Good to see you made it happen! A great read, too, and pics. The Rival 34 is one of my favourite yacht designs, perfect for that kind of sailing.
Our kids did great last week, but we don't want to push them too far too fast, so our next sailing trips with them will be overnights or multi-day trips around the Solent. We're looking forward to all the options-- Yarmouth, Chichester, Lymington. After that we'll go farther afield and do a trip around the Isle of Wight, then Poole, Weymouth, Plymouth, etc.
In May, my wife sails to the Channel Islands with the British Offshore group for a week. In June I do the same to Brittany for a week. I'm very glad we did the trips last week to tune us up for the week-long voyages. The general plan is to do a cross channel trip with our kids in summer 2009.
Thanks again for your post about passing Selsey Bill. As noted above, we passed on taking the Looe Channel because conditions were being pretty unpredictable, and passing south of the Owers simplified our trip planning.
As someone mentioned to us, if you can sail here we can sail just about anywhere...