events, trip logs

Cape Cutter week 2016: Day 5

After a very windy night, we awoke to the same NNE f6 breeze this morning. The voyage planned for today was a relatively short hop around the island from Bembridge, past Ryde to Wootton Creek. Niki decided to take the land route with Alice, via Monkey World, and caught a bus. I did not have full confidence in Henry Honda, but he started well and ran smoothly in gear at full throttle on the pontoon, so I was reassured.

Aimee took us out of the harbour and it was nice to hear her shout to me “warps and fenders away please”, rather than the other way around. The wind was blowing straight into the harbour mouth  tide, creating rather lumpy conditions. We departed expecting this, with washboards in, but this proved unnecessary. We took a port tack past St Helens fort to give us enough offing, before tacking and allowing the tide to scoop us along the island. Once we were past the outer Ryde sands buoy, we were able to ease off. We carried double-reefed main and staysail the whole way and made excellent time, with  Aimee at the helm. There was a fair bit of shipping to avoid, including the fast cat and hovercraft to Ryde.

Wootton Creek is home to both the Wight Link car ferry and also Royal Victoria Yacht Club, the latter being our hosts tonight. We had been warned that the ferries do not give way to yachts and, sure enough a ferry was leaving, just as we entered the channel. Aimee took us head to wind out of the channel and we took the sails down as the car ferry passed us. The wind was blowing straight into the creek and the water was ebbing, so it was challenging to moor on the pontoon, but with many hands the fleet of ten boats were soon moored safely.

Once the housekeeping was done, there was time for a pint in the club and then a walk through the woods before pie night at the Yacht Club.

events, trip logs

Cape Cutter week 2016: day 4

Yesterday the wind prevented us from sailing, so we had a lay day during which Mike Brooke gave us the benefit of his considerable knowledge of military history as we toured HMS Victory and the Mary Rose mini exhibition (the Mary Rose herself was closed for restoration work). 

Having made alterations to the catering, the Cape Cutter week programme had been put back a day. So it was that we made an early departure from Emsworth en route to go “foreign” and visit the Isle of Wight. 

As the tide crept up the pontoon, the fleet of eleven Cape Cutters left in turn, as soon as each was afloat. We ran dead downwind on double-reefed main and staysail down the Emsworth channel to Hayling Island Yach club and the mouth of Chichester harbour. We were joined by Moth from Chichester, but sadly not Salty Dog or Halcyon, both of whom had technical problems. 

As we entered the Solent and turned further West, we found ourselves in a lovely training run, with speeds of between 5.5 and 6.5 kit for the whole passage. As was usual for running, it did not seem windy until our arrival into Bembridge harbour. With the help of many hands to help, we were soon tied up for a restful afternoon as the squalls blew through.

events, trip logs

Cape Cutter week 2016- Day 2

After some wonderful sun and fair winds, the weather took its toll on plans today. The northerly wind had piped up strongly and was forecast to get stronger still tomorrow. Our plan was a leisurely cruise to Emsworth, with a lunch/swim stop at East Head. 

The wind was brisk to say the least and we set out later than intended, on staysail and double-reefed main. The stretch through Itchenor was challenging (almost head-to-wind) and, when we reached East Head, it clearly too rough for a comfortable stop. 

With the wind from the North and not enough water to reach the top of the Emsworth channel, we picked up a spare mooring near Hayling Island yacht club and put the kettle on. Fraoch had had a similar idea and we had a hot drink and watched a yacht trying to get off a sand bank. Fraoch slipped her anchor and shortly after, we followed her. 

The wind was strong, on the nose and quite gusty, so we did not beat far before giving up and using Henry Honda to push us through the choppy waters. Henry has been earning fresh confidence from us after his mishaps last season and we soon reached the channel’s branch for Emsworth. 

We were quite early and there was little water; Ladybird and Vedette were at anchor outside Emsworth and Whistling Rufus, Sapphire and Mary Ann were motoring up too. 

Emsworth is a pretty village fronting a large mud flat, through which a narrow channel is marked by withies and a leading line. Deploying our trusty bean pole, we picked our way through and were soon on the pontoon, rafted to Vedette. 

Unfortunately Irene caught a rope around her prop, but was towed in adroitly (astern) by Dipper. 

Eventually, a fleet of eleven Cape Cutters were gathered, along with the launch of Mike Brooke, who had been collecting up the buoys from yesterday’s treasure hunt. 

The girls enjoyed swimming and paddling with Erin and Joshua from Ladybird, in their inflatable canoe. 

We had a lovely meal in Emsworth SC, after which we returned to the boats which were by this time resting on the mud. It felt a little odd to sleep aboard the boat without the customary gentle rocking, but we were soon asleep nonetheless. 

events, trip logs

Cape Cutter Week 2016: Day 1

The annual gathering of the Cape Cutter 19 fleet is this year centring on Chichester harbour. After a leisurely launch and a very brief shakedown on Saturday, team Aurora were ready for the first formal day of the regatta.

The children were looking forward to the treasure hunt, organised by Mike Brookes. After a bit of a pantomime getting out of the lock (the Cape Cutter fleet numbered 14 and the was a gathering of Drascombes too), we were briefed to find three strategically placed marks with clues written on. The marks were distinctive red marks from the 2012 Olympic Laser races. 

We had a wonderful few hours in the glorious sun, with a good sailing breeze and on every point of sail and canvas from receded mail and staysail to a couple of three-sail reaches. 

The fleet dispersed to visit the buoys in different orders; we chose  furthest first and, after creeping over several sand banks and picking our way through fleets of dinghies, had all the letters written down. Alice quickly spotted the words “Cape Cutter” and the completed the phrase “I love my Cape Cutter!” with the remaining letters. 

To our surprise and Alice’s delight, we were first to return to harbour with a complete phrase; other boats got back before us but none had solved the riddle. Well done Alice!

17.3nm; avg speed 4.2kts

Baltic, events, Publications

Aurora’s in print again

The journeys in this blog have made it into print again, this time with a feature in Britain’s best selling Sailing magazine. The article in the November edition of Practical Boat Owner covers our month-long cruise around part of the Stockholm archipelago in the Baltic during the summer of 2014. With the Autumn leaves falling, the nights drawing in and the temperatures falling, it’s lovely to look back over wonderful summer memories. 

I’m giving a talk to the Cruising Association next Friday. If you’re in London next weekend, you’d be welcome to come along. 


International Cape Cutter Week 2015: Class Race Day Photo Album


International Cape Cutter Week 2015 Day 6: Going Home

The forecast for Friday seemed to be saying that the wonderful weather we had been experiencing during Cape Cutter week was coming to an end. Very strong wind and heavy rain was forecast for the middle of the day, so we rose at 4am (!) to get home before the bad weather reached us. It was a wonderful dawn with a moderate breeze to carry us back to Levington. We left Titchmarsh at low tide and the waters were very shallow beneath the centre plate as we made our way towards Harwich almost dead downwind. As we turned up the Orwell we had a fantastic reach and with the flooding tide, made over 6kts.

This was the final sail of the week; as we helped each other to recover the boats, I reflected on how lucky we had been with the weather. We sailed in four rivers, ran the first ever Cape Cutter class race and, best of all brought together the owners of 15 Cape Cutters. Here’s to Cape Cutter Week 2016…