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The Isle of Wight

December 20, 2011

From around 1958 to 1961 sailed in our converted life-boat, Trooper to the Isle of Wight each weekend during the summer; we sailed around her occasionally on our way to somewhere else, France maybe? However, it was always done on a shoestring her conversion was a work in progress we never knew how it might turn out.  It was dependant on money, resources and the weather,  all at the same time often it didn’t  happen but when it did it was perfect.

We could watch from afar,  her iconic bulge domed beyond Calshot Spit, an ever changing backdrop to the vast array of crafts as they plotted a course from Southampton Water or the Hamble to the English Channel.  We would venture closer and gaze at the imposing coast line sometimes she turned us away,  the wind direction would change and making it difficult to land and  moor so  would tack along the coast and head towards Beaulieu River and give our girl a miss this time.

Most times however, we reached the island and made it ashore but not before navigating the Medina River through the racing yachts and gin palaces that moored closely to Royal Southern Yacht Club that breached the entrance at Cowes. Our beamy lady a striking contrast to the slinky girls as they jostled slightly on the swell at the mouth of the river.

As the river meandered port and starboard towards Newport, we watched for a beckoning jetty where we could moor and let off steam and bag crisps at the Folly Inn before supper.  We went to bed as the sun went down, I used to listen carefully to Luxemburg; a Saturday night treat to learn the latest top- ten as the light faded – and the only other sounds were the lapping of the water and the whine of the rigging.  Morning came with the sound of sea gulls and the beat of the motor of the harbour master’s vessel who would come and collect payment for a mooring. The Harbour-master was always amused by the ‘family afloat’ as he shared a cuppa; he ‘waived’ the payment feeling perhaps that my dad needed the half a crown more than Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise did!

After we had stocked up on water and fuel  we would set sail for another delight depending on the wind and tide.  The Solent had plenty to offer us on a Sunday morning with a few more hours to spend before the Hamble called us back home.

Sat still for a while

Other weekends we might tack along the mainland coast to Portsmouth harbour and moor against the quay at Camper and Nicholson and have fish and chip supper at the Port Hole in Gosport  a gastronomic treat for us girls on a Saturday night!

Next morning across the Solent past the forbidding forts, relics of the war that once protected Portsmouth and Southampton from German U boats, towards Bembridge or Ryde where we might walk along the pier with an ice-cream to play at being proper holiday makers.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2014 7:24 am

    Reblogged this on Living, Libraries and [Dead] Languages and commented:

    As my sisters, brother and I launch off into life after our recent loss I remember times; perhaps before the arrival of my brother …

  2. Laura Bloomsbury permalink
    January 17, 2014 4:36 pm

    its like Swallows & Amazons only real and so much better – especially the way you tell it.

  3. January 17, 2014 5:49 pm

    Ah Helen – you know how I look forward to these posts about your boating childhood. I find such comfort in the mention of Calshot Spit, the Beaulieu River, Cowes etc. It reminds me of my own dear dad and his love of wooden boats and the Solent. x

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