After a great visit to Yarmouth and the Royal Solent on our Spring Rally, an armada of 10 boats, all flying the NYC burgee, sailed west and out of the Solent – fighting the tide for a couple of hours en-route to Weymouth.
Some took the inside passage past St Albans head, others took the outside passage, and one small boat took the Swanage passage(!) anchoring in the bay to wait for the next tide (at midnight) to arrive in Weymouth very, very early on the Monday morning whilst most sensible folk were still fast asleep in their bunks!
For the rest of the fleet, the Sunday afternoon arrival in Weymouth was accompanied by wonderfully warm sunshine, immediately followed by a period of thunder and hailstones the size of marbles which left a pretty thick covering of ice and snow over the decks. Fortunately tea, cakes, beer and wine helped keep spirits high till the sun returned after half an hour.
Dinner at the Pizza and Cider emporium, The Stable, was great and just what the doctor ordered.
On Monday, Mike D and Trevor were generously allowed a few hours sleep before we all headed off for Portland Bill and the inside passage towards Lyme Bay.
Things started with a lively sail down the eastern side of the peninsula and a slightly bumpy ride past the Bill before the wind promised, tempted, teased and eventually disappeared leaving all but one boat to switch on the engine for an assisted passage to Brixham Marina. The one hardy soul who sailed much of the way didn’t really want to, but electrical problems meant her engine wouldn’t start and resulted in a lurry of radio traffic and a bombardment of well meant, if not wholly helpful, advice. As is so often the way, once a tow line had been attached the problem fixed itself and so the journey was completed under power and berthing on our dedicated NYC jetty proved to be no problem at all. Drinks in the sunshine, fish and chips at the “posh” fish and chip shop and a return to our jetty to welcome in Puffin completed the day.
Tuesday was a lay-day in Brixham and a short stroll was organised for those who wanted it. Five hours, two pints, an ice-cream and several miles later, we all wearily found our way back to our jetty. Brixham is a lovely place and we all enjoyed our visit.
Wednesday saw the fleet back at sea – destination Salcombe. A gentle sail in gentle winds but enjoyable nonetheless. Salcombe is a lovely estuary (technically it’s not an estuary, but it looks like one) and it was beautiful as we sailed upstream to our mooring in the Bag.
On arrival, we were again allocated a pontoon pretty much to ourselves and were greeted by Peter and Ros on Border Reiver who’d sailed from Plymouth to meet us there. The fleet was now 11 strong, not a bad turnout for landlocked Newbury. Dinner that night was at the Ferry Inn where they’d set a room aside for us and served us decent grub and good beer and wine whilst we looked out over the river and had a good natter. Another excellent day.
Thursday was another lay-day, well Salcombe is a lovely spot to tally a while. Kate suggested a “safari supper” for the evening so crews went off in various directions foraging for local delicacies whilst having a drink and an ice-cream or two in lovely sunshine. Andy sorted out the dining arrangements and everyone enjoyed a three course meal on different boats with different folks whilst the evening passed us by. Once we were fed it was time to party so off to Favorita for drinks and great entertainment as DJs Lalalalaa Lori and Badboy Brendan competed in a weird kind of “Karaoke/Boogey/Desert Island Discs/Name that tune” thingy that just kind of worked so that everyone had a great, great time – one of the cruise highlights!
Thankfully, we had the chance for a bit of a lie in the next day before we said our goodbyes to Salcombe and began our journey east with a relatively short sail round to Dartmouth. The winds were light but sailable and we enjoyed the challenge arriving in Dartmouth about mid-afternoon and tieing up on the brand new, walk ashore town dock which is right in the centre of bustling Dartmouth. Yet another masterful piece of organisation by our Cruise Meister, Andy.
A raid ashore for pasties and other essentials in preparation for our long trip across Lyme Bay the next day was followed by early evening drinks in warm sunshine then a trip ashore for more eating and drinking, this time in the Cherub Inn.
At eight o’clock the following morning the fleet slipped their lines for the trip back to Portland. We said our farewells to Border Reiver and Belrose who were staying in the West Country and also to our dear Puffin who is being offered for sale by a broker on the Dart. The rest of us headed out into the misty murk of Lyme Bay with nav lights burning and AIS/Radar/Fog Horns in constant use. Sadly, there wasn’t more than the vaguest zephyr so we motored all the way across in the fog with it only finally burning away as we turned into Portland Harbour.
That evening saw us vying with the Bank Holiday hoards at the Cove House Inn to try and get a table to feed our hungry crews and to watch the sunset. The place was packed and it looked like we would be leaving with empty stomachs until that is, Jo (Manketti) showed everyone how to get looked after by conjuring up tables, menus, drinks, waitresses and cutlery in the blink of an eye. Good grub.
Sunday saw the NYC flotilla make an earlyish start for the trip back to the Solent. Fortunately, the sadness that tinged our farewells was soon forgotten as we faced a great sailing wind with a lot of North in it giving a fantastic sail in sunny conditions taking us all back to the various home ports.
And so the 2016 NYC Spring Cruise came to an end. All-in-all a grand week with great company and very decent weather. Thanks go to all the boats that took part together with their skippers and crews: Belrose, Border Reiver, Chesterton, Favorita, Jenny Wren, Manketti, Navy Blues, Puffin, Selko, Sea Dragon and Samollu.
A particular vote of thanks is given to our Cruise Admirals, Andy and Jane Holloway for a masterful display of organisation in getting everything we needed in the right place at the right time and for handling all the stress associated with trying to herd the NYC fleet whilst at the same time looking like swans floating gently on top of the water. Well done to both of you.
This year’s route took many of the fleet to the West County for the first time who most will likely return before too long. We covered approximately 275 nautical miles during the week as shown by the route recorded on Jenny Wren.
22nd-30th May 2016