Second “English Raid” - Solent and Isle of Wight. 19th - 24th July 2011
100% congratulations and thanks to the organisers. They had created a good raid in 2010, and excelled themselves fine-tuning it to first class for 2011.
Apart from the weather, and camouflaging Fawley refinery, there would seem to be little scope to improvement.
Tuesday 19th -Arrival, launching, welcome meeting. Dinner at Royal Lymington, "camping" for some at the Scout hut in nautically named "state-rooms".
Wednesday 20th - Early (09:00) start from Lymington. Out into mid channel to gain the benefit of the (East-running) flood tide. Easy sailing most of the way up the Solent past Cowes, but declining wind on the approach to Wooton Creek.
Thursday 21st - Breakfast at Bembridge S.C. followed by briefing at Duver, then away "over the bar" down Bembridge creek. Cumulus clouds brewing warned of squalls to come; and they did. Some gusty and wet moments in the crossing to Chichester Harbour. The fleet beached at East Heads Spit for lunch, then pushed on up-river to Itchenor. All found moorings at the river pontoon and then drenched again by another downpour whilst waiting for the liberty boat to take us ashore. The arrangements left a bit to be desired, but at last we were in the shelter of the very well equipped and extensive Itchenor Sailing Club. The last remaining beds were eagerly booked up in preference to camping as the heavens opened again. Very comfortable night but an early start tomorrow.
Friday 22nd - Boat & crew shuffling at dawn (06:45) but "Molly" arrived alongside "Stella Anne", anchored down-river, in time for breakfast. Great sailing out of Itchenor, then west along the coast. Tucking in against the shore to pass through the gaps in the barriers. Some time to kill outside Portsmouth awaiting a safe moment to enter, and more time waiting to cross to Gunwharfe key. Somehow the fleet packed into the available space and most crews went ashore for lunch, entertained by a marching band. A good lunch and soporific sunshine might have made departure a challenge, but the call of the sea.....
Saturday 23rd - Breakfast at RAFYC then briefing and away down river and west for Lunch stop at Beaulieu.
Sunday 24th - "Free day". Slow departure due to pilot error and a mud bank right opposite the quay! Eventually down the creek and around Hurst point toward Colwell Bay (IOW). Pretty breezy and a fair amount of chop. No sign of the rest of the fleet at Colwell then they are sighted in Totland Bay. No detailed chart aboard so set a straight course toward them. Pilot redeemed himself here noticing breakers amongst the white-caps, and taking a swift diversion toward the centre of the channel. (Eventual examination of a chart showed rocks which would have scraped off a lot more than just barnacles.)
Summary - Five days of great sailing in convivial company. Many pleasant encounters, merry meals, interesting sights and a strong sense of looking forward to next time - On the East Coast!
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Other raiders' pictures linked from the Raid website (Many copied here - Thanks to them all for making them available)
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