White Horse Cruising Club

Recent events you may have missed . . .

Meetings are on the second Monday of each month, at the British Legion Club, Mill Orchard, East Hanney, starting at 8 pm.


December 10th

Members Evening included two talks; one from Mike Hill - 'Cruising the Balearics' with a crew made up from people with a link (however tenuous) to the Jet project. The crew soon fell into two categories - the 'young ones' and the 'oldies'. I am sure the oldies showed the younger ones a thng or two about sailing, whilst the young ones led the way in eating and drinking!

The other talk was from Ian Boyce about sailing the Normandy coast which included the D-day beaches. The site of the Mulberry harbour at Arrowmanches is particularly atmospheric. There are still some Mulberry caissons visible which are now sitting on the sea bed. This makes them appear to rise and fall as the tide changes - at low tide they are very tall structures looming out of the deep.

November 12th

John Owen from the RNLI came and gave us a short talk on the new Shannon class lifeboat. He supported his presentation with slides and some video content showing the new vessel in various sea states. The new boat is built from a composite material which is both light and strong. This is the first lifeboat to be powered by waterjets rather than propellers.

October 8th

Ludo Bennett-Jones related his experiences gained during a clockwise circumnavigation of the UK in a Wayfarer dinghy! He departed from Cowes and headed west. Surprisingly, he had Northeasterly winds for the whole of the south coast leg. He paid for it later though as the northerly leg to Scotland had northerlies, the eastern leg at the top of Scotland had easterlies and the southern section down the east coast had southerlies! You can see his entire route here - some of the passages would put some yachties to shame. He had no support boat only a VW campervan and trailer which shadowed him around the coast. He slept mostly in the campervan and existed on fish & chips from his stopovers. He raised £67,977,824 for charity so far and you can read his blog (daily diary) here which contains some stunning photographs.

September 10th

Ted Howard-Jones spoke to us about the Youth Sailing Trust - he is the Chiltern District Representative. The trust has been in existance in one form or another for 56 years. During this time they have acquired over 5000 volunteers who help mainly young disadvantaged people to develop their hidden potential well away from their normal environment (which may have contributed to their situation). The trust has access to several tall ships as well as some Challenger yachts. The square riggers have been described as a youth hostel with a climbing frame on top! Although the thrust of their work is aimed at young people the age range is 12 to 80 years old so there is a suitable voyage for everyone. Read more and book your next holiday on their website. Prices start at a very reasonable £400 excluding flights.


May 14th - Poul Christensen - Voyage to Denmark.

Poul revisited the land of his ancestors on a previous voyage. His presentation was very informative and was accompanied by slides. He went through the rivers and canals to avoid the long journey 'round the top'. Threading his way through the shifting sands off Friesland, he entered the river/canal system.. His route was almost the same as the famous book 'The Riddle of the Sands'. Although the tides do not rise & fall significantly, there can still be a pretty fast stream, especially between the many islands. On this occasion he was blessed with perfect weather - he intends to return this year so hopefully he can leave the oilies in the locker again.

Poul's talk was followed by an EGM. Contact Russell for details of the minutes.

April 16th - Dylan Winter - Keep Turning Left

Dylan is a semi retired journalist and cameraman who is compiling a video record of his anti-clockwise circumnavigation of the British Isles. He is not in any hurry and has only progressed as far as the East Coast around Norfolk. He is deliberately taking his time and spending as much time as he feels like in any one location. He is content to sit and watch the (nautical) world go by, which he captures on video. These short films are published on the internet. He expects to take several more months (or years) to complete the circuit. There is roughly 20,000 km of coastline to explore and such an undertaking cannot be rushed. He is sailing a Mirror Offshore (aka 'the Slug') which he pointed out is an oxymoron! If you haven't seen his videos yet click here.

He is also an enthusiast of the West Mersea Duck Punt which has such a shallow draught, can still be sailed on a moist cloth (well almost). Here is the link to some inspired 'gunk holing'

March 12th - Brian McNish - Sailing the Atlantic Islands.

Brian and his wife described sailing their catamaran 'Polonez' down through Biscay and into the Mediterranean. They included the Balearic Islands and Sardinia. They encountered pirates in the Med when they returned after a shore excursion to find their boat no longer anchored but alongside with several very dubious looking characters in control of the yacht. The story given was that the boat had dragged its anchor and had to be 'rescued'. The rescuers were now claiming salvage of tens of thousands of pounds. The anchorage was good holding and it was clear these people had 'kidnapped' the yacht and were holding it hostage until a ransom was paid!

February 13th - Yacht Surveys - Christine Davis

Christine, who is one of the few female yacht surveyors, described and illustrated various failures in yachts she has surveyed. These ranged across the entire spectrum from stem to stern and from keel to mast. Most failures were quite subtle and very easy to miss. The outlay for a regular survey seemed good value after her presentation. So when your insurance company ask for a survey every five years, pay up with good grace - its worth it.

Care should also be exercised when choosing replacement metal parts for your boat, in particular seacocks. Most boats sink quietly at their moorings as the seacocks corrode into uselessness! Christine mentioned several acceptable types of metal for these items but in general it is unwise to mix your metals due to the ever present electrolytic action. Several different descriptions of 'brass' abound such as Naval brass, Admiralty brass - they're all just brass. Gunmetal, silicon bronze or more recently ceramic are preferable materials for seacocks.


December 12th - Members evening.

This year, members' talks were interrupted by a very lively auction of marine jumble donated by members and others. The auction was ably orchestrated by Mike Coombes and raised a substantial amount of money. There were some amazing bargains to be had. A fully functional inflatable tender was snapped up for less than a fiver! Fenders, anchors, books and charts all found new homes. Check your garage, shed or loft and get those unwanted items ready for next year...

November 14th - The Building of "Naida" - Iain Tolhurst

Iain Tolhurst talked us through the 12 year labour of love when he made his 'Pinky ketch' from the wood he recycled from the 1987 storm. Clearly, Iain is an extremely resourceful man as he did virtually all of the construction himself in his garden on his farm near Pangbourne. After the 1987 storm, most of the timber was left unused because of the cost of moving it. Quite a lot was just used for firewood. Iain however, saw a more worthy use for this 'windfall' timber. He organised for a portable sawmill to go into the local wood and cut selected trees into usable planks which he slowly seasoned in a 'lean to' shed on his farm. Several years later he made a start on the yachts contruction. It was to be a laminated hull with the woodgrain going in different directions to improve strength. The plans were drawn up by Paul Fisher (of the famous Selway-Fisher design company) and is definitely a one-off - so far. The yacht was built 'dinghy style' upside-down on formers, so when it needed turning over it took a bit of ingenuity as it weighed in at 4 tonnes. Finally, in 2009 'Naida' was launched by crane into the River Thames and made her way to the sea where she belongs. After a successful maiden voyage she has found a home in a snug berth in Emsworth.

September 10th - My Life with Boats & Sailing - Garry Hall

Garry Hall chatted about his extensive career in various nautical areas. He spent some time in the armed forces messing about in boats, all paid for by the taxpayer (he is extremely grateful). In the first half of his presentation he went through his CV to date. After glasses were replenished Garry explained the history of the Coastguard service and how it has arrived at its current configuration. Changes to the organisation are still taking place to try and streamline finances without sacrificing the quality of service to the seagoing fraternity. Our nearest Coastguard control centre is in Lee-on-Solent (where Garry is based) and if any members would like to join a group to visit, they should email Terry who will compile a list.

September 12th - "Jerry The Rigger" - Part 2

Jerry returned to explain more facinating facts about rigging, this time running rigging. He explained the history of ropemaking and how important ropes were to almost all generations in days gone by - not just sailors and people involved in boating activities. Every town (even inland) has (or had) a long straight street where ropes were made. These streets are usually called 'The Ropewalk'! Jerry and his long suffering apprentice gave each member a piece of rope to practice splicing. Most managed it, with assistance but there were a few lengths of completely unravelled rope at the end of the evening. Also demonstrated was the process of splicing braided line and halyards. This required a set of 'fids' but the result was very neat and strong.

Trip on 'Morwenna' - 22nd June

Following a talk in February, by Stuart Jenkins of the "Traditional Sailing Company", a crew consisting of 8 members of the WHCC & 3 friends voyaged on Southampton Water & the Solent in the Pilot Cutter "Morwenna". Under instruction from the skipper Rob Stanier & his most competent "mate" Fleur, we hoisted the main, No.1 jib & staysail. Later we hoisted the topsail.
In spite of the wind being in an unfavourable direction & less than we would have liked, which meant we had at times to use the engine, we had an enjoyable sail up past Cowes & back along the northern shore of the Isle of Wight. The weather was fine with only the odd spot of rain & we all got back to Shamrock Quay happy & better versed in the art of "Sweating & Tailing"
Our grateful thanks to Rob & Fleur for their hospitality. The bacon butties, as we came down Southampton Water, & the tea & coffee & assorted nibbles, throughout the trip were most enjoyable,
See a selection of the photos.
Terry Jones

Summer Gathering - Gins Farm 28th May.

Vanessa and I joined Mike and Barbara Coombes on their Island Packet yacht “Jess” in Gosport at 09:45 and were introduced to their friends Maureen and David. After a safety briefing from Mike we discussed the weather forecast and having spent five minutes in the cockpit experiencing the weather we all hastily donned full oilies, hats and gloves! We motored out of the harbour and hoisted a double reefed main, the stay sail and a little bit of jib and set course for Gins Farm on the Beaulieu River. Progress was slow in the rough seas and strong winds (not always from the direction forecast!) Mike decided to put into Cowes so that we could have some lunch (delicious), a rest and repair a broken lazy jack. Before lunch Barbara and I hoisted Mike up the mast for him to make the repair.

After lunch we set off again for Beaulieu. Both wind and sea state were as bad, if not worse, than the morning with gusts exceeding 35 knots! We finally tied up to the RSYC pontoon at about 17:00; a journey of two hours from Cowes. All ashore for showers and a change of clothes before beginning the “Pontoon Party”. In view of the weather conditions and that we now had some light rain, the party was held in the very comfortable saloon on “Jess”. We were joined by Terry Jones and Clive Sutherland and then Rob and Judy Rudham, all of whom had, sensibly, arrived by car! They missed an exhilarating sail. Several glasses of wine later we all adjourned to the restaurant in the RSYC club. We enjoyed a delicious meal of soup followed by lamb stew and a particularly tasty fruit crumble and more wine, of course. Judy Rudham had chosen the menu when the event was booked; good choice, Judy! As the soup course was being served, Terry managed to knock over his almost full glass of white wine! Luckily none was lost because it all went into his soup! After consuming it he said that he will probably put a glass of wine in his soup in the future and recommended we all do the same! Note: Must copy this to Jamie Oliver.

After yet another very enjoyable summer event with the WHCC - pity there was only ten of us - we returned to “Jess” and a restful night’s sleep.
The sail back to Gosport on Sunday was less fraught because we had the wind behind us and the sea state was moderate, mostly.

Richard Oliver.

See the pictures.

May 9th 2011- Jerry the Rigger - Adventures of a Travelling Rigger.

Jerry arrived with his apprentice to give us a very informative session on how to check and take care of your boats rigging. Although the primary source of power on a yacht the rigging is given scant attention compared to the engine. We frequently check the engine oil. coolant, oil pressure etc but hardly ever check the rigging. It is seen as 'low tech' stainless steel 'fit and forget' technology but it is the second most important part of the yacht - after the hull. Failure of the rigging may bring the mast down and jeopodise the safety of the crew and the entire vessel.

Jerry had several examples of failed hardware, both after the mast came down and before a serious catastrophe occurred. Most featured tiny hairline cracks which would be hidden from view. Jerry brought along a swaging machine which he demonstrated. He gave freely of his expertise and the audience were appreciatively interactive. You can download his rigging checklist here - landscape or portrait layout.

Takeaway points include:

- check your rigging regularly, get to know the feel of it as most failures are invisible but wire failures can be felt

- have your mast removed every other year and checked professionally

- invest in a first aid kit for your rigging, either a bulldog grip set (two sizes to match your rigging diameters) or a proprietary repair kit such as Sta-lok

- invest in a wire cutting system (heavy duty cutters with crossover blades) or better still hydraulic cutters such as Izumi - bolt croppers are next to useless on wire.

- always seize your shackles etc with a good quality wire, Jerry recommends Ormiston monel seizing wire.

- never use 'keyring' retainers, use the correct size split pin instead.

Jerry's contact details link

April 2011 Reunion in Kiel

As an experienced sailor, Arthur Light said little about his passage up the Channel and across the southern North Sea to the Elbe. There were more challenges on the journey east through the Kiel Canal, busy with substantial freighters travelling at speed; and in avoiding them in the immense locks got more attention. The reunion in Kiel is a regular event for sailors of the German and British navies, recalling past conflicts as far back as the Battle of Jutland in 1916 and the loss of a British destroyer which rammed one of Hipper’s cruisers sent out to decoy the British Grand Fleet. We were shown pictures of the extraordinary partially underground German naval memorial and museum, now dedicated to all naval personnel killed in action.

March 14th 2011- Wilts & Berks Canal Trust - Past, Present & Future
Brian Stovold, local Chairman and Director of the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, explained the history and importance of Wantage’s local canal from its beginnings to the present day. He also discussed current restoration work on the canal, future possibilities and how local volunteers can help. This canal runs through the Vale of the White Horse.
Members of WHCC were encouraged to also join the Trust (its only £5 p.a.) which will increase their profile and hence their influence.


In November, Paul Molyneaux gave us an insight into what is involved when organising a trip which doesn't start in the UK. He described a volcanic voyage in the Mediterranean taking in Stromboli and Etna. The crew were a mixed bunch from various backgrounds and sailing experience. One unusual bonus for skipper Paul was that there were 'no arrests'

October's meeting featured a double act with Graham Snook and his wife Kirsty describing their recent trip around Scotland's Western Isles aboard 'Pixy'. Also mentioned, but played down, was a close shave he had when taking photographs for Yachting Monthly, when the subject boat rammed the photographer's boat at speed.

September had James Stevens, Training Manager at the RYA, speaking at length about what the RYA's training programme entails on a Global basis. Although James is on the brink of retiring he has not lost his love of sailing and has recently bought his own yacht.
Modern navigation methods such as GPS and chart plotters were discussed by the audience during questions, and James observed wryly “people still hit rocks – but now they know which rocks they are”

Summer Gathering of Yachts 5th/6th June at Beaulieu River

A sunny day with a gentle easterly set the scene for four yachts and a dozen members and friends to gather at the Royal Southampton Yacht Club premises on the Beaulieu River. Skippers benefited from a flood tide, most having experienced A34 etc. also in full holiday season flow before that.

Mike and Barbara Coombes had arrived a day early to secure a mooring on the riverside pontoon to which Clive Sutherland and Simon Gillingham were able to raft up. The Miles had a swinging mooring to themselves, with the benefit though of the Coombes tender. We were glad to have Hugh and Annie Woodsend again with us, they of the superb private vineyard.

The party came together in the capacious cockpit of the Coombes’, Island Cutter, “Jess” and enjoyed drinks etc. from a variety of sources.

Dinner in the Clubhouse followed and was enjoyed by all except Clive who unhappily was indisposed and had to withdraw from the proceedings. He was however fit by next day to return to base.

Gins really is a delightful location with charming views across the river, up and down and out into the Solent. It was a worthy venue for our event and a real pleasure to visit again.

View a selection of photos from the weekend. Scroll to the bottom.

May 10th 2010.

Roger Shaw (Commodore of Henley Offshore Group) talked to us about his extensive experience as Skipper over some 20,000 nautical miles. Most of this distance seems to have been well away from our chilly shores. He readily admitted to such faux pas as filling the holding tank with diesel by mistake, poisoning rodent stowaways, and some close encounters during thick fog. He is clearly a very keen sailor and has a robust view of the obligations of skippers and crew, particularly those susceptable to sea sickness. He prefers to be sailing rather than looking after seasick or sunstruck crewmembers. Roger has also done the survival day at Warsash pool and highly recommends it.

April 12th 2010.

After a non contentious AGM which only took a record twenty minutes or so, we moved on to the main event of the evening namely Mike and Barbara Coombes' saga about collecting their new boat. Although they weren't particularly looking for a new boat they came across an Island Packet cruiser which was in very good condition. The yacht was located in Watchet in Somerset, and had to be sailed to Gosport. This should only have taken about four or five day but in the event took 11. Various mishaps along the way conspired against them - including being 'locked out' of Watchet due the the sill on a falling tide. They were forced back out into the Bristol Channel with very few safe havens available. The weather wasn't much help either - Neptunes Law kicked in, stating that the wind will alway blow from dead ahead.

March 8th 2010. Why buy when you can hire?

Chris Satchwell from Sunsail walked us through the Sunsail brochure and company history. He explained the charter process from the company's angle, going through the 'behind the scenes' activity leading up to every yacht charter. He also answered a less than favourable experience from one of our members (via the chairman), he will look into this in more detail. Our contact for Sunsail in the south is Alison.Russell and the head of Customer Services is Gareth Lancaster

February 8th 2010 Clive Sutherland - The Islands of the English Channel.

Clive Sutherland has explored many of the less popular islands on both sides of the English Channel. These range from the Disneyesque St Michael's Mount (and its French equivalent) to the wild and spectacular Island of Ushant. Tide calculations and meticulous passage planning are essential, particularly around Alderney where the notorious Race can reach 11 knots during Sprngs. Clive talk was supported by photographs and maps, and included many anecdotes. The best type of boat to visit these islands would seem to be a bilge keeler, or one which can take the ground without damage. Many islands on the French side feature deserted beaches and crystal clear water. See the images from the presentation.

WHCC Dinner on Monday 11th January 2010

A smaller gathering this year met at The Four Pillars Hotel in Abingdon. As now customary, diners were reminded of their earlier choices of menu, by Clive Sutherland’s brochure adorned with one of his yachting pictures. A very acceptable meal was capably served without undue delays. The venue was the hexagonal Conservatory of the Hotel, with a central pillar, rather tent-like in shape.

This presented rather a challenge to our Chairman, Bob Dyer when speaking briefly after the dinner. He spoke from the centre of the room and did his performance “in the round”.. He referred to various previous members of the Club including John and Elizabeth Spalding, now retired to Suffolk to whom he had spoken recently and who sent their greetings, and Dr Ian Johnston a member around 1990 who had been in touch. He mentioned John Magraw’s misfortune of breaking a bone in his foot, when reacting to an eventually unsuccessful attempt to steal his river launch from opposite his house in Pangbourne in broad daylight, and congratulated Poul Christensen on his appointment as Chairman of English Nature. The fact that this also concerns itself with inshore waters out to the 12 mile limit was noted for future reference by the yachtsmen present. Bob also referred to the eventful year just enjoyed by the Club – it’s first cancelled meeting in years because of snow, the coach trip to the Chatham Historic Dockyard and the new attractive printing of the latest Newsletter coupled with the attractive and ever-changing web-site;

The main diversion of the evening was a quiz prepared by the hard-working Clive Sutherland. Whilst this had a distinctly nautical flavour, there were several quite searching questions for non-yotties. For example, what animal first crossed the road in 1951*? Each couple had a copy of the two page quiz, results were totalled for each table then divided by the number at that table. The table with the Christensens and Drivers came out first. Clive presented a prize of a box of chocolates to Margaret and Poul later walked them round the room.

Warm thanks were conveyed to Clive for his imagination and trouble. The evening ended with a wide circulation of members made easier by the spacious room we were in.

*the zebra – as in crossing.

See the pictures from the dinner


November 9th 2009 John Owen The RNLI - from the inside.

John Owen from the RNLI (ably assisted by colleagues) gave us an insiders view of the RNLI supported by slides and some video footage. The history and development of lifeboat design was explained in some detail. The role of the RNLI is still expanding. Their skill and expertise is being used in various locations ranging from assisting in local (UK based) flood rescue, to Far Eastern flood relief in third World countries. The RNLI now have a 'state of the art' training centre in Poole which includes hotel quality accomodation. Members of the RNLI can make use of this accomodation if they wish and tours of the new facility can be arranged.

The second half of the evening comprised a refresher session going over the care and maintenance of lifejackets. A role playing simulation of a sinking was staged to underline the need for prior preparation in case an emergency occurs. A crew safety briefing before leaving is essential - its too late when you are up to your armpits in seawater. The local fundraising branch from Wantage was in attendance selling RNLI goods in time for Christmas and the whip round during the meeting raised £70.

October 12th 2009 Roger Brydges - Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

Roger Brydges from the MAIB came and gave us a very enlightening insight into the workings of this section of the Dept of Transport. He went over several interesting Marine Accidents supported by slides and video footage. His straightforward realistic approach was appreciated by the audience. Most accidents seem to be related to seamanship combined with weather and/or mechanical failure. Having all the facts presented at once belied the extensive research which goes into each case, sometimes involving long haul flights to far flung ports. Maritime 'black box' data recorders are becoming more widespread in the Mercantile Marine, which makes the job of the MAIB slightly easier - notwithstanding the fact that it may have to be retrieved from 6000m by ROV.

From a leisure sailor's standpoint several themes recurred: a handheld VHF is virtually essential, crotch straps on lifejackets greatly enhance their effectiveness, radar reflectors ought to be permanently rigged, photochromatic specticle lenses should not be used at night, the comfort of the LW weather forecast on Radio 4 should not be underestimated. The Leisure Craft Safety Digest which Roger gave out at the meeting can be obtained free of charge from the MAIB. Also email Roger if you wish to be added to their mailing list.

September 2009 Captain William Wells.
For our first meeting in September, Our speaker was Capt. William Wells who is a former Younger brother of Trinity House and senior river pilot in the Port of London. He arrived dressed for the occasion in full rig as a Captain and Master Mariner with four gold bars on his sleeve! But he is retired now after almost 49 years to enjoy his current passion for Public Speaking.

His talk was about the “History and Heritage of Trinity House” one of the world's renowned maritime organisations, which was formed in the late 15th century and bestowed a Royal Charter in 1514 by King Henry VIII.   Trinity House has been exerting its influence on the maritime world throughout the centuries but major changes were forced upon it in 1988. He discussed the role of Trinity House in today's international purview and finally, for the icing on the cake, he showed some photographs of the splendid interior of Trinity House headquarters in London and entertained us with some of the diverse activities that are now held there.
It was a lively talk and several questions were asked by the audience.

Clive Sutherland

September 2009 A Great day out at Chatham Royal Dockyard.

On Saturday, 5th September, a minibus-load of 15 club members and a couple of guests set off from Hanney for a day out at Chatham Dockyard.

Joan and I had been there before, several years ago, but felt we had then only scratched the surface, and there was plenty more to be seen; and so it turned out.

The travelling went well; we were ably driven by Mike and Barbara Coombes, in relays, with no holdups either way; and the weather was benign.

Once there, the party split up into small groups to follow their own interests, so we kept coming across familiar faces in our wanderings. Many of us met up at the rope-walk, where we were given a talk about how rope was, and is, made, from various fibres. Ropes are still being made on this antique machinery, dating back to the 19th century, but unfortunately not at weekends, so the winding of the rope-making plant had to be imagined. We felt that was a bit of a loss, having seen it before, as it was hard to visualise the complexity of everything rotating about everything else, without seeing it in action.

In the static museum display, we learned about that deadly day in the 17th century, when a Dutch fleet managed to make its way up the Medway, sack the dockyard, sink several ships, and make off with the flagship Royal Charles, the pride of the Navy.

We were part of a small group, which included John and Sue Greenford, and Bob Dyer, who took a jaunt in the paddle-steamer "Kingswear Castle". This is one of the Dart steamers built by Philip's yard in 1924, which uses a recycled engine dating from 1904. That engine is a two-cylinder compound, well open to view, and the boiler is coal-fired; the only coal-burning paddler left. She only does six knots or so, so had difficulty overtaking some of the racing dinghies on the river, that breezy day. We went about 5 miles down the river, and 5 back , in a cruise lasting an hour and a half. One thing that became clear, as we passed it on the river, was the immense size of the Chatham military establishment, now decommissioned: the old royal dockyard that we had come to visit, which seemed big enough in itself, occupied only a tiny corner.

Then it was time to get in the bus to return. There hadn't been time to crawl into the submarine, as I had intended, so that means yet another visit, some other day.

And to top it off, on return each of us was given a cash refund of £3, because every seat on the bus had unexpectedly been taken.

A well-organised outing, then, and a great success that was widely enjoyed.

George Huxtable.

See the pictures from the day