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Summer Cruise in Dorset

26 Jul to 9 Aug 2008

submitted by Michael & Jenny Mead, Sunflower (285)

Taking part: Sunflower, Shiraz, Miss Fidget, Rascal (briefly), Zephyr, Jovial, Se-ell (briefly due to Jean having a poorly leg), Jovial, Vienna (Week Two), Cleo (by car)

Texts from Zephyr: Many thanks for doing your best to get us to Weymouth. Many thanks for organising things.

Extract from a ‘thank you’ card from Brenda and Royce. Thank you both for the good rally. You organized it very well. Here’s to the next one!

Phone call from Miss Fidget thanking us for an enjoyable rally.

Text from Jovial – Be aware wind at 35knots and picking up!

We promised Weymouth and beyond. How far did we get? Well, Poole actually! Winds which were either too strong, in the wrong direction, or simply not enough of them, prevented us from reaching our goal. Yes, it was frustrating not reaching our goal and it even felt like the winds had sent us to gaol! However, the adverse weather didn’t dampen our spirits.

We have run many Wayfarer rallies, some two weeks in length but PSSA rallies, we knew, would be a different kettle of fish .We knew that it would be difficult initially to judge just how capable the people in the other boats were at sailing. For example, we learnt that some people preferred not to use their noisy engines unless absolutely necessary. Sailing is about being at peace not in pieces!

Perhaps we should have sailed straight to Weymouth from Yarmouth on the first day. It would have been possible but it would have taken a long time as the winds that day were practically non-existent. We would have undoubtedly had trouble getting back east. So maybe choosing Poole for the first leg was the right decision.

Yarmouth – It was difficult to top the pleasures of a lazy, hot weekend at Timbrell’s Quay but anyway, everyone seemed to enjoy the welcome drinks on board Sunflower at Yarmouth. We were pleased too to welcome Miss Fidget (Richard and Gilliane). It was good to welcome our new members Jovial ( David and Debbie). Poor Jean (Se-ell) put on a really brave face despite suffering from a very swollen leg.

Poole – The next day, despite a reasonable forecast, turned out to be windless and so it took us several hours to reach our destination at Shipstal Point in Poole. Some went via the Needles Channel and others hugged the coast. Unfortunately Shiraz developed engine troubles. Jean and Hugh returned home and Jean was duly despatched to the hospital. We thought that we had found the perfect place to anchor and we spent a peaceful night in the bay. Maybe we’d got the hang of this anchoring lark at last!

Next morning the wind was set to increase quite dramatically and we needed to go somewhere more sheltered. Wareham was chosen and we were accepted by the sailing club. Boats were speedily despatched. Miss Fidget decided to stay at Shipstal.

We struggled under increasing winds to set our anchor free but to no avail. Shiraz meantime had to turn back as she was not making headway due her engine under-performing. Shiraz tied up next to us while we awaited a diver to come out and cut us free. We were extremely grateful to Keith McCarthy who came to our rescue by recommending a man who would charge us a very reasonable £65. Our anchor had caught fast on an old anchor chain!

The above text arrived from Jovial. This meant that we needed to get Shiraz to a more sheltered area and quickly. As we had to collect our anchor from Poole Yacht Club, we opted for a night or two there until the wind abated. We were lucky enough to get the remaining two spaces at the yacht club. There were many worried sailors struggling to find shelter that night! 

The Wareham contingent fell in love with Wareham and the delights of the town. We’re sorry we missed it. Still we all did manage to meet up regularly if only for meals even though some people had to moor up at the Dolphin Marina later. Jean and Hugh came to visit us twice and supplied us with regular weather forecasts. Well done Jean and Hugh!
Although we were only into the first week of the rally, we had been tracking the weather. It soon became clear that going any further west was no longer an option because for some people, work would be beckoning. Zephyr, Jovial and Miss Fidget decided to stay in Poole for a while longer. Miss Fidget wanted to explore Poole. Zephyr and Jovial were still hoping to make it to Weymouth. We gave them details and a plan of how to get to Weymouth safely, should the weather improve.

Christchurch – We headed for Christchurch with Shiraz. We had a beautiful but brief sail there in light westerly winds which gently pushed us along. Royce was looking forward to getting his engine repaired and this he did indeed achieve at a very reasonable cost too.

We spent a delightful three nights at Christchurch. Although the wind picked up again dramatically, the sun shone and we were safely tucked up at Christchurch Sailing Club where we were treated like royalty. We even sampled the delights of ‘Stomping in the Quods!’ This was a marvellous day of band music and choirs hosted by Waitrose and all free to! We packed up a picnic and joined in the fun. For Royce, the icing on the cake was an invitation to drinks on board a brand new Ovni 45. For me, it was getting Waitrose to deliver a week’s groceries to the boat and on time too! In addition our son, Tim joined the cruise here for the second week.

Yarmouth – Sunflower and Shiraz had a swift, rolling passage back to Yarmouth in a south westerly force 4. We managed to shoot through Hurst before the tide turned too. Meanwhile the Poole contingent had decided that they had to head back east if they were to get home on time. So, in view of the forecast for forthcoming week, the decision was taken to meet up for a final meal together at The Blue Crab in Yarmouth before dispersing and a jolly good evening it was too. Even though our two weeks weren’t over, the weather had forced us all to re-consider our plans i.e. to get home while the going was good.

Lymington – We arranged to meet up with Vienna (Adrian and Pam) here. Vienna had plans for going west for two weeks. Bad weather once again forced us to have a few days rest from what little sailing we had had so far. Still, we had a great time in the delightful company of Adrian and Pam.

Ashlett Creek - Yet more inclement weather forced us to think about returning home far too early and even earlier for Vienna whose holiday had hardly begun! We both set out for Ashlett Creek – Vienna’s home!! We had a great two days there and were made very welcome by all the club members. Jenny and Peter Lowry and the children joined us too by car. They turned up glowing with health, a product of having had the benefit of a week’s sunshine in warmer climes! Lucky things!

Hythe – This last sail proved to be the best! Rather than simply sailing the short distance back to Hythe, we decided to sail down Southampton Water as far as we could go to Eling. Now, why have we never done that before? It was a real mixture of tranquillity and bustle; nature and industry working in harmony so well together.

Well we didn’t make it to Weymouth but we certainly had a good time as did everyone else. Next year we will probably take to the waters of the Solent for our annual two week break. We can always find sunshine outside the sailing season. Let’s hope that next year the sun will shine, the sea will be calm, the rain will cease and the wind won’t blow so! 

Michael and Jenny Mead, Sunflower, 285