To our surprise, Sunday morning was foggy and the foghorn echoed around the marina. We delayed our departure until the visibility improved, but the breeze was light and rather fickle. We made our way out through the narrow entrance or Portsmouth harbour and pointed the bowsprit towards Bembridge. At one point mid Solent, the wind died completely, necessitating some more singing from Mr. Honda, but this did not last long and we were soon able to return to propulsion without combustion.
It was easy sailing on a broad reach and we were soon close to the beach. As a great many others had the same idea, we dropped sails and motored gently into the shallows. Aimee brought us in to chest deep water with the plate up and I dropped the anchor in. Sadly Aurora did not rest easily, as the shelter was not as good as I had hoped and she rolled a little across the wavelets. Nevertheless we enjoyed a lovely lunch in the sun, prepared by Aimee.
Anchor up, we picked our way through the many other boats arrived for lunch and sailed as deep downwind as possible for West Pole at the entrance to Chichester harbour. I had the choice of sail towards shore and gybe close in, followed by another gybe into the channel, or a shorter course further offshore and a single gybe. Choosing the latter course (seeing the fleet of RS dinghies from Hayling Island SC), we made excellent speed with the tide and freshening breeze, and soon we were running on mainsail only. As we passed out of the shelter of the Isle of Wight, the sea grew noticeably rougher and the motion of the boat, parallel to the waves, was not too comfortable. First mate soon began to feel seasick and I had decided to tack all the way round when time came to lay our mark, but Aimee looked so uncomfortable, I got her to motor head to wind and wrestled the mainsail down, before motoring as fast as possible into the shelter of the harbour.
We were then treated to a lovely sail with the incoming tide and staysail only up the channel back to Northney. Peace was lost at that point, as there were lots of boaters preparing for the slipway shuffle. Now, most people are reasonable and co-operate (in which case everyone wins), but others insist on pushing into the queue. In this way, I was shuffling Aurora from the waiting pontoon to the slipway pontoon, needing to carefully reverse without ploughing into the mud bank. Just as I gunned Mr. Honda to stop the boat and turn her towards the pontoon, a very pink man with a wedge shaped boat insisted on reversing his boat into the space on the slip pontoon, which had miraculously appeared. By this time I was committed and despite a long burst of full astern, I could not avoid impact. He was fortunate that my bowsprit stay has a plastic sheath on it. He blustered a lot about paying for damage and then started swearing at his co-pilot, much to the amusement of the now quite large audience. Ho hum. Perhaps I should have just spent another hour on the water….