To Cowes (with a crew)

Riff Raff had been left idling for a week or so whilst the Owners Agent and I dashed to Scotland* to visit the Shaman** and her man. This included a day wandering around Edinburgh, in the rain, with thousands of other tourists. O, the joy of Edinburgh whilst the festival is on…

So I needed a bit of relaxed sailing. The forecast for Wednesday and Thursday of last week (that was the 22nd and 23rd August for those a bit lost in the chronology of this blog)***  seemed almost benign; force 3 for most of Wednesday from the SW and similarly for the Thursday. The Banker was between jobs so I persuaded him to come with me and we set off for Cowes, full of confidence and hope.

Riff Raff flew down the channel from Northney, out through the entrance to Chichester harbour, turned westward ready to tack **** our way to the North Fort, at which point the tide should turn in our favour.

We tacked in towards the land (to miss the worst of the tide) and the wind dropped. In the next hour we made about 2 miles towards our objective and reckoned we’d be there just before the pub shut (if not just after it had shut). Freddy 2 was summoned to life and we pottered***** of at about 4 knots arriving in Cowes a bit hot and bothered. (we had  sailed a little more towards the end and became embroiled in the finishing stage of a race of 5.5 metre racing boats – oops).

Up the river, dodging the dreaded Chain Ferry and into the friendly East Cowes Marina in time for a swift G & T or two at the local hostelry. The forecast looked fine for the morrow – F3 from the SW – just right to get us home.

At 07:30 I checked the forecast: f5 gusting f6 was now in the offing and it would get stronger as the day wore on and would stay that way until Monday. I checked two other forecast providers – all said more or less the same. The Banker said he had to be back that night and Google told him that a bus, ferry, train and taxi could get him back to his car within 3 hours. No need to do anything yet then, apart to advise the Owners Agent that there may be a change of plan.

Back to the pub, this time for breakfast.

By 10:00 am it was raining but all of the forecasts had changed. The general view now was that it wold be 3 gusting 4, still from the South West. Much more reasonable. The tide would turn East about 14:00. So we left at midday, hoisted the sails once outside the harbour and turned East. The gusty wind conditions were such that the jib would not set into a stable Goose wing (the wind gusts would catch the mainsail, which would accelerate the boat, causing the job to collapse) so we rolled up the jib. Well, we attempted to roll up the jib – it stuck about half way and I had to leave the crew in charge of the helm (well he has sailed dinghies before) 20180823_140134and crawl forward to solve the problem. There was a riding turn jamming the winch and soon all was secure.

That’s how we were for the next four hours. The sun came out, the wind rose a bit, setting up following seas just off the stern to port so we segued our way east, across the ferry routes, past the forts and up to the beacon marking the entrance to Chichester. At this point the wind indicator showed that the true wind was about 15 knots, gusting at time to 18, so I thought it prudent to take in a reef in the main, to give us a little more control as we entered the narrows on a broad reach.

I’m glad we did – the chap behind us hadn’t bothered and was all over the place coming in (although he did overtake us… – but who cares?)

We were back in Northney by 18:00. the Banker went off home and I move the trailer axle several inches further aft.

The following morning I finally fitted the tent! Here it is, as Riff Raff poses on the Swallow Yacht sales area by the marina entrance.

Very posh. I can almost stand up in it.20180824_113905

Now we can really go cruising but – wait a minute, should I have ordered the curtains?




* only just over the border but it’s still (almost) “forren parts”

** in previous blogs they were referred to as the flower farmers (in Nova Scotia). Well, they’re now in Scotia itself doing all sorts of stuff. Go to  to find out more about the Shaman and her best selling book!

*** this group usually includes the author

**** zig zagging against the wind to the non nautical nuts reading this

***** pottering speed that was – the noise levels suggested otherwise!


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