A cold coming they had of it!!! those who braved down from the west to meet us at The Lightship for that welcome breakfast bevvy! The promised F4 blew up ( windsurf weather Phil!) and slapped at the tide & head sea for the Western Solent crews. Miraculously we were on proper time (not the usual jackeen-adjustment) and left The Lightship at 12.30, wished cordially on our way by Jimbo and crew (already putting in some Instructor hours in the Harbour). Heading west for Cowes, the conditions were great; a readable and rhythmic following sea. Only took the eye off the ball twice on our way to the Island of Wighty, dumping a couple of bucketfuls of bracing briny stuff on Pauly and myself. Doesn’t time seem to freeze in those few seconds just before the water lands on top of your head? Ah well what’s Christmas without a little stuffing?!!
A RIB called ‘Sunshine’
Turning into Cowes we headed into a different landscape. As our pace slowed up The Medina, the sun came out and the wind died making it perfect Folly weather. The aptly named ‘Zonneschijn’ with Neil, Martin and Matt on board was flanked by two other sunny boats, Farfetched (Bruce) and Zerstorer (Nick, Scott and Steve). Tinsel glittered on Jigsaw (Caroline & James) while Proper Job (Jan & Pete) and Merlin (K & P) added a Celtic twist to the fleet! The bright Sunday had drawn lots of locals out for Sunday lunch but we were delighted to see that the RIBnet corner was reserved! We settled in for refreshments (that was a welcome and memorable glass of wine Bruce, thank you!!!) and the usual chat about life, the universe, Nos’ crayfish and future boaty destinations. The low sun reached us through the windows of the pub as we downed a mighty lunch.( BTW the chocolate oranges we thought would be more welcome than Christmas cards onboard! We might just gather a few for Friday Andy!!!!)
In the bleak midwinter
All too soon we had to kit up again in the weighty layers and head for the pontoon. An easier run for everyone lay ahead as we parted company with the Western Solenteers before running home towards Pompey with Proper Job. The Solent was baltic in the grey light and the way ahead was punctuated only by the grim, utilitarian hulls of cargo vessels. The wind maintained its easterly bite. As the light began to fade, Paul powered back to a huddled and chilly Portsmouth The solitary but resolute Spinnaker Tower was festooned with Christmas lights. Just above the tower a flock of starlings performed their magical paso doble in perfect unison; a mysterious and entrancing natural phenomenon.
Everything is quieter in the winter and as the RIBs swished up towards Port Solent and Fareham the dusk dropped a band of orange all round the freezing horizon. Against the glow the warships and fort were silhouetted black as elaborate 2D cut-outs in a shadow-puppet theatre. A couple of seagulls paced us languidly up to the North Harbour before we parted company with Pete and Jan. The half moon and first stars hung out over the hill as we finally made it into the lock and home.
A magical Christmassy trip.
Great to see you all, thanks for your excellent company and festive good humour!
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.