Outcome of the 2013 Round the Island Race

Posted: 6 June 2013 by Paul Blacknell in Round the Island Race

For the third year running, Nomad Sailing former students and friends enjoyed a fabulous day crewing in the Round the Island race. It was an early start this year with Fortyniner due over the starting line at 0550 and Nomad 1 at 0620 (see previously published crew biographies for Nomad 1 and Fortyniner).

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Nomad 1 crew readying for the start line

Fortyniner’s crew slipped her moorings in Hamble around 0500 perhaps cutting it a little fine. The weather was blowing fairly light from N/NW so the run down to the Needles was going to be different this year, as was the sparring to try and maintain some control over the start line. There was some confusion over the start line transit (the crew weren’t sure whether to blame the skipper or the helmsman) but Fortyniner crossed the start 45s after the gun. This delay could have been crucial, as you’ll read further in this blog.

Meanwhile, Lou nailed it with a near perfect start, passing the start line as the gun fired. It was so close that the crew were a little concerned that Nomad 1 might even have been subject to an individual recall. Crossing the line first meant they were out in front, and the crew were fired up for the first leg.

The run down to the Needles was fairly uneventful – unlike previous years this wasn’t a beat with boats on port tacks yielding to those on starboard. It was a stunning morning and Fortyniner reached the Needles after 1h 33m.

Nomad 1 also reached the Needles in 1h 33m (49 minutes faster than 2012). The crew could hardly believe how quickly they reached the mark, and raced to get the spinnaker prepped and ready. Many of the other boats had already got their spinnakers up, and it made for a tremendous view coming around the Needles.

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Nomad 1’s fabulous spinnaker

Fortyniner’s crew had readied the spinnaker for hoisting after turning past the Needles lighthouse and expected, if anything, a wind shadow from the cliffs of Freshwater Bay. But in reality the wind picked up and they watched as other yachts struggled to maintain control of their cruising chutes and spinnakers. It was blowing a steady 17-18 knots now and gusting 22 knots – there was no way Fortyniner’s crew were risking the race against Nomad 1.

Paul & Peter trimming the main sheet

Paul & Peter trimming the main sheet

On the run down to St. Catherine’s Point Fortyniner edged ahead of its rival by 7 minutes. It was fairly gusty and Jim organised the crew so two were managing the rather unsatisfactory mainsheet. Rigged on the coach roof it didn’t encourage constant adjustment but one crew was on the winch trimming in whilst the other was on the sheet ready to ease out.

As Nomad 1 came around the Needles, the spinnaker was prepped and ready to go. Regular gusts delayed any next steps, and it was interesting to see the mess many of the other boats were getting themselves into. Approaching St. Catherine’s Point, the winds steadied a little, and Nomad 1 decided to give the spinnaker a go. The hoist was perfect, with the crew working together to fly the big, blue Nomad flag and hopefully increase the speed by a crucial knot or so. However, the excitement was short lived when the port guy came lose, and the spinnaker whipped about like a kite in the wind. All of that preparation for just a few seconds of excitement! The crew bagged the spinnaker away, costing valuable seconds.

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It has to be seen to believed

The reach up the third leg to Bembridge Ledge was also on a single tack and, although uneventful, very enjoyable and Fortyniner maintained its lead of 7 minutes as they passed the cardinal.

Despite the spinnaker incident, Nomad 1 made good progress up to Bembridge Ledge, with some awesome helming from all the crew. Regular updates were being texted to Kirsty by her father, keeping Nomad 1 well informed of Fortyniner’s narrow lead.

Everything changed on the final leg, which we knew was going to be a beat against the tide. Fortyniner had a number of close encounters giving way as per the rules whenever prudent. One incident did get everyone’s back up however. When sailing close hauled on a starboard tack they noted another yacht, also on a starboard tack coming up on her starboard quarter. So, she was overtaking and she was the upwind vessel. However, Fortyniner was also being squeezed by another yacht (not overtaking) on her port side so Fortyniner needed to yield. It got very tense when her crew started yelling “Up! Up!”, which Paul simply relayed to the vessel on his starboard beam. Her helm was having none of it, calmly replying, “I’m maintaining my course” several times in succession. Fortyniner had to luff up a little to avoid her and so did her new friend to port side to avoid contact. Neither crew was impressed with arrogance of the passing yacht.

Although not experts at the Racing Rules, as far as Rule of the Road goes, it was a clear infringement and warranted a protest.

IMG_1343_CROPPEDNomad 1 didn’t have the best of final legs. Coming around Bembridge Ledge they were in prime position and in with a chance of victory. However, far too many tacks cost them the race, and a couple of very close encounters nearly cost them the boat! It had been pretty straightforward racing up to this point, but now they had to contend with giving way to other boats. There were two or three near T-bone incidents – and Nomad 1 wasn’t always the innocent party! The most hair raising was probably when Nigel was at the helm and the main sheet locked on Andy – they must have skimmed past that boat by inches!

It was probably the final stretch through Osborne Bay that really stood out for Nomad 1. Far too many small, short tacks – weaving in and out of the anchored boats, and costing valuable seconds.

Nomad 1 (Blue), Fortyniner (Red)

Nomad 1 (Blue), Fortyniner (Red)

Fortyniner crossed the finish line with a time of 8 hours 58 minutes – just 18 seconds ahead of Nomad 1 when corrected for handicap. Both crews beat the records set by these yachts in previous races (check out last year’s race report)

Fortyniner Nomad 1
Needles 01:33 01:33
St Catherine’s Point 02:02 02:09
Bembridge Ledge Buoy 02:06 02:06
Finish Line 03:17 03:06
08:58 08:54
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Weather Predictions

Posted: 29 May 2013 by Kirsty Elliott in Round the Island Race
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The Nomad 1 and Fortyniner crews have been avidly watching the long range forecasts for Saturday in the lead up to the race.  The conditions for the last two years have been very windy and not allowed for the boats to get their spinnakers/cruising chutes up, so the big question is ‘Will we manage it this year?’  Would also be nice if we had some nice sunshine on the way round too!  Although I’ll settle for no rain.

We have also been watching the official forecast information as it comes out from Race HQ.

All the forecast information at the moment is pointing to the wind staying predominately from the north west/north north west for the majority of the time it is likely to take us to get round.

In the last 24 hours windguru has changed its predictions in terms of gust strength and also the predicated strength of the wind appears to have dropped slightly as well with forecasts of between 9-11 knots.  Gust strengths are forecast to be lower in the afternoon.

We are starting the race two hours earlier than last year and an hour earlier than in 2011 to take best advantage of the tide – particularly on the way down to the Needles which will be our first major check point on the way.

The teams will be meeting on Thursday evening for race planning which will be updated again the following evening based on the latest weather available.

Don’t forget on Saturday you’ll be able to check which boats plans are working best using the race tracker!  And look out for updates from each boat on the day!

Jim Barden (Skipper and Harmonica this year)

My Dad taught me to sail on a Wayfarer he ‘borrowed’ from work. We used to wheel it down to the river and sail it over to the Isle of Wight – as a boy this seemed like a full channel crossing – think it still would on a boat that size. Since then have sailed offshore around UK, Atlantic and Mediterranean Europe and worked on a survey vessel in the North Sea. Now loving running Nomad Sailing with my sister Lou and hope one day to take a few years out and sail away somewhere…

Paul Blacknell (Crew and Multimedia)

Got into sailing in 2010 and decided to jump in at the deep end (so to speak) by taking the 9 day combined Day Skipper theory/practical. My experience prior to that had been limited to cross channel ferries! Since then my family has trained as Competent Crew and we chartered in the Ionian islands for a couple of weeks having an outstanding time. My sailing ambitions are geared towards taking the Yachtmaster exam this September – so building up the miles and experience that goes with that. Crewed on Nomad 1 during the 2011 & 2012 RTIR’s and signed up for Fastnet 2015.

Peter May (Crew and Anti-Foul)

Likes to think of himself as a really good ‘natural’ sailor, that could have been in the Olympics if he’d taken it up sooner / wasn’t so well packed with ballast. When not sailing, busy day dreaming about sailing and fantasising about his abilities thereof (or playing squash or changing nappies/having his hair pulled). Sailing history: Several bare back trips to Turkey- generally what lacks in wind is made up for with Raki and diving off the bow into gorgeous blue waters. Also chartered several boats on the Solent, including skippering one round the island in May 2012! … and running aground. : ]… It’s all about learning from the experiences, I think. Sailing ambitions: Completing coastal skipper/Yachtmaster in next year. Then getting Sea survival and VHF course under the belt. Then FastNet. Generally mucking about on boats as much as possible. Oh, and looking better in a ladies fit Nomad polo shirt (I’ll take mens large this time round please Jim- I scared the baby trying on that ladies fit medium!!!).

Bob Munday (Crew and First Aid)

Sailing History – Day Skipper (Nomad Graduate via Commodore), several bareboat charters in the Solent, cross channel and RTIR 2011 and 2012 on the mighty Nomad 1.

Sailing Ambitions – To convince my wife that sailing is an enjoyable pastime and a sound investment, ultimately Yachtmaster, Fastnet, ARC, although not necessarily in that order.

Richard Oughton

I did my Day Skipper, the theory with Nomad Sailing and the practical in Lanzarote. We’ve done a few charters in Greece, Turkey and Croatia and a few trips in the Solent bimbling up to the Folly Inn and a great week with yourself last year for Coastal Skipper. The Yachtmaster theory was fine but we both know the practical was a very different story!!! I have to do the ARC and want to get it done within the next year or so! Looking forward to seeing you and your sister and what is likely to be a great weekend.

Nomad 1 Crew List for Round the Island

Posted: 25 May 2013 by Lou Barden in Round the Island Race

Lou Barden (Skipper and Tactician)

I love being on the water, and sailing is my passion.  Since a career change in 2008, and a 2500 mile delivery trip from Greece to UK. I started Nomad Sailing with my bro, and as well co-running the business, spend a lot of time instructing on Nomad 1.  Love it.

Ambitions in the near future to cross the Atlantic either as part of the ARC or solo, then later to do a circumnavigation.  Looking forward in the immediate future to this race and taking Nomad 1 through the finish line first.

Alex Grace

Learned dinghy sailing at the Welsh Harp in London with Wembley Sailing club (level one and two) and then took Day Skipper theory with them –  took the practical exam with Yuksel Sailing in Marmaris Turkey. I then did yacht master theory, again at Wembley and am currently building up miles in order to take the Yacht master theory exam. Have also taken part in sailing trips on the Solent with my teacher Andrew McCulloch.   Sailing ambitions – eventually to own a boat in Turkey. I am planning on sailing at 53 footer from Volos in Greece to Marmaris this October – and most importantly – hoping to survive the Round the Island Race in one piece!! Still learning and very keen on getting as much experience as possible.

Andy Keleher

Took to sailing a year ago after a recommendation from a friend. My wife and I both got the bug, and passed as Day Skippers within the year. Then spent last summer bareboating in Greece and loved it. Looking forward to my second competitive race!!

Mike Malham

Love it !

Kirsty Elliot (Crew and Downwind Helm)

Started sailing in May 2009.  Having never been on a boat before I booked a sailing holiday in Greece and was hooked.  Qualified as a day skipper in August 2010 and sailed as part of the Nomad Team in RTIR 2011 and 2012.  Still not sailing as a much as I would like but looking forward to RTIR 2013 and hoping for slightly more favourable conditions than last year!!

Stuart Rumley

S Rumley

I first tried sailing on a Competent Crew course in the BVI’s and loved it, then decided to take it further with a Day Skipper course with Nomad Sailing in the Solent – thinking that I would do the course in the UK, then become a fair weather sailor in places like the BVI’s.  Since trying sailing in the waters of the Solent and loving it I’ve decided that getting wet and cold is a price worth paying, and part of the fun.  The RTIR 2013 is going to be my first experience of racing, so I’m really looking forward to it!

Nigel Townley

N Townley

Learnt to sail between mill wall dock and the Caribbean. Went on to do day skipper with Nomad last year and now looking forward to my first race.

The annual J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, organised by the Island Sailing Club, is a one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight, an island situated off the south coast of England. The race regularly attracts over 1,700 boats and around 16,000 sailors, making it one of the largest yacht races in the world and the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK after the London Marathon and the Great North and South Runs.

Competitors come from all over the UK, other parts of Europe and as far away as the USA to follow the 50 nautical mile course round the Isle of Wight. Starting on the famous Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, the fleet races westabout, to The Needles, round St Catherine’s Point and Bembridge Ledge buoy, and back into the Solent to the finish line at Cowes.

Spectators can find many vantage points, both on the mainland and Isle of Wight, to watch the race progress. The first start in Cowes is at 0450 but you can find more information about where the boats will be at different times during the day here.

The race is a great opportunity to watch world-renowned sailors racing against families and first time racers. Although the majority of the fleet will take many hours to complete the race, the course records stand at 3hrs 53mins 05secs for a monohull boat, set by Mike Slade on ICAP Leopard in 2008, and 3hrs 08mins 29secs for a multihull boat, set by Francis Joyon in 2001.

Over 60 prizes are awarded for the event and every boat completing the race receives a memento of the occasion.

For the last two years we have entered boats crewed by our students and friends. Strong winds and a record breaking number of entries made for a very exciting race on both occasions, to get a flavour have a look at the 2011 race video.

Last year we entered two boats, Nomad 1 and Vis – a race between two in a race a of 1700 ! You can review last year’s race summary here.

This year we have entered two teams again.  Hopefully the new challenger to the crown – Fortyniner – will be a bit more closely matched, than Vis was – she proved to be a little sluggish ! We’ve swapped the crews around this year so Lou will be skippering Nomad 1 and Jim will be skippering Fortyniner.

Nomad 1

Nomad 1

Fortyniner

Fortyniner

A Sunfast 37 and SunOdyssey 36i  respectively , they have similar spec and total sail area but slightly different handicap.

Nomad 1 will be carrying a spinnaker and Fortyniner a cruising chute. Fortyniner is the lighter boat and so may favour a race day with light winds.

Start Times :

Fortyniner : 0550 BST    –  IRC Group 2  (Green Flag)

Nomad 1 : 0620 BST  –  ISC Group 6 (White Flag)

Previous year’s times and places to beat (2011,2012) :

Nomad 1 : 08.59.49 (379th) , 09.07.25  (362nd)

Fortyniner : 10.41.27 (464th) , DNE

Vis : 10.00.48  (634th) ,  10.28.02 (599th)

Crew lists to follow …….

The Memoirs of Dora the Explorer – Week 3

Posted: 18 April 2013 by Lou Barden in Memoirs of Dora

So the hard work began, sanding, painting, checking sea cocks, unblocking the head – definitely a job for Jim !! servicing the engine, checking the sails and getting supplies on board. Fortunately for us there was a sizable ex-pat community out there who seemed to live at the boatyard and were all fantastically helpful. They were such a permanent feature they had brick built BBQ at the yard !!Image

Special mention has to be given to Linda and Russ on the fabulous Aqua Domus which they had spent years doing up at Aktio Marina.

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Not only did Russ & Linda make us teas and coffees when we had no provisions they leant us a battery so that we could test and start our engine, gave us an old sail to use as a bimini and the address of a sail maker in Vliho bay to cut and shape it for us, radio spares, food and drink, the list is endless, we owe them a massive thank you !! Russ is the chap with the pipe and is a big fan of Jimmy Buffett !!Image

18th June 2008 and Biba took to the water, at last the voyage could begin first stop Preveza to get some provisions and a nice cold beer at Zorbas The Greek !!!! Should perhaps find Zorbas the hair dresser as well !!

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The Memoirs of Dora the Explorer – Week 4

Posted: 18 February 2013 by Lou Barden in Memoirs of Dora
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On 19th June we left Preveza at 8.00am heading for the Lefkas canal, unfortunately missed the 10.00am bridge opening by 10 minutes so had to wait for the 11.00am. Stopped off at Lefkas to take on diesel and water, managed to find some corriander !! and got the boat name letters to stick on the side.

Made it to Vliho bay where Aqua Domus and Free Will (another boat from Aktio Marina) were moored. Can you believe this was our first swim since getting to Greece !!

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Linda and Russ invited us for curry aboard Aqua Domus that night – excellent news we were both suffering curry withdrawal !! The next day we went to get our sun shade made, Orchidi was briliant and got straight on it, Horatio had a file on Biba and told us it had been in a stern collision, just what we wanted to hear !! When we got back to the boat we noticed that the VHF connection at the top of the mast had come away, another trip to the top for me !! Went over to Aqua Domus to say goodbye to Russ and Linda before we headed down to Sivota which was to be our last stop before heading across the Ionian Sea to Italy. Russ donated us some cushions for the cockpit, result, somewhat more comfortable watches in store for us both.

Sivota is a beautiful little bay, nice and protected, especially when you have to go up the mast again, so up I went, checked all the stay connections, got to the top but unfortunately the main cable had fallen back into the mast so we were going to be without radio for a period.

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Jim rigged up a length of wire with some crock clips to get the steaming light and deck light working, they both come on at the same time but will have to do for the time being. Still can’t get the stern light working so a head torch attached at the back will have to suffice. Ah we were young and carefree in those days, or perhaps just a little bit stupid !!

The Memoirs of Dora the Explorer – Week 2

Posted: 13 February 2013 by Lou Barden in Memoirs of Dora

And so it began on 11th June 2008 having traveled by fast cat, big ferry and bus with a few hours break at a destination some of you may recognise….

Rhodes

We finally arrived at the boat yard where Biba had been sitting on the hard for 5 years.

Echo

Skipper Jim decided he did not like the wind generator but would not recommend using your head to remove blades !! Particularly when they are spinning !!!

WindGen

It became quite clear  that no one had

WOBBLE’d the engine for some time

Engine

The tool kit left a little to be desired !!

Tools

And the Ensign and Horseshoe buoy just did not make the ‘Shipshape and Bristol fashion’ grade !!

Ensign

Understandably the decision to launch and go was delayed and a week of hard work started to get Biba into a sailable condition

Cowes !

Fog Blog – Navigating in Restricted Visibilty

Posted: 26 October 2012 by Jim Barden in Navigation
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Of all the different types of weather we may encounter at sea,  fog must be one of the most daunting and one which carries the most risk ; especially in crowded European waters which can be alive with commercial shipping, and where the risk of collision is high.

The best advice, offered by Des Sleightholme,for when fog is forecast might be :  ‘Stay home. Keep Hens’

However  if we’re already underway when the fog creeps in,  then some strategy to get safe and keep safe must employed.  As confidence with the various techiniques grows you should be able to navigate blind, if the ground permits, to most destinations.

Get prepared early.  If visibility is noticeably  deteriorating, get ready for it.  Get a reliable fix on the chart by conventional means – visible bearings, GPS etc.  If necessary work up an EP from you last known position (this shouldn’t be any more than an hour old on your chart).  If you happen to be near a recognisable mark get to it and ask the helm to hold station while you figure what to do next.

We are going to consider later the navigational aspects of dealing with fog,  but here are some basic precautions you should consider in immediately :

  • Fog Horn Ready – sound appropriate signal ( one long – under power, or one long and two short – sailing : every two minutes.
  • Lights On – make the vessel more visible with the appropriate lights for your category
  • All Crew in Lifejacket and on-deck – the collision you fear could happen very suddenly resulting potentially in all hands in the water.  On deck they also provide extra eyes and ears.
  • Radar Reflector Up – if it’s not already, hoist your reflector high.  If you can’t find it, string your pots and pans together on a halyard !
  • Monitor VHF – and contact relevant Port Traffic Control in necessary
  • Liferaft / Tender Ready
  • Engines on or ready
  • Navigate away from potential danger of collision.

If fog, shallow is safe, away from commercial shipping and also the most likely place to find a reliable contour of depth to follow (or a safe place to anchor)

With reference to your position and any shipping channels indicated on the chart ,measure up a course to steer to the nearest strong contour of depth and away from shipping channels.  This should be one which is has a fairly consistant direction, if possible close and parallel to the shore. ( the odd mark on it or near it along the way wouldn’t go amiss. )

Calculate the height of tide.  Add this to the value of the contour (and subtract draught if your echo sounder reads depth below keel) —  this is the displayed  echo-sounder depth we’re looking for. For example if we decide to follow the 5m contour, and calculate the height of tide to be 2.3m – we are actually looking for a depth of 7.3m to follow.  With a draught of 1.8m and an echo sounder reading below the keel, this would be 5.5m displayed.

If there is no strong contour to follow nearby then just head shallow and anchor.

Otherwise measure the rough direction of the contour you intend to follow, this will be the heading we turn onto when the required displayed depth is reached.  No adjustment to the heading is usually required for tidal stream here as in general the tides follow the contours. (but make note of exceptions to this where the contour might veer away from the tidal stream)

This information should be passed to the helm and crew as a clear and concise set of instructions :

“Head 030°(M) , maintain speed of 4kts. Depth should fall.  When we get to 5.5m dispayed (10 mins or so)  turn starboard onto a mean course of  095(M)  ± 20°  and  maintain depth between 5 and 6m.  Feed me depth readings at every 0.5m of change and let me know when you get to 5.5m”

When the boat hits the desired depth and turns to follow the contour make a note of the time / or start your stopwatch and mark this on the chart of this where you think you have joined the contour.

Now every six minutes  ( 1/10 hr) you can plot your estimated position along this line.  This should be fairly straight forward as you will cover one tenth of your boat speed in knots (± any estimated tidal stream) every six minutes.   Our arrival to or near to any marks on or near to the contour can now be predicted and the crew told when , where and what to keep a look out for.  On sighting and identifying each mark we can fix our postion again and make a note of time.  This also allows us to recalculate our actual ground speed rather using an estimate of tide along with a possibly inaccurate log/speedo.

Changes or trends in the contour’s direction should also be noted and this information passed onto the crew before it happens  eg :

“ in the next few minutes the contour will start curving to the north onto a rough heading of 005°(M) ±10°.  Alter course as nessessary to follow it and maintain depth 5.0 -6.0 “

Sometimes it might be useful to sketch the shape of the contour and mark it up with rough courses for the helm to look at in the cockpit.  Also don’t forget that every half hour (or at least every hour) the tidal height may have changed significantly , so the indicated depth you wish to maintain will need to be recalculated.

It may be necessary or desirable to move between contours to avoid hazards or find marks to help you fix position. Do this early.

When crossing a channel and potential traffic , check local VTS on the VHF for any ships in the area and whether its safe to cross and then cross at heading at right angle to the shallow contour of depth on the other side, then turning onto a new heading.

Have a look at this chart and consider how you might find the refuge of  Stokes Bay to sit out the fog at anchor. Imagine we’re just approaching the exit of North Channel heading east when the Fog starts to fall. An east cardinal mark can be seen 200m ahead …..

We’ll give a possible solution next week and a consider how we might then continue on to Portmouth harbour.  Or come on one of our training courses and where we complete simulated fog exercises on the water

Day Skipper Practical – Where should I do it?

Posted: 25 September 2012 by Lou Barden in Training

A question many people ask themselves having completed their Day Skipper theory course :  with so many choices within easy reach, what will it be, that guaranteed sun in the Mediterranean  or that good old British spring, summer and autumn weather.

Well here’s my take on it. I love the Mediterranean, crystal clear water, beautiful bays to anchor in, if you chose the right spots virtually free mooring and if you’re lucky a decent breeze by the afternoon, (not to mention the food, ouzo and lemon !!). However the breeze is not guaranteed, you have spent hours in the classroom sweating over tidal height calculations, estimated positions and courses to steer none of which get a look in when cruising or taking your Day Skipper practical in the Mediterranean “point and go” and you will get there perhaps with a small allowance for leeway if you get the breeze.

I agree that the art of Mediterranean mooring is a valuable one to learn and I have had many embarrassing moments in my time being watched by French and Italian yachtsmen. However I believe that variety is the spice of life so how many different types of mooring are available to perfect (I use the term loosely !!) in the Solent. You can moor alongside a non-moving harbour, now I get to use that tidal curve I know all about to make sure I leave enough line so not to be the only boat hanging from the wall when I get back from my sojourn ashore. If the wall is full I can always raft up alongside another boat, nice, they have done all the hard work. Alternatively I could sail onto a hand pick-up or lasso mooring buoy, not to mention the joys of getting myself safely and securely onto the trots, although I have to confess I have never seen the benefit of being a stones throw away from the shore but still having to blow up your dinghy to get that 10 metres across the water.

In and around British coastal waters you must take tide into account if you want to successfully navigate to a destination and arrive at that place on a timely basis, the all important factor when trying to keep your crew happy.  You will need to check the depth of water in the area in which you are sailing, will I have enough depth over the bar to get into the river and when will I have enough depth to get back out ? Happy days, I spent hours learning how to do this in theory now I get to put it into practice and the whole thing starts to make perfect sense.

Along the way you will see many other sailing vessels (STARBOARD, STARBOARD), in the Solent you can add to that commercial passenger vessels of all shapes and sizes, vessels restricted in their ability to manoeuvre, vessels constrained by their draft, fishing vessels, military vessels and all manner of small sailing dinghies and other small water craft. This also results in a fair amount of radio traffic, and whilst the SRC VHF radio course is a separate one, as part of the Day Skipper course we have, to a degree, covered the DSC VHF radio and it’s use, so actually hearing a Mayday or a Pan pan over the radio is very often a new experience for Day Skipper candidates but unfortunately in the Solent quite a frequent occurrence.

Almost there, just two more areas I would like to mention the first being buoyage, from leaving the marina it starts, you will be surrounded by lateral buoyage, once in the main body of the Solent you will see every Cardinal Mark many special marks marks which incorporate tidal gauges, isolated danger marks and fairway marks. What’s left to see, ah yes that emergency wreck mark, you may get to see this, they carry one on the back of the Trinty House vessel which lays and checks marks around the south coast.

Finally weather, what shall I say, I have found that people coming back from having done their course in the Med have not perhaps experienced the very varied weather we have in the UK, trimming the sail correctly on all points of sail and knowing when and how to reef have often been found wanting. That is not to say that the weather we have allows for a perfect course here every time, my frequent gripe of “all or nothing” is often the case.

So I guess you know my feelings on the subject, suffice to say if someone offered me a space on a yacht in Greece tomorrow I would be on a plane in the next two hours !!! (If I was allowed the time off !!)

If you don’t see it in the Solent you probably won’t see it anywhere – what do you think?