Cruiser Reports

Rally to Hardway Sailing Club

Saturday 30 September 2023

The annual rally to Hardway SC enjoyed good sailing weather, which in late September is not always the case. To be frank, it hasn't been the case for much of the last 3 months.

There was much to-ing and fro-ing as skippers signed up and later withdrew for a variety of reasons but in the end five boats finally arrived and managed to find a berth on Hardway's long pontoon stretching out into Portsmouth Harbour.

image1In all ten crew aboard Amore, Chiara, Opus IV, Moody Maid and Roussillon made the trip.

For a sailing club, Hardway appears to have everything, an enthusiastic and large membership, scrubbing piles, a mast crane, a large area for tender storage and an excellent clubhouse. Drinks are as cheap as chips and Colin the recently appointed galley franchisee was able to provide us with excellent food from a lengthy menu at great prices. We sat down to eat together and then remained to enjoy the sounds of a group of singers and musicians who had travelled from France especially to regale the Hardway members; an annual event apparently. I don't think that any of us had encountered a group playing such a wide range of music, from opera to Abba, to Pink Floyd. Comfortably Numb will never quite sound the same again.

image2We all departed mid morning as the tide finally lifted us from the gooey mud for the return trip.

image3There was a fair amount of drama on board Moody Maid as her engine revs started to ebb and flow.

As she approached Portsmouth Harbour entrance with the spring flood running at around 4 knots and with a huge gaggle of boats also struggling to make headway, the thought of the engine dying was almost unbearable for the grim faced crew.

Aware of the crisis, Opus IV pushed on close behind, ready to support Moody Maid if she became stricken. Fortunately this didn't happen. Phew!

The wind was kind for the sail back east and all boats made it home, even Moody Maid, although some coughing and spluttering kept the tension going until the mooring buoy was safely attached.

Tim Applewhite


Laying up Rally to Bembridge

Saturday 14 October  - Sunday 15 October 12023

In the end, 4 boats joined us, 9 people and of course our resident sea dog Toby.


  • Mandalay – Martin Sarah and Toby
  • Fairwind – Sue and Barrie
  • Roussillon – Chris Sprules, Andy, and Tim
  • Osprey – Chris Playford and Janet

High tide was at about 12.30 at Dell Quay, so we aimed to set off at 10.00, but as usual it was a bit later. We had an excellent sail across with a good W - WNW breeze F4-5, blue skies with fluffy cumulus clouds drifting across. We had 2 reefs in the main, which was just as well as we had a few interesting gusts round the Isle of Wight headlands, causing the helm to shout ‘Close the Slot’ ‘Close the Slot’ – to prevent being catapulted downhill to the other deck.

All boats were safely moored up in the rally area by lunchtime, which left plenty of time to enjoy the delights of Bembridge.


We all gathered aboard Mandalay for pre – dinner drinks before walking round to Brading Haven Yacht Club

pre dinner drinks

Toby sunbathing on the deck

Toby sunbathing

Pre-dinner drinks on Mandalay

Brading Haven made us very welcome in our own private dining area, as they had a Birthday Bash in the main clubroom. Our meal choices had to be made in advance, but we were given the option of the Rally menu and the a la carte menu.

image25High Tide on Sunday was about 13.00 at Dell Quay so we all decided to gather for breakfast at the Baywatch. Some of us were somewhat reluctant to do this as it was really too cold to eat outside, but fortunately they allowed us to eat inside. I wonder whether it is under new management! You still get a cooked breakfast in a Bap served in cardboard boxes though.


The various techniques for tackling a Full English in a Bap were studied with interest, luckily Toby was on hand to clear up any ‘accidental’ droppings – a job he did very diligently. The company was so convivial that we slightly lost track of time and had to leg it back to our boats before the tide ran out.

We had glorious sunshine and blue sky all the way back. Wind was variable F2-4 WNW, Northerly later.

What a lovely way to end the season. I look forward to seeing you all on the water next year, and at the social events this winter.



Dell Quay Not to Yarmouth Lymington Rally Saturday 2 September 2023

This was the ‘Dell Quay Not to Yarmouth Lymington Rally’, a nod to the comedian Peter Kaye tour that didn’t.

The organiser (yours truly) contacted Yarmouth HM on 1 June to book the rally for the 2 September, thinking 3 months was ample notice. I was informed that they were taking rally bookings for February 2024, which was no use of course because February is usually too cold. In a panic, I contacted a nice lady in the Lymington HM office who detecting one over the local rival, was only too pleased to accommodate us on the Dan Bran pontoon which is situated just outside the Lymington Yacht Haven, the first marina on the river. Phew! All I had to do was send her a list of boats and then ask the skippers to pay before 31 August with the added comfort of a very reasonable cancellation policy. Yarmouth was quickly struck out on the DQ Webpage and replaced with Lymington. Peter and Jane Matthews in Opus 1V had already signed up for Yarmouth. Hold this thought please.

The amendment to the DQ Webpage created a surge of interest with another 7 DQ boats signing up for Lymington plus a Bosham boat joined the party. I duly sent the list of ‘Lymington’ rally boats to the HM. Luckily, with 5 days to go I realised I had missed Opus 1V who due to my (ongoing) stupidity was still technically destined for Yarmouth. Anyway, all sorted in the end. I had only to deal with the dinner booking at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club which is a whole story in itself. I will not bore you further.

The signed-up boats were:

Opus 1V  Peter and Jane (first to do so)
Fairwind  Sue and Barrie
Mandalay  Martin and Sarah with Toby the dog
Jacob Faithful
 Esmond, Paul and George
Osprey  Chris and Julian
Snoopy  John and Avril
Chiara  Tony and Francesca
Piquant  Chris (Bosham SC)
Frith  Martin Watson


The weather forecast was looking too good to be true with sunshine and light Easterly winds going out and sunshine and light Westerly winds coming back.

The crews who could find extra time to enjoy the weather set out for the Solent a day or two early and one or two stayed out longer. Mandalay and Piquant went to Bembridge, Snoopy directly to Lymington and Fairwind to the lower reaches of the Beaulieu river. HMS The Prince of Wales carrier was seen leaving Portsmouth harbour on the Friday after trials following the ‘repacking of her starboard prop shaft gland’ (joke). Quite a sight, a carrier that was moving, albeit with the aid of several tugs out into the Solent.

Fairwind decided to get to Lymington early on the Saturday to size up the facilities on the relatively new Dan Bran pontoon. This was a good idea as on the way into Lymington a Lancaster Bomber flew low and directly overhead with sun reflecting off the back of her four propellers; quite a majestic sight. Later that day, the Red Arrows flew over to the north of Lymington, so all quite entertaining. The pontoon is a lovely location in settled weather because you have a view up the Solent to Cowes, over to Yarmouth and of course, the movement of boats in the river provides its own entertainment. A rather large Lido is situated close by which attracts locals and tourists alike.

Many of the remaining boats arrived in good time with the exception of Chiara and Piquant. Tony Booker in Chiara texted later on to say that he had made it to Cowes, but it was unlikely that he would be able to get to Lymington as he was running late and had run out of fuel. A valient effort but such a pity. Earlier Chris in Piquant (Bosham SC) had to return to Chichester because he had fallen ill during the morning. We wish him well. The rally of 9 boats was down to 7.

image1At the request of the organiser, John and Avril kindly hosted four past and long standing DQ members; the Buchanans who now live in Lymington and the Fortunes who were berthed up river in the Berthon Marina.

Fairwind had the space to accommodate the remaining crews for the usual get together early evening. It was warm, sunny and calm, summer had indeed arrived.

We were all very impressed with the many ferries passing quietly by and towering over us about 50m away, but making absolutely no wake. If only the Ribs were so designed?

image2The slightly confusing zig-zag walk off the pontoon took about 5 minutes with the dinner venue, the Royal Lymington Yacht Club an additional 1 minute away. We arrived in good time for more pre-dinner drinks and we all gathered with John, Avril, and after such a long time, Jean, Malcolm, David and Caroline.

Were it not for the DQ and Maxi Owners’ rallies, the RLYC restaurant would have been surprisingly empty. With the two rallies arriving at similar times however, the RLYC staff coped well and the meals arrived on time. The views were wonderful, the food good and a very convivial evening was over too quickly.

image3The stroll back to the Dan Bran pontoon was bathed in lovely bright Super Moonlight, the second ‘Blue Moon’ this summer.

Sunday proved to be glorious. Some boats headed off early to take advantage of a full Spring tidal flow to get back to DQ. Sailing up the Western Solent close hauled (I said the forecast was too good to be true) was gentle and a delight with around 9 knots of (easterly) wind. It was a surprise to round Egypt Point at Cowes to have no wind at all, with steerage lost in the ferry track. From there on it was motor sailing. There were many boats on the water, no doubt hanging around for the start of the Clipper Race from Portsmouth later in the afternoon. Osprey set off from Lymington later to take in the Clipper start, returning to her mooring near Westlands in the evening.

image4aSue and I stayed on board Fairwind on Sunday night at Westlands and experienced a really great sunset.

Thank you to all those who came along for making the week end very enjoyable.

Barrie Pearson

Make the most of the rest of the season and sign up for the last three rallies.

SATURDAY 16 SEPTEMBER - FOLLY INN R. MEDINA  4 spaces available - be quick!




Round the Wight Rally

Tuesday 18th July – Thursday 29th July 2023

On Tuesday, Roussilon, Moody Maid, Fairwind, Lady P and Osprey gathered in Yarmouth for the Round the Wight Rally. Opus 4 had to pull out of the Yarmouth leg but hoped to meet us in Bembridge along with Firebird, Snoopy and Desiree.

Crews enjoyed nibbles and drinks aboard Fairwind on Tuesday evening for the usual social catch up before the business of working out when to leave the next morning. Everyone reckoned that Tim (rally leader in Firebird) had got it right with his image1emailed suggestion. So, 0500 hours it was then. Lady P had decided to stay on in Yarmouth to give Pippa a well-earned rest; she loved short passages but was a bit fed up with the long passages that we seemed only to have this year on the Summer Rally. Osprey with father and daughter crew (Rebecca) headed back to Chichester directly as originally intended. Roussilon, Moody Maid and Fairwind set off west, motor sailing under a slightly grey sky to get to the Needles in time for the tide change. After the Needles, the sailing was very pleasant with a 10-13 knot westerly wind allowing a broad reach if the crews were minded to go through the southern part of the St Catherine’s overfalls. The swell on the quarter was not bad with some ‘minor’ surfing, but interesting to see that the overfalls flattened it making sailing through them even more fun with the slight ‘swirlies’. It is always a delight to see dolphins and more were seen, again heading to Dartmouth possibly for fish and chips. The sun came out chasing the clouds away making it like ‘champagne sailing’ and progress was really good. After rounding St Catherine’s and following a port gybe, it was even better. The seas completely flattened benefitting from the small amount of shelter and even with slightly less wind, the speed held up. We had reckoned on maybe 7.5 hours for the trip, but it turned out just over 6 which had Fairwind checking the Bembridge web page for adequate height above the bar. Fairwind crossed the Bar with 2.7m with the Bembridge  ‘App’ saying 2.23. Interesting! Roussilon and Moody Maid followed, rafting up against Fairwind.

Snoopy, Firebird, Opus 4 and Desiree set out from Chichester with strengthening winds, forecasted to be fluctuating around a South Westerly direction. Ian in Desiree commented that he had never had wind on the nose on every leg going down the image2harbour before. Tim in Firebird joked that Chimet was only reading F3 when he set out and consequently was looking forward to a gentle sail over to Bembidge. Long story short, wind gusting as high as 27 knots and a short chop made it a memorable trip!

The heavy conditions parted Snoopy’s genoa halyard swivel so the sail had to be lowered permanently. In Bembridge, the team of John and Jack with a little help from Ian, managed to get the swivel down from the top of the foil by a very clever system using thin rope and the boat hook. Impressive. Repairs ensued.

Well done to the four boats for getting there and at some cost.

Chat and drinks aboard Fairwind and Rousillon then up to the Vine Inn for dinner. We joined in the Vine quiz night and although not officially partaking whispered the odd answer amongst ourselves – how some local teams managed about 70% correct, we will never know. In some way it was a pity that organising dinner at the intended venue the Brading Haven Yacht Club proved difficult, but the Vine certainly came up trumps.

A lazy start to a lovely day for the return. A light westerly wind pushed the flotilla back at a gentle pace; just so different to the thrash over the previous day from Chichester.

Great to see Martin Watson in Frith on his way back up to Dell Quay on the final leg of his round UK single handed sail.

Thanks to Tim for organising the Round the Wight Rally.

Barrie Pearson


2023 Summer Rally to the West Country

Thursday 6th July – Tuesday 18th 2023

Recent summer cruises have been blessed with very hot weather, the reason why Fairwind was the recipient of a new fridge freezer for the 2023 one. It was fun playing with it tied up in the various marinas/river pontoons whilst sheltering from the wind and rain. Hey Ho.

Mandalay with Martin & Sarah aboard cheated by leaving ahead of the west country rally. It turned out that their timescale for the rally did not match the published one, but great to meet up as intended in Dartmouth.

Rally leader in Moody Moon (Piers Chamberlain, Chris ‘Gorilla’ Rigg-Milner and Paula), Fairwind (Sue & Barrie Pearson) and Lady P (old sea dog Graham Morris and much younger sea dog Pippa the Patterdale Terrier) set out from Chichester on Thursday 6th July at differing times heading for Yarmouth. There was an evening reverie in the Bugle with Chris ‘Gorilla’ R-M leading the toast for a good holiday.

An interesting start to the next day with Barrie losing the positively buoyant head of the hull scrubber (‘Scrubbis’) under Fairwind. Concerned that it was trapped near the S-drive/prop, he entered the water minus wetsuit and in a stream heading inland up the Yar at quite a rate. Quite silly really. Anyway, after some poking around with the headless pole, the item surfaced not far from Moody Moon and finally retrieved by the nice Berthing Master, directed by Piers. Off we all went at 1300 hours motoring in very little wind to fight a couple of hours foul tide before picking up the full westerly going flow carrying us to Portland Marina. Lucky Piers suggested we did this.

Near Totland head, a third the way down the Needles channel, Moody Moon suffered what turned out to be a rally ending engine failure, stopping dead. Piers waved to Graham and Pippa who motored on thinking the wave was a typical friendly Dell Quay gesture. Similar wave to Fairwind provoked a reaction as Sue thought it odd that Piers was on his mobile when mid Needles Channel, with sails now up but flapping about. Turns out they needed a tow back to Yarmouth before the west going tide set in. A first for Fairwind towing a bigger boat but stressful racing against a turning tide. They managed to get to the first middle trot mooring buoy off Yarmouth with Sue telling Barrie that the buoy capture had to be right first time as the tide was now hoovering west. Luckily, all went well after Sue told Chris that no, she was not going to find them a less wobbly buoy! Moody Moon was secured to the strop still holding Fairwind. Barrie lassoed the buoy independently of the strop and then released said strop leaving Moody Moon secured to the buoy; Fairwind peeling off to port. ‘Gorilla’ CRM was then left to haul Moody Moon onto the mooring buoy with a line some 10 metres long!

(Piers WhatsApp sometime later: ‘have investigated, heat exchanger refilled and engine working, so will study tides etc. with a view of getting to Portland tomorrow’).

Fairwind resumed the motor sail west with a now strong westerly going tide to chase Lady P into Portland, which fortunately was an easy target and saw both boats tied up well before dark. The overfalls off St Albans Head were reasonable, but still a bit bumpy of course and Graham in Lady P said the they had confirmed that there was a leak in the forward hatch.

(Piers WhatsApp even later that day: ‘Losing coolant so in Yarmouth tomorrow. Hope to catch up with you sometime’).

Eating late, dehydration and the alcohol in celebration of a successful towing was an issue for Barrie who suffered one of his vertigo episodes until 0130 the next day. Not good.
Mandalay had sailed from Portland earlier missing us by 10 hours and bound for Dartmouth but decided to bear off to Teignmouth to be able to sail, making port just as light failed.

On Saturday, Fairwind and Lady P spent a quiet day in Portland recovering. At the end of the day a large dolphin entered the marina and gave us all a fantastic display, swimming on its back, jumping, head down waving tail in the air and finally, splashing a boat of divers with its tail. Children watching on the pontoons whooped with delight. Pippa was intrigued. The same day, Mandalay beached in Teignmouth as directed by the Harbour Master and fitted their new rope cutter and scrubbed the hull on what turned out to be a very uneven Hard. All went well in the end.

(Piers WhatApp Sunday: ‘Engineer can only get here on Wednesday, so hopefully mobile later in the week’)

Lady P West of the Bill

Lady P West of the bill

We started early on Sunday (0415 hours) to round Portland Bill on the way to Dartmouth; there was little wind so we motor sailed. Always a little stressful rounding the Bill, but we managed to keep the overfalls well off our starboard side. Even on a reasonably calm day the waves were breaking big time, maybe something to do with the big Atlantic swell coming in and the Spring tide? The west going tide was strong helping us to get clear of the Bill in good time. After a couple of hours, the wind filled in from a Southerly direction and we were able to sail most of the way to Dartmouth and on one tack. Almost champagne sailing with dolphins sited 10 miles out from Dartmouth. Fairwind and Lady P rafted out on the mid-river pontoon.

Martin and Sarah enjoyed Teignmouth with its mid river pontoons and were warm for the first time on their holiday. The small town was interesting with many small rather bijou type shops, one providing Sarah with a bespoke pair of shoes due for delivery by end August. On the part of the town facing the pontoons they had crab and lobster at the Crab Shack which was excellent. They left Teignmouth to join Fairwind and Lady P on the mid river pontoons in Dartmouth. So, a rally of 3 out of 4 boats by late Sunday afternoon.

(Piers WhatsApp later Sunday: ‘ex-club member came up trumps with an engineer, heat exchanger replacement required plus other bits and pieces. Here until Friday now’)

Dart Valley Railway

Dart Valley Railway

The weather turned foul with crews remaining on board the next day. The usual get-together on Mandalay early evening when it was discovered that Mandalay has five drinks lockers, with Sarah insisting that two were for non-alcoholic beverages.

Tuesday’s weather was reasonable and all five of us with Pippa headed off on the one hour plus walk to Coleton Fishacre, the wonderful Art Deco country home of the D’Oyly Carte family designed by Oswald Milne, a student of Sir Edwin Lutyens. The walk was very hilly and after walking round the house and gardens, the party decided to get the bus back to Kingswear. Unfortunately, the walk to the bus stop was much longer than anticipated and the bus was going to be missed, so a diversion was made still on foot back to Kingswear. The group got split up a little along the way and then Martin and Sarah passed by in a new electric BMW courtesy of a local; Sarah giving the ‘royal wave’ as they passed. Sarah said the lift was because her foot was painful, which was a decent excuse. Drinks at the Dartmouth Yacht Club followed by fish and chips on the quayside looking over the lovely sunny Dart provided a suitable ending to a very good if not exhausting day out.

We were all watching the weather forecasts with great interest trying to find a window to get back around the Bill, which looked like Thursday. Sarah suggested we all ‘pop’ round to Brixham to achieve a better angle back to the Bill from there. This worked well and gave us a taste of what was in store for Thursday. Strong breeze and a lumpy sea. Brixham marina had proper ‘raindance’ type showers which was such a luxury after Dartmouth. Sarah booked us all a berth in the Cove in Weymouth for the next day.

(Piers WhatsApp: ‘Friday out now so likely will be in Yarmouth until Monday or Tuesday’)

On Thursday 13th in anticipation of a big following sea and fairly strong winds, the three boats hatched a plan to go around the Bill together, with Lady P leaving 50 minutes earlier at 0430 hrs. All boats converged about 24 miles out with less to go. The trip was actually quite good with seas usually more benign in Lyme Bay. Three pods of dolphins were sighted, all on a mission heading for Dartmouth maybe for fish and chips? The wind and sea picked up as we sailed closer to the Bill. The waypoint aimed for was 3.75 miles south of the Bill, which was the gybe mark. It turned out that the overfalls were not that evident although the waves on the quarter rounding the Bill were quite interesting. The lesson rounding the Bill is that Neap Tides really help.

Rally in the cove Waymouth

Rally in the cove Waymouth


Weymouth was fairly quiet, possibly something to do with the weather forecasts. We had our own section of the Cove pontoon which was nice. The plan was to sit there until Monday when the weather looked better to go east. The Cove is incredibly well sheltered and the 45 knot winds were hardly felt. Crews did their own thing in the main.


(Piers WhatsApp: engineer came today Sunday and we are repaired but with some get you home fixes, so back on tomorrow’s early tide’)


On Monday, the three boats left Weymouth; Lady P very quietly indeed at around 0400 hours to get to Yarmouth. Fairwind sailed around to Studland and Mandalay to Swanage. Sue and Barrie were astonished to find Studland completely empty and Sarah reported that Swanage had a lot of space too; something to do with the recent weather no doubt.

image4The many (free) eco mooring buoys in Studland were a delight, each with a really good pick up. The buoys were very lightweight, seemingly on a ‘bungee’ riser screwed into the sea bed to protect the eel grass beds and the sea horses that live there. A charity raised £66k to lay the buoys. They have a lovely big ring on the top, but catching one with the Mooring Hook was a challenge as the buoys are so light. Interesting watching the boats coming in later, none picking up the strop for some reason but all fighting trying to get a line through the rings. One boat must have rounded 5 times before a successful capture.  Our approach was to pick up the strop, have a beer and then put a line through the ring when the afternoon breeze had died down.

On Tuesday, the tides allowed for a more leisurely start for Fairwind to get to Yarmouth to join the Round the Wight rally and earlier for Mandalay to get to Cowes, their final ‘fill up’ stop before home. For all practical purposes, the Summer West Country Rally terminated in Yarmouth. 220.5nm logged through the water by Fairwind.

Thanks to Piers (and commiserations on the engine failure) for organising the Summer Rally.

Barrie Pearson

P.S. Yours truly is organising the Lymington rally on 2 September, so why not sign up? Spaces have been booked in anticipation and all the HM needs is a list of boat names. Look out for further details

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