Rye Rally – a colourful event
The Rye Rally was supposed to start on the Thursday with a trip to Eastbourne, anchoring off the beach watching the Air Show but as the weather was not looking good for the Day, Zeta and Blue Danube decided to make the journey a day early, unfortunately some of us are restricted by work and couldn’t make it so we had to wait for a break in the weather on the Thursday which came later in the afternoon. The weather put paid to the Air Show all I saw were two helicopters, most of the other planes were grounded, meanwhile Nigel fell asleep on a park bench near the Wish Tower, it’s a shame we don’t have any pictures! As we had Grandchildren Reece and Sharna in Brighton with us, we decided to leave them with Eileen and take Richard Mitchell up on his offer to help crew ZaZar from Brighton to Eastbourne.
With a force 5 to 6 South Westerly / Westerly, Richard and I left the berth in Brighton and proceeded to the Marina entrance, previous experience told us that we would face confused water for about 3-400 yards, anything more than a force 6 and the entrance is a “no go area”. The seas were lumpy and ZaZar who rode it well, did get water on the deck a couple of times, on one occasion Richard (without his wet gear on) accidently sheltered me from oncoming spray – thank you Richard! After a while we reached deeper water and were able to head off passing Newhaven and rounding Beachy Head and join the rally, our trip was brisk, 3 hours from berth to berth and upon arrival Ann kindly cooked us dinner.
The following morning Moody Blue was first to rise, they were due to cross the Channel and join another Rally, it looked like it was going to be a good day for the crossing. Zeta, Blue Danube and ZaZar made it safely into the locks at 6am together with a number of other Boats all rafted up, it’s not usually that busy so early in the morning. The Sea state was calm and we were in no real hurry to make it to Rye, with light airs some goose winged with the tide, it was a bright day and a very pleasant voyage. Upon arrival, we congregated at the River entrance so that we could go up in convoy, our instructions were to get to the Town Quay, turn one by one and tie up on the East wall which we all did. Rye has a new Harbour Master, who had kindly reserved the best positions for our stay.
I really enjoy visiting Rye, we plan the visit to coincide with the “Maritime Festival” which is celebrated with Bands, Stalls and plenty of boats dressed up in all their splendour, if you have not visited it before it’s well worth a visit, it’s such a colourful spectacle. We had a very pleasant, relaxed day with a short walk to the park and shops. That evening after dinner we all congregated on ZaZar for drinks, our Grandchildren waiting patiently for the water to creep back up the river and “float the boats”, it’s amazing just how quickly it comes up, before you know it you are eye level with the street.
Saturday saw the Edwards family off to Maidstone for the Christening of our youngest Grandchild, Macey, we have four Grandchildren with another on the way – as you would imagine it gets very expensive at Christmas!!
Ann got the others together and led them on a tour around the town, as Ann spent most of her Childhood in Rye her local knowledge makes for a very interesting trip. Ann’s Brother Carl had kindly agreed the loan of a small marquee and Gas BBQ for our evening meal, much food and wine was consumed and the jovial banter went on for hours.
Sunday was the official festival day, from the early hours there were people busy setting out stalls and putting up even more bunting along the River bank, and as the tide flooded in, even more boats arrived and soon the banks were full. Rye has, over the last couple of years that I have been coming, been very lucky with the weather, this year was to be no exception, a few clouds but in between, bright hot sunshine – suitable for some us to sunbathe in. There were literally thousands of visitors, the stalls were a hive of activity, the various bands played to an enthusiastic crowd and the bikers with their highly polished treasures congregated around the bridge wall consuming Bacon Butties or Fish and Chips, the day was a great success, the planning of an event of that size must take weeks and credit must be given to the Harbour Office and Town Council. That evening after it had all died down, we decided to have another BBQ, there were an extra couple of visitors, including friends of ZaZar and a couple, Matt and Jacqui who had sailed to Rye in their Westerly Merlin “Salute” normally berthed at Brighton. We didn’t have the benefit of the gas BBQ for the evening so we balanced a number of disposable BBQ’s on our work bench (an aluminium ladder laid across two chairs) and whilst the cooking process was inevitably slow, we consumed a couple of glasses to pass the time.
Next day, the tide came up at a very respectable time and with the weather forecast looking ok, we were all looking forward to a good sail home. The trip down the river passed without incident, no groundings or near scrapes, as we neared the estuary, the weather didn’t appear quite as good as forecast, the wind on the nose, was building to 5 – 6 with the sea state moderate, even with the tide with us it was going to be a long bumpy journey.
Hours later Salute and Zeta peeled off into Eastbourne whilst Blue Danube continued on to its home port of Newhaven, ZaZar stubbornly bashed through wind and waves onto Brighton, having to steer a course due South of the barge working off Saltdean adding an extra hour to our journey, all in all it took us 11 hours berth to berth, and what a tiring journey it was! In hind sight we should have gone into Eastbourne with the others, still, all home safely, we had a great time – looking forward to the next Rally!!!