Here are the summaries of interesting items from previous years.


2006/7 Autumn Programme:

To cool everyone down after a hot summer we had a distinct chill to our autumn talks:

11th September: Furthest North with NavPac

The first meeting of the new season opened with a talk by our secretary John Magraw called 'Furthest North with NavPac'. The talk was well attended by our members returning this year and also by new people joining us for the first time.

For those who are not familiar with NavPac, John explained that it was a computer program and data for converting celestial measurements by sextant into the position of a voyaging yacht on the face of the earth. This program was constructed by, amongst others, our fellow member Catherine Hohenkirk of the Nautical Almanac office.

In high Latitudes using this program is an important procedure for finding where you are amidst ice and snow in all directions, and where the land looks just as white as the icebergs.

To give illustration to his talk, this John showed us photographs of his yachting adventures north of the Arctic Circle and his visits to Iceland and Spitzbergen.

The talk was most entertaining we would like to thank him for his presentation aided well by his assistants, Terry Jones and Graham Ansell.

9th October: Members evening.

Members enjoyed a programme of diverse contributions.

Bob Dyer gave his impressions of his first season sailing in the Solent area, having spent the last twenty years based at Maldon, Essex. He had much enjoyed the change and the convenience of access from home, but missed the relative ease of finding safe anchorages as on much of the East Coast.

Terry Jones reported on a voyage on the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s barque 'Tenacious' out of Plymouth cross Channel with a night anchored off St Vaast and another in Cherbourg, then over to the Isle of Wight and Southampton. Besides the interest and pleasure of being on the crew of a square rigger, he was especially impressed with how the disabled, including those in wheelchairs were fully involved and clearly enjoyed the experience.

Mike Coombs told of a trip from the Hamble across to Cherbourg and back, where the forecast F4s arrived as F6 and 7. In lumpy seas near The Needles they were part swamped by a breaking wave which threw him and his skipper across the cockpit, tore the clew out of the mainsail and lost them their dinghy.

John Magraw closed the evening on a lighter note, reporting on his success hosting a Barnacle Goose that had lost a foot and for whom he arranged for a metal one to be fitted.

13th November: Bob Shepton - Greenland Triumph & Tragedy.

Members were enthralled to hear the latest instalment of the adventures of their long standing friend, the Rev. Bob Shepton. In the summer of 2005 he had sailed up the west coast of Greenland with ice in various forms, far off and close to. As before, he and members of two successive crews had climbed various peaks, some apparently as the first ever to do so. Before turning south in the September, cutting a semi-circle in the still thin sheet ice, he believed by reaching 78 degrees, 32 minutes north, opposite Carin Pointhe had been the furthest north achieved a normal fibre glass yacht on that western coast which has no benefit from the Gulf Stream.

Having bade his crew farewell for their flight back to UK, he found a suitable creek in which to anchor and stay through the long northern winter. Before the ice formed he had the further hazard of having fallen in whilst transferring stores from the dinghy then of getting back on board again. With seven layers of clothing this proved to be a difficult but happily not ultimately impossible task.

His berth was a few miles only from an Inuit settlement. One day having collected stores, he set about the familiar task of refilling the tank which fed the cabin heater. Too late he realised he’d forgotten to fit the further funnel, his system required and the neat diesel was running over the already hot stove. Within minutes his yacht was burnt to the waterline. Everything was lost. The locals saw the blaze, came and collected him giving him every possible assistance needed, with clothing, hospitality and documentation to get back to Scotland.

Bob’s account was delivered with his customary good humour and professionalism of presentation. The postscript was that he already has his replacement yacht in commission.

10th December: Dag Pike - Challenges.

Dag (a life long nickname) was introduced as a multi-faceted man from the sea. His remarks well justified that description.

Upon leaving his South London school, he joined the Merchant Marine and was its youngest qualified skipper by the age of 29. A period as an Inspector in the RNLI particularly involved with the start of rigid inflatables, was followed by increasing involvement in power-boat racing. Dag became one of the most sought-after navigators. Success in Round Britain and other long distance races led to being navigator for the transatlantic exploits associated with Richard Branson, seeking to beat the long standing Blue Riband record set by the ocean liners.

On the first trip they had to abandon ship because the chines were opening up. That time they were rescued from their life rafts by a banana boat from the West Indies. Greeting them at the top of the ladder up the side of the ship was the steward in bow tie, with a tray of gins and tonic!

The next attempt also ended up with being rescued, this time directly from the power boat, by a west bound American container ship. Manouevring such a bulky vessel, that has no steerage way below 15 knots, was difficult for the ship’s crew and hairy for Dag and his friends. The first time, there was nothing to catch onto and their craft slipped under the ships stern where the immense screw was still turning, albeit very slowly. It seemed like a James Bond movie when the blades of the screw, began slowly to slice into the bows of their craft. Happily, they got free and were picked up at the second attempt..

All this was delivered in a calm and engaging manner, that completely belied the hazards being described.

8th January 2007: Annual Dinner.

42 members and friends enjoyed a very convivial dinner at The Dog-house Hotel, Frilford Heath. George Huxtable was thanked by the Chairman and toasted by all for his remarkable and very successful period of nearly twenty years as Programme Secretary, finishing at the AGM in 2006.


12th February: Captain William Wells “Life & times of a Ships Pilot”

Until retirement in 2003, when he was promoted to Flag Rank as Commodore, Capt Wells had been Senior River Pilot for the River Thames, He addressed us in uniform.

His talk ranged widely from the history of the role to the practicalities of the work – on the Thames, also in the Middle East and the Bahamas,.

Since at least Roman times, it has been acknowledged that the critical element for a ship’s pilot was “local knowledge". Nowadays exhaustive local knowledge is required before qualification. On the tidal Thames when he qualified in the 1970s, there were over 500 quays, jetties and piers for each of which, candidates needed to know the length, orientation, angles for approach and departure. The pass mark for a live two hour examination by three qualified Pilots is 98%. Only one re-sit is allowed.

He gave a wide perspective on what the pilot is confronted with, including : -

- how size is relative. The QM II at 67,000 tones is enormous, but in displacement it is dwarfed by the Jahre Viking, currently the world’s largest oil tanker, which displaces when laden, about 825,000 tons.

- how attitude appears to relate to status and ship’s size. The senior officer of the USS Nimitz, the American flagship, commanded by no less than a Vice Admiral, simply showed Capt. Wells round his bridge and departed remarking “Don’t bend my ship!”. Conversely the skipper/helmsman of the small family coaster can be resentful of his need to rely on the pilot’s superior local knowledge.

Capt Wells’ shared with us, a wealth of anecdote derived from the 8000 plus pilot assignments he had discharged in his career and of pictures, still and movie, all delivered a very pleasant manner and with well practised assurance.

A lively question & answer session followed which culminated in Capt Wells assuring us yotties that he would not run us down with the ships in his charge!

If you missed this meeting get a flavour here

See whats involved - test your radar plotting skills here.

Another interesting link for European Shipping movements provided by AIS - try this. You will need to request a login to access the system. Real time data is available if you subscribe.


12th March: Adrian Flanagan “ My Vertical Circumnavigation”

Most reports we have of hair-raising adventures are conveyed with still pictures taken when things have calmed down; not so with Adrian Flanagan. He is in process of going round the world as much as is possible on north/south routes – from England, south to Cape Horn, then north to the Bering Straits between Alaska and Siberia , returning to England along the north coast of Siberia, round Norway and across the North Sea,.

But his account was delivered through the medium of the web camera on board his yacht “Barrabas”. We saw the seas moving , and the spray actually arriving on the cockpit cover. We saw the rudder gland leaking and the tiller arm that had come adrift for the umpteenth time. The camera missed him being washed overboard in the Channel without a lifeline, grabbing a trailing line and then being washed back on board again

Adrian had set off from the Solent last October. Going down-Channel the same storms hit him as the then somewhat better known competitors in the Vendee Round the World race met in Biscay. He had the usual sequence of regular winds and the Doldrums going south through the Atlantic, enlivened by such surprises as a rat-a-tat tat on the cabin roof which proved to be flying fish and also opening the presents he had had aboard in anticipation of Christmas – all recorded.

He had a favourable experience of Cape Horn, but finding the mast had been strained, he was able to put into Honolulu, where his arrival was duly feted. Slow progress north towards eastern Siberia plus problems with the Russians over paperwork, ruled out completing his circumnavigation in 2006, so “Barrabas” was left in Nome, Alaska.

He plans to return there this June and be home again before September.

His exploit is also to raise funds for Oxford Childrens’ Hospital and the Save the Children Fund, for which a collection was taken which raised £129.26.


16th April:AGM

The AGM was conducted in a purposeful non contentious manner by Bob Dyer. Various minor changes to the club rules were agreed and the whole thing wound up within half an hour.

The South-west Shingles Yacht Club.

David Latchford, encouraged by like minded friends, founded the Club in 1983. Its intention was to alternatively celebrate or console, in a light-hearted way, noteworthy mishaps at sea, mostly in yachts.

The idea had arisen from an incident in his Moody, “Backchat”, when he and a friend were distracted by Genny trouble for'ard. His Auto-pilot was in charge and ignored the sideways set of the tide. A robust impact with the SW Shingles buoy near the Needles, caused “Backchat” to limp back to Poole with a substantial hole in its topside. David has been the Club’s Commodore ever since. His charming and easy assurance goes far to explaining why.

Membership of the Club is by invitation only - after an incident has occurred, which the Club deems to be qualifying. Our own Club member, Reg Minal was invited to join after his extended visit to his masthead in January 2006, when the bosun’s chair jammed.

Whilst having no interest in publicity or promotion, the invitation element has led to SW Shingles Yacht Club being ranked amongst the most exclusive yacht clubs in the world.

Mike Golding’s invitation arose from his deferral until daylight, of landfall in England (for the benefit of the media), after his circumnavigation. The wind then died and the tide actually took him onto nothing other than the Shingles Bank itself!
Various yachtsmen including Ben Ainslie qualified by disastrous contact with other yachts, in some cases leaving their prow sticking out of the other side of the other boat.

Stan Bullimore is also a member who could justify his membership for several reasons.
Ray Cocks capped his qualifying performance by accidentally removing the Royal Standard from the bows of “Britannia” at Cowes Week, his masthead was just too close.
Dag Pike who spoke to us last autumn is another member and from his remarks to us, one could guess why.
Many other nautical luminaries (both professional & recreational) were mentioned but sadly they cannot be named here.

The Club dines annually at Royal Thames, when conviviality is the keynote. Mike Peyton, the yachting cartoonist, prepares an illustration of the years mishaps of the new members, which is then signed by all present. David brought the 2006 edition with our own Reg at the masthead on it.

14th May: Peter Somner Exploring the Eastern Med: Archaeology & Gulets.

Peter Sommer was ill and unable to give us his planned talk about sailing in gulets, the traditional Turkish sailing merchantman in the eastern Med.

At very short notice, George Huxtable gave us his lecture on Tobias Meyer, the eighteenth century German inventor and mathematician who had contributed to the advancement of navigation. George had originally given the lecture in Marbach in Germany, Meyer’s birthplace, where there is a museum commemorating his achievements. These included the design of an improved surveying instrument which contributed to the development of the sextant. His own design proved in practice to be too cumbersome for ship-borne use.

Of greater benefit to mariners was his work in mathematics. He worked out a method of accurately predicting the position of the moon in the sky with reference to the sun and fixed stars. This work was completed and published by Maskelyne, the British Astronomer Royal and published annually as the Nautical Almanack. The method of deriving longitude from the angle between and the moon and the sun or fixed stars became general amongst merchant shipping until well into the 19th century. Until then the price of chronometers confined their use to the navy and the better equipped merchantmen such as those of the East India Company.

Clive Sutherland then demonstrated his modern-day realisation of Meyer’s surveying instrument and how he had made it.

16th June 2007: Summer Gathering Yarmouth I.O.W.

Unfortunately, this year we did not hold the 'Gathering' as the date clashed with the other committments of boat owning members.

Next year it will return with renewed vigour!


Monday 10th September 2007. "Sailing into Sticky Situations" - Eleanor Tims.

As befits the experienced sailor she is, Eleanor’s sticky situations were not generally what one thinks of as the risks of going to sea.

In her early days she suffered from the mal-practices of a fraudulent sailing school, she lost her share in a jointly owned yacht, when in her absence it was seriously damaged on rocks and the insurers declined liability. Later on, now sailing her own yacht she suffered at various times from crew members jumping ship at the most inconvenient times. For example, she and a woman friend were left on their own in the Azores to get the yacht back to England – and then the auto-pilot failed; but they made it, albeit over-tired and hungry.

Especially in Spanish and Portuguese harbours, she was often affronted by the harbour authorities insisting that when they wanted to talk to the skipper, they meant a man!

All these and many more were regaled with a background of the curiosities of sailing and landing in remote places including the Cape Verde Islands and The Gambia. – a lighthouse whose light was extinguished at midnight when relied upon to enable a night time entry, physical assault by a man masquerading as a harbour authority employee in Oporto, dinghy mishaps in unlit harbours and so on.

Underlying all these stories was an evident love of sailing, appetite for trying out different yachts and her sheer determination. As Pete Sowden said during the discussion at the end, despite what you might see as light-hearted hilarity, having sailed with Eleanor on a couple of her voyages, he had learnt a lot and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Eleanor closed her talk with an invitation to anyone to join her when she sets off south in November in her newest acquisition a substantial catamaran, now being fitted out at Southampton.


Monday 8th October 2007. "Cruising on the East Coast" - Bob Dyer

Bob gave us a comprehensive account of his experiences of sailing on the East Coast from Malden in Essex. He covered the area from Southwold (in the north) to the Medway in the south. He has sailed these waters for 20 years although now sails out of Langstone on the south coast.

Clearly, this trip down memory lane triggered many reminders of the pleasures and pitfalls of this unique sailing area. Ideally suited to bilge keelers or any vessel which can take the ground without damage, there are numerous creeks and hidden quiet anchorages to be found.

If you can locate the sometimes mythical 'swatchways' made famous by Maurice Griffiths then you and your vessel appear to be virtually sailing on the land! Although mostly low lying, the shoreside terrain still provides shelter as there is very little 'fetch' for waves to build up. So the wind maybe howling in the rigging but a quiet drink can be enjoyed. The tidal range is modest (three to four metres) so even if you take the mud during the night it is unlikely to wake you!


Monday 12th November 2007. Neville Smart "Hamble to Staines"

Neville Smart gave us an interesting account of a 'reverse delivery' trip from the River Hamble back to his home in Staines. His newly purchased 40 foot motor cruiser was 'sailed' east along the south coast rather than the somewhat easier and quicker route by road. As a newcomer to all things nautical this proved to be a very steep learning curve for him. Although experienced in the air as a early retired commercial pilot he discovered that the surface navigation involved was far more complicated than he had expected. Neville took the very wise precaution of hiring a professional skipper for the trip which was to be completed within a weekend! This move turned out to be an ideal arrangement as the skipper was very familiar with the River Thames' unique navigational challenges. Neville said he learned a lot and in fact did most of the necessary tasks under the watchful encouragement of his skipper. The boat was successfully delivered to the mooring at the bottom of Neville's garden in Staines. He has had to install some high mooring poles to prevent the boat drifting onto his lawn during floods and stranding itself!

Neville isn't a total novice however, having completed some elementary RYA courses - mainly in the Mediterranean. His experiences with RYA endorsed courses left him somewhat surprised at the variation of quality of RYA sailing schools. This prompted quite a bit of discussion among those present. The conclusion seemed to be that the RYA, although an umbrella organisation for leisure based nautical training, cannot monitor individual courses. The principal of the establishment involved has the main responsibility for ensuring consistancy & quality of training.

Monday 10th December 2007. Members Evening

This annual roundup of members recent experiences delivered the usual high standard - ranging from anecdotes to professionally produced video presentations.

Hugh Woodsend showed a video log of the Summer Gathering 2006, where the sun seemed to shine all weekend. Several members were recognisable in spite of some dubious headgear and all seemed to have a drink in their hand!

Mike Coombes shared his experiences and frustrations of yacht brokers with us, highlighting the huge variation of customer service levels! His treatment by some brokers was patronising and condescending, given that he had money 'on the hip' - he wasn't 'just looking'. By contrast others were exceptionally good, although the good ones seemed fewer!

Mike Roberts had a salutary image sequence of the foundering of a yacht in Fishguard harbour during a gale. The unfortunate yacht 'chewed' through its mooring warps and was blown onto a rocky lee shore. Within a very short time it was beyond salvage. An 'Alderney mooring chain' was recommended by several members. This short piece of chain is an essential item for several exposed 'harbours' such as Fishguard and Alderney to replace the section of warp between the buoy and the yacht's strong point.

Paul Molyneaux recounted the qualificational hoops he had to jump through to gain the trust of the JSASTC before they would let him skipper one of their expensive Nicholson 55 footers. He eventually took “Chaser” around the Canaries with almost all novice sailors on board. With Paul luxuriously ensconced in the Skippers cabin, the rest of the crew hot bunked whilst at sea. They called at all seven islands clocking up 655nm, visiting 11 ports, incorporating 4 overnight passages. From Paul's understated jocular account of the trip it was clear that a good time was had by all.

Monday 14th January 2008.Annual Dinner

We had a good attendance for the Annual Dinner with 48 members enjoying a varied selection from the Bear & Ragged Staff's menu. There are a few fuzzy pictures to illustrate the event. Apologies if I haven't got your 'best side'. Several 'prizes' were distributed based on whether your chair had a magic sticker underneath it. Manufacturers labels didn't count!

Monday 11th February 2008. Jo Mooring-Aldridge “One Woman and her Dog”
Jo Mooring Aldridge gave us an amusing insight into cruising with a dog. Many of us have sailed boats with dogs on board but probably not single-handed! Jo came fully prepared with JoJo (her dog) along with a selection of essential equipment needed to ensure the dog stayed happy and safe. During Jo's talk JoJo seemed quite content mooching between the chairs of the audience accepting any attention going. Jo's boat 'Sulali' has graced many an issue of Practical Boat Owner and Yachting Monthly. Jo sails her extensively around the Solent & South Coast including the Channel Islands. The dog JoJo remained the star of the show however and Jo regaled us with anecdotes of JoJo's antics. Apparently, if any boat appears alongside Sulali, JoJo assumes she is being taken ashore and immediately jumps ship! Alternatively, she may decide to stay ashore and at the critical moment of leaving a berth will jump back onto the pontoon.

Monday 10th March 2008. Tom & Chris Eaves “Cruising in the Baltic”

Tom Eaves MRCC MRIN (assisted by his wife Chris) showed us exactly what sailing and navigating in the Baltic involved. He had a comprehensive portfolio of charts for us to look at which demonstrated just how challenging the navigation can be. The archipeligo of islands consists of hundreds (if not thousands) of islands all of which are hard rocks with very little forgiving sand or mud. The consequences of making contact with these rocks was not lost on anyone present. Tom admitted to hitting them on at least three occasions but fortunately no serious damage was sustained.

Tom's photo slide show also underlined just how little wind there is in the Baltic region. Plenty of fuel should be carried aboard as the sailing opportunities are so limited - not just by lack of wind but some of the passages between islands are a few metres wide and sailing through them would be a risky enterprise. The whole area seemed to be virtually undiscovered by British yachts - Tom & Chris rarely saw any ensigns either red or blue! There are so many anchorages overcrowding is never a problem - such a contrast to the south coast of UK.

Monday 7th April 2008. Annual General Meeting.

The evening started with our AGM. Reports given covered the Club’s sound financial position and the revised Marketing Plan, being developed by the committee. A number of useful suggestions were made for its improvement. The previous officers and committee were re-elected, except for Mike Roberts who was unable to offer himself for re-election. Richard Oliver was taking over as Programme Secretary.

John Magraw followed this with an account of Fred Rebell’s solo voyage across the Pacific in 1932 from Australia to California. This was accomplished in a Sydney Harbour skiff, a substantially open boat, gaff rigged, with little apparent suitability for long distant voyaging – apart from an inherently sea-worthy hull. He navigated with a home made sextant and a pair of wrist watches. He missed New Zealand passing too far north, but then contrived to call at Samoa, Fiji, Christmas Island and Honolulu. The US authorities were unimpressed with his home-made passport and he spent some months in custody as an illegal immigrant. Fellow yachtsman Harry Pigeon managed to secure his release and he was eventually put on a ship to Europe on his way to his native Latvia.

Monday 12th May 2008. Clive Sutherland will explain "The Global Positioning System (GPS)".

Clive gave us all a comprehensive introduction on how the Global Positioning System works. Using overheads & powerpoint presentations he explained the theory behind this incredibly useful system. As GPS receivers become ever smaller it is hard to believe how much 'number crunching' goes on inside these tiny units. Clive also mentioned the inherent inaccuracies in the system mainly caused by imperfect geodetic data. It is crucial to ensure that your GPS and chart are referenced to the same geodetic data survey - otherwise errors can easily be 1km or more!


2008/9 Autumn Programme :

September 8th 2008.

East Coast Exploration – from the Thames to the Deben.

Poul Christensen delivered a very interesting and humorous talk on "East Coast Exploration" which included incidentals as transiting the River Thames from Eynsham to its estuary before beginning the actual cruise. This involves a 200' descent to sea level with 37 locks.
Poul and his 'First mate' sail their Trapper 501 "Alkanet" which they share with family members. When not overwintering on their farm, "Alkanet" is kept at Wareham near Poole.
Poul's account of a 'gunk holing' voyage from the Thames to the Deben was supported by many good photographs and amusing anecdotes. Where most of us avoid the perils of mud, Poul positively enjoys it, describing it as 'primeval'! In any event mud featured prominently in their cruise around the east coast, including an anxious passage across the notorious Maplin Sands where the echo sounder read zero metres for over a mile!

Poul pointed out that the latest chartlets featuring channel changes are updated on a regular basis and can be downloaded, including aerial photographs.

October 13th 2008.

Sailing to and in the Caribbean.

“Sailing to and amongst the beauties of the Caribbean” – John Howard-Davies

It all started with a visit to the Earls Court Boat Show, and a not entirely planned purchase of an American Island Packet 38 which John named 'Morwen'

Tackling the Atlantic crossing from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria to the West Indies followed naturally. He showed us pictures of 200 odd craft gathered in harbour for the crossing facilitated by Yachting Monthly. After the first day none were sighted again, though all made it across.18 days of sailing before the stiff reliable north east trades brought landfall at Antigua

Out if the hurricane season sailing in the Caribbean is normally so pleasant. Winds up to even force 7 in those temperatures are no discomfort. Stronger winds do occur so a weather eye on forecasts and symptoms was only prudent. As for really heavy weather – avoid it!

John’s base is in Trinidad where his yacht is laid up and thoroughly battened down at least for the duration of the hurricane season.

The delight however of calling at one island of the Lesser Antilles after another, from say Grenada to Antigua and beyond, was something he recommended all yachtsmen should experience. The passages between islands are relatively short (mostly no more than tens of miles), and there is great variety. All are of outstanding beauty with idyllic beaches, backed sometimes by towering extinct volcanoes. It is a pleasure that draws John and his friends back year after year – including directly after speaking to us.

Most islands have separate nationalities, so the flag locker needs to be well stocked and the niceties of different administrations need to be observed, generally however in the relaxed local attitude the formalities are taken care of without fuss.

John repeatedly encouraged those present to 'just sell up and head for the Caribbean - don't wait - do it now!'

November 10th 2008

Rescuing Gypsy Moth IV and bringing her back to England.

John Jeffrey gave us a very entertaining talk on his involvement in bringing Gypsy Moth back to England. John's first view of the boat when he arrived in Rangiroa was on of her lying on her starboard side well out of the water. A sight which filled him with dismay. Incredibly she wasn't smashed to pieces by the surf and had been spun round to face the way she had come. Luckily in that area the tidal range is very small which enabled salvage work to be carried out even though working conditions were somewhat wet most of the time. Gypsy Moth IV was obviously very stoutly built as during the salvage by a French team she was dragged bodily back into the water and towed to a yard for repairs.

The return trip back to the UK comprised several distinct 'legs' which almost always involved a crew change of young people. Various adventures along the way demonstrated the skipper and crews' resourcefulness. It was clear that John has a great affection for his young crews and I suspect he would do it all again should it become necessary.

December 8th 2008 Members Evening.

David Hockley and Diane McLaren showed us the benefits of the 'Aerorig'. Using graphics and video presentations they explained the advantages of this revolutionary sail plan. Set on a carbon fibre unstayed mast the whole rig can rotate 360 degrees. They never alter the jib sheet (which is self tacking) and violent accidental gybes are tamed by the reverse damping action of the foresail preventing the main from crashing across the cockpit. The rig leaves the deck uncluttered as all control lines stay at the base of the mast. As a cruising arrangement it begs the question why they were not more popular and why they are no longer manufactured.

Judy Rudham gave us her recommendations on how to encourage ones spouse (usually female) to try sailing and having got her onboard how to ensure she is not put off and returns for the next trip. These pointers she called 'Nots' - i.e. what not to do - things which would certainly put off most reluctant wives and girlfriends.

Finally, Judy had brought her trusty Remoska all-in-one cooking pot to show us. This is a long established device which is mains powered and is extremely versatile. Unfortunately, Judy didn't bring any samples of its contents for us to try at the mid session interval!

Barbara Coombes enthused about a recent training trip on 'Golden Vanity' - a 100 year old gaff cutter based in Brixham. Under the competent care of her waif like skipper Georgina, both Barbara and Mike enjoyed a week of 'interesting' sailing. Golden Vanity is the smallest of the gaff cutters and was commissioned by a maritime artist to enable him to paint authentic nautical scenes. The addition of an engine since she was built meant the propshaft was not aligned with the centre of the boat which made manoevring very aukward. Clearly a boat with character and Barbara recommended it as a novel approach to further anyones sailing experience.

Paul Moyneaux embarked on a chilly voyage from Greenland with a dozen other brave souls on a former Chay Blyth Challenge 67 footer. Under the auspices of the Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre, the trip from Kangaamuit on the west coast of Greenland via Maniitsoq and Poole to Gosport was not your average summer cruise. The appropriately named skipper Windy Gale had to contend with icebergs, drunken Finns driving power boats at night, and dragging anchors. The trip was sponsored by BT before the credit crunch kicked in and I'm sure the BT participants were glad to be out of their offices!

Saturday 7th June 2008 - Summer gathering Royal Southampton Yacht Club.

The summer gathering at Gins Farm, the Royal Southampton Yacht Club’s Beaulieu River Clubhouse and moorings, was blessed with perfect weather.

Barbara and I sailed Swift from Gosport on Friday afternoon and had a decent run – only three tacks needed to make the river entrance and with the tide going the same way – most unusual. After a nice meal and a couple of drinks aboard Swift we had a short walk around the lovely salt marsh of the Lower Beaulieu River before retiring for the night.

Saturday morning we had to move from the hammerhead outside the Clubhouse and moor alongside the new pontoon the RSYC has just installed. Much nicer than the previous mid river pile moorings.

I got on with a few jobs on Swift during the morning, fitting a heat shield on the exhaust of the newly fitted Webasto heating system. This, and a full test and leak check of the complete installation took most of the morning. The weather was so warm we certainly did not need three radiators on full!

Tim and Mel Green with their children Oliver and Amelia arrived at about 4 p.m. The trusty dinghy ferried them aboard and then took Tim and the kids fishing. While trolling the lower river we saw Walkabout enter the channel with Mike Hill and Paul Morgan Owen on board. Tim also met a sailing chum, Mike Dewar with his Warrior 35.

Fishing over – unsuccessfully I’m afraid – we washed and changed for the evening. The WHCC party had pre-dinner drinks and nibbles aboard Swift before taking several trips in the inflatable to the Clubhouse. The Royal Southampton had given us a nice table by a window with complimentary wine. As well as Bob, Terry and Clive, Richard and Vannesa Oliver drove to the gathering and joined the party.

The food was good and the RSYC members friendly and welcoming. Their Commodore gave a small speech to which Bob Dyer responded – some merriment as Bob told them about the WHCC £10 annual sub!

Terry and Clive had secured berths on Walkabout and so were saved the drive home. The dinghy made the return trips with some quite mellow passengers!

The following morning the wind and tide were just right for the return to Gosport – we absolutely flew up the Solent with the Greens as crew – touching 8.5 knots once or twice with the help of the tide. We had the toe rail under a couple of times until the cockpit was arranged to give easier access to the mainsheet. It was the first time we had had six aboard and it required a little adjustment of seating.

Swift is a GibSea 96 – a fairly shallow hulled beamy cruiser of 33 feet overall. Despite this she performed very well and gave us an exhilarating sail.

Back in Gosport at Portsmouth Offshore Group’s Marina we put Swift to bed and collected the Green’s car from Gins Farm. It was a lovely evening and the perfect end to a great weekend.

Mike Coombes




RYA Muster 18/19 October 2008 - Cowes.

There are cynics out there who view RYA training as no replacement for experience and that many Yachtmasters are still to be given a wide berth in spite of their elaborately certificated qualifications. Therefore the concept of a cosseted weekend for a members' 'Muster' could well have presented a rather cliquey, regimented 'get together' swarming with Health & Safety do-gooders, well meaning but 'basic' training and providing an ideal opportunity for the various sponsors to swoop on a captive audience already suppressed by the 'credit crunch.'

Not so.

Mike & Barbara Coombes once again very kindly offered four berths for the Green family aboard 'Swift' to join them at the Muster to which they attended last year. These events are held twice a year and primarily through not owning a vessel to get us there, I had not previously considered going along. We have had some great times sailing with Mike & Barbara and the offer of a weekend away with them was enough on its own for us to jump at the opportunity. Amelia was not well so Mel stayed at home with her and poor Barbara had to contend with three chaps as I went just with Ollie (12). It was a race to get to 'Swift' on the Friday night but with the fading light and bad traffic only M & B were there to bring her into an overnight berth in the marina for us to get a good night's kip and make an early start to be at Cowes by 09:00. My guilt at arriving late was only worsened by Mike taking a fall in the low tide silt launching the tender to go out to the swing mooring - a little mud goes a long way on a boat.

Saturday 05:30. Not exactly bright eyed and bushy tailed but we soon slipped from our berth at The Portsmouth Offshore Group and joined - well, no-one actually - out of Portsmouth Harbour and around Gilkicker towards Cowes. A mild 2/3 on the nose (both Beaufort and degrees centigrade!) but clear skies and a good forecast. A total of 24 boats from as far as Swale Marina on the East Coast gathered at Cowes Yacht haven for the weekend. We signed on at 09:00 and were all given a wide array of activities to keep ourselves busy during the day. Immediately you could tell that they knew what they were doing. There were little or no queues all weekend, organisers on every corner and all about as helpful and accommodating as you could imagine. Every activity that I wished to take advantage of, Ollie was treated with equal importance. There was simply too much to do and not enough time to do it justice. We clearly weren't alone in finding that since we saw many of the volunteer organisers working well beyond their allotted slots and well into Sunday morning too. It was all really relaxed and the weather was uncharacteristically warm,dry and sunny. Perfect!

Sorting out fenders

Ollie at the helm of the Sealine

I tended to shadow Ollie for the day on Saturday so that he could get the maximum from it. This meant that we did not concentrate on the numerous 'Master classes' available. These included a practical 'whipping and splicing' class put on by Aladdin's cave and also a session on 'abandoning ship' from Ocean Safety and the RNLI. While Mike & Barbara were taking free advice from the 'Green Blue' on the environmental efficiency of 'Swift' Ollie and I underwent the RYA Powerboat Level 1 course. The four of us benefited greatly from a 'marina yacht handling' which in a School boat gives you the time to test yourself in a variety of different conditions when normally you would be hoping for the easiest berth so you could get moored before closing time (or is it just me?) Interesting that Ollie seemed to come out of that on top - maybe we adults are all beyond listening?!

The highlight of Ollie's day would be the helming of the 860 BHP Sealine Powerboat (quite palatial but no gin in sight). Navigating through the Solent on a busy weekend day was described by our instructor as somewhat akin to threading a shopping trolley through a supermarket full of geriatrics! A real treat for me to experience - let alone Ollie at his age. The sails are of course so much slower out on the water but one key point made was that the boat's wake is so much more intrusive on other vessels unless the Sealine is totally up on the plane at above 12 knots. And I just thought they were trying to be rude. So, so interesting to feel the water from ' the dark side' of motorboating and not sailing; where we cuss them for their lack of courtesy and many other things!

The day was due to round off for us two with a trip out on a keelboat with instructor laid on specifically to take the juniors out. The daylight had beaten us but at least we have something to look forward to for next time. The day's events concluded with an evening at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club with buffet meal, drinks and disco afterwards. Great atmosphere and of course so much in common with all the other guests. There was a generously sponsored raffle in which Ollie rounded his day off by winning a superb Alpine Stereo Media Centre - all he needs now is the boat to go around it!

Huge thanks to M & B for taking us to this event. It was a great surprise how well it was laid on by the RYA and packed with useful marine related activities many of which we never see the opportunity of trying/learning or being involved in. The event was friendly, relaxed, informative, good value, slickly organised and would be enjoyed by anyone from Ollie to the 'ancient mariner'. It will definitely feature on our calendar for next year.

Tim Green

Round the Island Race 2009 Mike Coombes

Barbara had entered Swift in this year’s “Round the Island Race”. Now Swift was at the brokers waiting for her next owner and her entry was changed to “Jess” our new boat.

Although racing is in our blood and has been a major part of our lives before we started sailing in 2002 we had never been in a Yacht Race and neither had our crew Maureen and Jackie. We were all yacht racing virgins!

Our day started at 6 am when we breakfasted in Haslar Marina. We slipped out at 6.45 am and motor sailed in very light winds to the start. Our time was 9 am. We stopped the engine at 8.55 and failed to make any forward progress as the wind had completely gone!

Every other craft in view was in the same situation. After a while the tide took us over the start line – about 20 minutes late!

After about an hour the wind picked up enough to push Jess along. She is a long keeled heavy cruiser and could not match many boats in the light winds. We tacked down to the Hurst Narrows, a bit close to other competitors on occasion but as it was a race it was to be expected. In fact we tacked past the same set of boats several times, greetings (and offers of cups of tea) being passed back and forth.

The sea got a bit lumpy in the Needles Channel and fortunately the wind picked up a bit more. The Needles were successfully rounded and we set off on a good broad reach for St Catherine’s Point and Lighthouse. Jess was now on a better point of sailing for we stopped losing ground.

Then the spinnakers and cruising chutes came out! These made a big difference to the speed of those so equipped and the multi-coloured ones moved ahead. After the Southernmost point of the island the direction changed and a wind shift allowed us to put a preventer on the boom and goose wing for a dead run. We held our own with most other entries on this leg – those we could see anyway.
The wind was picking up – just what Jess needed. We hardened up and started making progress down the East side of the Island. We picked up good speed – leaving several other yachts we had been in company with most of the event so far. Barbara had planned to go outside No Mans Land Fort but we were going so well she decided to cut the corner to avoid any possible wind shadow behind the Fort and hopefully avoid the shallow Ryde Sands.

We now found the wind was on the nose and many tacks were required to get us over the line. We finished in close company with a boat we had last seen in the Needles Channel. They beat us by a length!

We had taken 12 hours 45 minutes to complete the course. We were a bit subdued as not many boats were behind us. We motored back to Gosport and licked our wounds.

The following day Barbara checked the results. On corrected time we had finished 688th of 1770 entries so it wasn’t so bad after all. We had forgotten that over 1500 boats had started before us, some of them by two hours.

We have no desire to do it again it Jess – it was hard work.

Mike & Barbara Coombes

Barbara and I purchased an Island Packet 350 in May. The yacht was in the Harbour at Watchet in Somerset – 400 miles from our mooring in Gosport. The estimated time for delivery was four to five days. Due to unexpected severe weather it took eleven!

Full story at the December Club Night.

Summer Gathering 2009.

The weekend for the WHCC summer gathering brought perfect weather, warm sunshine and good sailing winds.

Clive Sutherland’s Moody “Balki” set sail from Kemps Marina at around 10am on Saturday, with Terry Jones and Richard Oliver on board as crew. We motor-sailed down the Itchen and then tacked down Southampton water into the Solent. We spent the next few hours sailing and enjoying the sun and the good breeze before going into Cowes and onto the pontoon in Cowes Yacht Haven.

“Jess”, Mike Coombes’ new Island Packet cutter, was moored just ahead of us, as can be seen from the photographs in the gallery. Coincidentally, there were several other Island Packet yachts near to us in the marina as they were having an owner’s club event. The crew of “Balki” were very impressed by one young woman from an IP yacht who came over to give us a closer look at her club t-shirt!

We were all invited onto “Jess” for some wine and nibbles before going ashore to get ready for the main event.

After a short walk from the marina through Cowes high street we arrived at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club. Situated on a hill overlooking Cowes entrance we all enjoyed the views over the Solent before returning to the bar for drinks.

The RC had reserved the Captains Room, which seats 12 very comfortably and has views over the Solent, for the exclusive use of the WHCC, where we were served a truly excellent 3 course dinner.

Sunday morning was a busy time for Mike. Not only did he go up his own mast to adjust a lazy jack fitting, but was also hoisted up “Balki’s” mast to rig the flag halyards.

After a leisurely breakfast we all sailed back to our respective home ports. It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend.

But, where was Bob? He had decided to do the Round the Island race three weeks early! No doubt he will explain all shortly.

RYA Spring Muster 2009

Half of the Green family (me and my son) attended the RYA Autumn Muster last year kind courtesy of Mike & Barbara Coombs who invited us to join them aboard ‘Swift.’ Millie (10) had been ill so Mel (Mum – not allowed to put age!) stayed at home and Ollie (12) went on our own. Having had such a superb weekend with so many things sailing, marine, nautical etc. etc. I was really keen to get all the Greens there to the Spring Muster if we could.

When it transpired that Mike & Barbara had to squeeze another Caribbean holiday in over the weekend of the Muster it seemed that we would have to wait for another time. However not wanting us to miss the weekend Mike & Barbara said ‘take Swift without us’ – and we jumped at their generous offer. It subsequently transpired to be ‘Swift’s’ last outing under their ownership as we delivered her back to the broker’s yard to make way for the soon to arrive Island Packet ‘Jess.’

We managed to get down to the boat on the Friday afternoon and had a superb sail from Gosport to Cowes on a 5 occasional 6 broad reach arriving in time for the get together drink at Cowes Yacht Haven. We found a nice little restaurant to have a bite to eat and then back to Swift for what we thought would be a good night’s sleep. A massive mobo had taken the wrong berth in the marina putting us close to the entrance in a South Easterly blowing 4/5 onto us all night off the Medina. With a fair amount of late night traffic and ferries arriving not only did we get an unwelcome rocking to sleep but the lines were so noisy on the long finger pontoons. Space was tight the following night so we were unable to improve on our berth. We were determined to get a better night’s sleep – I tried changing the lines to quieten down the creaking but to no avail.

TIP – At 8pm I was searching for inspiration and I found it in sponge backed pan scrubs. Wedged between the fairlead and the line, the tension was taken away from the boat and as the wind had veered slightly all was much better. Silence in my berth at last – I was chuffed!

The main activities of the weekend are so varied that from oik to octogenarian there would have been too much to do. We had a hearty breakfast but once everyone else was up. I can’t resist getting up early, going to have a walkabout and then reading a few pages of my book over a strong coffee while the marina wakes up. Isn’t it great being on the water?

We spent the morning practising manoeuvring in the marina with a Hamble School of Sailing boat. We also went out in the Medina and did some ferry gliding and picking up pontoons in a fresh breeze. Ollie and I attended a really informative talk from both the RNLI plus an excellent demo from Ocean Safety on the latest life rafts and tips on how to use them.

After a bite of lunch we went out on the Sealine launch – a chance for all of us to helm threading between the sails in the Solent – avoiding OAPs with their supermarket trolleys – as it is described.

The kids and I went out on the Youth RIB and practised buoy pick – ups in a strong tide following which Millie and I went wake crossing between one of the largest container ships followed by a Red Funnel ferry. What a thrill and we got soaked. Ollie got a real thrill getting it up on the plane and then flat out at the controls. What a day!

A great meal and disco in the evening and then a really interesting ‘flare’ demo and MOB exercise from the RNLI on the Sunday morning. As I say there is just too much to do and whether you go for the social get together or to brush up/hone skills this is a rare opportunity to try many ways of enjoying the water or increasing your safety on it. I still think that I need to go on several more of these purely to have attended all the master classes on offer.

Another huge thank you to Mike and Barbara for making it happen.

Mike Shrives - Man overboard and helicopter rescue.

Mike is an RYA Yachtmaster instructor/examiner and former helicopter pilot who knows first hand the ins and outs of the rescue servces. His talk was very interesting and supported by images and anecdotes.

The main 'takeaway points' were :

1. Its more likely for the most experienced yachtsman to fall overboard.

2. Wear a lifejacket unless it is safe to take it off.

3. Remember to do a safety briefing for all crew (its too late when someone is overboard see 1 above)

4. Each recovery situation is different. Practice the various procedures for your boat and adapt as necessary. There is no single 'right way'.

5. Deploy the liferaft to assist the casuality to get back on board if they have difficulty climbing.

6. Hypothermia may set in after just 7 minutes in winter or 14 minutes in summer.

7. The maximum helicopter range is about 200 miles so if you're a long way offshore you are limited to fixed wing assistance (dropped liferafts etc)

8. If you would like to practice hi line rescue with the helicopter in your boat you can contact the local coastguard centre and ask them. They may have pilots who need the hours.

9. Be aware the the French authorities can and are checking for out-of-date flares and the skipper may be fined!


9th March 2009 Kathy Mansfield on “The Glorious Boats of William Fife”.

William Fife was the third of that name operating from Fairlie on the Clyde. He was one of the leading designers of yachts from the 1890s until the inter-war period. His yachts had a reputation for high quality construction as well as for the effectiveness and artistry of his designs.

Fife was particularly successful with yachts built to the metre formulas of the International Rule from 1906. Early in her talk Kathy introduced us to the International Rule formulas. These took account of waterline length (but not length overall), beam, girth, sail area and freeboard. The aim was to achieve relative comparability for racing different designs of yachts whilst providing scope for innovation. Metre class yachts often had generous overhangs for and aft, providing a longer deck for staying high masts, which suited the change then taking place from gaff rigs to Bermudan.

A number of metre formulas were set ranging up to 12 metre. Yachts of this class would typically be 65 to 75 feet long with masts of 85 feet. Other classes which were built in quantity were 6 metre and 8 metre.

There are thought to be about 100 Fife yachts still afloat in Europe, the USA and Australia. About 50 are still being actively sailed. Sailing these yachts emphasises how times have changed. No winches hence the large crews on 12 metre yachts. No stanchions or guard rails only toe rails – and life jackets? Forget it! Most however now have modern fabric sails.

Kathy showed us a wealth of fine action pictures of Fife yachts in all main metre classes. These are sailed at Cowes and other regattas and especially at the annual Fife Regatta held on the Clyde. In 2008, 22 Fife yachts attended, the oldest being from 1894 and the largest “Altair” being a schooner of 130 feet overall.

January 12th Club Dinner.

Some thirty members and guests enjoyed their Annual Dinner at The Bear & Ragged Staff in Cumnor.

In brief remarks the Chairman expressed the committee’s pleasure at five new members having joined since September, one of whom, Dave Townsend was present. He also reported on contact with Reg Minal (now set up in Spain), with Pat Lurcook with news of Keith who had suffered a stroke two years ago.
and through the Christensens with John and Elizabeth Spalding (now living in Woodbridge Suffolk) .

Meanwhile Judy Rudham was collecting entries for the Limerick prize draw. Two prizes were won and the benefit to the jollity of the occasion from the number and artistic merit of the contributions was evident. Can one do more than quote two of the more creditable ones just for the record?

A chap from our club climbed his mast
And up it got stuck good and fast
There came to his aid
A whole Fire Brigade,
Para-medics completed the cast
-from Terry Jones

The skipper stood on the heaving deck
He ordered the helm a-lee
He gave a cough
His leg fell off
And floated in the sea
-from Mike Coombes

Some of those we are not quoting nearly brought the house down, but those were only for the ears of those present