On a lovely hot day 8 Seavets met at Eastoke beach Hayling Island for the annual round Island cruise: Andy Lacy, Alan Jackson, David Rabbetts, Simon Barker, Steve Fletcher, John's Chubb and Ellis plus myself.
Everyone made a big effort to arrive in good time for an early 9.30 launch time and after a team photo we got away on time. There was a gentle westerly breeze taking us on a run along the sea front towards the entrance to Chichester harbour. Once we entered the harbour the wind increased a bit and we sailed past HISC after half an hour on a reach and made our way comfortably along the East of the island towards Emsworth. It was here just off Thorney Island that Andy spotted a dark shadow in the water, and having read recent reports of sharks invading our shores started pumping like mad, only to discover his attacker was actually a friendly Seal pup - good story to tell the grandchildren though. We arrived at Emsworth harbour on schedule at high tide which was 11.00, and after parking our boards on the slipway enjoyed a coffee sitting on the harbour wall.
Launching again at 11.40 we made our way south along the entrance channel lined with moored boats before heading west and beating into a shifty light breeze towards the bridge. A few managed to scrape through the middle, but most took the easy option and walked under on the mainland side. Once through the old railway bridge and into the wide expanse of Langstone harbour the wind increased gradually and we had a nice beat up to our intended lunch stop at the Ferry. Unfortunately this leg had taken a bit longer than expected and with the prospect of a long wait for lunch due to the busy holiday crowds at the pub, and the fact it was now 3 hours after high water, we decided that 'time and tide' as they say, meant we skipped lunch in favour of just a drink.
We launched again at 2.00 and tacked south with the help of the outgoing tide out of the Langstone channel where we met the considerable expanse of the East Winner bank, which extends a couple of miles out to sea. To turn East and back to base like the bridge there were two options, some sailed out to sea while others took a short cut and walked a few yards across the bank, Steve took the shortest route and arrived back well before everyone, so sometimes it pays to walk.
We all arrived back by 3.00 and some of us enjoyed a cooling dip in the unusually warm and clear water. Total sailing time had been 3 hours 30 mins and everyone seemed to enjoy this gentle days cruising, on one of the hottest days of the year. Having forgone our lunch stop earlier, some of us stayed behind and rounded the day off with a fish and chip meal on the beach.