We needed to catch the tide East, so that meant leaving Bucklers Hard at around 06:40 for an hour long potter down the river to the Solent. At 6am it was a magical place; the sun was already rising and starting to burn off the mist. The bird life was particularly vocal.
We carried the very last of the ebbing tide all the way down, bar the last half mile. This was a guarantee that we’d done this right, and could enjoy the new flood under us all the way back past Cowes, Portsmouth, Langstone and into Chichester – and possibly Northney.
Once into the Solent the water was flat, and the wind settled into a F4 from the SSW. It was perfect, and with full main, staysail and yankee we burned along at a constant 7kts over the ground – almost a couple of which were from the tide. A group of bigger boats were on the island side with spinnakers aloft, and besides them it was just us and the Red Funnel ferry. We made for Horse Sand Fort, which could just be made out on the horizon.
It changed once we’d passed through the submarine barrier again. The wind direction became more southerly and the wave height increased – and we were drag racing with some bigger yachts just out of Portsmouth. It was a pretty wet ride, as we continued with full sail to just short of the West Pole tower, when we furled away the yankee, bore away towards Bar Beacon post and gybed into a slot between the yachts nervously entering over Chichester Bar. No nervousness with us though, we kept all the other canvass aloft and surfed in passing a couple of much bigger vessels.
Once inside and back on flat water we went over to East Head to meet up with Black Jack, a lovely Crabber 24, and we tied up alongside for an hour before taking the very last of the tide all the way back to Northney. It had been a most fabulous day.