Home; not Holms

Karisma has spent the last ten days in Portishead in preperation for the 2015 Holms Race, which took place on Saturday last (Sept 12th). We had sailed up intending to cruise just for a weekend, but were told that we had to leave the boat in Portishead marina in order to book a lock-out for the race itself. We were joined on Friday by our pals Martin and Matt who were willing hands, but the weather deteriorated to the point where it wouldn’t have been much fun for a cruising crew, so after poking our nose out of the locks and looking at the angry state of the sea, we returned to the marina, put the kettle on, and informed Portishead Cruising Club that we wouldn’t be competing.

YBW.com member Tatali0n, his dad, and his Westerly Griffon Calstar did enter, however, and he’s put a great post on his blog. With the weather being a F6-7 southwesterly hoolie, only around 60% of the entrants completed the race (only a handful retired, so most of the DNFs did not start at all). Can’t help feeling a pang of regret that we didn’t give Karisma the opprotunity to test herself against so many other boats, but it would have been wet and bloody uncomfortable, so on balance I don’t think we missed much. We’ll pay our £5 entry fee again next year and cross our fingers for better weather. Matt and Martin don’t know it yet, but I have their names graven onto the crew list in the hopes that I can make up for them missing out this year.

Of course, had the race been run either the day before or the day after, the hoolie would have been a very sailable F4, which at least gave us a good journey home to Penarth on Sunday morning. It was good to have the boat back home as I’m not used to being seperated from the apple of my eye, even for a few days. We have no plans for any further trips so a good lunch at the always welcoming Penarth Yacht Club seemed something of a season-ender. Matt encouraged me to break my habit of never drinking at lunchtime, and a pint and a half of Sharps’ Point Break, even with a huge three course meal, had me crawling into bed at 6pm prompt!

It’s been a great season for Karisma in the Bristol Channel and so much of that is due to the wider sailing horizons I’ve aquired this year thanks to Inseyandra and the RORC IRC series. Of course, there are plenty of ‘summer’ jobs still to do as summer turns to autumn and winter, so the blog will probably turn a little more techy, but I’ll be keeping it up to date, and looking forward to a few winter sails in the bay.

Shock and Awe in Avonmouth

Tonight we’re in Portishead Marina, having intended to cruise up and back to Cardiff this weekend. Light northerly winds and a pleasant few hours close reaching, what could go wrong? The actual wind was a northeasterly F5/6 on the nose, that’s what, kicking up the worst wind over tide between Clevedon and Portishead Point that I have ever seen. Waves not that big- around 2 metres- but short; shorter than Karisma herself. The result was that she was being picked up by a couple of waves and moments later there was no water at all beneath her: SLAM! SLAM! SLAM! For the last hour of the journey. Spray everywhere; we took brown water on deck a couple of times and it was so bad some even squirted under the forehead hatch. Crew and clothes soaked. No photos were attempted lest Neptune acquire a new iPhone.

On arrival we had a useful chat with the marina staff about the Holms Race, which we have entered next week- this is a race from Avonmouth to Steepholm and back. Because it’s very tidally influenced, every yacht picks her own start time, so planning for this is a big part of the race. You need to start quite early in the morning, so you need to be in Portishead the night before; but when you start is sort of dictated by when you can lock out of the marina, and they run a booking system for that. You can’t book a lock out unless your boat is already in the marina.

Result? The local boats have already taken nearly all the best lock times, because they’re already here, and some of the lock times are already fully booked. If we take Karisma home tomorrow and- as planned- bring her back on the night before the race, we’ll miss out on all the competitive lock out times and be out of the running before we start.

To avoid this we’ve booked her a good, competitive lock out for next Saturday morning, and in the meantime we have to leave her in Portishead. Good thing we thrashed our way up here this weekend then, but I can’t help thinking this issue- not mentioned in the notice of race- gives local boats a bit of an advantage in an open event.

And what time will we be crossing the start line on Saturday? Well, why not come along and see?