we've come back from our 4th trip, now the boat is based in Scotland. The scenery is stunning, and sailing challenging at times. The wildlife has been more than we hoped for. Only the weather has been mixed - with cold and wet, warm sunshine, stong winds and fog - all inone week.
The last few years have been a steep learning curve for all of us involved with the website, whether users or developers. The initial redevelopment was thanks to the tenacity of Chris Smith backed by rear commodore membership and marketing Kate Newman. Chris brought a huge amount of IT knowledge to the project and had the foresight to champion Drupal and CiviCRM - two open source systems (ie free). This has meant the Club has a website delivering a high level of functionality at a fraction of the cost of a bespoke system.
Earlier in the week the forecast seemed good for an expedition to France so I took off the Dutch Charts and put back on the French ones. Sadly the weather forecast turned unpredictable with winds in the North on Monday so I wimped out and decided to go east on the UK side.
So Saturday at dawn saw Ronhilda leave Chichester at dawn (the lock keeper saying we were the only boat to leave on his watch) and creep over the bar with less than 1.8m at LW. Wind was from the NW so we lowered the keel, hoisted full main and solent jib and set off.
With the last lap of this years’ cruise now in sight we arrived at the Crinan Canal entrance at about 13.15 on the 7th August and in company with a couple of other yachts hung around outside the sea lock for a while waiting to be called in. Nothing much happened until it transpired that a junior staff member was running the lock and was not sure how to get us all in and in what order. Eventually all came right and we locked in, paid our dues and made ready for the transit. After chatting to the now complete and ever friendly staff it transpired that due to the lack of rain over this summer and last summer there was a shortage of water to keep the canal full. Scotland? No rain? Surely not!
The Fastnet race started on the 11th August and the LSC is represented by a number of members. Charles Whittam has again entered Juno inclass 4 with Mark Blunden and Simon Hughes in the crew. See http://littleshipclub.co.uk/content/round-rock-again-part-1. Sally Pearce, an ex member is also crewing onJuno. Don Shackly is crewing on Puma Logic in Class 2.
I have decided that I am too old for 4 or 5 days of sleeping at a 30 degree angle but I went to Cowes to see the start yesterday. Unfortunately the majority of the fleet stated at the mainland end of the line so it was difficult to see what was happening. However the big VPLP 131 Trimaran, Spindrift 2, sailing to a whopping TCF of 2.232 crossed the start close to the Island shore.
We set off southwards from Helmsdale on the west side of the Moray Firth on the 21st July in a brisk north easterly Force 5 and bright sunshine. Storm Petrel is a well mannered cruising yacht and she loves it (as does her skipper) when the wind is behind the beam. We had a cracking sail on a bouncy sea touching ten knots at times passing Tarbet Ness at lunchtime until we came in to the shelter of the Inverness Firth where the land converged on either side of us, folding us into its sheltered embrace. With brother Michael’s friend Peter having departed the day before we were a family crew of three and spent a happy day indulging our favourite hobby and reminiscing about adventures in days gone by before navigation became so routine and predictable.
My son Oliver came to visit from Ystad, Sweden last Christmas with his 1 year old daughter, and, owing to the large number of presents to take back with him, left his boots behind. It would be far too expensive to post them, so why not sail there with them (money spent on sailing doesn't count) and spend summer in the Baltic and maybe leave the boat over there for a couple of seasons; anything to get away from the succession of Atlantic lows experienced last year.
During the 80s and early 90s we regularly sailed to Holland for our annual cruise but had never explored the ‘Staande Mastroute’, so the plan was to enter Holland at Vlissingen and sail the canals, rivers and lakes to Den Helder. Our intended start from Beaulieu on 22 June 2013 was delayed by gales so we left Gosport on Monday 24 June for Dover arriving at 2230 to find HMS Puncher and Dasher already tied alongside in the outer harbour. An early start saw us leave first for Ostend but we were quickly overtaken before the shipping lanes. We arrived off Ostend harbour after an uneventful passage to find it closed for an hour to allow Goliath, a wind turbine construction barge to leave fully laden and under tug (pictured below).
Just recently completed a very nice two week holiday, sailing week one from Esterel area S France to Isles de Hyere and week two from Esterel area to Cap Ferrat. Some breeze and also pretty hot..but still fun.
With our family chores done and suitable checks on the condition of two pregnant daughters in law we headed north again on the 6th July, this time by car with stops on the way at the Roache household for a gossip and then overnight at a friendly B&B in the Lake District. The plan was to leave the car at our new home marina at Inverkip so that we could bring home all the dirty washing and general mess for the winter. That accomplished we took a train ride to Glasgow and thence to Perth, Inverness and on to Wick. All of this eight hour fantastic scenic train ride for £17, yes £17. Now that is Scottish thrift for you, probably not available to Sassenachs after independence so enjoy it while you can.