Solent Rally -July 2011
NYC Solent Rally 2011 – Boats taking part - Za-Zar (Mike & Eileen Edwards together with Grandson Reece and his friend Dean), Zeta (Nigel Cooper & Ann Headon), Blue Danube (Flying the Commodore’s Flag -Richard Mitchell & Jane Twyman), Beaumaris (Maurice Elford), Sprat (Peter Dook, Mike Kearon & Christian), Capricia (Linda & Mel Wood plus John), Moody Blue (Mike Price and Nina Heaton) and Fafnir (Paddy & Vida Turner).
Firstly I would like to thank Gerald & Angela for identifying “Last Night at the Osborne Proms, IOW” as a potential “extra” rally for the Club, it was great, and the inclusion of the Concert and Fireworks display at Osborne House made it even more worthwhile.
Wednesday 20th July saw the start of the rally with a light breeze taking us to Sparks Marina, Chichester Harbour, a place I had not visited before. Sprat – due to a late start and having further to go than the Brighton Boats – made it only to Littlehampton.
Sparks, part of the MDL group, is a pleasant marina which has a Visitors Pontoon outside the Marina, we however were offered berths inside the marina and moored up onto stable, long fingers, the only downside could be that manoeuvrability was very tight when inside the marina which could prove difficult in strong winds.
MDL made us very welcome and generally provide a very good level of service, the site also benefits from a bistro / restaurant, which provided us with a “posh” breakfast on Thursday morning prior to our departure.
The advantage of using Sparks is the quick exit from Chichester Harbour and the short journey to Bembridge enabling us to arrive at high water with some form of certainty.
A gentle beam reach carried us across the Solent, we did however get a soaking on the way from a heavy burst of rain which came out of the blue. Just as we entered Bembridge the weather cleared, and the friendly harbour staff gave us our berths.
Capricia and Fafnir were already there and had gone off on foot to explore the local countryside, the harbour staff kindly allowed us to all raft up together in one area. Unfortunately Peter Dook in Sprat called up and said they couldn’t make the tidal gate at Bembridge, so they decided to continue onto Cowes Yacht Haven.
For a while the group suffered the smell of old socks wafting over the pontoon – some say it was Nigel drying his shoes out on top of his engine!
We began preparation for our evening festivities, the Marina kindly offered us use of their gas bbq and gazebo. As soon as we got the bbqs alight, the heavens opened once more and another damp evening followed. Fortunately the Bembridge bbq area is very well sheltered; one of the bbqs which was outside was covered by Mikes’ golf umbrella perched on top of the gazebo guy ropes so the meat didn’t get wet! - a very good evening was had by all.
Jane made a small club donation to Bembridge Harbour for the use of their bbq equipment.
On Friday morning, a few of the group wandered off to the other side of the harbour, past the numerous houseboats – some very decorative, some very tatty - and strolled on up to the windmill and through the meadows. All returned in time to make it out of Bembridge with the tide – first out was Beaumaris with his shallow draft followed by the rest of us. We enjoyed a beat to windward, heading towards Cowes, except for Fafnir, which was returning to Brighton after a few days already spent in the Solent, and Moody Blue who had to pick up additional crew at Swanwick.
On the way ZaZar picked up a Lobster pot line which was partly submerged just off Ryde which stopped the boat dead in the water, with 2 knots of tide and a full set of sails fighting it - it must have been anchored to something pretty substantial!
After notifying the Coastguards we proceeded to reduce our sail and circle the pot in the hope that we could free ourselves, luckily we had no engine on at the time and it was only around the keel and came off relatively easily, Capricia and Blue Danube kindly stood by, ready to help if needed, the coastguard came out to deal with the offending pot and line because it was right in the path of the Ryde Ferries.
Once into the Medina we headed up past the Folly Inn to Island Harbour Marina.
Island Harbour lock was on free flow, and we were led to our berths by the harbour staff in their dory. The marina has a lovely setting, with a small block of houses and flats on the East side, and view to Folly Inn along the river. The marina area is peaceful, and shore facilities are very good. On Saturday we set off along the riverbank to the Folly Inn for lunch, and met up with the crew of Sprat. The Folly is a very busy place on a warm day, their food is normally very good and on this occasion didn’t disappoint. We waved to Moody Blue as they came past on their way up to Island Harbour but they were oblivious as to our presence.
That evening having arranged transport and prepared our picnics, we set off for Osborne House, for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s open air “Last Night of the Proms”, which proved an excellent evening with the usual rousing finale supported by the flag waving crowd together with 15 minutes of fireworks at the end – great stuff, and the weather fortunately remained dry throughout.
On Sunday Moody Blue left for Swanwick, while Capricia and Beaumaris headed for Beaulieu River. Sprat had set off on their return journey to Newhaven, via Brighton and Blue Danube headed for Sparks ready for their Monday jaunt back home.
ZaZar and Zeta remained at Island harbour and walked along the riverside into Newport for a bit of shopping and lunch. On the way back we watched with interest as the Coastguard helicopter landed in open ground by the river to take on board an injured passenger before transporting them to the main land.
The Marina had provided outdoor bbq facilities for a large rally the previous evening and the Harbour Master was only too happy to allow us to use them – free of charge! We cooked far too much food and, as usual opened a bottle or two.
The setting idyllic, on the lawns overlooking the marina with far reaching views down the river to Cowes, a great setting for the occasion and in hind sight – better than Bembridge (so a good contender for next year’s bbq in the Solent?)
Ann got out the boules and we had a great time, I think Reece and Dean won but they may have cheated a little?.
On Monday Za-Zar and Zeta set off for Gosport, where they were joined by Beaumaris.
For the last evening of the rally we crossed on the ferry to dine at the Water Margin Chinese restaurant in Gunwharf Quay to celebrate Nigel’s birthday, unfortunately it turned out to be a most disappointing meal, but we still enjoyed ourselves.
The following morning we arranged to meet at Gosport Marinas own “Boathouse Restaurant” at 09.00 for a bacon roll and surprised Nigel with his cake and presents – how embarrassing!
On Tuesday during our journey home to Brighton / Newhaven we had little or no wind and sadly the journey was mostly under engine, but the sea state was calm and we all did it in good time.
We all agreed, with so many boats joining in; the Osborne House Proms and all the different marinas we visited, it had been one of the best NYC Solent rallies for some years - Island Harbour had been such a delight, that it could well be a regular location for future NYC rallies.
Mike Edwards - ZaZar