Blasting, Cruising and Paddleboarding
Perhaps the windy forecast brought about a record turnout for recent years - 20 Seavets plus 6 of their wives/husbands/partners. 11 motorhomes, caravans and campervans filled our guest camping area - so much so that we have successfully negotiated to go onto at least part of the members-only campsite next year.
Monday saw 14+ knots of wind which had several Seavets blasting up and down the lagoon, and John Ellis trying out his foil. Jon Popkiss had offered a beginners SUP session which I took up, and was joined by another young lass (too young for Seavets). We had a tough introduction to the sport in the windy conditions which saw us whisked off downwind all too quickly if we were not careful.
Tuesday was even more windy, and those who sailed decided in the end that they were not enjoying the gusty conditions and packed up long before the tide emptied the lagoon. Peter and I walked along to checked the pub at Ashley Creek for the next day and picked loads of blackberries on the way back. It was a bit too chilly for barbecuing outside, but we managed to squeeze 10 into our tent to use our barbecue, and had a sociable evening.
Wednesday - Richard's cruising day, and Seavets first Pub Paddle, the aim being that windsurfers and paddlers all arrive at the pub for lunch at more or less the same time. Richard's more detailed account of the cruise is below, but we watched 8 of them launch from the beach and head off towards Lepe, whereupon the wind almost died. We wondered how long it would take them to get back. A little later 5 Seavets on paddle boards and 1 in a kayak, set off under the supervision of Jon Popkiss (also a Seavets member) into somewhat challenging conditions for novices - the northerly wind was decidedly chilly and made for slightly lumpy waters.
It was hard work until we got past the old power station, then made our way carefully through the marshy shallows, only possible at the height of a spring tide. Kevin took a tumble into the muddy waters, but we all made it into the channel to be overtaken by the first of the windsurfing cruisers on the way up to the pub. 15 of us sat down for lunch together, before setting off back to Calshot - the windsurfers disappearing into the distance while we negotiated the shallows again
I can see the attraction of paddleboarding and it is excellent exercise. Perhaps we should have a Seavets SUP section and plan more cruises like this?
8 of us comprising Tony Goodwin, Dave Rabbetts, Alan Jackson, Simon Barker, John's Chubb and Ellis, Andy Lacy and myself set off from the Solent side of Calshot activity centre to sail up to Lepe on leg one of the cruise. The northerly 10 mph wind took us fairly quickly on a broad reach/run to Stansmore Point where there is a distinct tidal line as the fairly choppy water of the Solent becomes dead flat, we all negotiated this successfully and landed at Lepe after 45 minutes.
After a quick splash and dash coffee stop at the brand new beach cafe we then had a nice beat back along the Solent before rounding Calshot Castle at the entrance to Southampton Water and stopping to regroup in the lagoon behind the activity centre after an hours sailing. At this point Tony and the two John's decided to retire early but we were joined as planned by Russell Polden, so there were now 6 of us setting off for the second leg to Ashlett creek.
The plan for the day was to meet up with another group of 5 Seavets led by Jon Popkiss who were trying their hand at SUP and as we landed at the Jolly Sailor after an easy 20 minute sail we watched them arrive in line astern looking as though they had been working fairly hard. We were also joined by Maurice who had paddled his canoe there and Peter who had walked.
It started raining at this point so a fairly large party of 15 of us took shelter in the pub who did a great job of feeding us all quickly and at a reasonable cost. After this pleasant meet up with the paddlers the windsurfing team, worried by the threat of a falling wind set off first, and were pleased to find enough wind to give us an easy exit from the creek and another 20 minute run back to base on the lagoon. Our total sailing time had been 2 hours 25 minutes.