GXSA Rally to Chichester
by Stuart Gaunt
28th June 2014 saw the GXSA Rally Regulars (plus some very welcome first-timers) rendezvous at Chichester Marina, on the south coast, for the Mid-Summer Rally. Dinner was held at the new facilities of Chichester Yacht Club. The Weather, Location, Welcome, Accommodation, Facilities, and Food were absolutely first class….but more of that, later.
Following several announcements of plans during the Spring Lecture series and several circular emails over the following months, late drop-outs, late joiners, etc., we finally ended up with 28 people and 9 boats arriving during Saturday afternoon.
Sun Fleur (smallest boat @ 25’) came the longest distance (from Christchurch), and Beyond Belief (middle size boat @ 36’) came the shortest distance, from Birdham Pool, which we believe is approximately 400 metres !!
Members logged into the web site can see who attended and meal choices by clicking here
Many crews set off from Bucks, Berks, Herts, at 07:00on Saturday morning for the long drive to join their boats. We arrived to good weather (in spite of the forecast for patchy sun and rain).
As frequently happens, the weather on the coast was better than forecast and we had (mostly) unbroken sun for the whole journey. It was a really lovely sail.
We passed through the gap in the submarine wall (between Horse Sand Fort and the mainland) under sail, and continued all the way to East Head Anchorage in ideal conditions (SW F3-4). We decided that it was still a little too early to go into the Marina, so dropped the anchor…..which dragged, so we raised it to find a small seaweed garden on the hook, so we tried again, and a third time before the anchor bedded in.
East Head is a beautiful and popular anchorage, but we only stayed for lunch before heading up the estuary and into Chichester Marina, where we found our mooring.
We’d all had a very pleasant sail, and were ready for a shower and a party.
June 28th was the anniversary of the first shots of the First World War. Chichester Conservancy had published a special notice to mariners that it would be permissible (encouraged) to sound a long blast on the ait horn to commemorate the event at 18:00.
This (together with our dinner being served at 19:00, prompt) posed a problem in terms of squeezing a party in before dinner.
The problem was solved by opening the bar at 17:30 !! Some may consider this a little early but hard times call for tough measures….
The party goers assembled at the allotted time, drinks were drunk, nibbles were nibbled, and merry conversation was experienced by all, until the fog horns started at 18:00….for 5 minutes, when the party restarted.
Eventually everyone migrated to Chichester Yacht Club, where dinner was ready as promised. The food and service were excellent, and to be recommended
Starter A - Pate & Toast, B - Melon and Parma Ham served with a ginger dressing
Main D - Chicken, ham and leek pie served with new potatoes and vegetables, E - Cottage pie served with rice and vegetables
Dessert G - Creme Brulee, H - Apple pie served with custard or cream
Also, it was June Gorrie’s birthday, so we all ate cake (as well as the delicious meal), before retiring to nocturnal sleep-zone or finding another bar that was open.
The evening was a huge success thanks to the efforts of the staff at Chichester Yacht Club.
Sunday morning was a little confused, as there were two competing events available. Some people went off for a spiritual visit to the matins ceremony at Chichester Cathedral, and other people headed off for a walk through the countryside to Dell Quay.
The sun continued to shine, on the walkers. Personally, it was my first time to Dell Quay, and it was absolutely beautiful , walking along the coast, and through the fields of Sussex.
Sadly all good things must come to an end, and with high water at 14:00, it was time to head back to the Marina, and make our way home.
The sail home from Chichester was completely uneventful, except that the weather was perfect, the wind had become a northerly F3-4, and the sun kept on shining.
Sadly, our approach to Portsmouth was marred by being a close-haul, but other than that everything went off perfectly.
It would be difficult to find a better example of a GXSA Rally:
The sun shone all the time, and the temperature was around 20 degrees.
- The company was excellent
- The food and drink were wonderful
- The sailing was extremely pleasant, without any difficult parts.
- The wind was in the right direction all the time, and not too strong
- Everyone had a great time.
If only sailing could be like this all the time !!