Picture a picture postcard tiny port; Emsworth nestles at the base of Chichester Harbour. The Emsworth sailing club is we were loading up our supplies (wine and food) onto a trolley, with a mind of its own and then down the ramp to the tender to the yacht Rag Doll a Honey Bee class, a 27ft. sloop built in the 1960's in Scotland.
Under Skipper Tom, Chris and I were to be on the water for three days, sailing out towards and across the Solent to where wind and tide is favourable and to where we feel going.
|Grey skies and a good ‘ish wind and sails set starboard close-hauled|
Heading west, our passage parallel to Hayling Island. Wind behind us, sails out, goose-winged, Mainsail on port, large gib to starboard. The other boats the same, like a flock of geese.
Where da’ sun gone Skip?
Into the main channel with grey skies and a good ‘ish wind and sails set starboard close-hauled, a slot of wind to propels us forward.
Isle of Wight in view now and Bembridge, scene of previous voyages and stopovers.
I duck below to rustle up a lunch of fresh bread, ham and a salad.
I am back to cooking, I know my place. This time my menu is planned.
Mid afternoon, Friday, wind and tide not entirely in our favour so we head inland into the inlet of the Beaulieu River, an estuary wedged between Southampton water and Lymington.
A broad expanse marked by navigation marks. A stray seal plays with a marker buoy. The cries of Oyster catchers taking off, circling round and coming back into land, otherwise very little about.
The Beauleiu River, our home for evening, Rag Doll is tied up firm on a visitors mooring. Afternoon tea is served with a chocolate confection made for the trip by Sian.
Then we pump up ‘Roger’ the inflatable (dingy) and head off to Bucklers Hard and a pint at The Master Builder. We look down the greensward towards the river, an expanse of grass that was once the slipway for King Henry’s ships build with timber from nearby New Forest.
A glorious evening in the river’s estuary, oystercatchers and curlews continue to chant. The sun dips and turns the water golden brown. Gin is poured and the dinning table is set for my serving up tortellini with salsa di formaggio and fresh salad and a modest merlot. We sleep well.