Club News


1st January 2022 - New Year Walk

Mark T and Mark S did a circular walk from Codicote in Hertfordshire passing by at least 2 ayots (st peter and st lawrence) and the ayot greenway - a  disused railway that used to run between St Albans and Welwyn Garden City. Mark sent me the picture below taken on the walk. After some internet search I worked out that it is an unusual church at Ayot St Lawrence which is apparently the most expensive village for house buying in Hertfordshire with average prices towards £2m. Presumably also about the most expensive in the UK.  It is also where George Bernard Shaw made his home from 1906, his house there is now a National Trust property.

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30 January 2022 - Annual General Meeting of the Hostellers Sailing Club

Covid has continued to restrict HSC activities so we held our AGM by Zoom for the second year running. Mark, our Treasurer, reported that,  the HSC has more or less broken even this year, helped by partial resumption of our sailing activities and hence some sailing fees collected.  Mark is also our bosun and told us that he will be repairing the floorboards on Merganser and he  will arrange for a sailmaker to overhaul the sails for the boat. It seems remarkable that although Merganser lacks showroom gloss she is still seaworthy after so many years of outdoor storage and hard use.


Easter Weekend - 16th to 18th April 2022  - Manorbier YHA

Back in 2019 we made a decision that our next Easter trip would be to Manorbier in South Wales and after two years of covid we finally brought that decision to fruition in 2022.   It proved to be a great choice of hostel - on a spectacularly beautiful section of the South Wales coastline in a somewhat isolated position but with self catering facilities and an on-site cafe (the cafe open through the day for the benefit of passing ramblers). Because of covid we chose to use the campsite provided at the hostel, this worked well (maybe we were a bit lucky with the weather) so maybe camping at hostels will be our choice for future easter breaks.  The website editor took a picture of the hostel site using a new toy - see below:

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 Drone shot of Manorbier YHA site - the camping field is just out of the shot to the right

For Easter Saturday our whole party took a walk westwards along the coast from the hostel, returning by an inland route. The Manorbier YHA buildings are ex-military buildings which were part of a military training camp that is still active and which lies some way to the East of Manorbier village.  So heading west from the hostel we skirted the fenced off military area then followed the coast path along the cliff tops to reach Manorbier Bay which lies below the village itself.   Manorbier castle overlooks the bay so after finding the pub in the village to not yet be open we visited the castle and had lunch at the castle cafe, sitting at an outside table under a sunshade within the high castle walls.  

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Taken from one of the towers of the impressive castle, Manorbier bay in the distance

After some of us had paddled on the sandy beach of Manorbier Bay we continued for a few more miles along the coast path, looking down into small coves from the cliff tops and arriving at the edge of Freshwater village from where we turned inland.  It was a warm sunny afternoon so we were glad to find the Swan Lake Inn for afternoon tea.then back to the hostel via quiet country lanes and some sections of footpath.   Even though it had been dry weather, one section of footpath was flooded knee deep but we bravely splashed through, well not so brave really, we just couldnt find a way round. .

For Easter Sunday we split into sub-groups since not all wanted to do the same thing.  The largest group walked to Tenby and back, Gerald went for a cycle ride and met them in Tenby and Josephine and I went by car to take a look at the Stackpole National Trust site which is about ten miles to the west of Manorbier.

I think we all probably made good choices, we certainly enjoyed Stackpole.  We started with an early lunch at the National Trust cafe at Stackpole Quay, then walked about three miles west along the cliff tops to the sand dunes and the beach at Broad Haven, still within the Stackpole estate. 

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Looking down from the Stackpole coast path into one of several small coves

We noted that along one section of cliff top the National Trust had provided strong stakes driven into the ground, these for cliff climbers to attach ropes and we watched groups of intrepid climbers making use of these.

There is a lake extending about two miles inland from Broad Haven, the stream that drains this lake running out over Broad Haven beach.  The lake is long and narrow with a couple of branches and well made paths run along much of the lake side and over bridges accross narrow sections of lake - one could certainly make a good all day walk within this estate. We had time to complete our circuit via one of the lakeside paths, we did not have time after that to visit the main National Trust visitors centre, another time maybe.  We had read that there are otters on these lakes and as we walked along the path I commented to Josephine that we hadnt seen any such creatures. At that point a group of people just a few yards ahead gestured for us to 'shush', and pointed to an otter just a few feet from us, lying on a tree branch that overhung the water and not seeming at all interested in all the tourists that were staring at it.  We have occasionally seen otters when boating on inland waters but this was the first time we had been so close to one.  Later on that walk we saw a few more otters swimming out in the lake.

We all planned to return home by Easter Monday evening but that allowed us to spend the morning at Manorbier.  We chose to visit Skrinkle Haven, a little cove just down a path leading off the lane opposite the hostel buildings.  This cove is walled in with vertically striated rock faces, one of which is penetrated by a big rectangular slot, I think its called the 'Church Door'.(picture at right)  The path down to the cove is steep, with a long flight of steps, picture below shows some of us ascending.  After that exercise we took lunch at the YHA cafe, sitting in the sun on outside tables prior to our various long drives home. I would say that traffic jams gave us a longer than expected drive back to Devon, I guess that much of the UK population had taken advantage of the fine weather to enjoy their first Easter away weekend for a couple of years.


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Climbing up the path from Skrinke cove


7th / 8th May 2022 - 'Susie' on the Oare and Alde

Gerald and Mark road trailed Gerald's Drascombe Dabber 'Susie' up to Suffolk to join two other boats on a Dinghy Cruising Association rally. They launched at Slaughden Quay, Aldeburgh, and sailed on the flood right up to the head of navigation at Snape.  Not the first time Susie has been to Snape, below is a picture of a previous visit during 2018.  From Snape they sailed a couple of miles back down the river to spend the night at Iken Cliff, (picture below), walking back to Snape for supper at the Plough and Sail.  On Sunday they sailed down to Orford and returning from lunch in a cafe found Suzie had dried out on the mud so they looked around Orford while waiting for the boat to float again. Then a beat back to Slaughden Quay where Suzi was hauled out for the drive back to Essex.

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Susie at Snape in 2018 (second boat from right)


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 Susie sailing from Snape to Iken in 2022, David Jennings sailing ahead

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 Susie with boat tent set up at Iken


29 May 2022 - Walton Backwaters

Mark S. and Gerald Launched Susie at Titchmarsh Marina around miday and sailed to Harwich. They berthed at Halfpenny Quay and had a nice early dinner in the Alma Eating House. They then sSailed back south to Walton Stone where they set up camp. In the morning up with the tide to (nearly) Beaumont Quay then back to the Titchmarsh Marina  across the Wade where we struggled a bit to find the deeper water.

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 Plaque in Harwich - we have 'Mayflower steps' in Plymouth but the ship sailed from Harwich and picked up the pilgrims along the coast.

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Susie at Walton Stone - over the years we have collected quite a few pictures of HSC members boats anchored at this location!

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Beaumont Quay and Beaumont Cut near the head of Walton Backwaters- stones from the old London Bridge - see Wikipedia for more information.

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The 'Rose' near Beumont Quay, taken by Mark S. 2022


The 'Rose' near Beumont Quay, taken by an unknown HSC member (possibly me) in the early 1990's.

The above two pictures are of the remains of the Thames Sailing barge 'Rose', 42 tons, built in 1880.   Just shows what will happen if you don't keep up the maintenance on your wooden boat! 

If you seach Wikepedia for 'Beumont Cut' you will see another picture at an intermediate state of decay.

12 June 2022 - Egret Cup Dinghy Race

A small fleet of just three dinghies but two of them sailed by HSC members, Clem in his mirror dinghy and Mark singlehanded in our club owned Wayfarer dinghy 'Merganser'.  Unfortunately Clem capsized his boat while leading the fleet - he had just renamed the boat from 'Nanidragon' to the equally weird 'Custard Cream' so that proves that changing a boat name brings bad luck, doesn't it. 

I understand that the race was stopped then restarted after Clem's boat had been recovered with help from the RSA rescue launch. Merganser went on to take line honors (again!)  with Custard Cream 3rd, the respective positions on handicap were 2nd and 3rd.  (The above information is from the RSA Race Officer, if Mark or Clem would like to add or correct anything or send picture(s) please do)

8 - 9 July 2022 - Medway Cruise

Mark S. writes:

DCA Medway:- Light winds were forecast for Sunday so we decided to sail Merganser from Paglesham to Lower Halstow on the Medway on Friday. Firing on the Foulness range meant that we went the long way round (~35m) via the Whitaker Beacon. Light winds meant that we were too late to make Lower Halstow itself but we found a reasonable camp site (on an island?) about 2 miles short of our planned destination. Saturday morning we sailed the last 2 miles to meet up with two boats on a rally. Down with the tide to the Medway entrance where the DCA boats turned along the Kent Shore while Merganser crossed over to Essex. Watched hundreds of boats on their way back to Southend Pier for the end of  the Nore race. We sailed towards the Broomway where we had to wait a couple of hours for enough water to return to Paglesham via the Havengore Bridge.

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Landing for the night somewhere near Lower Halstow on the Medway

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Sunday morning


23 - 24 July 2022 - To Battlesbridge

Mark S. writes:

Gerald T and Mark S sailed Merganser from Paglesham for lunch at the Royal Corinthian in Burnham. We were joined by Dave Jennings of the DCA who had sailed down from South Woodham Ferrers. After lunch and a drink both boats sailed with the tide up to South Woodham Ferrers Yacht Club (SWFYC) where Gerald and Mark camped on the club lawn and Dave slept aboard.

Sunday morning we sailed (and eventually rowed) up to Battlesbridge for a quick cup of tea. Then back down the windy and windy river. Dave stopped at SWFYC to recover his boat while Merganser carried on to Burnham to wait for LW. We hoped the wind would lessen but it didnt seem to so we then had a blustery sail back to Paglesham and a wait for the tide to reach our mooring.

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David Jenning's 'Roamer' dinghy together with HSC Wayfarer dinghy 'Merganser' arrive at Battlesbridge right at the head of the long Crouch estuary. Mill buildings at left of picture are converted into antique shops, pub, tea shop etc.

6 - 7 August 2022

Mark S writes:

Gerald and Mark launched Gerald's boat 'Susie' at Bradwell marina, together with DCA member Dave Jennings launching his 'Roamer' dinghy. We were bound for Goldhanger but as we needed to wait till 7pm for HW we had hoped to visit West Mersea. But after a lot of drifting in light winds we only managed to poke our nose into Mersea Quarters before taking the tide up river. En route we were joined by 3 more DCA boats who had launched at Tollesbury and a Trimaran which had come round from the Orwell. Arriving at Goldhanger and waiting for the tide three boat crews walked to the village to get dinner in the pub while the remainder rafted up to the Trimararn and were treated to a curry! Next morning winds were lighter and we drifted back down river to Mersea for lunch before recovering our boats at Bradwell.

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DCA boats on the Blackwater, Bradwell power station in the distance. 

Its been a while since the website editor sailed on the Blackwater but I well remember that the nuclear power station was a familiar landmark visible from ten or more miles along the coast to the north. The power station ceased to generate in 2002 but the main buildings  stand and will still be a land mark for the entrance to the Blackwater.


29 August - HSC Gathering in Chichester Harbour

Several HSC members attended the annual Dinghy Cruising Association camp at Cobnor on Chichester harbour this August. HSC members John and Josephine sailed down from Plymouth in their trimaran 'Jiffy' to meet up with them at East Head, inside the entrance to Chichester harbour on the east side.

Picture below is our trimaran 'Jiffy', grounded on the foreshore at East Head (this type of yacht can be safely grounded as long as the sea bed is not too rough and the location is reasonably sheltered). We have had this boat for five years but for various reasons 2022 is the first year we have used it for more than a handfull of short sails in the West Country.  This is our first yacht and we are finding that sailing a yacht requires a much higher level of sailing skill than does the small and docile dinghy that has been almost our only sailing experience until this year - we still have a lot to learn.

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Trimaran 'Jiffy' at East Head

Mark S. had his homebuilt 'Waterlust' canoe at Cobnor and Gerald had 'Suzi'.  They both sailed from Cobnor to East Head to meet up with us, Richard crewing on 'Susie'.  Jiffy was still dried out when the two smaller boats arrived, but by the time we had all had tea and biscuits in the cockpit of the trimaran the tide had come in and we had to launch the tender from Jiffy to ferry crews back to their boats.  With Jiffy under power, we then followed the others most of the way back to Cobnor before turning back with the intention of entering Prinstead marina.  However we were unable to make contact with the marina so we anchored Jiffy for the night in Nuthall creek which allowed us to go ashore in our tender and again meet up with the HSC for supper at the Old House at Home Inn.  The Harbour Master later approached us in a launch and told us that anchoring in Chichester harbout is only allowed in three specific areas and Nuthall creek is not one of those areas so we moved to the approved anchorage just below Ichenor for the rest of our stay in Chichester harbour, then we sailed back to Plymouth.

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Mark S lands his 'Waterlust' canoe on the beach at East Head

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On board 'Jiffy' at anchor off East Head - HSC members Richard, Josephine and Gerald, with DCA member Alastair (behind).



The Potton Cup

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The Potton Trophy

I understand that the HSC won an impressive trophy in the RSA dinghy race series this year, although I don't at present have the story behind that.  Mark S. sent this picture of the trophy as evidence - its in the shape of Potton Island, the land you are looking at if you look out over the water from Paglesham hard.