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Solent Raid

We signed up for a group holiday. We like to think of ourselves as individuals, not following the herd, doing different things, but there is a time for everything. We were going on a Raid in the Solent with forty open sailing boats. We persuaded John and Frances to come along. I need John’s expertise in sailing and they are good company.

George at Solent Raid head office linked us with John and Lainey who sail a Ness Yawl like ours, to stay with us for the home nights. Why does everyone we know who sails have the same name?


Getting 40 boats into the water in one tide at Keyhaven is not easy, but the people are nice. We tie up at the Key three and four deep and go for our pub supper trying to attach names to the faces (no they are not all called John). The next morning we are sailing across to the Isle of Wight and up the Medina. We spread out once we have left Hurst Castle. Why are they going faster than us? We skip the packed lunch at Newtown and press on for Cowes, fearing the tide stream being against us if we wait too long. Cowes in the week before ‘Cowes Week’ is a maelstrom of yachting affluence. We go ashore for a bit of lunch and the town itself is rather poor. The wind carries us upstream to the Folly Inn where we are to camp for the night. We Tie up 6 deep on the pontoons and eat the remainder of the packed lunches we neglected to have midday. Our tents arrive and we pitch them in the car park under the trees. Supper is good and fun. We are starting to communicate more. The ground is hard.

the support vessel and get a tow down the glassy windless Medina. Haul up all our Canvas (Dacron actually) and pray for wind. Slowly we all creep out from the island, drifting more with the tide than sailing. The wind picks up ever so slowly and eventually we approach Calshot Castle and are sailing rather briskly up the Solent to Ashlett creek for lunch. There are too many boats for the small creek and we eat our lunch at a mooring before setting off for Beaulieu River with the wind against us. We got stuck in the mud up Beaulieu River because of tacking wide in the channel and discovering how shallow it really was. What a waste of time when we are trying to prove to our compatriates how efficient we really are. We pick up our tents and tie up at the pontoon. We reluctantly pay the ferry that brings us back to the yacht club. John gets a refund later! We pitch tents in the drizzle and get a sit down meal for all 100 of us. The next morning we leave several of our tents in John and Frances’ tent for them to collect in the evening.

We tack against the wind to Lymington, making fast at the yacht club, where we are given a notable meal and Live music. We opted to sail up the Yar the next day. Tacking up to Hurst castle and across to the island. The masts came down for the swing bridge that was not swinging then. We sailed slowly and peacefully up the idyllic river and stopped at the bridge near Freshwater where we ate. Down to Yarmouth again and the warning was that the wind was up to force 5. So, Mizzen out and a reef in the mainand all our foul weather gear on. Safely back with George behind us in the Rib. haul the boats out and enjoy convivial barbecue!


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