Round the Island 2011

Not so many photos this year, we concentrated on the sailing.


Some time before the RTI , we scrubbed the boat. While waiting for the tide to come in again , we stripped down the rope clutches and found the genoa clutch gripper teeth and plate were very badly worn. So we swapped the mechanism with a spare clutch on the deck and now the genoa doesnt fall down as quickly.

Sunday 19th

On the Sunday before, I went down to Forethought and adjusted (increased) the rig tension and made sure the rubber mast chocks were well rammed home between the mast and the deck. I had used PVC tape to hold them in place and they had slid down allowing the mast to wobble. This time I lashed them in place with many turns of cord to try and stop them sliding down.

Made sure the mainsail reefing horns were pointing up and held them in place with a new cable tie. Fitted a replacement snap shackle and new 8mm shackle to the bow fitting for attaching the genoa tack. A cool £60 the pair.

Thursday 23rd

This year, there was a River Hamble Combined Clubs regatta on the Wednesday and Thursday just before the Round the Island Race.

We were scheduled to provide committee boat crew on the Wednesday and on the Thursday we entered a pursuit race run by Warsash SC. We had an extra crew member on board, Craig who helped a lot with genoa trimming on reaches – he tells us they always notice our bad genoa shape. We won the race by a reasonable margin, enjoying the spinnaker run to the finish up the river. T

Our speed was also helped by a course with one beat and three reaches in it.

There was a decent breeze so we were sailing at about 6 knots for most of the course, except for one short beat.

Friday 24th

Went down the boat with Steve with most of the provisions for Saturday after going to Tescos to buy them. Scrubbed the hull where we could reach it and cleared some green slime off. Fitted the sail number dodgers and had a quick general check around that nothing was missing.

Went up mast to tape up spreader end protectors as one had split and fallen apart , although all the bits were still there. Put sponsors stickers on the boat.

Left the Avon inflatable down at the club on the water for a quick getaway on Saturday.

Saturday 25th

Went down to the boat at 0520 with Catrina , motored Avon out to Forethought, took outboard off Avon , stowed this in normal below-decks position attached to bunks. and tied the dinghy to the mooring buoy with a round turn and two half hitches – but didnt pull very tight . More later.

At about 0600, we picked up the rest of the crew from the public pontoon and set off.

As usual Steve cooked the bacon for the bacon rolls (ciabatta this year – Tescos special offer). So that was consumed along with tea and coffee on the way to the Island side for the start.

We knew it would be a hard race when the bacon tried to jump out of the pan as we cooked breakfast on the way over

Crew this year was

Steve Sims

Les Starkie

Duncan Hobbs

Catrina James

Mike James


Headed to flatter water and much less wind off Cowes – decided to go for the No.3 genoa and a reef in the main as there were some 25 knot gusts just off Cowes just before the start. We started back a bit from the line, Duncan was still chatting about start line tactics when I told the crew , the race has started.

So we set off from about 200m off the Squadron, probably less than a minute late , with as it turned out the right sail plan. We kept tacking into clear spaces and staying in the tide.

About half an hour after the start , the DSC VHF sounded for the first of many Mayday calls for a man overboard. At first it seemed to be people falling in the sea. So we ended up listening to Channel 16 , as generally there was some distress working throughout the rest of the days.

On the way down the beat, the main jumped off the reefing horn, but we were able to reset it and continue with very little delay.

Going through Hurst Narrows, the stitching on our Man Overboard sling bag finally gave way and dumped it in the sea. I had fitted it with a plastic clip on the end of the throwing line so it stayed clipped on.

Fortunately there was nobody too close behind so we did not lose the sling which was trailing at its maximum extent of rope.

One bad fluff tack where the tiller was in my pocket so a duck manouevre turned into a tack in a panic moment. I was not able to free the main, everyone wondered why I did it until I explained that the main was holding the boat into the wind..

We went through Hurst Narrows roughly in the middle, tacked down the northern side of the Shingles Channel and then tacked for the Needles , passing the Mid Shingles buoy on the way. We arrived a bit short of the lighthouse and in any case going through on Starboard would have gone too close to both Goose Rock and the Varvassi boiler. So we tacked onto port and one other boat came through with us.

A bit later, just behind us was a GK24.

We bore away with the reefed main and the No3. The boat went dead . Despite Steve's concerns that it was windy, we either had to change to a bigger genoa , or hoist the spinnaker.

I decided to race it hard as the wind looked good for a spinnaker reach to St Catherines.

We also shook out the reef. Once the spinnaker went up, we bore away into Freshwater Bay and started to surf off the waves. On a couple of big waves we hit 11 knots, not bad for a hull speed of 5.5. knots at other times. We really could not see any other spinnakers at first around us. Sometimes the wind would gust up to 20 knots or so for a while.

The waves were big, occasionally breaking and at times they were probably about 2m high – we lost sight of surrounding boats in the troughs.

We reached along with another smaller boat who also put a spinnaker up after the Needles , rolling past bigger boats with reefs.

As we passed some of the larger boats , they put up their spinnakers but they ended up going off towards the Island shore where they later had to drop their spinnakers.

Nearer St Cats, wind increased and we did a few big broaches, keel out of the water and driftiing sideways. Explained the use of the kicker in a leeward broach to depower the main (not much use a bit later on in a windward broach..) Probably down to being hit by bigger breaking waves as well.

But we worked out that the boat was still going quicker with broaches than we would be without the spinnaker at all. Also we only had about a mile to run to the point before we could bear away.

Most of the time the wind was 15 to 20 knots apparent, while reaching at 6 to 8 knots for most of the time.

Managed to squeeze round the headland at about 1200, near a Folkboat , again followed by a GK24, trying to hold on to an inshore track as the tide was still against us as seen on lobster pot markers, only to be hit by gusts from off the land which caused a lot of rocking and rolling. Several wrong side broaches with gybes in them.  I was getting tired.

I gave the helm to Les for a break but he found it hard to get the sequence right and we went off swerving wildly until we broached again. Eventually also traced this down to spinnaker trimmers mistaken belief that when the boom is up skywards on a run, that freeing the spinnaker would stop the roll.

Back on the helm after a bit of a rest, we started to head away from the shore, about the time the tide turned. We then moved out of the turbulence off St Cats and more into the clear. Although we could hear a lot of traffic on Channel 16 (the DSC VHF decided to park there because of all the Mayday calls), we did not see anybody in real trouble.

About this time a camera crew flew past in a helicopter but as we did not broach while they were nearby, we were not featured in any online video.

Out of the lee of Dunnose head (if there really was any lee) we crossed Sandown Bay – at times the wind hit 25 knots over the deck while we were broad reaching at about 8 knots. The water was flatter so there was less surfing.

Quite a lot of wind to hold up a spinnaker in. We were running up between 37 foot boats and it really did not matter if we went through their lee at the speed we were going . We eventually settled down between a couple of Bavaria Holiday 37s who were having a great time and storming along completely in control.

As we approached Bembridge Ledge we could see a couple of other boats who had spinnakers – each had varying problems with the drop , including one spectacularly prolonged drop ending with a spinnaker in the sea out behind the boat. We dropped very early but this allowed the melee at the mark to vanish while we arrived. So we could reach up to Seaview ,,

On the reach up to Seaview, we passed an inverted catamaran attended by the RNLI.

We rounded the exclustion zone off Seaview and were making our way towards the northen edge of Ryde sands when we met a catamaran who was sailing for the shallow water. It took a while to pass them and bear away again into the deeper water

Sailing round Ryde sands we grounded gently once as we went into a tack. As we were already turning we completed the tack, heeled and slid off again into deeper water.

A little later came the use of that same catamaran as a tactical weapon. We wanted to tack onto starboard but the catamaran reappeard just to windward of us also on Port tack.

We basically ducked the first starboard tacker who dared to challenge the catamaran, said catamaran just sailed straight on. In the middle of the chaos several boats were forced to avoid the catamaran and we simply tacked into the gap and got back over to the sands.

We kept on short tacking – the echo sounder seemed to have problems with the 200kHz beam when we heeled a lot. I couldnt switch to 50kHz , so instead I relied on the chartplotter to warn us of crossing the edge of the sand. Each time as we tacked we got a proper sounding just as the boat came upright. I need to look at the installation of the through – hull transducer and this time use a spirit level

Once we had tacked in to by Ryde pier, we simply headed for Castle Point and kept watching the log and the GPS – we could see well under 0.5 knot foul tide so we felt justified in sailing a shorter track towards the point.

At Castle Point the wind went fluky and bigger heavier boats managed to ghost through (well it felt like it with 10 knots of wind and a reduced sail plan)

Got back on track and always tacked before the last moment to avoid panic. Took several tacks to make it to the line , kept to windward of most other boats in the run up to the line once the wind steadied up coming out of Cowes.

Crossed the line at 1614, or 8h 34m 47 s, corrected to 7h 58m 45s , our new RTI record. We won the GK24 trophy again this year, although there were only three finishers, Skallywag having to retire after hitting the Needles wreck.

Looking back at the tidal animations provided on Youtube and remembering the rough times we passed through each section, we managed to hit most of the tide either in a favourable direction or at  slack.

Headed back to Hamble, dropped off Duncan, Les and Catrina.

On the way in to Hamble, we could hear another distress call from a holed boat on the finish line. We were glad to have crossed the line at a relatively quiet time.

Went up to mooring and found the Avon was missing. So went back down to the Southern , picked up one of the club dinghies and went for a slow cruise up the river in Forethought, up to Universal Marina before turning back to the mooring. Nothing seen. So we packed away the boat, stopped off for a chat with Julian on his nice new Halberg-Rassy 34 (Julian used to own the Sigma 33 Jupa, on which I crewed for several years). I was back home by 1915.


Phoned up the Harbour Master – and found to my surprise that they had picked up a dinghy bearing the description “Avon Redcrest, spattered with blue paint and with the word 'Shark' written on the bows in yellow paint”. It turned up at the Bursledon Lands End scrubbing piles. We took a Southern Tender over to the Harbour Master's office and collected the Avon. They couldnt trace us as we are not in one of the Hamble River Harbour Master's moorings.

Promised to tie my knots better in future.