With the high pressure system responsible for England’s mini ‘heat-wave’ weakening, and only 80 miles remaining to reach Yarmouth, my eagerness for an extended stay in Dartmouth was understandably muted, besides, I’d promised friends I’d do my best to reach the Isle of Wight in time for the annual Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival (YOGAFF).
A settling sea (my favourite kind), greeted Eileen of Avoca as she embarked (mid-afternoon) on her decisive leg. With mainsail aloft, and time aplenty, we…
(no, I’m not using Pluralis Maiestatis, it’s just that after all this time sailing, I can’t help anthropomorphising a little with Eileen, especially when I know that she’s the one doing all the hard work…),
anyway… we chugged across Lyme Bay at half speed and on into another fine night…
Ensuring that our course provided a minimum 6 mile offing from Portland Bill (well clear of the race), I set the solo sailors bane (the mechanical egg timer) to annoy me at 30 minute intervals.
By sunrise it had certainly done its job!
Satisfactorily peeved by egg timer induced nap disruption, I turned Eileen toward the ‘Needles Channel’ on a course of approximately 20º arriving at the fairway buoy just as the tide turned. Unfortunately, the turn was for the worse (an ebb tide), but a quick delve through my tidal atlas revealed a counter-current close to shore! Ah, “Hope springs eternal…”, and the increasing number of small craft escaping the Solent were spared any impending howls of frustration.
Upon reaching the west cardinal buoy marking ‘The Bridge’, I hurried shoreward and within minutes of passing ‘The Needles’ I found my elusive counter current.
It is at this point that I noticed Eileen was being closely pursued by a boatload of tourists. How surreal, but what a pleasant surprise when it turned out to be David Lemonius on Ramblin’ Rose coming to welcome Eileen home. One of his prodigal daughters returns… and who could have asked for a finer welcome!
After a brief exchange of greetings and many a click of the tourist camera as David’s passengers made the most of their unscheduled stop, I said an embarrassing “hello everyone” to his captive audience before turning to fight the remaining tide into Yarmouth.
After three years of wandering abroad, Eileen of Avoca was back at last.