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We bring the second part of Ben Collins’ report, along with an update on the fleet’s positions as they sail westward, departing Cowes Sunday 7 May. Today’s illustration shows a sunny scene of gaffers passing the Needles.

Sunday morning brought a promising forecast, ‘Getting brighter later’! The pontoon was soon a hive of activity. ‘Bonita’ had crept out at night ahead of the fleet. Now crews were bundling down their awnings, checking their ropes and twitching their engines. Some boats  jostling for position to get out of their chocks. Others more relaxed holding back to await the ebb tide. Mid-morning, I followed  them out as the clouds began to clear. The westerly breeze soon set in and tacking towards Hurst Narrows it was soon time for me to veer off from the fleet. But I can report a mighty proud scene of cream and tanned sails cutting  westward past the Needles and over what seemed to me a very promising horizon. I could only wish I was going along too! 

Ben Collins, Solent OGA member

Fleet update: boats and positions
After gathering in Cowes over the Coronation Bank Holiday weekend, the OGA60 Round Britain Cruise fleet of nine arriving from Ramsgate has grown to 17 boats. Local Solent OGA boats gathered to support members of the RBC fleet to make a great party weekend, despite the rain, at Shepards Wharf: ‘Little Stint’, ‘Meagan’, ‘Vivid’, ‘Runaway’, ’Molly of Mylor’, ‘Moores Claws’, ‘Satellite’, ‘Sea Filly’, ‘High Barbaree’ and ‘Daisy’. Solent OGA party organisers put on an excellent weekend of events including sailing aboard ‘Jolie Brise’, operated by Dauntseys School, with an evening dinner and live music at the Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club. Eight more boats joined the RBC fleet to set out from Cowes, sailing westwards on Sunday, 7 May. By late afternoon, ‘Recipe’, ‘Hilda’, ‘Minstrel’, ‘Agapanthus’ and ‘Lahloo’ are in Weymouth, ‘Onward of Ito’ is waiting in Cowes for crew, ‘Charlotte Elizabeth’ has reached Exmouth to wait there until Tuesday. Two boats who set out earlier in the week are reported to have arrived in Plymouth: ‘Moon River’ and ‘Peggy’. Several boats, including ‘Bonita’ whose log entry from earlier in the day is below, are sailing through the night.

This morning started misty with very little wind. Justin and I left Cowes on ‘Bonita’ at about 7.30am. There was little sign of life among the Gaffers. By the time the west-going tide started, about midday, we were off Yarmouth, a moderate head wind sprung up. We are keen to get to Plymouth in time for the next gaffer gathering if possible, but it’s tedious trying to make progress against headwinds and spring tides. The tide was almost spent by the time we got to the Dorset coast so we stopped in Studland Bay near the Old Harry rocks. . . . SW winds are forecast for the next few days but we hope there may be an opportunity to move further west before too long.

Mike Beckett, extract from the log of ‘Bonita’