Saturday, 10 June 2017

Jolly Boys Cruise - 2017

I am just back from the Jolly Boys Cruise which was unusual this year in comprising only 6 hours of actual sailing in four days and nights of time on the boat!   It was unfortunate indeed that the cruise coincided with a period of perhaps the strongest wind we've had in some time - and not a little rain - but banter, good food and beer, all in quantity, made up for it I think..

Friday 2nd

Late get away, but for the first time this year we got away on Friday evening in order to get us as far west in the Solent as possible before deciding any further plans on what we would do over the next four or five days...  given the time, and the look in t'other Dave's eye when we said it might be a while before we ate (and this was already 6:30 in the evening) the engine went on and two hours later we were in East Cowes Marina and picking up our first beers of the trip in The Lifeboat (excellent beer, excellent food, but the entertainment was a chap strangling his cat, sorry electric guitar - too loud!)

Reprobates one and all - first beers in the Lifeboat.. no inkling at this stage of how it was all going to pan out!

Saturday 3rd

After a disturbed night (not noise, just the sheer discomfort and strangeness of five blokes in a 34 foot boat!) the full English cooked by Dave set us up for the new day and talk turned to what we planned to do - the usual step at this stage of the trip is to head west, so talk was of Beaulieu or Lymington

Our ride for the four days - a Halberg Rassey 342 "Ocean Waves"
Decision was to push ahead with this but while we waited for an optimal tide we'd push off up Southampton Water for a little sailing, and perhaps even get above the Itchen Bridge..

Wind was fitful indeed so the iron donkey was still on for the trip up river, and time was taken for lunch at Shamrock Quay which is about as far as a boat of our keel can get up the Itchen on a low tide. After lunch it was time to head to Beaulieu so lines dropped and we proceeded down river - there was a bit of a breeze so the rags were put up and we gently drifted down Southampton water towards Calshot, where surprisingly the wind started to build..  the view of the Solent in the distance should have given us the clue (boats at 45', white caps, etc etc) but about a mile short of Calshot all hell broke loose...

Under full main and large jib/genoa we suddenly got hit by a F5 gusting F6* - to be fair "Ocean Waves" handled it as best she could all things considered - a 2 ton keel helps - but clearly we were over canvassed so as soon as we could (way too long to wait) we headed into wind, put three reefs in, but even with engine we were all over the place while this was going on... we had a SOG record of 8.5 knots during this "interval"!

There then followed a long hard beat to Cowes (we abandoned the Beaulieu idea as the wind was still increasing and would have been on the nose) and another night in East Cowes and a much needed curry...

*SOTONMET shows the wind increasing from a F3 to a F5 in 10 minutes!

Sunday 4th June

Ground-hog day, or rather ground hog breakfast, and after a late(r) breakfast and a read of the papers it was time to gird our loins again...  we swapped the genoa for the smaller jib, ensured third reefing line was still in and secure, and headed for the mouth of the Medina and the Solent - target today was Lymington - fools that we were we were still talking about possibly getting to Poole..  

When we got in to the Solent it was clear it was still blowing old boots but we had our best sail of the four days to Lymington - it was still F5 gusting F6 though, and it was still on the edge, so a decision was taken to go straight in after the 3 or 4 hour sail rather than play around as the conditions really weren't up to messing about...  arrived Lymington mid-afternoon, tied up, tea and cake, and crashed prior to heading into Lymington for an Italian...  we slept well that night!

We were aware at this stage Poole was off the cards as the weather forecasts were showing F8 the next day...

Monday 5th June

Council of war over yet another of Smithy's excellent breakfasts and the decision was taken to stay put for the day - first time we've had to do this but a wise decision - it was grey and boisterous all day - later there was torrential rain, and gusts of up to F8 in the marina behind a bund/sea wall..  I'd had enough, the others went for dinner and I sloph'ed on the boat..

Tuesday 6th June

Another council of war over yet another of Smithy's excellent breakfasts (we kind of nominated him brekkie chef as he excelled - this one was sausage, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and a seven egg scrambled egg! ) and the decision was taken to bail out early - we had a weather window of "only" F5 gusting F6, so the decision as taken to head for Portsmouth - downwind (SW'ly) and with tide - the plan was we could put up a scrap of either main or jib to help engine...

We got out there, and it was mad - breaking waves of a metre and more on the quarter (wind against tide, but even when the tide changed the waves remained) so a quick decision was taken to "sod the canvas" and push the motor.. headed over to the Island to run down the coast for what shelter it gave (not much) but happily three or four hours later, and after the worst cloud burst I've seen on the water (20 feet visibility!) we were back in Pompey for late lunch..

Cloud burst sneaking up on Smithy... 

...and almost on us...
Despite all that weather all I remember was lot of continued banter  ==> 

Cleared up, tidied up, and home by 6...  the end of a most unusual, but enjoyable, Jolly Boys cruise!


2nd June Green
3rd June (two shades of) Blue
4th June Red
6th June Yellow
Distance: 90 odd miles (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind: Everything from F1 to mostly F6+
Sail Plan: 3rd reefed main and small jib to full main and genoa
Speed: Max. was 8.5 over the ground on Saturday, we had some 8.2's on the sail to Lymington


  1. 90 miles amongst friends is ok - looks like a great time was had by all!

  2. Steve, you've seen my blog; I was out early on the Sunday morning and it was starting to freshen up quite a bit. Within an hour it had gone from almost flat calm, to pretty lumpy for a 19 footer. Once the dark clouds started forming, that was it for me. I bravely retreated and from your report of the rest of the Sunday, I'm glad I did. It doesn't look that pleasant from the videos or sound it from your blog. All I can say is its a good job you had a bigger boat and good company. :-)