The Beautiful Place rally
August Bank Holiday Weekend 2009, Timbrells Quay, Beaulieu

Report by Jenny & Michael Mead, photos by Geoff Turner and Gilliane Sills

Friday, 28th August

What can you expect from Bank Holiday weather? Of course, bad weather! At least it wasn’t raining. We took with us our daughter’s in-laws. Not sure what relation they are to us but hey, they are good friends, especially as the provisions they brought were all homemade goodies which we couldn’t wait to devour.

Despite a forecast of 5/6 expected to rise to Gale 8, we decided to poke our nose out into the Solent from Hythe in Southampton Water, to check out what was really going on. After all there were only wavelets and a steady wind out there. At lunchtime we set off on a broad reach using only the blade jib. Then as we neared the Hamble River, a message came from Peter Lowry in Cleo to tell us to stay where we were.

So as he struggled on to the Beaulieu River, we sailed gently up river to Port Hamble Marina. We receive 30 free nights at any other MDL Marina of our choice as part of our package at Hythe. So it is always a joy to take refuge at any one of the 3 MDL’s there. Port Hamble has a new Banana Wharf restaurant which is good.

Better still, the marina tends to fill up with young lassies and lads embarking on training courses with Fairview Sailing. They arrive in wonderful, useless designer gear and stagger on board one of the many Fairview Sailing boats, intent on getting that all important tan. They probably have visions of splaying themselves out on deck throughout the weekend. Having discharged of their gear, they head for the bar and balcony to be ‘seen.’ Their conversations are a treat to listen to! Further into the weekend, these same happy bands of ‘sailors’ are spotted dotted around the Solent looking cold, miserable and positively green!

Saturday, 29th August

Forecast Force 4/5 westerly, increasing to 6 later. How come we had such a hard beat all the way there?! Anyway, we missed out on the 6 somehow, dropped our sails outside the Beaulieu entrance and as it was lunchtime (well, late lunch), we motored up to Buckler’s Hard Harbour. One doesn’t call it a marina. We were charged £13.00 for a two hour stay and were told to be gone by 4pm! There was little in the way of a welcome but more of a "hurry up and go as we only want people who are staying the night" attitude! Considering how much one pays, the facilities are dire. I suppose one is paying for the location which is indeed amazing and we were bathed in beautiful, hot sunshine. Indeed this is a beautiful place.

We were the third boat to arrive at Timbrell’s Quay. Shiraz was already on its third night stay and Cleo its second. In all, 18 boats representing all the differing sizes of Seals and Parkers, slowly drifted in. What a sight to behold!

The Pimms we offered seemed to be very welcome. Somehow, I couldn’t get my act together when it came to sorting out the snacks. It didn’t matter as people seemed more intent on coming back for seconds and thirds of booze! They must have had a skinful as we spent the rest of the evening being bathed in barbeque smoke. Hasn’t anyone heard of wind direction?! I don’t remember partaking of any Pimms as my glass always seemed to be spirited away by somebody else! C’est la vie!

Just as the evening was going well, the weather intervened yet again to spoil our fun. Yes, the forecast for Sunday was bad. It Force 4/5 increasing to 6 later with a westerly wind. The same forecast was indeed repeated for the whole of Sunday with the ‘later’ appearing earlier! That meant a dangerous entry into Christchurch and a tough, rough sail in squally showers. Here endeth the Christchurch sail. So I had to subdue a cross chef at Christchurch with news of a cancellation. The chef asked if anyone could drive round for dessert as the first course of the meal could be frozen. Well, in fact, a few people did which was a relief. Blythe Spirit turned up by car hoping to meet up but well, what could we do? Ruby had to return to his home port of Christchurch. By all accounts, it was a sail never to be attempted ever again. That made me feel better.

Sunday, 30th August

Peter Lowry, always to be relied upon, came up with the perfect solution to Christchurch. Lunch in Cowes and head up river to Newport for the night. 7 boats turned up. Incidentally, we made a very fast rolling but pleasant passage to Cowes. I think Sunflower actually came first this time despite having barnacles on the propeller and every other place imaginable!

Grace was already there ensconced at Newport and 20 or so of us sat down to a sumptuous meal at The Bargeman’s Rest. Pre-dinner drinks were held on Cleo and the après drinks on board Shemar. Rascal turned up only after he had finished watching the Grand Prix on his on board telly!

Monday, 31st August

The forecast was yet again not good but there was promise of warm sunshine. That meant that instead of boats having their bottoms scraped at Newport, the decision was made to head for home only after some of us had sampled the delights of a delicious cooked breakfast in Newport town.

The promise of strong winds never happened (well it did later), and in fact the wind died on us. We wallowed about as we still had the blade jib on a two reefs in the main. Consequently our friends began to feel a bit unwell. So on went the engine. Just as we were nearing Hythe, along came a marvellous wind. But, hey ho, we had had lots of it already.

Now for the best part - drinks on deck at Hythe, sunshine and lots of sunbathing to look forward to for the rest of the day. We had another day’s holiday (which incidentally, produced Gales 8/9!). Now it was time to splay ourselves on deck in our shorts. Not a pretty sight though! Pity!

Jenny Mead (for Michael) P285 Sunflower

The boats

The Barbeque

From across the water

Evening and morning

Photos from 2008