I went down early in the morning, but not early enough. I needed to get to Hurst Point before 1330 to get the tide through. I should have left Poole by 0900 but it was nearer 1000. The wind was strong, I reckoned F5, but I gathered later is was F5-7 plus! But from the West, so it would be behind me. I set out double reefed and motoring, with some degree of nervousness. Turning East outside the harbour it didn't seem too bad as I had the wind and current with me, so I set off motor sailing for maximum speed. I planned that if I couldn't make Hurst, I would drop back to Christchurch. In retrospect that would not have been fun, as it would have been a 2-3 hour slog back against the wind and then the ebb tide from Christchurch would have been against me. As it was, I reached Hurst and made it through with less than half an hour to spare. It took just three and a half hours, when normally I would expect four and a half. The GPS recorded a maximum speed of 9.2kts! That would have been sliding down a swell which must have been about 2m high. I shook out one reef, which seems daft thinking back on it, but the boat was handling well. Sliding down waves she did try to broach, and having the motor on probably gave me more control. I also wonder if in a strong down wind run it might reduce weather helm to furl the mizzen. But I wasn't trying it then.
Once in the Solent the wind was quickly damped down by the land and I was off Yarmouth in about 20 minutes. I furled all sails and motored in with some relief, forking out the extra for a walk ashore pontoon. Most of the afternoon the rain just poured down, so hard it beat the water flat. I either sat under the spray hood and watched it fall, or sat in the Bugle and had a pint. I had read a lot of vitriol about the changes at Yarmouth, where they have removed all but six of the pile moorings and replaced them with floating pontoons. It was a "loss of beloved tradition", "people LIKE mooring between piles" etc. I have done it once nearly thirty years ago and never want to do it again. I noticed that no one used the remaining piles the whole time I was there.
The Bugle does a good dinner.