The Weymouth Challenge!

GXSA Sailing Event 11th Sept - mini-cruise to "Weymouth"

Initial destination: Royal Dorset Yacht Club

Nick Lemon

So what happened / Did we get there ? Er, No... Things were looking great for the days before with sunshine and fair winds. Our rendezvous on Friday was an excellent day’s sailing – Those GXSA members who were making their way west through the Solent on Friday really enjoyed some fine late season conditions - Lovely sunny and fair winds. Nothing could go wrong!

The gathering on Friday - 14 crew members and boats made their way towards Yarmouth at the western end of the Solent – Arrivals were from early afternoon to late evening. Verity was last having come across from Hamble making for Lymington to take on crew. The evening was dinner on board or trips to the local pub for a meal. It was smiles all round that we had arrived on a Friday evening having already enjoyed a good sail and it had only just started – excellent things were looking good. After dinner most retired for a reasonably early night's rest ahead of the morning start – plan was to be up at 7.30 and away by 8.30 latest.

A good night’s sleep.. We all slept soundly (well for a short while at least). Some-time around 0100  in the dead of night the wind did something - I was woken by ‘clank-clank-clank’ – I think ‘Coldplay’ or perhaps ‘Beyond Belief’ were battling it out for ‘noisiest halyard ’award. But I was too tired to get up and see who was going on so I slept on for a while only to be woken by our own clanking halyard! Sensing this wasn’t going to fix itself, I quickly crawled out on deck from the forepeak hatch, tied up the halyard with a few granny knots and was soon back in a nice warm bed – Great no more interruptions! Wrong.

I was soon awake again..What was it this time? A nasty high pitch sound was coming from the automatic gas detector alarm – I went into the saloon and bumped into one of the crew who said it had been going off/on for a while – ‘Couldn’t you hear the racket?’

The gas was already switched off and hatch cover was now open to vent the boat in case of gas leak - Later on I un-plugged the shore power (suspect battery over-charge) and that fixed it - At last I slept!

Saturday morning lie in – or not.. It was 6.45am and I could hear someone speaking to someone called ‘Ray’ saying he’s probably still asleep but I managed to grab my phone just in time to hear Ray Bridges ask ‘what’s the plan’? He was still at his mooring, was concerned for the conditions and he was 2 hours behind us.. I got up and had a cup of tea on deck and could feel the wind blowing F5 WSW which was OK but not the SW expected. Time for breakfast and a weather check on-line.


A change of plan is not always easy – Keen sailors / Those less keen but consideration for everyone’s safe enjoyment wins over. The decision was made to switch to an alternate plan - Go to the ‘Folly Inn’ for dinner, meet up at 5.30/6pm for drinks on the pontoon.

What did we do on Saturday?

Coldplay had tickets for the Southampton boat show so they departed first and apparently moored up with no problems at the show and had a good day looking around. Sonar Too was contacted and seemed more than pleased to head up to the Folly and enjoyed a nice afternoon's peace and calm. Verity and Beyond Belief took a leisurely approach and had coffee and then a bit of boat maintenance. A quick trip into Yarmouth town for a new domestic battery on Verity ( this had been the cause of the gas alarm going off in the night). We admired our handy work for a bit, had another coffee and then enjoyed a fantastic sail east against a really strong current - 20 knots of winds on our backs forcing through the tide / Really bright breezy and very exciting conditions ! 

Lunch was a quick ‘snooze’ in Newtown Creek and then back out for some more fine sailing – At 5pm it was time to head up the Medina and meet-up.

Ray and Aberdeen John were already there comfortably moored up in Sonar Too – They had the (wind on) west side of the pontoon and Gerry was on the mid-stream / wind-off side with a nice little parking space in front of him for us.

Mooring up in wind off conditions has it’s challenges and we got it second time round and were soon tied up. Later Gerry told me he had tested out his ‘stern bridle’ (Duncan Williams) inspired technique – Apparently it was going well until a helpful passer by came to his assistance and made off his ropes/not what he wanted – This must have been frustrating to an otherwise slick bit of seamanship by Gerry.


The pontoon party took place on Verity - Everyone was on board with 14 all up at one point on a 32 footer! After an hour or so of drinks and nibbles, it was time to take the water taxi across to the Folly Inn for a well-deserved hearty dinner that was enjoyed by all. 

Sunday – This was as it should be, a nice leisurely departure for all of us all!

Conditions were less blowy and the weather great for sailing. Most set off East to Portsmouth for a return to their moorings while we went west past the entrance to Beaulieu and then across to Newtown Creek for another lunch stop and then back to Lymington to drop off my crew.

How did the weekend go overall?

This was the last GXSA rally of the season with a really good turn-out in numbers. The resounding feedback from everyone was they were having a good weekend – The fact we did not make it to Weymouth did not matter. Had we tried to sail west it would have been a tough sail with the wind hard on the nose all the way. Going to the Folly turned out to be a good call and the messages I received after the event confirmed this. Good sailing experienced on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with dinner ( Plus a boat show thrown in). All in all a nice little cruise!

My sincere thanks to everyone who took part and I am really looking forward to seeing you all next time we try to get to Weymouth!