Friday 30 July 2021

The Jolly Boys Cruise - 2021

...our ride for the weekend...  Halberg Rassy 342 "Ocean Wave of Albany"

As the washing is now done, I guess it's the time to do the log entry for the now nearly mythical event that is the Jolly Boys Cruise..

So yet another triumph - they always are - but I would say not without some less pleasant challenges this time round...  however, you'll be pleased to know that yet again there was no Lymington cock up this year..  but only because we never went...


So it was the team conjoined early on Friday morning at Rod's place for a swift trip to the boat which was reached about 10 for a departure about mid-day (on HT). First days target was Cowes, an easy 2 or 3 hours away, but conditions were good, and also breezy while not requiring reefs despite a number of other boats doing so. Passed Cowes within an easy hour or two, and we just carried on enjoying the Solent tidal escalator that whipped us down to almost Yarmouth within what seemed like a stupidly short period of time. 

We should have realised..   for every idyllic tidally assisted "downhill" run, there is always the "uphill" slog to get back to where you wanted to be until the tide turns, and with 3 or 4 knots of adverse tide for 3 or more hours to come, and an upwind beat, Cowes was a way away now...   as it turned out I had the helm for this, and have to say that it was the most glorious sail I've had on Ocean Wave..  Halberg Rassy's are not built light, and she just went up wind in a good force 4 like she was on rails..  fantastic...

Our destination in Cowes was a first as well - Shepherds Marina, where we also had another first as we were rafted outside of another boat.. nice people with two little one's so we tried to be as quiet as we could..

By the by, all those years of doing Jolly Boys cruises earlier in the year had not really prepared us for some of the difficulties of this one..  a mix of Covid, lack of overseas holidays, start of school holidays, and it being mid July meant that almost every marina in the Solent was rammed..  thousands and thousands of berths and not a one to be had in most places.. Rod ("Captain, my captain") had started phoning round last week and had got spots for two nights - this one, and Yarmouth on Sunday, but we were berth-less for Saturday at this point. 

Food at the Duke of York was (still) very nice I thought.. it being Friday it was fish and chip night for me which was very good, the restaurant manageress made us laugh, and a good time was had by all.. cracking day, but that upwind sail from just short of Yarmouth to Cowes was a blast, and I was still grinning..

We should have slept well, but overnight there was the mother of all thunderstorms what seemed like immediately overhead...  sleeping directly under a 40 foot lightning conductor does focus the mind...

Picture courtesy my Sis..


Saturday dawned grey, still and mizzly - forecast was not brilliant - we knew we'd get sun later but there was little wind around (and by the end of the day the forecast was proven right). Quick call around while we were waiting for breakfast to cook, and we found ourselves a berth for the night in Port Hamble

What to do with the day though? Decision taken to have a gentle motor up Southampton Water to have a look at the simply huge liners and container ships.. there were loads of them in... a lovely warm day, no wind, gentle putter back up the Water towards the Solent and then turned for Port Hamble and the mooring.

Now this was where it all turned a bit brown coloured - suffice to say we were on Springs and there was a fair amount of water flowing out of the Hamble (river) into Southampton Water, but what we didn't realise was how much of that tide was also flowing through the actual marina pontoons. Long story short, our turn into the berth was not fast enough and we ended up t-boned on the anchor of the boat next to us - took out two stanchions on Ocean Wave but with the help of a couple of people on neighbouring boats we managed to haul her in on warps..  shi**y end to the day, but as we said, no one had died, no one was injured, no other boats except ours was damaged^^ (one of us had a roving fender..tick), the damage didn't look awful, but it was very much time for a beer while we sent Rod to the marina office to tell them it was all his fault, and report the accident....

Berth was about where the red circle is - tide was running right to left (yellow arrows) - pic courtesy Ancasta

Dinner at Ye Olde Whyte Harte was OK, not as good as the previous evening, but a day on the water does wonders for the appetite, and certainly the beer was good.


Sunday dawned grey again - with mizzle again - another full English breakfast (this time cooked by t'other Dave) settled the nerves, and forewarned and forearmed by the knowledge of the previous day we made what must have been one of the quickest exits we had ever made from a berth! Plenty of engine revs to counter the tide that was again flowing adversely - even with that we had to do a little shuffle in reverse to get the angle on the exit...  huge sigh of relief to get out without further issue.

Few hours of motoring and the wind began to fill in, and this turned out to be the second best sailing day of the trip..  we had a good tidal assisted sail down to Yarmouth, albeit at one point in time through a cloud burst, and with the odd rumble of thunder over the island..

Smithy in full cloudburst mode..  being the caring bunch of mates we are, we of course disappeared down below to drink tea, eat cake, and hurl abuse...

Such a good sail in fact that we arrived too soon so turned up wind for a little additional sailing time against the tide. a good afternoon..

Sails down we motored into Yarmouth and were treated to the sight of a large seal surfacing, fresh from a kill - looked like he had a nice big flat fish of some sort. 

We had our own berth, but were caught out again by tidal flow in the marina (this time from the river we think) which threw us a little out, but a quick push by the marina's rib, and quick throw of a mooring rope ashore got us out of danger pretty quick. 

A shower, a few beers, and a much needed dinner at the Bugle ended the penultimate day - the food was very good, but a limited choice...

What a shower... Yarmouth pier selfy...


Early start to catch the tide east - we were leaving by 0800 - breakfast cooked and eaten on the go - I have only ever seen the Solent so completely still and flat once before. Not a breath or a ripple...

Leaving Yarmouth

Despite that, the tidal escalator was in full flow, and despite being on only tick over, we were doing 4 to 5 knots over the ground..  hot sun, Solent, and sausages..  perfect.

Passed Newtown, passed Cowes, passed Gilkicker, passed Ryde - took just over 3 hours - amazing. A decision was then taken to head to Seaview to pick up one of the sailing clubs buoys for lunch.

A very enjoyable couple of hours eating lunch and watching the local dayboat class (Seaview Mermaid class) racing - pretty boats..

Time at last to get back - one of the charter organisers wanted to see the damage as they had another charter later in the week. Good fast sail back to Portsmouth, and after a little flutter when we assumed we had engine issues (no/limited forward drive) that turned out to be weed, we were back alongside for 5'ish..

"Golden Horizon" - worlds largest square rigged sailing ship - a passenger ship - departed her berth as we packed up..

...all food mostly finished except lunch stuff (for one reason or another we didn't do a lot of lunches this time out), all beer mostly finished... a brilliant four days out...  now, where's Sparrow... ?? 
^^  Addendum - turned out that there was minor damage/scratching to the stern of the boat we t-boned so at some point there may be a bill, but owner agreed it wouldn't be much. The repair bill for the stanchions on Ocean Wave came to £30- bit of spot welding on one, some straightening of the other, and a couple of new bolts/screws. We got away remarkably lightly for an event that at the time was frankly, quite worrying...


Red Day 1 (Fri); Blue Day 2 (Sat); Green Day 3 (Sun); Yellow Day 4 (Mon)

Distance: 119.42 miles (c/w 62.76 last time!) (cumulative totals for the year in the mileage tab at the top)

  • Fri F4 gusting F5; SEE
  • Sat: F1/F2; SE quadrants
  • Sun: Started F2 ended up top end F4; NxW going NW
  • Mon: Both ends of a F4; SWxW
Sail Plan: Full main and jib all weekend apart from the Saturday when we motored the entire day, and Monday when we motored all morning..
Speed: See distance section above..  Friday was a day of big speeds and big winds..  10.2 knots over the ground and an average over almost 8 hours of over 5 knots!

Tuesday 27 July 2021

Winner winner chicken dinner

" 'ello"...

...little overdue, but only because this was the day before the long delayed, and much anticipated, Jolly Boys adventure over the weekend (stay tuned for the usual pile of reminisces and anecdotes, and general bolleaux.....) and I didn't have time to write it up, what with ensuring the necessary spare socks etc etc etc were in the right place.. 

A most unusual for me, mid-week sail, then which was taken purely because I knew I'd be away over the coming weekend and had so enjoyed the last sail I was looking forward to getting out again..

High tide was at 10:58, and I was on the boat by nine before getting everything ready and dropping the  mooring straight away - light winds so a steady motor to the end of the Northney channel at the head of the harbour..

While admiring matey the seal (left), I raised the main, but as winds remained light I hoisted while head to apparent wind which was a first... finally turned off the motor and started sailing just past Marker as the wind was filling in..

Wind continued to build and slip round a little further easterly, which allowed for some glorious long beats towards the bottom of the harbour - a plan was forming to slip out into the Solent for the first time in some considerable time, but a fluky and dropping wind, along with the change of tide brought that idea to a halt...

Arrived off a very busy HISC (summer school holidays have just started), and then gybed and headed over to East Head opposite dodging the almost continuous line of yachts and motor boats coming out of Itchenor Reach opposite and heading for the sea.. 

Sparrow's big brother - Hurley 22...

Nice long beat towards Sandhead, quick shimmy tack, rounded Snowhill and then decided it was more than soon enough that I needed to be considering heading for home before the water all disappeared..

..been here before, but not for a while... 😀

Glorious, and I mean really glorious, goose-wing run up the harbour against tide, before turning on the motor at Marker, and skedaddling for the mooring which I arrived at probably with not much time to spare..    Put it this way, there was plenty of harbour bottom to look at as I ghosted in to the moorings...

What a fantastic day..  more please..

Oh and the title??  That's Winner behind me.. 


Distance: 13.63 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction): Both ends of a F3, very occasionally F4; ESE going SE
Sail Plan: Full main, few rolls in on the jib on occasion (lots of tacking)
Speed (Max/average in knots): 4.8 / 3.0 (the 4.8 was under sail)

Sunday 18 July 2021

Verner vidi vici again...

Hottest day of the year so far but the tides are early and late this weekend (one of the joys of being on a mud mooring) so looking at the tide times and forecast I lumped for a late afternoon Saturday sail this weekend rather than wait for lighter and later tides on Sunday (good decision I think; as I write this the following morning, the weather beacon at the bottom of the harbour is showing zero wind)

Not a long sail then but a remarkably pleasant one, and also good for getting some stuff sorted out that was niggling..

Springs again, so a good couple of knots to fight up the channel and down the harbour, so I opted to motor sail to Marker (a plan I formulated a couple of years ago and which works well - if you don't do it, you can spend the entire afternoon just taking in front of Marker!) so not surprisingly, despite tide, the tacking angles look good to just past Marker when I finally got fed up of the racket and turned it off.. 

The new (to me) Suzuki motor is surprisingly fast despite being the same size as the old Tohatsu, she shuffles you along at a far faster average speed (not scientific, but most of the time I use about a third throttle, same engine revs by ear, but the Suz is about a knot faster than the Tohatsu). Very noticeable that even in idle with this engine there is good forward way, but hardly any noticeable noise..  would be a good trolling engine..

Dropped the mooring at 15:00 then (just over 3 hours before high tide), engaged auto pilot* to get the main sail up as I headed towards the bridge, an then bore off down the Northney trench..  very very shallow, I could see bottom almost all the way to the entrance of the marina

Wound out the jib, which despite tightening back stay/forestay is still stupidly stiff, and then reached and finally beat to the far side of the harbour to start a few tacks to get me past Marker where the harbour widens out and the tacks can get longer, and the engine went off...

Not busy out there despite the weather, which I put down to being the end of the day, but it was a much nicer breeze than I was expecting and the sail was fantastic..  turned just shy of Verner (when the wind was beginning to die) and ran downwind on auto* while I sorted out the jib...

Clearly forestay tension was not the issue, but while the sail was out I wanted to tension the jib halyard. It is a lovely place to be on your own boat sailing solo, right there on the nose... you can hear the water chuckling away under your feet, and amazing views...  anyway, undid the downhaul (I use a bit of dyneema line) and hauled on the jib halyard and up she shot another 6 inches - much better view under the sail but dyneema line now too short, so dropped her two inches, tied her off, and cranked on some down haul..  success.. the sail is very very much easier to roll in.

Motor on about Northney, and with the apparent wind on the nose I dropped the main under auto* as I came down the Northney ditch - finished off with a picture perfect mooring pick up. Brilliant! 

*Are you allowed to say you love your autopilot???


Distance: 8.05 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction): F2 gusting F3; S occasionally SSW
Sail Plan: Full main and jib
Speed (Max/average in knots): 5.6 (motor back to the mooring) / 2.7

Sunday 11 July 2021

Shake down sail...

Almost 3 weeks after I put the sails on and did the initial rig tension, FINALLY today gave an opportunity to get out for a sail...

Succession of duff tides (early and late), huge amounts of rain (I emptied a bucket full out the other weekend), gales, and just general blechhhh, has left little opportunity or interest to get out on the boat.. even today was not perfect, it was surprisingly cold for mid summer and I ended up rooting out a jumper at one point...

South, or south south east, and three hours before a biggish high tide meant that I spent most of the session using not much wind to beat against a big tide - tacking angles were rubbish as you can see from the track, but yeah was good to get out on the water and shake down...

Stays needed tightening (now done), the GPS mount fell apart (now new bolted), forgot the auto pilot (doh!) but the outboard worked well (not sure I don't need a new primer bulb, though - it doesn't pump well), the sails went up OK (though the roller furler is very stiff) but I haven't forgotten how to do it so good result

Festival of speed is on at Goodwood this weekend and these guys came in low over the boat just after I set off...  scared the living daylights out of me..  

OK, ready to go now..


Distance: 5.82 (cumulative total in the mileage tab at the top)
Wind (Speed; Direction): Both ends of a F3; SSE
Sail Plan: Full main/genoa
Speed (Max/average in knots):  5.4/2.6