May Bank Holiday rally
Sat 5th and Sun 6th May 2012

Report by Clifford Miller and David Bamber

It was wet, cold and windy but we had some exhilarating sailing and of course cheery evenings! The Coastguard forecast on Friday evening for Saturday and Sunday was not good, promising "NE F 5-7 and Gale 8 soon". The gale blew through Friday night and as we had strong crews (one single handed), 4 "Seals" headed for Chichester Harbour on Saturday, one starting from Littlehampton and three from the west (two via Gosport and one from Langstone).

To/from Littlehampton by David Bamber, Seal 850 Sea Lady

One good thing to say about the "Rally to Littlehampton that didn’t quite make it" is that shortly afterwards the hosepipe ban was lifted over some of the previously drought stricken areas in the UK. The PSSA Committee had almost reached a conclusion at a previous meeting on guidance notes for "rally go-no-go" criteria considering mainly wind strength and direction. Anyway, temperature and precipitation may have to be added to the list.

My crew (Gordon Spence) and I shot off from Littlehampton at 11.30 on Saturday 5 May towards Selsey Bill / Mixon Beacon / Boulder and Street on our way to Chichester Harbour. By then we had cancelled the Sunday lunch for rally members at Arun Yacht club and berthing reservations at Littlehampton pontoons . Rounding Selsey Bill we touched 9.3 knots. Admittedly half the English Channel was trying to get through the same hole as us which helped, but a F5 behind us also helped. After rounding Selsey Bill the genneker came down and Sea Lady made a good broad reach into the Harbour on a partially furled head sail.

The prospect of spending a night in a strong North-Easterly wind anchored off East Head was not appealing. The prospect of having a BBQ had gone down along with the mercury in the thermometer. So I contacted those members who said that they would come and suggested that we meet at Itchenor channel pontoons and decide where to go from there. Destination then became Chichester Marina (see below).

For our return to on Sunday Sea Lady enjoyed a riveting cruise back to Littlehampton. Departing Chichester Harbour at low water on a spring tide was fun: the current was so strong it took us up to 10.3 knots momentarily. Entry to Littlehampton was precisely timed at 21.30 to enable us to just scrape in. The following morning the crew noticed a neatly cut groove in the mud leading up to Sea Lady’s pontoon.

To Chichester Harbour and Cowes by Clifford Miller, Parker 275 Abacus

Abacus (with son-in-law Neil) met up with Zephyr (Parker 235, Peter Scrivens single handed) at Gosport Marina on Friday evening and with some trepidation headed out of Portsmouth Harbour at 0930 on Saturday morning. Abacus had 2 reefs and Zephyr 3 reefs. With the wind F5-6 from the NE we enjoyed a close reach to Chichester "West Point" mark and then motored up to Itchenor. One look at the pontoon at Itchenor (in heavy rain) convinced us to head for the posh Chichester Marina with electricity, warm "en suites", bars etc.(£22 for the night for the P275). We got berthed by 1430 before the channel water disappeared (spring tide) while Pegasus (P325, Stuart Tucker and Helen) and Sea Lady had to wait for more water. However the 7 of us met for drinks on Abacus before moving on to the Chichester Yacht Club close to the Marina.

The three yachts from the west had no stomach for Littlehampton on Sunday and back Monday which was disappointing as the Looe Channel and Littlehampton entrance usually provide interesting and sometimes character building experiences. So we headed west for Cowes and had a really good sail on a broad reach all the way in a NE 5-6. Pegasus boasted a top speed of 7.4 knots and Abacus with full main and no Genoa about the same. Zephyr also reached impressive speeds.

On arrival Shepards Wharf at Cowes we found P275 Sophia (Peter, Jenny and Robert), P275 Vol-au-vent ( Ken, Sue and Paul) and SS26 Foca (Leonie, Jack and John). On the latter Jack did a rocky mast head climb with a bosun’s chair plus an interesting system of rope loops for the feet which were winched up alternately to assist the winch grinders. At 6.30pm all 17 of us went on board the nice blue hulled Sophia and then moved on to The Duke of York for a good value and a jolly dinner. On Monday a Southerly wind F4-5 got us all back to home berths without drama (as far as I know!).

We thank David Bamber for his excellent organisation- a very good flier on the web with tide/tidal windows etc., a warning a few days before the weekend about the weather outlook and good updates en route about the several changes to plan. Thanks also to Peter for organising the Cowes option.