11 – 23 July

There were only two boats signed up before the start date, Fairwind (Sue & Barrie Pearson) and Opus IV (Peter and Jane ‘water babe’ Matthews), however it could be argued that the rally had actually 5.5 boats, even if fleetingly. All crews were delighted to get away for a break after such long lockdown periods.

Apart from the first two days, this rally, like the last one in 2019 was blessed with good weather. Glorious days meant motor sailing, but we did have some good sailing as well. Due to the Covid issue, we restricted ourselves to heading west rather than across the Channel and, we decided on a loose plan of using Yarmouth and Portland for their facilities and the likelihood of berths, stopping in Studland / Poole in between.

Given the very hot weather, Jane’s propensity to frequently leap into the sea caught on somewhat.

1-2On Sunday 11 July, both boats left the harbour and headed for the beautiful Bucklers Hard (Beaulieu River). We met up with Hobo (Ron & Pam Foden) and Ron’s brother and wife who had come around from Ramsgate via Eastbourne in/on their Broom, to meet up with them for their annual ‘family’ cruise of the Solent.

Following on from DQ’s previous BBQ success at Bucklers Hard we decided to book another one for the Sunday evening (thank you Ron). The weather had yet to settle, so unfortunately, we had to postpone for 24 hours. The Wi-Fi was good and we were able to watch England get beaten by Italy instead. The next day, the crews of Fairwind and Opus IV managed to walk to Beaulieu to have lunch (outside) at one of the café’s and return without getting wet. For the upcoming BBQ, Ron got on the case with his ‘Rain Radar App’. Not to blame for that at all, but the rain dance thing was another issue. We experienced torrents of the stuff! We put the boot in, if only to stop water pooling on Fairwind’s cockpit tent.

We decided that a pontoon coffee morning at Hobo would be a good substitute the next day. Whilst enjoying coffee, Rear Commodore Cruising drifted passed on Scallywag on her way to the lift out. Ron invited him over for coffee, but unfortunately, he was too busy to join in. At this point, the rally leader claims 4.5 boats in attendance as Scallywag was within ‘pinging’ distance – we all know about ‘pinging’.

In the afternoon Hobo and the Broom left for East Cowes to continue their annual tour of the Solent, with Fairwind and Opus IV setting sail for Studland Bay. The Foden’s had planned only to eat out some of the lunch times where they could assess the Covid safety beforehand. A good plan that the rest of us followed for most of the time. Fairwind and Opus IV had a lovely sail with a light NW wind. Peter remarked about the queue of boats at the Yarmouth entrance just as the wind collapsed in the Yarmouth/Lymington ferry track. A short piece of motor sailing took us around Hurst Point and up the North Channel to get a good lay on Studland Bay. The wind conditions are always a little different west of Hurst Point and in this case, we had a little more wind from the N/NNW enabling a lovely fetch/beam reach. Opus IV managed to pick up one of the Bankes Arms buoys close into the lovely sandy south beach, but Fairwind with her deeper fin keel opted to anchor a bit further out, also to keep away from the little seahorse that apparently lives there. Both stayed two nights.

The crews explored the delights of Studland the following morning meeting up for lunch at the Bankes Arms. Full marks to the Bankes Arms for Covid Safety planning, with 99 tables on their front ‘lawn’ over-looking the bay, ordering and paying upfront by App and having the food and drink delivered to the table. The only flaw was the inadequacy of the Wi-Fi and the relatively poor phone reception. Jane persevered for some 90 minutes to get the order in and after 120 minutes, we got served. Peter suggested that we should have started the internet order process via Google when crossing Christchurch Ledge! Whatever, full marks to them for ingenuity and anyway it was a lovely day to do some more catching up. ‘Nil pointes’ for the IT consultant though.

3Peter managed to secure a berth for two nights at Parkstone Yacht Club Haven in Poole with Fairwind finding a swinging mooring in the Wych Channel (Poole Harbour Commissioners moorings), later joined by Mandalay (Martin and Sarah Greenhalgh) who had been trying to sail to the Isles of Scilly this summer but were frustrated by their ever-decreasing time frame. We on the other hand had more luck as the rally was now three boats.  Opus IV enjoyed the Parkstone facilities and the others the Poole Quay Boat Haven facilities by way of the very efficient and free water taxi from the moorings.

54In the end, we all stayed three nights in Poole Harbour taking in lunch at The Custom House and a day on Brownsea Island (National Trust) famous for (and not exclusively) for red squirrels and the foundation of the Scout movement.

6We landed on Brownsea by dinghy on the beach at the lovely Pottery Pier, on the WNW tip of the island. Having lunch sitting outside at the NT Café overlooking the entrance to the harbour at the eastern end is just one of the many delights. 7

On the walk back from the café having seen most of the sights, we took in the Forest Bathing facility to have a little rest. The island is a beautiful, interesting and peaceful place and the Pottery Pier/Maryland seaside offers a lovely location for swimming.

Mandalay secured two nights in Weymouth, so Fairwind and Opus IV did the same, doing so at 24 hours-notice which was a pleasant surprise. On Sunday 18th we left Poole harbour, bound for Weymouth. The Lulworth Range was not active ( has a useful booklet with information for mariners. No firing Sundays and 28 July to 31 August), so we were able to do a slow motor ‘sail’ down the Jurassic Coast. This is a rare thing as normally, you have to sail well out to avoid the overfalls, and further west, the gunnery ranges. There are minor overfalls at Old Harry (Studland) and Peveril Ledge (Swanage). The big one is a 4-mile line SW from St Albans Head. There is a very narrow inner passage which looks quite scary so close to the rocky shore, but in fact the water is very deep there.

We took in the following Jurassic Coast sights:


 St Albans Head
 Warbarrow Bay West
 Kimmeridge Ledges & Bay
 Lulworth Cove
 Warbarrow Bay East
 Stair Hole Caves
 Durdle Door
 Weymouth Bay & Cruise Ships
 Weymouth Harbour

 The P&O cruise ships were Ventura and Aurora with attendant dolphins.


1817Mandalay and Opus IV had secured berths in the ‘Cove’ (the usual place) on the interesting and lively south side, but due to new rules Fairwind was put on the northern quayside pontoon where the big boats normally go. It seems that at 1.6m draft, she now qualifies as ‘big’ (just like the late 70’s). Fixed lights  ‘green over white over green’ at the entrance signalled ‘seek instructions on entry’. A quick call to the Weymouth harbour on VHF channel 12 confirmed the berth to aim for. The large berth identifiers painted in orange on the harbour walls now made it all quite easy.


19Weymouth is a lively place and had thousands of human BBQs beachside. As ever, a half mile-walk to the east end of Weymouth beach paid big dividends. Lovely clear water, sandy beach and many fewer human BBQs. We also swam with the locals in a little cove to the west of 19th century Fort Nothe, between Weymouth and Portland Harbours.  

Quayside were many fishermen, ferrymen and of course the leisure sailors, some of the latter having rounded Portland Bill providing us with intel on the Devon/Cornish ports.

Martin and Peter managed to book a table at the Prezzo on the quayside for Monday evening; almost the last table available in Weymouth. All six of us were quite safe on a table in an ‘alcove’ by a large open window. Lovely evening with much laughter, some DQ matters discussed, then back to more laughter.

20The next day at lunchtime (Tuesday), we all motor-sailed/sailed back to Studland. This time, the Lulworth Ranges were firing, so we had to keep 3 miles off, below the 50.33.00N line. Opus IV and Fairwind passed very close to the range patrol boat receiving a very friendly wave. Heavy firing could be heard which was quite disconcerting. Fairwind noted the overfalls at St Albans Head which given the smooth conditions and at 3 miles out were only evidenced by many small, long and strictly parallel waves heading in from a SE directions; concertina like.

Mandalay managed to fly her kite on this leg. Fairwind had decided years ago to keep her spinnaker at home for safe keeping.

22The three boats stayed in Studland overnight. Opus IV left in the morning to sail back to Chichester, but Fairwind and Mandalay with a little more time left later with some ‘champagne sailing’ across Christchurch Bay and anchored early evening at the bottom of Beaulieu river for a very peaceful night.

21On the way back in the Solent, we sighted the ‘Golden Horizon’, the world’s largest square-rigged sailing ship. She was bound for the West Country on her maiden voyage after spending 24 hours under arrest in Dover for failing to pay a debt.

Next day, Mandalay sailed over to Cowes for a final night. Fairwind sailed with a F4 on the nose to the Forts and then had a fetch to Chichester Bar. The early sail home was in advance of a threatened F6 from the east (Wight F8), but in fact, it was much less in the end and Mandalay had a good and lively sail back on Friday.

Thanks to all the crews for joining Fairwind, whether they knew they were part of the rally or not………Sue and I had a great time enhanced by the wonderful company.

Barrie Pearson
with contributions from the crews of Opus IV, Mandalay and Hobo