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Yarmouth | 27 May - 2 Jun 24

Having built some confidence with the CCSC cruise to Cherbourg and a trip west to do the 3 Creek's Race (write up to come), the Yarmouth cruise should have been a relaxing saunter east with my crew Christine, Alan and Jackie in Peccadillo and eight other CCSC boats! The wind gods clearly had other ideas!

While the official cruise started on Monday (27 May), Sunday saw Peccadillo and Silver Girl (Bob and Christine) opting to go half way, overnighting in Studland and Swanage respectively. The sensible option would have been to leave early morning with the east going tide, but we (I) figured we could leave mid-afternoon to round St Aldhelm's Head at the turn of the tide around 7.30. So the 1400 bridge lift it was, followed by a late lunch at anchor in Weymouth Bay waiting for a slightly more favourable tide. Retrieving the anchor proved a little more tricky than anticipated...I'm still not quite sure what we pulled up (!) but eventually we were free and sailing.

Moorings The downside of our plan was a westerly breeze, building to a good 20 knots directly behind us, giving a somewhat lumpy ride and the inevitable fish feeding session (no names!). The inshore passage around St Aldhelm's didn't seem too appealing in these conditions, so we took the long way round the ledges, after which it gradually got easier until rounding Old Harry Rocks to some welcome shelter just as the light was fading. We picked up an eco-mooring behind our Gosport-based friends (on Emelita) who had left Portland at a much more sensible time of 8 am.

Meanwhile Silver Girl and Edelweiss (Shaun, Will and Paul) both left Weymouth Harbour on the 1800 bridge with Edelweiss heading for their club mooring in Portland Harbour and wondering why Silver Girl had turned left. With a slightly more favourable tide than our earlier start, Silver Girl had a good, but still windy run down to Swanage where they spent the evening, followed by an early start on Monday to bag first place on the pontoon at Yarmouth.

Moorings The remaining contingent Edelweiss, Boni, Cwac, Seraphim, Pathfinder, Cherubino and Bumble Bee, all left Portland early Monday morning in a slightly reduced breeze. However, it was still a lumpy enough passage to prompt a bit more fish feeding. Bumble Bee's crew succumbed to the extent that Julie effectively single-handed it to Yarmouth, with Edelweiss kindly slowing down to monitor progress and provide some moral support. A good confidence builder for a first cruise as skipper?

This was all somewhat overshadowed, however, by Cwac (Martin) hitting a submerged object early on in Weymouth Bay, resulting in a broken bobstay and Cwac taking on water. After speaking with the coastguard, the situation was elevated to a "mayday" and Martin reacquainted himself with the Weymouth lifeboat. [1] Although Cwac's pumps were coping with the leak, the lifeboat put a crew member on board to assist Martin, who thankfully made it back safely to Weymouth (see Echo report).

Almost as challenging as the sailing was organising the evening meal for 25 on a bank holiday Monday! With a good deal of perseverance, Bob managed to book us all into the Bugle Inn for some much-needed victualling.

The typical bank holiday weather continued on Tuesday with grey skies and drizzle. John and Gareth took a little jog down to the Needles and back, while most of the others opted for a more leisurely stroll up the River Yar across the island and back. Otherwise Tuesday was spent relaxing, recovering and planning Wednesday's adventures.

Moorings As ever, the plans turned out to be a basis for change! The intention had been for Cherubino (Nick, Tash, Serren and Iona), Pathfinder (Phil, Hannah, Isaac and Martha) and Boni to head across to the Beaulieu river and stay the night at Buckler's Hard. Before Boni had untied her lines, however, Cherubino was spotted being towed back in by the Harbourmaster's launch. With a borrowed wetsuit (thanks Mike) to allow Nick to do a quick underwater survey, it turned out to be a lost propeller blade. Relatively unphased by this, Nick proceeded to organise a repair with a spare that had come with the boat. It was just a small matter of organising his neighbours and father to break into his garage to recover it and deliver it to Lymington, where he managed to book a lift out and repair for Thursday.

Silver Girl, having extracted herself from a tight corner at the end of the pontoon the benefit of arriving first had pre-positioned herself for an early departure back to Weymouth. Thirteen hours later, having fought wind, tide and waves once out of the Solent, she made it. I suspect another plan failing the A Team test and not quite coming together (showing my age).

Moorings Team Peccadillo took the opportunity to try out a double kayak borrowed from Steve and Monica. Having realised that a key component (the valve for the base) was probably buried somewhere on Jenny Wren, we improvised with a wooden wedge intended for plugging holes in the hull hopefully the only time we will need to use it! A successful test paddle was undertaken a little way up the Yar, before Alan and Christine were mercilessly attacked by some screeching Oystercatchers on their return. Not quite the raven scene from the Omen, but I think my crew were more shaken up by this than the sailing.

Moorings More socialising ensued in the evening with the inevitable "how many people can we fit on one boat" competition being won by Edelweiss, although I think Peccadillo shades it in the biggest cockpit tent competition. The highlight of the day had to be the Pathfinder renaming ceremony. After much research or a quick Google at least Phil and Isaac gallantly sacrificed some biscuits and spiced rum to Poseidon and the four wind gods (must be a candidate for Nicky's next quiz to name them).

Thursday being the last official day of the cruise, Peccadillo, Edelweiss and Bumble Bee, set off on the return leg. Again, ignoring the sensible option of this time waiting a day for more favourable winds, Peccadillo left just after 6 am and initially made good progress via the North Channel to St Aldhelm's Head.

Taking the inshore passage this time, we were expecting the wind to build thereafter. And it certainly did! Fighting a steady F6 gusting F7 and adverse tide (allegedly neaps) we were fully reefed making less than 2 knots over the ground. 12 hours to Weymouth from Kimmeridge according to the chart plotter didn't sound great, so we reluctantly started the engine to achieve a more reasonable 4 to 5 knots. We eventually tied up on the Town Bridge waiting pontoon at 1640 just over a 10 hour passage. Aboat arriving on the waiting pontoon after us claimed to have seen 50 knot gusts! So, I think we can claim to have given Peccadillo a reasonable test sail now!

Somehow Edelweiss managed to sneak past us closer inshore and made the 1600 bridge lift, having started at 8 am and taken the slightly longer offshore route down the Needles Channel. Bumble Bee also started with them and finally made it back to Portland a little before 7 pm the crew commenting that it was "brutal and hard work".

Moorings Back in the Solent, Boni was doing a sterling job towing Cherubino over to Lymington for the prop replacement. She and Pathfinder then flew back in 6.5 hours on Friday with the wind veering more northerly and on the beam...I think I mentioned a sensible option earlier!

The drama continued for Cherubino. After launch and test Nick realised that the stern gland was leaking! Having contacted the engineer that did the work, two apprentices and theories of a cracked stern tube later, the boss turned up late in the evening to diagnose it being caused by excess flash line of the rubber boot in line with the clamp mating face. With the clamp rotated by 90° Cherubino was good to go and had a relatively stress-free sail back on Saturday.

That just left Seraphim (Mike and Genia), left to their own devices to head across the channel to Ouistreham for the D-day commemorations. However, not content to be left out of the storyline for this cruise, as I write, Bob has just reported Seraphim as responding to a "pan pan" and taking in tow a small fishing boat at East Shambles!

Moorings So overall, a not uneventful trip and certainly not the relaxing saunter east I had hoped for! Thanks to Monica and Mike for organising and leading the cruise, Bob and Nicky for booking the pub, and Nick and Martin for offering some interesting material to write up. It was fantastic to see 8 boats make it (sorry Martin) and great to see all the youngsters joining in too. On that note, Isaac managed to find time to make a number of zip pulls and keyrings (see picture) and is happy to take commissions get in touch with Phil.

And a final confession having taken down my CCSC flag and stuffed it inside my jacket before setting sail back on Thursday, we made it all the way back to Weymouth Harbour entrance before it fell out while taking down our mainsail to be quickly devoured by one of the wind gods. Don't anyone tell Sandy please!

1078433 orig Penmanship: Gareth Jones
Pic: Gareth Jones, Nick Berry, Phil Wright

[1]His first acquaintance, through no fault of his own, followed a request to assist another boat with engine failure in Lyme Bay eventually resulting in a lifeboat tow for both of them!

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