The girls had an uncomfortable night in their tent and demanded to sleep aboard the boat the next night. This removed the need for a location where we could camp.
As the wind was from the western quadrant today, but was due to drop and swing S or SE the next day, the most sensible plan seemed to be to move back East. As it was a sunny day in prospect with an afternoon high tide, we made for Bembridge.
It was a lovely sail, varying between dead run and a beam reach, and made excellent time with the tide and wind both behind us. Andy helmed the whole way and we enjoyed the sun and watching the busyness of the Solent- ferries, hovercraft, cargo ships and the aerobatic Spitfire again. A couple of gybes were needed to avoid the ferries, then we skirted the edge of Ryde sands before reaching down towards the prominent lifeboat slip outside Bembridge.
Lots of other people had the same and there were many boats anchored in the Bay. We ended up close to the shore at Seaview (perhaps it should be called Landview when you’re anchored there).
There was then time for rowing, swimming and diving off the boat. As has become traditional, both Alice and I swam under the boat; the girls also swam ashore for a while. We then had a leisurely lunch in the sun, though I was disappointed not to be able to provide hot chocolate for the swimmers, as is usual on Aurora.
Shortly before HW, we motored into Bembridge and were allocated a convenient finger pontoon (I was glad we did not have to raft three deep, as has happened here on several previous occasions). We then had a lovely tea at the The Vine pub in St Helen’s, followed by a beautiful starry walk home across the sea marsh, which included a view of an impressive fireworks display in Ryde.
We fitted surprisingly well into the four berths, considering we all ranged between 5’8″ and 6’4″. It was a blissfully calm night, but at about 5am I was woken by the sound of one engine after another starting up. After a while, the penny dropped and I realised that many boats were leaving. I checked the tide, saw that HW was 0500 and calculated that if we did not leave by 0700, we could end up trapped in Bembridge all day. Nice though this harbour is, we all needed to get back home to the midlands that evening.
So I prepped the boat, woke Andy at 0630, apologised for the unexpected early start and we were away shortly after 0700. The girls stayed in bed and we motored out of the harbour channel; I had the centre plate line ready to pull up if we touched the sand, but that turned out to be an unnecessary precaution. The sea was glassy flat as we motored across to Gosport, but I opened each sail in turn, to dry it in readiness for de-rigging.
The crew enjoyed the busy Portsmouth harbour entrance, as our arrival coincided with a cross channel ferry, an Isle of Wight ferry and a hovercraft in quick succession, as well as the usual foot ferry and pleasure traffic.
Our early start gave us plenty of time to de-rig Aurora and re-fit the galley, ready to haul out as soon as there was enough water on the slipway. With many hands to assist, it was a swift and simple task.