Friday, June 25, 2010

Right round Wight

It’s about time I made a trip around the Isle of Wight. It’s on the doorstep and it has been on the agenda for a long time, but, somehow I had always found an excuse to enjoy some of the more scenic paddles along the local coast instead.

And so I joined Rich H, Chas and Ross one glorious June weekend – setting off on a Friday afternoon for a ‘circumnavigation’.

Unfortunately the weekend fell closer to neaps than springs and we were facing Force 3/4 Northerlies. We had also chosen the weekend of the JP Morgan Round the Island sailing race which boasted more than 1,700 entries!
There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures (William Shakespeare, of course)
Well, because of one thing and another, we left Keyhaven shortly before slack water and, with an anti-clockwise plan, paddled into the evening up to Grange Farm, against the ebb. We had just managed to pitch the bivvies and walk to the pub before they stopped serving food.

The morning gave us one of those crystal clear sparkling skies that you only get when the clouds clear after a night of rain. And there was a true spectacle on the horizon – a long string of hundreds of yachts as far as the eye could see. 

With 25 kms under our belt – we faced an easy day on Saturday, riding the flood 35kms to Foreland – time for coffee and Carrot Cake at Ventnor too. It was a long camp at Long Ledge (either that, or turn the corner into stiff Northerlies for an alternative exposed site) – we chilled. The VHF blurted “Northerly Force 4/5, occasionally 6, veering West”
Time and tide wait for no man (Geoffrey Chaucer)
True enough – that’s why we had to get up at 3am, to ensure that we were away in time to catch the ebb back to Keyhaven. No worries though – we were in for a ride on the renowned Solent tidal conveyor belt. Rubbish, the conveyor belt was broken for most of the day and we paddled 8 hours non-stop through sloppy seas and annoying wind to cover the 45kms. Getting to Hurst just in time (before the flood through the narrows kicked in)
Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. Harriet Beecher Stowe
Good fun, hard work, great company – not to be repeated!