May B/H Cruise In Company to Swanage and Poole – This is What Cruising is All About!

Cruising in Company !CheersLesley's Improvised Wine CoolerSteve HB Walking On WaterSteve HB in the Recovery PositionDressed For Dinner The 3 AmigosThe Commodore on His Knees, Again

With an excellent weather forecast in store for the late May Bank Holiday weekend, 6 boats set off for Swanage on the Saturday morning for the first of this seasons cruises in company.

Steve on Rumrunner, Steve on Which Way, Bill and Lorraine on Merlot, David & Gill on Nutcracker and Ray and Lesley on Crystella all set off around 8am in glorious sunshine into an Easterly F2-4, not an ideal wind direction but hey-ho, we'd give it a go under sail on such a good day. With plenty of time and tide under us, and a surprisingly flat sea we sailed one long leg on port tack, passing the “sleeping giants” before heading well out to seaward of St Albans Ledge. Then after “well planned” timing, we turned onto starboard tack, and with the East going tide still running we cleared Durlston Head and Peveril Ledge to perfection before picking up Swanage Sailing Club moorings. Probably one of the most pleasant and rewarding beats to windward any of us had experienced. Meanwhile, Steve, Jo, Ben and Oliver on Tilted were taking a more, shall we say, unhurried approach to the passage, but that's cruising! Having had a very leisurely lay in, they departed very late morning, I'm sure this was a deliberate plan to use some foul tide “to their advantage” to prolong the enjoyment of a fabulous day, and they obviously knew that dolphins had also planned to join them for a play, a magical experience!

Evening plans to eat together at a pub or restaurant were thwarted over a week earlier when Steve Dadd tried his hardest to book somewhere to no avail. Everywhere was fully booked in advance (some places for weeks in advance), the tourists had beaten us to it. This actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise as we arranged for a group picnic on Swanage Sailing Club's beach, and what a fabulous picnic it was. David, Bill and Steve D ferried us all ashore (and back) along with provisions from everyone, then David and Bill soon had the bbq's alight. Around 6 courses later we had had our fill, and those on Tilted had had their fish and chips! Wine and beer was taken in moderation, in idyllic surroundings, in glorious weather, and in good company. It was a special evening to savour.

After a disturbed night of rocking and rolling on the moorings, it was a free day on Sunday for boats to do as they please en-route to Poole Quay Boat Haven. Crystella, Nutcracker and Which Way anchored in Poole Harbour in South Deep for lunch, Merlot took a gentle ride straight to Poole, Tilted anchored in Studland Bay and Rumrunner did a bit of everything! Late afternoon saw a bit of social gathering on boats before going our own ways to various eateries, except for David and Gill who were still using up burgers from the bbq the night before!

On Monday morning Crystella's crew were first to rise and depart Poole at 6am. They negotiated a very lumpy fairway channel, wind over tide, then broad reached first on starboard gybe then on port gybe as the wind shifted some 50 degrees from ENE to ESE! As the last of ebb got them past St Albans Head it wasn't long before they had a well deserved yachtsman's breakfast anchored in Worbarrow Bay. After several hours relaxing in the sunshine they picked up the next fair tide for a late afternoon sail home.

Tilted were half an hour behind Crystella leaving Poole, after pitching around in the same lumpy fairway the kite was put up and after one gybe well out to sea they headed back in towards Weymouth. However, the same wind shift that affected Crystella put them in Osmington Bay, time for a swim and lunch before heading home early afternoon.

Nutcracker left mid morning and anchored for lunch in Studland Bay whilst waiting for the next fair tide and had a good downhill ride home early evening. En-route they rendezvoused with Which Way, suffering with engine overheating, and escorted her home.

Rumrunner had picked up a couple of crew off the streets of Swanage (Dan) and Poole (Angus) and departed around midday. After fighting for fuel with gas guzzlers and Jet Skis in Salterns Marina they motored to St Albans Head before there was enough wind to kite home by late afternoon.

So 5 boats returned to Weymouth safely whilst Merlot headed East towards the Solent for an extended cruise. A very good weekend was had by all, good sailing, magnificent scenery, wall to wall sunshine, fine wine and food and excellent company.

Submitted on Thursday, 3rd June