This was a trip of several firsts. It was the first time we arrived at Gosport with Aurora ready on her mooring. It was also the fist time I have been to Cowes, but more of that later. We arrived at the club about an hour later than we should have done, and there was some doubt in my mind as to whether there was enough water to get Aurora off the mooring onto a pontoon berth. So, there was a comedy dinghy episode, in which the under-inflated Aurelia was rather more bendy than she should have been, almost leading to me losing the oars whilst the outboard tilted the dinghy transom to an interesting angle. I also spent about 10 minutes trying to work out how to tilt the new outboard engine. The final challenge was my discovery that the centre plate was jammed. No amount of tugging or rattling would convince it to drop. I left it cleated with only a little slack, so that if it suddenly decided to drop, it would not whack the centre board casing. Aurora was eventually on a pontoon berth and we went out for a Chinese meal- surprisingly few options in Gosport at 9pm on a (Bank Holiday) Monday evening. Alice and I spent the night on the boat, whilst Niki and Aimee preferred to sleep in the van.
Our plan for this trip was to work our way West to Yarmouth, but this didn’t fit easily with the Southwesterlies forecast for the next few days. However with little wind forecast for tomorrow I decided we should take it on the nose. The mouth of Portsmouth harbour was busy as usual with its complement of ferries, hovercraft, power boats and yachts. We missed a trick and sailed out towards the channel- there was enough water for us to have kept close to the shore, which would have saved us from a couple of large tacks, as well as the foul tide. We beat our way along the shore, past Gilkicker Point and as far as Lee-on-Solent, before we tacked away. It was only at this point that we were committed to the Island; till we tacked, we could have continued to Southampton or the Hamble.
The crossing was rather wet, as the F4/5 SW picked up a chop, and we used Henry Honda to keep out momentum up. I had hoped that the centre plate would drop down at some point, as the motion of the boat shook the plate. I tried jerking its line too, all to no avail. We eventually arrived at East Cowes with the plate still stuck up. It did not affect the handling of the boat too much. With lass weight down, she heeled a little more and heeled in gusts more quickly. I dare say we also slid more to leeward (or was the struggle to wind more to do with my helming?). I was quite grateful that the approach to the marina berth was straightforward, as manuevering under engine (especIlly in reverse) is much more difficult without the centre plate. That will be a job for tomorrow…
Distance travelled 15.4nm. Avg speed 3.5kts