crew change on the helm.

Having a sprayhood is an absolute necessity when faced with strong freezing wind. Rest of the crew were able to huddle under it and were kept shielded from the wind.

Having  5 experienced sailors on-board gave us much more confidence and capability to manage to the colder elements than what a sailing couple alone could cope with.

Conduct a risk assessment with each change in the weather conditions rather than blindly carry on. We always had a “bolt hole “planned if the sea got too rough.

 

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