Demanding conditions for long-distance dinghy cruise

PUBLISHED: 14:12 28 August 2018

Flat Holm cruise.

Flat Holm cruise.

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Sailors from Clevedon Sailing Club faced demanding conditions during the 24-nautical mile cruisse to Flat Holm and back.

Clevedon Sailing Club’s dinghy cruising fans undertook the 24-nautical mile cruise to Flat Holm and back.

There were five dinghies, accompanied by a safety boat, with altogether 12 crew including four children.

After observing forecasts, it was determined that the Saturday of the bank holiday would provide the best and safest sailing conditions, sailing down on the ebbing tide and returning after low water as the flooding tide would help the boats on their way back to Clevedon.

A slightly livelier wind than expected, tested the resolve of the sailors on arrival and during boat preparation, but upon launching they were met by only a gentle to moderate breeze, however not in the forecast westerly direction.

This meant the leg to the island became more directly into the SW wind, and therefore a longer track, as the boats now zig-zagged down-channel, initially headed towards Steep Holm on the ebbing tide.

On the approach, the final dash was to cut across the shipping channel between Steep and Flat Holm in what had now built to a fresh breeze providing exhilarating sailing. Having rounded the south side of the island in a clockwise direction, the boats beached on the large pebbles of the more sheltered haven of Castle Rock’s cove on the north western side.

A brief exploration of the island took place, where the warden greeted the sailors and collected the landing fees. There really is a pub on the island, the one-roomed Gull & Leek contained in the visitor centre, but it was outside of serving hours.

After a hasty ploughman’s DIY lunch, carried to the island on the safety boat, the incoming tide was already re-floating the beached boats.

Once the boats had left their sheltered anchorage they experienced a thrilling and challenging one and an half hours speed-sail back to base in rolling seas and bright sunshine. Tired, but happy faces all round and a feeling of accomplishment marked the end the day.

Clevedon’s sailors land at Castle Rock on Flat Holm. Picture: B Whybrow.

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