What a difference the weather makes to a rally. The forecast for the 1st July had looked pretty gloomy for most of the previous week but on Tuesday 1st July it was bright and breezy. There were six boats registered for the rally but we were joined by Esmond Pope and his team in Cantata for the first leg to Bembridge. Esmond had set up third attempt at a helicopter rescue exercise. It was not to be, Esmond felt his three-man crew was too light, so we still look forward to an uplifting exercise.

Seven boats, including Wild Heron from Haslar, were soon safely berthed in friendly Bembridge. It had been a lumpy passage up the twisty channel into Brading Haven and it must have been a testing time for our single handers Peter Elford and Martin Watson.

Facilities in Bembridge are improving all the time and we were able to group together on either side of the long pontoon and enjoy Bill's hospitality on board "Niobi". It was a merry gang that climbed the hill to St Helen's and good pub meal in the "Vine". 

One of the good things about Bembridge is that you can't leave until the tide rises enough for you to get over the bar. That meant that we could have a lie-in. Esmond left first, brave fellow! The main fleet followed and turned north towards Southampton Water. The promised easterly 4 never arrived but it was a good sail up past Deans Elbow ( fl r ) and to the well marked channel up to the Hythe Marina lock.

We were in, in two batches and soon sent off, by the friendly and the helpful lady lock-keeper, to berths in this surprisingly attractive setting. Boat moorings are grouped together in clusters that are themselves overlooked by flats, houses and gardens. The effect is vaguely reminiscent of some Dutch harbours. Facilities ashore are  good too. Drinks on board "Parity" where followed by a stroll to an anticipated meal ashore but we were disappointed by the on-site Italian restaurant; fortunately the surly service there encouraged us to find an excellent Thai restaurant in Hythe village. Great food good company. 

A bright Thursday morning and reasonable water over the cill into the lock encouraged us to make an earlier than planning start down Southampton Water. 

Westerly winds were forecast so Dick prepared "Parity" for her cruising shute and a brisk down wind sail to the Bar. Much to the disappointment of the remainder of the fleet it proved to be a reach and we all enjoyed one of the best sails of the year. 

Our pleasure on "Parity" was only spoiled by being rapidly overhauled by "Harami" *. We were later compensated a little by managing to edge past "Niobi". All in all it was a great day's sail rounding off a really enjoyable rally to an old favourite and a visit to a new venue.

Dick Cole July 2014

*(photo) by Tim Applewhite
Parity 4 copy 2