Tuesday dawned bright warm and sunny, promising a day of clear blue skies and gentle easterly winds to blow us all comfortably down to Lymington for the start of our cruise.
Then I woke up!
Remarkably, in spite of the force 6/7 gusts, stubborn grey skies and a strong westerly wind against a spring ebbtide, 8 valiant boats and their intrepid skippers and crews made the trek to Lymington to support us on our inaugural trip as ‘cruise leaders’.
As ‘newbies’ to this challenge we thought we’d make our first one fairly short and straightforward, hoping that maybe a few others might risk joining us. In the end, with the assistance of a reminder in the newsletter, we became a cheerful and lively rally of 9 boats, all setting off on different days and at different times, determined to beat the weather and make it to Lymington. Dawn Chorus even recorded a gust of 35.7 mph on their journey!
The Dan Bran pontoon accommodated us all easily although we did find ourselves having to play musical boats as the Harbour Master asked us to all shift down several boat lengths to accommodate another club rally who had changed their plans because of the inclement weather. It all made for plenty of banter between crews as we established our new positions.
With most boats having arrived by late afternoon we had plenty of time to recharge our batteries before convening at 18:00 for the customary pontoon party and a briefing by cruise leader Tim about the following day’s events. In spite of the wind, the crisps did stay in the bowl!
An amenable but noisy evening was then spent at RLYC enjoying their tasty menu during which some fiendish Tudor themed quiz sheets were handed out to crews. Furrowed brows all round!
Wednesday dawned somewhat overcast but decidedly less blustery, so a combination of walkers, birdwatchers, bus passengers and taxi riders made their way at varying starting times to The Gun at Keyhaven for a very satisfying lunch.
While convening outside, the eagle eyed amongst us spotted an interestingly dressed lady in Tudor costume hurrying to the ferry, who became waylaid by a curious passing motorist and was busy bobbing curtsies and explaining herself! She therefore missed her ferry and joined us on ours, giving us an insight into what was to come on our arrival at Hurst.
The Tudor tour of Hurst Castle was both entertaining and informative, as undeterred by a bit of rain we followed our guide up and down steep, dark and narrow staircases and thoroughly lost our sense of direction and flexibility in our knees!
However, we now know why 2 fireplaces have been built just a few feet on top of one another and why a Tudor soldier would not have had cabbage in his potage. Do you?
The views over the surrounding countryside and the Narrows were spectacular and watching a small boat trying to fight its way against the ebb tide proved mesmerising – perhaps some of us have been there ourselves?
Some of our group did lose concentration from time to time, distracted by the search for clues and a certain person, who shall remain nameless, even stole the notes off our guide in order to get ahead in the quiz!
After a reviving cup of tea and delicious homemade cake in the cafe (the bread pudding looked amazing but someone showing his knees ate the last piece!) it was time to leave, so the ferries and a minibus taxi took most of us back to Lymington with just Helen and Kerry making their way on foot in one last search for ‘the cornflake’!
Lymington Town Sailing Club made us very welcome that evening with an extensive ‘light bites’ menu and while waiting for our food to arrive it was time for the ‘big reveal’ – the quiz answers! It takes a certain sort of brain to deal with obscure cryptic clues and anagrams and CYC members must have it well developed, as most solutions were correctly teased out.
It was a close contest, with ‘Rascallion’ just leading the pack with some inspired answers. Congratulations to John and Pat!
Typically for sailing in the Solent, after a strong Westerly wind on the nose on Tuesday, we were presented on Thursday morning with cloudless skies and no wind at all! So hauling our sails up to dry them after the previous day’s rain we mostly drifted and motored back to our home bases, hopefully more knowledgeable than when we set out!
Many thanks for your companionship and support to:
- Bugsy 2 – David and Gill
- Coco – Steve and Cathy
- Dawn Chorus – Graeme and Helen
- Oar-to-Sail – Trevor and Rose
- Rascallion – John and Pat
- Raven – Bob and Carole
- Smooth Jazz – Graham and Martin
- Sounio – John and Kerry
– by Beryl Walker