Solstice Cruise 2021
Covid restrictions in early 2021 meant the Spring Cruise had to be delayed until the summer for a second year. The cruise was not as heavily subscribed as last year, which may have been due to the Covid-19 restrictions that were still in place. Crossing the Channel to France or the Channel Islands remained almost impossible, and the West Country was reported to be heaving with staycationers, but this seemed our only realistic option. Attempts at advanced bookings for any berthing after Weymouth met with rejection, and so we were unsure exactly where we would find ourselves. Despite all of this, it was good to see that there were still intrepid club members willing to put their names forward for a cruise.
Initially called the Summer Cruise, the name was changed to the Solstice Cruise once it was noted that we were setting out on midsummer’s day. We started with 4 boats: Malaika, Belrose, Southern Hey and Chayia. I was kindly invited to crew on Belrose.
Our initial meeting was at the Fisherman’s Rest in Lymington for an evening meal, and we set off for Weymouth the following day.
The winds from the northeast were ideal for a cracking sail. Belrose averaged 8.2 knots over the 38NM. Our reserved Berth in Weymouth Harbour was barely the length of Belrose, but Helmsman Wagstaff moored up with aplomb, receiving much applause from a group of spectators on the quay.
Pizza and cider were served at The Loft above the harbour master’s office while we planned where we would aim for the following day. We were keen to get to Brixham to meet up with Catry which was already there.
We had a gentle passage around Portland Bill in light winds and mostly motor-sailed across Lyme Bay. We were able to sail fully for the last hour or two and made it to Brixham in just over 8 hours.
Fortunately, while enroute across Lyme Bay, I was able to secure the Events Pontoon at Brixham, and here we met up with Catry.
We stayed 2 nights in Brixham, allowing us time for fish and chips, walks, and a lunchtime visit to Brixham Yacht Club.
For old times sakes, we had a rendezvous with a particular old friend of mine,
And dinner that night was at the Berry Head Hotel.
Brixham Events Pontoon has a visiting fishing boat selling the previous night’s catch.
The following night, Kate and her sous-chefs produced a wonderful fresh monkfish-based meal for us all.
Well, nearly all.
We left Brixham and said goodbye to the crew of Southern Hey who set off east. The remaining boats were greeted at the mouth of The Dart by some cetacean friends.
Onward to Dittisham to spend the night on a buoy, and a walk via The Ferry Boat Inn.
Chayia left us the following day, and the remaining 2 boats stayed in Darthaven Marina for the next 3 nights. There had been plans to sail further west but poor weather, and the presence of Covid in Salcombe and the Yealm were deciding factors in us staying put. We explored Colton Fishacre National Trust site and had a very wet walk along the coastal path.
After a sunny day being a tourist in Dartmouth we headed for home, mostly motor sailing and an overnight anchoring in Portland Harbour.
For a cruise that we could not really plan in advance, I for one enjoyed it immensely. Ultimately it was of course the delightful participants that made it a success.
There is already much talk about the next cruise. Leslie