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Day 16 - West Country Cruise

The end is nigh. Fleet boats return to their home berths

Sunday 15th July

It was the last morning of the cruise, and a bright, clear and very still one it was too. As crews surfaced everyone was soon gathering on the pontoon saying their goodbyes. Control Boat, T L Sea was the first to slip and departed Portland Harbour, before holding station at the second waypoint for one final fleet photoshoot in the morning sunshine.

Left behind at Portland Marina was Broom 395, Dacelo who were heading off to their home berth at Weymouth Marina later. Hythe-based Parker 800 Moonshadow was also leaving later in the day and Bavaria S450 Coupe, Weeks Away were staying on a few more days at Portland.

At sea, conditions were once again superb with dolphins spotted by some. Once off the distinctive cliffs of Durlston (near Swanage), Windy Scirocco 33, About Time peeled away from fleet. Owners Bill and Karen were heading for the anchorage at Studland Bay for some bacon butties, while they waited for the tide at their home berth at Christchurch.

With a few knots of spring tide underneath them, soon the fleet was entering the Needles Fairway. At the last waypoint, at the rather tidal-turbulent Hurst Narrows, crews were soon saying their goodbyes and signing off with control boat, T L Sea on the VHF.

Once all the Solent-based boats had logged safe arrivals with control boat T L Sea, making best use of the east-going tide and the mill-pond conditions, the Essex-based Sealine S28 continued on out of the Solent and onto Brighton and then Dover to refuel, before stopping overnight at Ramsgate, logging 178 miles in one day. By the afternoon of the next day boat was back on its home berth.

It has been a fantastic two weeks for boating and the weather could not have been better. Old friends were reunited and new friends met too, all sharing some very special and magical boating memories. Upon asking crews what their favourite port was, two common answers were given. It seems many had a real soft spot for the tranquil Mylor, but it was stunningly beautiful Fowey that came out on top. Until next time, happy boating.

PHOTO: Fairline Phantom 38 Portunas and Princess V39 Gîte off the Beaulieu River, western Solent

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