Cruiser Reports

The Tale of two Dickies, or Jeckles at Hythe

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



(see photos below)

It was a poignant moment when four cruisers from Dell Quay visited the Mulberry Anchorage at Arromanches in May. We may have been three weeks ahead of the 70th anniversary of D Day, but that did not prevent us contrasting the beauty of this spot on a warm spring afternoon with the horrors of the past of which the remains of the Mulberry units are a great reminder.

Sandpiper (Peter Elford, Dick Cole and Sue), Harami (Tim Applewhite and Spence), Fairwind (Sue and Barrie Pearson) and Niobe (Bill Greening and Kip Moore) had made an easy passage to St Vaast 2 days before and then spent a day enjoying everything that port could offer. St Vaast had few visiting yachts in this second week in May which made it more special than usual. We were now on our way to Ouistreham and conditions were just right to fulfil an ambition to anchor in the limited shelter of Arromanches and wait out some foul tide for a few hours.

Having locked into the canal at Ouistreham in the late evening, we spent the night in its pretty marina and then joined the morning convoy (well, it was us and one other boat!) to Caen. This involves waiting at the Pegasus Bridge for “Monsieur” to open up and let us through, before doing the same at the other two bridges before Caen. Here we spent two nights right in the middle of the city. Kip and I visited the Memorial Museum on the outskirts of town and found it to be one of the best on the Second World War we had seen.

Going north again we were the convoy! We were joined by a few other boats in the lock before enjoying they best pure sail of the trip for the 5 miles east to Dives-sur-Mer and its modern but attractive Port Guillaume Marina. Dives claims that William the Conqueror left from there in 1066 and there is a large tablet in the church listing the nobles who sailed with him. The centre of the town is very attractive as are the neighbouring holiday towns of Houlgate and the more modern Cabourg.

The weather was starting to break up, but we were blessed with southerlies for the next few days. Sandpiper and Harami had to make for home from Dives having run out of time and made an early morning start. Fairwind and Niobe planned to make a final stop in Deauville/Trouville, but on hearing that the yacht club there was full with race boats, decided on another day in Dives. In fact it was 2 days awaiting a sensible forecast, but in the event all 4 boats made fast passages home in southerly winds of force 4 to 5.

Arromanches had been a first for all of us, and only 2 of us had been to Caen by water before. The sun shone for the first 2 thirds of our time away, the food was good and the company excellent. As Peter said, “what more does a man (or woman) need!”

Bill Greening


Anchored at Aromanches

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Mulberry Remains

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The "Convoy"

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Caen's small Marina

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Locking Out at Ouistreham

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