Littlehampton Rally Report
18 months in planning
These are some of the words that come to mind when thinking about the 2015 GXSA Rally to Littlehampton.
Getting to Littlehampton from the Solent can be a complex affair! The distance (35 miles from Cowes) makes it quite along journey, and potentially difficult to achieve on a single tide.
The River Arun is the fastest flowing river in the UK, so it's important to arrive just before High Water. It turns out that there are typically only two weekends each year where High Water falls in the early afternoon at the weekend, restricting our options!!
Having missed out on a 2014 opportunity because of over-booking by another Yacht Club, we booked ahead...by 18 months...before the official tide tables had been published. It just goes to show how good Internet resources can be, because the prediction I found 18 months beforehand was exactly the same as the "official" prediction when it was finally published. [if only Nostradamus had used the Internet, eh?]
Nevertheless, with High Water at 13:00. it would be an uncivilised early start for most people to get there in time, so it was decided to rendezvous in Chichester Harbour on Friday evening, and set off together on Saturday morning. This reduced the sailing distance on Saturday to only 19 miles, and would allow an 08:00 start to arrive before High Water.
The date was set, and invitations sent out. The only problem was that all the usual rally-goers turned out to be planning their summer holidays, cruises, and birthday parties for that weekend. Numbers were down to one boat...not much of a rally! So we cancelled the marina and restaurant reservations, and had a think about what to do. Then a few messages came in saying that they would like to come along, so it was back on, uncancelling the bookings, and back to planning.
In the end, four boats came along, and brought 13 people:
- Sun Fleur - Jeaneau 25
- Verity - Westerly 28
- Coldplay - Bavaria 37
- Burnadebt - Jeaneau 52
Friday afternoon saw 3 boats arriving at East Head anchorage, and the evening started around 18:00 with a rendezvous aboard Burnadebt for the impromptu barbequeue and booze. We had thought of running ashore for the BBQ on the beach, but the wind was so strong that everyone thought that it was too windy, so we decided to stay afloat. Eventually, Coldplay turned up at 20:30 to complete the party.
It was great fun until around 23:00 when a change in wind, tide, or luck meant that the various boats in the anchorage started to move in strange and worrying directions. Verity started to get very close to Burnadebt, and even had to be pushed away by hand. Nick Lemon jumped aboard and had a very unpleasant 45 minutes fending off from two other boats, until Burnadebt and Verity decided to move away and anchor elsewhere in a safer location. That workrrd out very well in the end, and everyone had a comfortable night asleep aboard their own boats, without dragging anchors!
Saturday saw an 08:30 mass departure (well, 4 boats), taking various routes around Selsey Bill, but all arriving at Littlehampton within an hour, and safely mooring up against the new Town Quay, and Esplanade that was opened 8 weeks beforehand.
Littlehampton has really changed in the last 15 years, and is now a very nice seaside town, and a tourist mecca on sunny days. A very jolly place to visit.
Saturday afternoon seemed to disappear into a haze of relaxation and pottering about. Various people went for walks, and a look at the harbour entrance at low water.
The evening entertainments started as usual with the traditional Pontoon Party at 18:00 with 14 people (Sailors plus one addition) attending, then a trip to the Silk Road Restaurant for a very nice Buffet Dinner, and entertainment by the resident Belly Dancer and DJ.
Sunday morning saw a relaxed start, as we needed to wait for 13:00, when the tide would be high enough for boats to get over the bar at the harbour entrance. Burnadebt sailed off to Brighton for the start of a 3 week French Tour, and the other boats headed back home... close hauled on a port-tack.
The weather was quite consistently F4-5 WSW at the weekend, so we all had quite a long, but pleasant trip home.
On balance, I think those people who came along had a great time.
Thanks to all that came for making it another enjoyable GXSA experience.
See you in September for the next one!!