This next leg was one that I had been really looking forward to as the Solent was where I had taken my first sailing trip in 1991 with my old friend, Chalky White and we had visited Buckler’s Hard on that occasion. For those who have never been there, you must! It is a magical, unspoilt place up the Beaulieu River on Lord Montagu’s estate. It was once a thriving boat yard during Nelson’s time and produced around 60 ships for the Navy during the Napoleonic period and, better still, boasts a great pub called the Master Builders, once the home of the master ship builder Henry Adams. I just love it there. Jacquie and I had visited Buckler’s Hard when we went boat hunting, but I really wanted to arrive there in my own boat. We left Gosport, got the sails up and, miraculously, were able to sail to the Beaulieu River entrance where we joined a convoy of other boats heading up the river. On the way, the heavens opened and soaked the helmsman (me) to the bone, while my craven crew huddled under the spray hood in the dry. Buckler’s Hard was busy, but we were able to find a berth on the refuelling pontoon and moored up before heading to The Master Builder’s for dinner. We were joined by my brother and sister-in-law, Tony and Theresa who had driven over from Shaftsbury to say their farewells.
The following day we spent at Buckler’s Hard. Pete and Ali walked into Beaulieu to visit the motor museum while Jac and I stayed on the boat catching up on housekeeping/maintenance work. I tightened the engine drive belt (again); it seemed to be hell bent on working loose. An old friend, Pierre Bosdet, joined us in the afternoon and we had yet another enjoyable evening in the Master Builder’s pub.