Round The Island 2009

This year the start was set as 0910 and I had a birthday to attend to on Sunday,  so I decided to leave from  and return to Hamble.  I knew we would be back late because of the late start.


Duncan  Hobbs
Steve Sims
Les Starkie   
Nigel Nicholson

Friday Night

I spent this time adjusting the rigging and doing final checks - some of the 30 year old wiring at the mast foot had suffered corrosion and failed when it was disturbed by the mast being taken out of the boat for re-rigging. I had to replace one of the mast foot sockets with a chocolate block connector - since ordered replacements from Farnell.

I also rewired the power to some the instruments so that the wind instrument and log could actually be turned off to save power when not sailing.

Having done all that I dropped in to the Hamble River Sailing Club 90th birthday party and took a few pictures before leaving for the boat. I left the outboard for the Avon in the back of the car in the Royal Southern car park on the way back up the river. Knowing that nobody would be able to park close enough to the river , I had purchased all the water and other drinks for the race and bought them down to the boat.
I pre-cooked a stew in a pressure cooker and left it sealed for Saturday evening

Had a bad nights sleep because I didnt bring a sleeping bag. And ended up wrapped up in all the winter thermal clothes and sailing kit to stay warm. Although it was not really cold, it was distracting.

Next morning took the boat down river to the quay and nobody was there at exactly 0730  but they all turned up together six minutes later.  Its the usual Eastleigh Council pay carpark greed - people have to park further and further from the river to both be allowed to park for long enough and to find a free space.
We motored out munching the usual bacon rolls created by Steve, except for Duncan who had previously decided that even the thought of the meths fumes from the cooker would make him seasick.

We arrived in the starting area about 30 minutes before our start and noted that the procession of boats near the ODM was not clearing between starts. Basically the wind was completely dead near the start line. It was still the same for our start, almost exactly at HW Portsmouth - we set ourselves up about 30 metres from the ODM with three minutes to go and this was about right for drifting across the line at the start . We had to drift for about 15 minutes before we got into the breeze near Beaulieu and kept on sailing down the deep water. We kept clear wind and really crossed with very few boats all the way to Hurst Narrows. We were getting up to 7.5 knots made directly towards the Needles of Yarmouth and even more through the Narrows. We started using the tactic of bearing away when trapped to leeward of bigger boats and tacking behind them to get clear air, or luffing and pinching a bit to make them go to leeward if we could.

We continued in the fast tide to the Needles , which meant we were overstanding our turn by the end of the beat. Quite a few boats to leeward were still beating hard to go well outside the wreck, so we had to pick our way across them.

Needles lighthouse
We bore away and tracked through the pair of waypoints I have for crossing inside the wreck at the Needles, transferred from old Garmin 160 to new Garmin 450S chartplotter. 

We were a bit slow putting up the spinnaker , and we didnt go quite as close under the cliff as some other boats, going for a little more wind further out and less distance. It didnt really work as well as we wanted and we lost distance on other boats round Freshwater Bay. About a knot of foul tide where we were.
We made up some ground up over Brook Ledges where we saw less than 8 ft of water at one point . I know they are evil craggy ledges so I was a bit concerned.

Reaching to St Cats
None the less ,we caught up on the inshore eddy and charged towards St Cats. A nice breeze was pushing us along, holding 7 knots boat speed for quite long periods with the spinnaker up.

 We rounded St Cats and tried to keep well inshore out of the tide.
The wind was astern and we gybed a couple of times. On one not particularly violent gybe the mainsheet fitting tore out of the end of the boom. It had become corroded over the years and the aluminium was brittle. Fortunately there is a spare fitting on the underside of the boom and we were able to carry on sailing on the run while we fixed the boom.

Again we tended away from the coast, but we spent quite a lot of the leg towards Ventnor with another eddy in our favour. We then went too close into the lee of the cliff at Dunnose and lost the wind for a while. It returned across Sandown Bay and held until Bembridge Ledge.

About this point we all started to feel very tired, with people losing concentration. Unfortunately in the assignment of shopping duties, the person responsible for the provision of snacks had decided that some packets of Niknaks crisps would suffice. We desperately needed a sugar boost, and had to put up with cans of ginger beer as these have 45g of sugar in them.

We decided to change down to the Number 2 based on 18 to 20 knot true winds seen around Bembridge, but as soon as we headed North we realised we had to change back to the number one.
Half way between the Bembridge Ledge buoys and the forts the wind went very light and variable and we struggled up inshore , having to bear away a little to get round the end of Ryde Sands. The weather forecast had showed this hole in the wind to the NE of the island about the time we arrived, and we found it. We did not need to go particularly near the first of the posts according to the echo sounder and the chart plotter. But for the second post , we found ourselves fighting for wind and space with the back of the Sunsail fleet and other 36-40 foot boats that had parked up in the vicinity. We managed to duck or tack to clear our way out but we knew that there was a knot of foul tide in the deeper water, so we kept going back to the edge of Ryde Sands.  

At this point his refusal to eat very much causing a lack of sugar started to hit Duncan hard and he lost it while jib trimming becoming totally frustrated with the shifting winds.

High speed cat aground
While we were in the middle of the chaos the Ryde Rescue boat came past us , followed by the high speed catamaran heading to Ryde pier. The catamaran got out of the fleet and accelerated. Then it ran up the edge of the sands and stayed there at least until we finished the race .

We tacked inshore when we could but given the wind direction we were wary of going too close in to the land, as we had some bad memories of managing to keep out of not only  the tide but also the wind .  Comparing with boats going extremely close inshore, we lost ground here but very gradually.

Container ships and the RTI
Out in the Solent, a procession of cruise liners and container ships began to move as the tide came in, messing up those going north for more wind.

Again by the finish line the wind shifted 45 degrees and we had to beat up against a foul tide. On one occasion we ran out of space and had to run off ducking about 4 boats in a line before we could harden up onto port.
Eventually we got onto  the lay line for the finish  on starboard tack only to have a large boat push us down away from the line. A bit of shouting and they eventually hardened up onto a beat and somehow we managed to find space to tack onto port tack to get back to the line.

We finished, had the stew, returned to Hamble and stopped on the dinghy pontoon at the Royal Southern to drop off heavy kit and pick up the engine for the Avon. Eventually all was packed up by 2200.

We ended up as 3rd GK24, losing to Strider by over an hour. They left us at the Needles and we never caught up again.

Google Earth file of our