Bembridge Rally 12 June 2021

Unfortunately, Bembridge Harbour was unable to accept a rally booking from DQSC.  As a result members wanting to join the rally had to try to make individual bookings.  Only 2 Dell Quay boats managed to secure berths in advance, with one further boat managing to secure a last minute berth.

image1So it was that Snoopy (John Martin), Jacob Faithful (Esmond Pope), and Opus IV (Peter Matthews) were the only boats to join the rally, enjoying a good F4 wind, on the nose as usual, across to Bembridge.  As usual, needing to get into Bembridge before the tide drops, this entailed motoring for a good portion of the crossing. Bembridge Harbour was FULL, with a large number of large motor boats, it looked more like a boat show.  These occupied the section of pontoon where rafting might have been possible in calmer times.  

Most berthing is now on finger pontoons, located either side of the spine pontoon. The berths on the inside of the pontoon are accessed by motoring round the Brading Haven end of the pontoon and navigating a rather narrow dredged channel back down the other side. Don’t be fooled by the moored fishing boats off the pontoons, these are moored over the mud, which drops steeply into the channel. (I have had the panicky experience of grounding one keel whilst trying to avoid the stern of a berthed cruiser). Reversing out is also an experience, especially in a boat that doesn’t like going where one wants to go in reverse. Warps back to the pontoon would be advisable in any southerly wind.

The old harbour office (Portacabin) has gone.  The office is now in the right hand corner of the building ahead of you as you walk up the ramp from the pontoon.  There is a bar and cafe on the right as the top of the ramp, and the showers and toilets across the open area, bearing left.  These are now uni-sex, with quite nice combined shower, basin, and toilet cubicles (still very wet floors).  Access to the facilities is now with a key fob (the old code entry system is no longer) so it is essential that you call into the harbour office as soon as possible after arriving and collect your fob keys.

We ate at The Vine on St Helens green, now under new ownership, brightened up with a more modern, but still tasteful, decor.  The welcome as good as it always has been, and the food quite good (as it always has been) and good value (drink, main and coffee £15) (More expensive options available).  I had pre-booked 2 tables by phone, but surprisingly the evening rush had gone by the time we arrived at just gone 7 pm.

The return on Sunday was perfect, F2/3 south/ south easterly, giving us 3 to 4 Kts under sail all the way, needing to use the motor only for a few minutes in the harbour entrance and in Itchenor Reach (why does one always get headed there?).  Being a hot and sunny week-end, East Head was very busy, with boats anchored well out into the channel and a lot of to and fro-ing to watch out for, as well as those departing the anchorage on the last of the flood, and not keeping very good watch!

Peter Matthews