RIB Cruising To The West Country – Part 2
There aren’t many ways guaranteed to erase the weekday grind from your memory quite as well as a thirty knot blast in your RIB from Portsmouth past Southampton water to the mouth of the Beaulieu River followed by a 3 knot potter up, past Bucklers Hard and stopping off for a decent breakfast at the Master Builder Hotel before cracking on refueled and recharged. Clearing away the cobwebs at 8,000 RPM, the RIB perfectly trimmed and wind through your hair is the perfect starter for a main course of tranquility and beauty that greets you as you meander up the Beaulieu River.
For those less keen on pottering, Yarmouth has always been a favourite stop off point on RIB treasure hunts and corporate charter work I’ve done. If you do decide to head into Yarmouth, take the chance to refuel alongside and then recharge with a burger at the Bugle Inn, which serves decent enough grub.
With a full tank of 95 RON and a steady right hand on the throttles, it is possible to get to Devon in one hit, but bar a couple of occasions when we’ve had a beer deadline to stick to I’ve always made a point of breaking up the journey. Sandbanks at weekends gives you chance to gawp at stunning property and a plethora of Sunseekers that are normally milling around – midweek on the other hand is chance to take in the natural beauty of the harbour and if you’re lucky witness Bootnecks in raiders, RIBs and wave piercing vessels try their best to keep their throttle hands under control in the harbour. If you’ve got time and relatively deep pockets, I’d also recommend a bite to eat at Café Shore, especially for their excellent Sunday lunches.
From Sandbanks it’s a relatively straightforward passage down to Devon. Leave Swanage to starboard, head past Lulworth Cove and get Portland Bill in your sights. A word of caution however – be mindful of the Portland and St Albans Race. St Albans is okay anything within about 100′ of the shore. Both are doable up to about a F4 or F5 in an average length RIB although anything more than that, and I’d recommend heading offshore – something like 5 miles for St Albans, and at least 7 miles for Portland – the effects of the races extend much further out than you’d expect. Even in the inshore passages, you are better off avoiding wind against tide if at all possible to make things as comfortable as possible.
Once clear of Portland, it really is a single course to steer until you hit the Devon coastline (hopefully not literally). A course of 265 ish and a speed of 25 knots will see you arrive in less than three hours.