Four on Tour Four
2019 was to be PYRA’s 4th Tour. Lots of enthusiasm and 12 boats were signed up for a gloriously sunny reach westwards to Brixham and on to Fowey but, hey ho this is August in the English Channel and someone had other ideas. Start Day on Saturday 10th saw 40 knot westerlies ripping up the Channel. The first day of Cowes Week was cancelled 2 days in advance and no-one was going anywhere. With more strong westerlies forecast for the whole week, 7 of the 8 boats represented at the briefing voted to go east but even then they gradually fell away, either because of the forecast or because the Solent just wasn’t going to be exciting enough.
They were wrong. Just 4 boats – Addiction, Shed of Arjuna, Shebeen and Vento Novo – set out early afternoon on Sunday for a fast rolling ride to Bucklers Hard. The river entrance of course turns hard left – straight into what was still a lively headwind. The Shed’s little 3HP outboard couldn’t manage the Pogo’s diminutive 1 tonne displacement, so with no room for turning back, Shebeen took the tow rope. We managed just about 1 knot with an overheating engine into the vicious short chop until the flatter water behind Gull Island.
Rob had managed to get us onto the Events Pontoon just below the Master Builder. An excellent supper and the first of Kate’s crazy card and word games.
Monday – onwards to new horizons – against the tide through the Cowes Week fleets for another early afternoon start in Osborne Bay. Much quieter now so kites up for multiple gybes to the FL in Chichester Harbour just beyond the Hayling Island SC. We tied up in Northney Marina at the top end of the Harbour – new to most of us – a brisk walk across the causeway and another excellent hostelry.
Tuesday – Planning ahead now to cheat 2 more hard blows forecast in the next few days so a cracking sail to windward, back through the Cowes fleets, then up Southampton Water to Hythe. Lock in and yet again, Rob had managed to get 4 adjacent fingers – snugly sheltered for the impending Wednesday blow. Probably the best Thai meal ever for 14 happy sailors in Hythe village – Lovely.
Wednesday – Layday with silly games and a Roger Quiz Special followed by the Tot – and the 2nd of Roger’s 3 part account of Operation Pedestal, Malta and the Ohio – Seriously, look it up – an astonishing true story of grit and determination which very possibly turned the course of WW2. Oh yes, all 14 of us totted on board the 22 foot Shed’s capacious cockpit – undoubtedly a world record.
Thursday – Make a dash for it before the next gale – fast run downwind to Calshot – Vento Novo steady as a rock with their kite, whilst The Shed decided the A Sail should be swapped to spinnaker – an interesting tangle of nylon and string whilst heading towards the biggest container ship I’ve ever seen – then Rod paused from sorting out the confusion to take photos of said ship from the bow – You’ve got to be cool or mad to sail a boat like that. Around Calshot Spit and a stonking wet tight starboard fetch down the Solent carving through the Cowes fleets, all seemingly on port tack or to windward. Lovely stuff and a finish off Lymington.
Friday – 0800 start for 11mile stride to Hurst Castle, back to a pub lunch in Milford and bus in the rain back to Lymington. A good afternoon for hunkering down in the cockpit tent with the wind howling and the rain just emptying down. Last night away so the Tot was a proper job in the Royal Lymington – two real glasses each – one water to ‘cleanse the palette’- the other Pusser’s Rum. This was real class followed by a long posh dining table.
Saturday – Our first Gate Start of the week at the civilised hour of 1130 – tack close in to cheat the last of the flood, out through Hurst at slack water and into big wet seas, still with a fresh 5, maybe 6 at times. Tied up just in time for the final RV, 1700hrs in Poole YC.
The results are somewhere on the website (Shebeen does revel in a blow) but who cares – the real thing about this Tour was the camaraderie of all 4 crews getting together each evening – having a lot of fun, making new friends with some pretty good sailboat racing thrown in for good measure.
Maybe Fowey in 2020?