Whilst the yacht was in Gosport Andy Chatterton went up the mast fo rme to recover the Ticktack wireless masthead sender unit. Raymarine knew all about the Ticktack flat battery problem and had got a replacment unit out almost as soon as I had got through the door. Apparently the design has been changed so you can now replace just the masthead battery only every 8 years or so, but the old design units (mine) have to be changed completely fo rthe new (at a cost of over £300!!!) Friday evening Andy again went up the mast with your scribe winching and reported it was dam cold 21metres up. I am truely grateful for his efforts which meant Ronhida had working wind instruments again for the first time since October '14
That evening we collected Fish and Chips from the local chippy and had them on board with Red Wine followed by Debbies home made bread and butter pudding which was truely mouthwatering. She entertained us with tales of strange goings on in Gerrards Cross with Daffodils and Cats.
So we had a good lie in and next morning left the berth at around 0830 with Andy supplying freshly cooked Bacon butties for breakfast. Setting sail we gently made out way to the start at Peel bank watching the Marines being loaded onto landing craft from a mother ship and scuttling up the gravel beach at Lee on Solent.
Wind was from the North North East and strong enough for a reef to be tucked in as the gunwhale was just dipping into the water on beats. Avoiding the Sunsail race start at the same bouy, we quickly beat over to Browndown but as usual Ronhilda lost ground rapidly with the rest of the long course fleet when she is upright on the downwind legs with apparent winds of less than 10kts. Indeed apart from meeting a few short course yachts most of the day was a sail in splendid isolation. We tried gybing downwind and goosewinging formats on the same downwind legs but with little difference in using either method in the leg timings. As the day wore on and we finally went past East Bramble for was it the third or fourth time we noted the Asymetric sail of Windhover was finishing, and it appeared the short course fleet had finished well before that but we had still had another hour to sail. Still at least the flat down wind legs allowed the galley crew to prepare plenty of hot cross buns and lots of coffees and teas.
1530 and finally we were finishing having sailed well over the 21miles the course length and so to a pontoon berth in Cowes. Scumsail were on the pontoon in frint of us and another one turned up and wanted to raft out, they mucked this up spectacularly not allowing for the onshore NE wind or setting out warps and fender to tie up. Shore lines are not in the book of berthing either it seemed, you just let your yacht crash up and down onto the railings of your sister craft inside of you. Quite the most inept peice of skippering I have seen in many a year, even from the French and thats saying something.
Anyway after that fun we had our usual Ronhilda teatime cheese party with Bucks Fizz, Cider and Sparking White Wine before setting off for the eveing Dinner at ROYC who have taken over the Royal London Corinthians it seems. The Hot Pot was very very good and even better two helpings were available followed by a nice Chocolate Brownie. After the actual prizes two well deserved special prizes were given to our organizer Graham, our new Commodore then said a few well appreciated words and the evening was over - an early morning call beckoned.
As it was Neaps we had worked out we needed leave at 6am to get back into Gulag Chichester Marina before low water cut off. With the still fairly brisk wind now nearly beam onto the pontoon and yachts rafted forward and astern of us this called for some nifty sprining out. Using a long spring I had to use quite a lot of power to get the bow some 60/70 degrees off the pontoon and clear of the outer rafted Scumsail yacht, this Ronhilda did readily and we quickly recovered the long warp on board before any danger of it getting caught up in the propeller, a skill you do not much off these days as people seem to think Bowthrusters are the only way of manovering yachts in tight spaces.
We then had a splendid fast hard beat sail back to Chichester not altering course once being the only yacht on the water apart from one at Portsmouth and one leaving Chichester. A late breakfast of sausages was had going up the harbour before we squeezed over the mud with 0.2 under the raised keel back into the marina.
And so to Summer cruises and next years winter feasts.
Thanks to all my crew who sailed with me during the cruises.