Dell Quay cruisers had another successful rally season with only 3 rallies cancelled due to strong winds and rain.  A total of 22 boats enjoyed cruising to a variety of harbours and anchorages in the Solent, Dorset, France and the circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight.  Cantata (Westerly Storm), Niobe (Westerly Konsort) and Parity (Moody 31) were the most regular ralliers attending 6 rallies each and the most popular rally was to Cowes and West Solent attended by 11 cruisers ranging in size from 22 to 35 feet.

Tuesday 12th April saw perfect conditions for the first rally of the season, a shake down sail led by Sue Pearson to Bembridge attended by Cantata, Fairwind of Dell Quay (Moody 30), Frith (Parker 27) and Niobe. All points of sailing and berthing skills were tested and engines too. Crews not daunted by the walk enjoyed a good evening meal at The Vine in St Helens. The Duver staff were as helpful as ever.

Alongside at The Duver, BembridgeAlongside at The Duver, Bembridge


Wed 11th May saw rather different weather conditions for the rally to Yarmouth led by Tim Applewhite.  Cantata, Niobe and Parity set out a day early but due to fog they abandoned plans to reach Cowes and turned in to Gosport Marina. The following day a further 3 boats departed from Chichester Harbour bound for Yarmouth but a call on VHF Ch 8 from Bill Greening advised that those in Gosport were concerned about poor visibility and were making for Port Solent instead so Harami (Nab 35), Moody Maid (Moody 27) and Pegasus (Hunter Horizon) changed their plans and joined them. About 15 crew were enjoying a meal in a restaurant in Port Solent when Opus IV (Westerly Centaur) made contact with Tim via mobile to advise he had radio problems but had made his way to Yarmouth in the thick fog and where was everyone? Most returned to Chichester the following day in better visibility.

The May Cross Channel rally was beset by strong winds and conditions were unfavourable for crossing. Instead an alternative cruise was agreed upon and Bill Greening aboard Niobe led Fairwind and Sandpiper (Westerly Centaur) to Newtown.

River, Studland Bay and Pottery Pier on Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour.  Delightful walks and peaceful anchorages were enjoyed by all making a pleasant change from marina pontoons. Good breezes made for fast passages although Sandpiper’s progress across Christchurch Bay was slowed somewhat when the towed dinghy shipped some water and began to act as a drogue.

Saturday 18 June saw three of the smaller boats enjoy a harbour cruise to Thorney Island Sailing Club. David Jardine-Smith made the arrangements and reports ‘Scandal (Tamarisk 22) Cariad, (Newbridge Voyager) and Lalep-La (Hurley 22) left Dell Quay on the ebb, to explore around East Head and beyond before heading up to Thorney on the flood. Three visitor moorings were available to us just up from TISC's long jetty and our hosts had kindly given us permission to use their brick-built barbecue ashore which we did, enjoying a very peaceful evening and a new perspective of the harbour. A calm and relaxing rally, all in all - and we learned why Lalep-la is called Lalep-la... (DQ cruisers please note that prior permission from the military authorities, via TISC, is required to visit Thorney Island.)’ The short harbour cruise appealed to crews not too
keen on long passages and another harbour cruise has been included in the 2017 programme.

Bucklers Hard on the lovely Beaulieu River was the destination for the mid week rally on Tuesday 21st June.  Cantata and Parity joined single handers Frith and Sandpiper mooring up alongside the mid river pontoon opposite the marina. It is a short dinghy trip ashore to The Master Builders for a meal in the evening and there is plenty to do and see in Bucklers Hard and further upstream in Beaulieu itself if you wish to spend longer in this delightful location.

The winds and sea state were too much for a channel crossing on Wednesday 13 July so Cantata, Fairwind, Moody Maid, Niobe and Opus IV made for Bembridge and enjoyed excellent curry night at Brading Haven Sailing Club. A good passage was made on Thursday motor sailing to Cherbourg in moderating seas. Fairwind picked up something on her prop en-route and had to proceed under reduced revs into the marina with Bill Greening in Niobe standing by. Tom and Ros Cunliffe joined us for drinks aboard Niobe and later a very impressive Bastille Day firework display was enjoyed. The marina was busy with the Tour des Portes de La Manche race boats. A good sail around Cap de La Hague and onto Dielette where the remaining plastic wrapping was removed from Fairwind's prop by Barrie diving in Roy’s wet suit. Good moules and frites were enjoyed in L’Escale. Cantata and Moody Maid then returned via Guernsey and Alderney whilst Opus IV, Niobe and Fairwind went on to St Helier, Jersey, staying overnight on he outside waiting pontoon ready for an early start next day. The weather remained warm and sunny for the passage south to Bas Sablons marina, St Malo. After a day spent exploring the delightful surroundings the rally locked through the EDF barrage and into the scenic and peaceful River Rance.

Fairwind and Opus IV locking through the barrageFairwind and Opus IV locking through the barrage


La Richardais, R Rance

La Richardais, R Rance


Picturesque village of St Suiliac

Picturesque village of St Suiliac


Two nights were spent exploring St Suiliac, the river and Plouer marina further upstream before reconvening in the lock and making passage west to St Cast-Le- Guildo with its splendid beaches. The rally returned north to St Peter Port, stopping over on the outside pontoons that are walk ashore in the summer, then onto Braye Harbour, Alderney for a BBQ on the beach.


BBQ in the sand dunes in Braye Harbour, Alderney

BBQ in the sand dunes in Braye Harbour, Alderney


Next day a good breeze made for a quick passage across the channel with Fairwind and Opus IV heading into Studland Bay whilst Niobe went on into Poole Harbour. Niobe and Opus IV returned to Chichester and Fairwind sailed back to Bembridge in a good breeze. We enjoyed glorious summer weather, new destinations and it was a first time crossing for Opus IV.

Dick Hoare who led the Lymington rally writes ‘The Lymington rally was scheduled to start on Wednesday the 20th July, followed closely by a rally to Bucklers Hard up the Beaulieu river on the following weekend.  With no boats registered for the Beaulieu rally, I decided to ignore the trip up to Bucklers Hard and go on from Lymington to the Newtown river on the Isle of Wight and then make our way east, calling into Bembridge on Saturday.

We left our berth in Chichester marina and quickly spotted Nikita as she left her mooring off Longmore. White Magic followed having come out of Birdham Pool a little later. Nikita unfortunately was called back home during our passage past Hayling Island. The weather was forecast to deteriorate later in the day, reaching W or SW 6 or 7, so the decision was made to divert into Gosport marina in Portsmouth Harbour, where we arrived around 3:00pm. When in Gosport, there is only one place to eat – the Great Wall Chinese restaurant. Eat all you can for £16.95!

Thursday morning dawned fine with SW 3-4 forecast. Yes, it was on the nose, so we motored west past Cowes and the Gurnard buoy, when the wind allowed us to sail for a short time up to the entrance to Lymington. Our passage took us through a classic yacht race which included one of the old J-class boats and a Bristol pilot cutter. The entrance to the river is very well marked with red and green posts; the first one is called ‘Jack in the Basket’. The story goes that the fishermen’s lunches would be placed in the basket for them to collect on their way past. However, the pilot book tells a different story. Apparently, those who offended the good people of the town were left in the basket to have fish and some other unmentionables thrown at them by passing sailors. I think I know which account I prefer.

Berths had been booked for us in Berthon Lymington marina, which is the second marina as you motor up towards the town. It’s a very well appointed marina (sporting probably the swankiest loos in the south) with the widest pontoons I have every seen. The staff made us all very welcome and were most helpful in every way. Local knowledge indicated that the Ship Inn, next to Town Key was not the place to eat. So we walked a short way up the cobbled street to the Kings Head and enjoyed an excellent meal and good beer.

We left Lymington quite early next day to be sure of getting a buoy in Newtown River. White Magic had to get back home, so Frith and Parity rafted together in the main river and enjoyed an idyllic afternoon watching the wildlife and other boats. We slipped our moorings the next day for the trip down the Solent to Bembridge with a strong tide to help us on our way. Frith departed for her home berth in Gosport.

Imagine our surprise, when as we turned into the harbour, we were greeted by a forest of masts, many dressed overall, all rafted along the Duver pontoon. We had inadvertently joined the annual Family Fun weekend. However, the marina staff worked wonders to get everybody safely secured, but had to turn boats away as the total reached 170 craft moored! The following morning, they again worked their magic and organised departures for all those wanting to leave on the tide. And so it was, we sailed all the way back to Chichester harbour under just our genoa in a south-westerly Force 4 breeze to bring to close a wonderful few days sailing in the Solent’. (Dick Hoare  PARITY)

Newtown River tranquillity

Newtown River tranquillity


Family fun weekend in Bembridge

Family fun weekend in Bembridge

Tuesday 23rd August bought fair weather and calm seas for the Round the Wight rally led by Dick Cole. Cantata, Harami, Frith and Moody Maid headed for Yarmouth (best to reserve a berth).  A drink in The Royal Solent Yacht Club was followed by a meal for the crews in The Bugle. After a good trip around the southern coast of the Isle of Wight, the rally arrived in Bembridge in time for another excellent Wednesday curry night at Brading Haven Sailing Club.

Tuesday 13th September, Cowes and West Solent. This was the best attended rally with 11 cruisers taking part. It was led by Phil Slader who writes ‘Niobe, Opus IV, Zephyr, (Jeanneau 281) Frith, Cantata, Parity, Sandpiper, Pegasus, Harami, Kekeno (Seal 22) and Sunbeam (Newbridge Venturer) all travelled to Cowes on Tuesday. The 23 crew members went to the Island Sailing Club where they had kindly let us use the conservatory for a hatch supper and we stayed on for a talk on ‘Winston’s Island’.
The rally was to Cowes and West, so on Wednesday:  Opus IV went west towards Studland Bay; Zephyr, Kekeno and Sunbeam went NNW to Hythe and enjoyed a meal in La Vista Italian restaurant taking advantage of their mid-week offer; Frith, Cantata, Parity and Sandpiper went to Gosport where Sandpiper reported ’Superb Chinese cuisine and good Dell Quay banter’, Niobe went to Bembridge whilst Pegasus and Harami returned to Chichester’.

On Tuesday 4th October the last rally of the season was led by Bill Greening who reports: ‘7 boats signed up for the Lay Up Rally. Of these Parity cancelled at the last moment as her alternator died during the Hardway Rally a few days before, Harami cancelled as her crew unavailable and it was too windy for single handing. Cantata’s “elderly crew” decided to wait for better weather. With an inshore forecast giving F5-7’s for Tuesday and Wednesday Moody Maid, Niobe, Mandalay (Moody 31) and Friday’s Child had a great sail across to Bembridge in SE 18 - 25 knots. Bay Watch on The Beach was only doing evening meals at weekends during October and Brading Haven S.C. does not open on Tuesday and was not doing evening meals on that Wednesday (as it was the first Wednesday in the month) so we ate very well in the Vine. On Wednesday at 08:30 we thought the wind was OK to go to Gosport, but by the time we could leave (11:30) Chimet was reporting a full east F7 and the sea outside Bembridge looked horrible. Fridays Child came home, the rest of us stayed in Bembridge! But the sun was out! A lull in the early hours of Thursday morning dropped the sea state down and although we had a fairly consistent F6 for the NE to come home with, it was a fairly easy motor sail back.  Quite fun really!

The weather was perfect for lift out on Saturday 15th October with Piers Chamberlain leading a well organised team. The start was delayed because high pressure in preceding days reduced the expected water level so the boats could not get close enough for the usual 7am start. Once everyone was in position, the huge crane and its skilful driver made the task of lifting 26 boats onto the Quay for the winter look easy.