Having celebrated Doug’s birthday with a slice of cake at ‘Smoko’ (or rather ‘Vap-o’ if down-wind of Ash or Craig?) we sailed off our anchor (very smoothly executed by our brilliant permanent crew) at St Helen Roads (just off Bembridge) our passage around the South of the Isle of Wight had a bit of everything.

Having enjoyed beautiful views of Sandown and Shanklin under sail (does anyone tire of the sight of all that taught canvas…  whatever is painted on it?) we reluctantly took them down and braced our yards – under the expert supervision of Beth-not-Anna, Anna-not-Beth and most of the crew (where is the lazy sheet when you need it?) to motor on down to St Catherine’s, which one of our number mentioned benefits from a nudist beach (your secret is safe with us, Julie), We rounded the point with Ian and Jane serving a delicious Frittata prepared and served on a significant swell (how DO they do that?) and Grahame had another yoghurt.

Half way along the south coast of the island we had our first sight of the Needles.  The views got better and better as we got closer to the western tip of the Island, with a beautiful sunset to Port and the iconic Needles lighthouse ahead of the rainbow sands Alum Bay on our starboard.

The race of the current and narrow channel between the Needles and Hurst Castle held our attention (can anyone hold a course that ends in a 5?) but in no time at all we were nearing the lights of Yarmouth and our anchorage for the night.  Skipper Bernt, Ben and Gaz picked our course carefully between numerous surprise bouys outside the marina, and the team dropped anchor.

Jelly(-not-Anna-not-Beth) applied the poking stick and took her second mud bath of the day (the Bosun’s-mate’s spa treatment of choice). Aft Port Watch (Grahame’s Angels) took up the 8 to Midnight Watch – after another round of ‘Happy Birthday’ to Doug, and benefitted from the early sitting at another superb dinner.  All quiet under a striking orange half-moon and light cloud cover.

Morning of Day 6 was a rush to get ashore in Yarmouth for a brief leg-stretch on dry land.  I say ‘dry’ but should be clear that refers only to the land, not the crew following a choppy trip on the ship’s RIBs (Dotty and the other one, renamed Bidet in appreciation of its salt-water cleansing capability).  The advice to wear oilskins was wise, if not timely.  Quick coffee ashore and back out to Tenacious. Anchor up, Forward, both engines (listen for alarms), Johannes directed the setting of sail, glimpses of a dolphin and a seal…  and we’re back off on our way back East…