To the Coln - 30/31 July

Mark S and Gerald took our club boat Merganser to the Coln and back - Mark S. reports:

Light winds on the way out meant that we stopped for tea half way between the two Raysand channel marker buoys and checked their mooring arrangements (they use an old railway wheel). We camped at Mersea Stone and in the morning sailed over to have breakfast in Brighlingsea where Gerald was pleased to see the local gigs out for a row. We had a good fast reach back over the Ray Sands followed by a lot of tacking up theCrouch & Roach against the tide.

Merganser is now back on her mooring (with a bit of a struggle and a few curses from Gerald as we got back at LW - we should have spent a bit more time in the Plough and Sail).

Medway cruise - 25/26 June

Gerald T. reports that he has had a successfull short cruise with Mark S. on the Medway - Gerald writes:

Had a successful cruise from Upnor to Lower Halstow with 'Susie'. This was to have been an Estuary crossing with 'Cateran',but the destination, time & tides wer'nt right. As it was we got caught in a heavy thundery shower just as we were taking a short cut across Sharfleet creek, then found ourselves taking a rill through the Greenborough marsh, which wasn't our intention (a navigational/ helmsman error ). Running under Jib & mizzen it might have been prudent to anchor and reef the sail whilst riding out the squall. We popped out into Stangate creek and came up to Dave Jennings who was anchored sitting with his back to the weather. Coming alongside, the mizzen sheet decided to come undone, we were left with just the foresail, so had to run downwind, whilst I sorted the mainsail reef. One advantage of a traditional rig is that you don't need to be head to wind to hoist sail so we managed to get the main back up and under proper control.

We spent the night on the clubroom floor at Halstow rather than camping on the boat. The grass at the site was very wet. The following Morning we left at stupid o'clock (0530), for Queenborough hoping to find a cafe, we got there 07:30, eventually stopped for a brew up, after the 'admiral' ,that is Mark Smith, indulged in manoeuvres under Jib &mizzen. Then with the last of the ebb we set off back to Upnor for lunch and haul out, along with Dave Jennings and John Starkie. Whilst hauling out we found out why 'Susie' was more incontinent than usual - must have lost a keelband screw somewhere.

Home in time for tea.

Shuttleworth Cup -  12 June

HSC member Gerald T. has both a dinghy and a 19 foot yacht, 'Cateran'. He took part in the Shuttleworth Cup race organsised by the Roach Sailing Association and sent me this short report:

I stayed aboard Cateran overnight to make an easy start for the race on Sunday. I had the novel experience of jostling a good start on the line. Ran down the Roach midpac doing well in a tustle with Verlocity (a Verl) and Waterwytch (a Sadler 25), meanwhile behind was Lotus and Ulabella, who touched and retired. The race continued out the Crouch to pass the Holliwell bouy to port and turn back home, this is where I lost a lot of ground thru poor tactics. Chasing Imothes I tried to go twixt Verlocity and Waterwytch, we three rounding the mark at the same time.
Tacking back up the Roach, Waterwytch ran aground and got stuck, leaving one boat Destdaye behind me, she now owned by a new skipper. I crossed the line 2nd from last, or last if Destdaye retired,she had made contact by radio with stranded Waterwitch.

May day bank holiday at Wembury

John and Josephine invited HSC members to their house at Wembury, near Plymouth in South Devon. Josephine prepared a stew for everyone when they arrived on Friday evening then on Saturday morning we took the foot ferry from Wembury accross the Yealm to Noss Mayo and walked the well used trail from Noss Mayo round the end of the Revelstoke headland and back to Noss Mayo for a late lunch in the sunshine outside the Ship Inn. This walk follows a track that was originally made as a coach run for the Revelstoke estate, hence it is nicely graded the whole way round. After lunch we had to be sure not miss the last ferry at 16:00 from Newton Ferrers back to the Wembury side of the estuary.

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Waterside lunch at Nos Mayo

Sunday was cloudy with some rain but I think we made the most of it, starting with a visit to Plymouth Marina to view two of the 'Ultime' trimarans that were berthed there pending the start of the 2016 single handed transatlantic sailing race (The Transat). It was the first run of this race, back in 1960,  that primarily initiated the idea of single handed ocean racing, orignially a mainly British idea but quickly taken over by French sailors who now totally dominate the sport. Unfortunately, although we could see the trimarans on an outer pontoon there did not seem to be any way for the public to get close to them. I did learn later that had we visited the marina office we would have been given a pass to  go on the pontoons to view the boats and possibly meet the skippers.

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Sodebo - Ultime class trimaran skippered by Thomas Colville alongside at Sutton Harbour

Next we drove to the west side Plymouth to park near Devils point where the Tamar enters Plymouth sound then we walked back accross Plymouth Hoe to Sutton harbour where the rest of the Transat fleet were berthed, i.e. Sodebo of the Ultime class (the trimaran in the picture above), together with the Multi50, IMOCA monohulls and the most numerous class, the Formula 40 monohulls. From Sutton harbour we took a half hour wet and rolly trip on the small ferry to Kingsand. Rain had now set in and we were not slow to head for a pub for a leasurely lunch at Kingsand. We then had a four mile walk along the Rame peninsula and through the gardens and parkland of Mount Edgecumbe to arrive at another ferry terminal, this time the Cremyll ferry which makes the short run accross the Tamar Narrows. Leaving the Cremyll ferry, we had only a few hundred yards to our cars parked at Devils point. I would add that before boarding the Cremyll ferry we did have a rather sumtuous cream tea in the Edgcumbe Arms, so arriving back at Wembury I dont think we felt the need for any more food that evening.    

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 Some of us exploring a folly in Edgecumbe Park

Fitting out and launching club boat at Paglesham - 24 April

Mark S reports:

Sunday saw 5 members arrive at Clem's house to find Merganser ready for towing down to Paglesham (Thanks Clem!).We picked up Wo-Boat and set off in convoy to Paglesam. Boatyard much smarter now with the West side of the site fenced off and out of bounds. Fitting mast and sails didn't take long (lucky as it was fairly chilly with possible snow showers). Rowed out to mooring easily enough but getting back against wind and tide not quite so easy. Went looking for PH to have Launch Lunch - Plough and Sail full but we had a good meal at the Punchbowl at Church End. Returned trailer to chez Clem, had coffee and a chat and then went our various ways.

We didn;t go for a trial sail (bit chilly for me!) but Merganser is now on her usual mooring and available to sail.

PS Portaloo now available at rear of shed.

Easter in the Brecon Beacons - 25 to 29 April

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Brecon bunkhouse

At our 2015 AGM we decided on the Brecon Beacons for Easter 2016 but it turned out that the YHA hostels in that area were already fully booked so our fallback was the independant hostel the 'Brecon Bunkhouse'. This turned out to be a good choice, the bunkhouse offered simple but clean and tidy accomodation with a large downstairs lounge and kitchen. As things turned out, although the bunkhouse has beds for something like 30 people we were the only party using it this Easter so we had plenty of space to spread out. 

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Uphill walking on the way to Talgarth

Our first walk, on the Saturday of Easter weekend, took us north to the village of Talgarth then back to the bunkhouse by a route to the west of our outward route. We found an interesting cafe in Talgarth - its full of books - see picture below.  We also visited the water mill and we noticed interesting old advertising painted on the wall of a house - second picture below.

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 Cafe and old advertisements in Talgarth - about five miles to the north of the Brecon Bunkhouse

For our Easter Sunday outing, some of us were keen to do the Four Waterfalls walking trail towards the south west end of the Brecon Beacons national park but others felt that this would mean too long a drive to get to the start point, hence we split into two groups with I think is fairly unusual for the HSC.  

The website editor chose to look at the Waterfalls Trail which is a circular path along well made paths passing by four quite impressive waterfalls. This is limestone country with potholes and starting from the pub at the village of Ystradfellte, we soon reached a point at which the River Nedd Fechan disappeared underground to re-appear on the surface a few hundred yards downstream. A potholling instructor was setting up a rope ready to abseild down a damp dark hole and he actually let us help tie the rope round a tree. We asked where the rest of his party were and he said 'they are all down there waiting for me'. Looking down into the blackness we saw nothing but a ring of bright lights - the helmet lights of the party all looking back up at us. Below are pictures of two of the four waterfalls. The second picture is the fall at Sgwd yr Eira. This is a curtain of water dropping over a vertical rock face and it is possible to walk through the space between the rock face and the falling water without getting all that wet - a couple of us did try it and got damp from the spray but not soaked.

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Waterfall at Sgwd yr Eira- the person in red is about to pass  behind the falling water.

On Easter Monday we did a circular walk over Wawn Fach - the high fells to the East of the bunkhouse. We all thought that it was jolly cold up there, with a dusting of snow on the ground and a biting wind, so we were glad to get back down to the tree line, returning over the iron age hilltop fort Castell Dinas

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On the way down from the fells towards Casttel Dinas 

Weekend at Brighton - 6/7 February

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Brighton YHA (picture from YHA website)

We gathered outside Brighton pavillion on Saturday morning then had a good look at the inside. It's a very ornate bulding, built as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales who became the Prince Regent in 1811 - plenty more history at Wikipedia and elsewhere. The lavishness of the internal decorations is amazing.

Brighton YHA is recently opened and it already seems to be a popular hostel since John and Josephine were the only ones of our party who booked in time to secure places, the others found alternative accomodation. The only room available when John and Josephine booked was one of the private rooms on the top floor, probably the most splendid room in the hostel - photos below.  Private rooms with ensuite bath and shower are not typical of YHA hostels and this prestige hostel does also offer more traditional hostel accomodation at lower price in shared dormitories.  

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Luxury accommodation at Brighton YHA

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View from our hostel bedroom - it was a windy weekend!

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 We spent Sunday morning exploring Brighton on foot, - walking some distance along the sea front and also going out to the end of the pier.  The sun was out but there was a fresh breeze coming in from the sea.

A very prominent new feature on the seafront is this tower, still under construction at the time of our visit. At first we wondered what it might be - it is without ornamentation so perhaps something industrial. However, when we got closer we saw there were posters explaining that there will be a viewing car that rides up the tower to give tourists a view. Actually, Brighton already has a wheel type attraction, similar to the London 'Eye', but this new tower will be much higher than that. 

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  Wheel with passenger pods,similar to London 'Eye'


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Wooden fishing boats, displayed on the sea front as a museum exhibit

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The 'Wheel' seen from the pier 

New Year walk - 2nd January

Six members went for a new year walk starting from Geoff's house at Berkhamstead in the Chiltern hills - a good area for easy although sometimes muddy walking through woods and fields. We enjoyed a leasurely lunch at the Valient Trooper pub in Aldridge village, then returned through Ashridge Estate which is National Trust property. The sky was grey all day and we had rain in the afternoon but it was mild for the time of year and an enjoyable day out. We finished with tea and cake back in Berkhamstead - thanks due to Geoff.