Round the Island

Jammy Dodger
Neil Martin
Sun 25 Jul 2010 16:01
Saturday (24 July) was the RSYC's double handed round the island race - Neil was keen to do it, so I (Deb) was happy to time our delivery back from Cork to get us to Hamble to prepare Jammy for the race in the nick of time.
With just over an hour of flood tide left, the race committee sent the fleet East down the Solent for a clockwise circumnavigation. Neil got us into a good position at the Squadron end of the line, able to stem the strong tide, and we hoisted the light runner and set off in the forecast light NWly winds. We gybed all down the Solent, going close to the North shore, and were leading the fleet by some margin by the time we reached the forts. We crept inside No Mans Land fort, deep inshore to get out of the foul tide, and into a dramatic wind shift. Fortunately the fleet of Redwings racing off Bembridge allowed Neil to anticipate the windshift, and we soon had the kite down and were beating to Bembridge Ledge. 
The wind soon shifted to the SW and built to 17 knots, and we tacked along the middle of the course to Dunnose, trying to keep out of the bays and in the stronger tide, but stay right in anticipation of the wind veering. By St Cats the wind had veered and we could just lay the Needles on port tack. Visibility was amazing - halfway between St Cats and the Needles, both looked just a couple of miles away, and we could see Anvil Point and Portland Bill really clearly. The sea had built with wind over tide, so I was in for a soaking on the bow to clip the spinnaker on. I managed to cut my finger, covering the deck with blood - unbelievable how such a tiny cut can cause so much blood. We passed the wreck, bore away and hoisted the kite in almost 20 knots of breeze. Gybeing down the Needles Channel and then the Solent in 20 knots double-handed was hard work, with the boat on the edge, but we managed to avoid wraps and stay in control somehow. We led the fleet around the Needles, but were overtaken in the Needles channel by two multihulls that had been drawing ever closer as we approached. 
Conscious of stemming the strong tide in the middle of the Solent, we gybed in to the mainland shore, but I had failed to notice the shallow waters further along our gybe out on the small screen on the hand held chart plotter and we held our breath as the depth decreased to 0.0m and we touched the bottom with full main and spinnaker up doing 10 knots. Mercifully we got through the shallow patch and out of the other side. 
The final drama was finding the finish buoy just upwind of the Bramble bank and getting the kite down quickly (listening at the race committee's urgent calls to one of the following boats to beware the Bramble bank!).
A fitting end to the week for me, having joined the boat at Cork.

Neil helming past Ventnor -