Newtown rally

Sat 13th August 2011

Is house fever the opposite of cabin fever? After missing one weekend after another, the family was desperate to get afloat. Well, that’s what I told them. Our Sailing Secretary went to the trouble of reaching out to the Limbo Owners Association and planned a joint rally with Limbo owners. Unfortunately the outlook was quite breezy so the rally was officially cancelled. But as we are Solent based and were desperate to get out, we went anyway.

Going from Hamble (the lower-class upper reaches, drying berth of course) to Newtown was an upwind slog. However we pressed on under sail in case anyone was watching - Seals have eyes everywhere. For the last 25% of the journey we gave up and went for engine assist as the oncoming chop was knocking us back so much. We eased into Newtown just after low water. It felt good to be there. After four attempts to get our trusty Delta anchor to bite, we (not Sue, if I may write perilously) managed to get a grip and watched other members arrive until quite a group had assembled. The things people will do for a barbeque.

Despite the brisk winds we had experienced during the journey, we found the evening began to calm down as we mounted a raid on the beach and started barbecues blazing. Six crews enjoyed a surprisingly pleasant evening as the wind dropped right away and my decision to wear shorts was vindicated. After a very social few hours and with dusk approaching, we scuttled back to our yachts. All that fresh air meant an early night and a perfectly peaceful night. Each year, my appreciation of Newtown grows. National Trust operated, the shelter and tranquility is so out of character for the Solent. Of course that is if you are not swinging around wildly if the wind is howling outside.

The next morning we slipped out quietly and really did have one of those "this is what it all about" experiences. We set off on a broad reach under headsail only. The sea was flat. As we charged along, the autopilot didn’t flinch. Everything felt so solid, rock solid. Good, now it was time for Operation Mackerel. We’d just modified one of our two paravanes and were pleased to try it out with its new spinner. If you’ve not met a paravane I can highly recommend one. Unwind your line from a hand reel, drop it over the stern and wait. No bait required. When the fish jumps on, the paravane surfaces and you wind in your soon-to-be mackerel paté. By the time we reached Calshot we had six mackerel in our bucket. As we packed away our fishing lines we saw something we’d never witnessed before. It looked like a maritime fashion parade as we passed yacht after yacht wearing bright orange jib and main storm sails. It was the start of the Fastnet race and entrants had to demonstrate that they have their storm gear on board. Anyway, we couldn’t wait for the start. We had paté to make.

Let’s plan on the same timing next year.

Ken, Sue, Kate, Paul – P275/25 Vol-au-vent