Club News


26 October - Laying up our club boat

Mark Smith reports:

We knew it wasn’t going to be easy with 40mph SW winds forecast but were keen to get the deed done before the rain forecast for the afternoon arrived.

We got to Paglesham around 11 (HW)  and looking at conditions on the river it was immediately apparent that there was no way we’d be able to use WoBoat to get to Merganser. Plan B was to wait for the tide to go out so that we could walk Merganser to the hard.

Clem suggested a Plan A which was to use Makedo - which is a much sturdier boat with an outboard motor – to transfer Mark to Merganser.

That bit worked quite well! Next question - how to get both boats back to the hard.

The sensible option would have been to tow Merganser but I wrongly though it would be possible to row Merganser ashore against the wind - So I cast off with Clem as rescue boat. But two minutes of hard rowing later Merganser had been blown sideways onto the barge moored on the jetty and was pinned there for a bit before the tide swept her round the bow of the barge. Fortunately I was able to use the barge’s bow warp to keep Merganser just clear of the rusty jetty. Now we needed a plan C!

Plan C was to attach a long warp to Merganser’s bow. Clem and Geof then motored out again and used the long warp to pull Merganser away from the jetty. Eventually we all arrived safely back to the hard where we stripped the boat and drained the considerable amount of water we had  shipped  from the breaking waves.

After all the excitement we all agreed a beer was in order so we towed Merganser to the Plough and Sail where we enjoyed a pleasant lunch.

After lunch we had nearly finished the laying up before the rain arrived.

Many thanks to al who turned up and especially to Clem for manging to get Merganser off the jetty – without that she could have suffered much more damage from the jetty – we only broke one of the aft wooden handles.


12 October - Oyster Cup

Congratualtions to HSC Chairman Clem for winning the Oyster Cup race in his Mirror dinghy 'Nanidragon' ! 


20 September - Mudcatcher's Cup

This is an annual fun event at Paglesham - the plan varies from year to year, this year it involved racing to collect beer bottles hanging from balloons floating down the river. The event is traditionally followed by a BBQ alongside the sea wall.

Jon Walmsley of the RSA sent me the pictures below.

19 09 20 mudcatchers cup 01

 Some of the fleet assmebled on the pontoon at Paglesham - HSC club boat Merganser right foreground.

19 09 20 mudcatchers cup 02

Both rowing and sailing boats (and paddleboards) can take part - this year the wind was light and row boats did well.

19 09 20 mudcatchers cup 03

BBQ after the event


21 September - HSC wins the Lifeboat Cup

The HSC club boat Merganser has been first over the line in a number of the RSA dinghy races only to be placed lower on handicap, but this time we scored line honors and won the race. How about that!  

HSC chairman Clem also did well sailing his mirror dinghy 'Nani Dragon'.

Jon Walmsley of the RSA writes:

A wind so light that even EXPRESS was happy to venture out on the water. After much thought and lots of helpful suggestions to the race officer on a good course for the race, that old favourite Barton Hall and back was decided upon.

Unusually we started on time as all nine  crews were ready. Long and shorts were the order of the day with the tide helping us up river. The taller rigged boats, MERGANSER, BLUEBOTTLE and EXPRESS did better in the conditions with TAZ and NANI DRAGON having a close fought race behind.

APPLE and RED TUNA thought that they were still under Mudcatcher collision rules at the mark, but the Mirror pulled away after the turn. The light conditions did not favour the two Tideways, APPLE and PATCH.

On the downwind leg TAZ was similarly  outclassed  by NANI DRAGON and  RED TUNA.

Back at the front, MERGANSER had line honours followed by BLUEBOTTLE with EXPRESS fifteen minutes behind. On handicap, TAZ has third place, BLUEBOTTLE second and MERGANSER wins the Lifeboat Cup.

Many thanks to Stuart, John L and Lilly for manning DALLY and to Nigel for looking after the tail enders in his skiff.


19 May - Potton Trophy

HSC members had our club boat on the start line for the Potton Trophy - the first of the 2019 dinghy races organised by the Roach Sailing Asssociation (RSA).  We came second on handicap, despite starting the race with a lump of seaweed caught round the rudder of Merganser. Jon Walmsley of the RSA reports:

After a bit of a delay, to enable some early season shoreside fiddling, eight boats made it out onto the water. The conditions weren’t suitable for a ’round the island’ course so it was Barton Hall Buoy and back instead. The light Easterly and incoming tide made it difficult for the fleet to stay above the start line.

PATCH decided to retire after stopping to assist DALLY. (DALLY is a motor launch opperated by the RSA, used as a general purpose tender and safety boat)  A working DALLY returned the favour and towed PATCH home. MERGANSER and BLUEBOTTLE were the fastest drifters and first to round the buoy. LITTLE LINDA was unable to stop going West and accepted a lift from DALLY back to Paglesham Reach.

Back at the front, BLUEBOTTLE just pipped MERGANSER at the line after swapping the lead a few times. The next group, consisting of WATERWYTCH, APPLE and MAKEDO,  finished in that order some Twenty minutes later.  It was still daylight when TAZ finished.

On handicap, TAZ has third place, MERGANSER second and BLUEBOTTLE wins the Potton Trophy.

Many thanks to Lilly, Stuart and Nigel for manning the rescue boat.


19 to 22 April - Easter in the Peak District

 hartington yha

Hartington YHA

Seven HSC members spent Easter 2019 at Hartington YHA in the Peak District. We had exceptionally nice sunny weather for the time of year and Hartington YHA is a lovely old house set in attractive gardens, so we had a memorable weekend.

We did two walks, both around 12 miles, and at a leasurely pace such that with lunch and tea stops we filled the day. Richard recorded our tracks on his smartphone, as below.

 saturday walk

Our route on Saturday 20 April

On Saturday we started directly from the hostel, taking the footpath accross the lane outside the hostel, this leads to the upper end of Biggin Dale.  Biggin Dale starts off as a dry valley, but somewhere under the footpath we were walking there is an underground river, hard to believe but the water eventually appears and joins the river Dove.  We followed the valley of the Dove down to Milldale where we found a small teashop for lunch, then returned via Alstonfield village where a householder was offering tea and cake in return to a donation for a conservation charity.  Returning to Hartington village we rejoined the bank holiday crowds and found the village pub crowded and fully booked for meals so we had our supper back at the hostel, as we did again on Sunday.

 20190420 150001

 Biggin Dale - no river in sight

19 04 20 9

Lots of styles in the Peak District


sunday walk

Our route on Sunday, April 21

On Easter Sunday we started by driving to the vilage of Monyash, about six miles north from Hartington, then we walked to Over Haddon by the southern loop shown on the track above, crossing the R. Lathkill by the clapper bridge just south of Over Haddon - picture below. 

19 04 21 15

The ancient clapper bridge at Over Haddon - with not so ancient handrails fitted - H&S I suppose!

For lunch we took a look at the PH at Over Hadon but seeing how crowded the pub was on this warm Easter Sunday we changed our mind and went to a pleasant cafe with a view - the 'Garden Teas & Cakes'.

19 04 20 2

 Lounging in the sun on the terrace of the cafe at Over Haddon

We retruned to Monyash along the River Lathkill, a very pretty river and a popular walking route. The valley is steep sided, overlooked in places by towering limestone buttresses. Although it all looks very hatural today, parts of this valley were industrial during the 19C with both lead mining and textiles.. We noticed the stone pillars crossing the river which once carried an aquaduct to supply a waterwheel for Mandale lead mine, however we missed the remains of the mine buildings which might have been worth a look. We did stop to look at a couple of points of interest along the valley. The first was a 'Tufa hole' - see pic below.which is from a poster by the footpath.

  .19 04 21 Tufa

Then we took a look at the site of an unusual type of water powered engine - the Dakeyne pump engine.  A new foot bridge has been built so that you can cross the river, then you come to a big hole in the ground. This is part of an old mine and you can descend by a recently installed ladder to where the engine was installed and there is a poster giving a bit of the history - see pic below.  This is a 'nutating engine'. The engine was invented in the 1820s by the Dakeyne brothers who owned a large flax spinning mill in the valley. The engine was supplied with high pressure water from higher up the valley and provided an output of about 130 horse power.  The Dakeyne brothers built several such engines for driving machinery and for mine pumping, also a small one for an organ bellows, then other people built steam engines working on the same principle.   As a mechanical engineer, the author was at one time part of an R & D team developing large hydraulic motors. At one point I was given the interesting task of researching the literature to see if I could find any promising ideas from Victorian times that might have been forgotten and I do remember that this type of engine was something I came accross! . Engineers will guess how it works, others will not be interested, or will look it up on the internet.  I might add that having just made a quick internet search I see a number of current centuary projects attempting to develop internal combustion engines using the same principle, at least one of these claiming it to be a new idea.

 19 04 21 Dakeyne engine



16/17 March - HSC at Wembury

Seven members of the HSC spent the weekend with John and Josephine at Wembury on the Devon coast to the south east of Plymouth. On the Saturday we did a walk from Looe in Cornwall to Polperro returning along the coast path.  This walk started following the western branch of the estuary from just above the road bridge at Looe, then climbing through woodland to the Trelawne Manor holiday park and found that although most of the holiday caravans seemed to be deserted the restaurant/bar was open and so we could not resist stopping for morning coffee. From there we descended along narrow lanes into Polperro for lunch in the first pub we came accross. Polperro was once a small fishing port, particularly known for pilchards (and smuggling); these days it is a picturesqe tourist destination.  As we left Polperro the weather was detriorating with rain and a strong westerly wind which was at least from behind us as we made our way back to Looe along the spectacular coast path.  

polperro 01

Just leaving the picturesque coastal village of Polperro

On Sunday we had some sunney weather and chose a shorter and less hilly walk in the Plym valley, only a few miles from Wembury. This walk included a visit to the Saltram Park, a National Trust property very popular with walkers (and dogs) who seek an easy walk close to the city of Plymouth. 


1st January - New Year Day

Mark S. Reports:

A select group (Geof,Frank and two Marks) walked from Geof's house to the Red Lion at Water End on the River Gade. Pleasant walking, very little mud and occasional sunshine.

We passed Noake Mill which used to be a water mill and also, apparently, a Youth Hostel.

Back to Berkhamstead for Tea and Crumpets - thanks Geof.

Meanwhile, over in Devon,  John and Josephine had a day out in their rowing boat. They launched it at Cargreen Yacht Club and rowed up the River Tamar to the National Trust property at Cotehele, then back to Cargreen by about dusk.  Lunch in the quayside cafe then we walked up the hill to the main Cotehele house to look at a small exhibition about the local participation in the WW1 and also the flower garland which appears each year at Christmas in the main hall at Cothele. Its made from flowers grown on the estate.

cotehele 01

cotehele 02

 The flower garland at Cothele house