All furled up with nowhere to go

(Except to windward!)

This summers plan is to see how we like the sea gipsy life in colder climes, and the last few weeks have been spent adapting Festina for cruising . Off goes the racing headfoil and multiple headsail changes , to be replaced with a 2nd hand Furlex and cut down No 1. To be honest it looks horrible , but if the system works there will be a nice new furling headsail later in the summer. The weather has done its best to point out the flaws in the new system by making it mandatory to beat out of the Channel if we want to go anywhere. We thought of creeping out of the Solent with paper bags over our heads so no one could recognise us but the winds have been such that creeping is out of the question – its bash or nothing and the paper bags would have been history in seconds!
By sheer fluke ( ahem!) we arrived at West Bramble buoy 5 minutes before the RORC fleet left for the Eddystone which gave us the perfect opportunity to test out the new rig against some worthy opposition. Some might say that a cruising boat shouldn’t put themselves up against such mighty opposition beating down channel into a rising wind , but of course that was precisely the point as later on in the year we hope to do a Fastnet against these very boats. Oh for a nice flat No 2. Our rig would have been fine with a decent headsail , but our poor old No 1 was grim indeed and we were gradually overhauled by the majority of the fleet . By midnight we had missed the tide at Start Point so opted to sleep a tide in our favourite wild anchorage in Hallsand bay , just inside the light, leaving the racers to bash on into the night. As we fought our way around the headland the next morning in 25 knots, the fleet passed us going back home from the Eddystone under kites. Sadly tiredness and inexperience took their toll with at least 2 Maydays for serious head injuries ( gybe broaches I expect!).
With Ireland as a possible early destination , the weather seems to have anticipated our arrival with Irish “misht” and rain , so in an unusual attack of common sense we have opted for brunch in Cawsand , and a sheltered anchorage and the heater rather than more beating. According to Mr Grib we could take another day off before taking a NW to the Scillies , then a fresh SW ride across the Irish sea, but as he seems to change his mind a lot of late we are not making any fixed plans , other than a definite commitment to a full nights sleep tonight.
So, greetings from Festina , tucked up under the cliff at Cawsand . All well.

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