The Journal of the Ocean Cruising Club 1
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COMMODORE Anne Hammick VICE COMMODORES Tony Gooch Peter Paternotte REAR COMMODORES Daria Blackwell Simon Currin REGIONAL REAR COMMODORES GREAT BRITAIN Chris & Fiona Jones IRELAND Alex Blackwell NORTH EAST USA Pam MacBrayne & Denis Moonan SOUTH EAST USA Bill & Lydia Strickland WEST COAST NORTH AMERICA Ian Grant CALIFORNIA & MEXICO (W) Rick Whiting NORTH EAST AUSTRALIA Nick Halsey SOUTH EAST AUSTRALIA Paul & Lynn Furniss ROVING REAR COMMODORES Bill & Laurie Balme, Julian Berney, Martin & Elizabeth Bevan, David Bridges, Andrew Curtain, Franco Ferrero & Kath McNulty, David & Juliet Fosh, Bob & Judy Howison, Simon & Hilda Julien, Jonathan & Anne Lloyd, Rick & Julie Palm, Michael J Smith PAST COMMODORES 1954-1960 Humphrey Barton 1960-1968 Tim Heywood 1968-1975 Brian Stewart 1975-1982 Peter Carter-Ruck 1982-1988 John Foot 1988-1994 Mary Barton 1994-1998 Tony Vasey 1998-2002 Mike Pocock 2002-2006 Alan Taylor 2006-2009 Martin Thomas 2009-2012 Bill McLaren 2012-2016 John Franklin SECRETARY Rachelle Turk Westbourne House, 4 Vicarage Hill Dartmouth, Devon TQ6 9EW, UK Tel: (UK) +44 20 7099 2678 Tel: (USA) +1 844 696 4480 e-mail: email@example.com EDITOR, FLYING FISH Anne Hammick Falmouth Marina, North Parade Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 2TD, UK Tel: +44 1326 212857 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org OCC ADVERTISING Details page 196 OCC WEBSITE www.oceancruisingclub.org 1
Editorial 3 The 2015 Awards 5 The Russian Voyage 25 Pig Tales 42 Guidelines for Contributors 48 Tragic Farewell To Ironhorse 53 From the Galley of ... 62 & 146 Galway to Galicia 65 Nautical crossword 72 Driving across Sweden at 5 knots 75 Book reviews 89
Letter Hippos to Humpbacks The Tooth Fairy Around the Isle Of Wight ...xx by Wayfarer! Cruising Tasmania Bank Notes Marina-hopping on the Spanish Costas Chantey V – Cabo San Lucasxx to Victoria via Hawaii Crossword Solution Obituaries and Appreciations Advertisers in Flying Fish Advertising Rates and Deadlines
Fergus and Katherine Quinlan Graham (and Avril) Johnson
100 103 119
Rosemarie Smart-Alecio Misty Fitch, Fiona Sims Peter Owens Domini John Franklin Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual; The Tasmanian Anchorage Guide; The Frozen Frontier; Solo Around Cape Horn; Cruising Guide to the Canary Islands; Last Voyages; The Boat Drinks Book; Solent Hazards and Secrets; Quality Time? Peter Bruce Megan Clay Pam Wall
125 133 149 161
Mike Norris Jonathan Lloyd Graham and Avril Johnson Ken and Carmel Kavanagh
169 182 183 195 196
Daragh Nagle and John Duggan
HEALTH WARNING The information in this publication is not to be used for navigation. It is largely anecdotal, while the views expressed are those of the individual contributors and are not necessarily shared nor endorsed by the OCC or its members. The material in this journal may be inaccurate or out-of-date – you rely upon it at your own risk.
I suspect I’m not the only editor who delays writing their editorial until the rest of the issue is pretty well assembled. Of course I know what’s going in as most articles will have been edited well in advance, but until they’re combined with their photographs in the final layout I don’t really feel they’re complete. This issue, although slim like its predecessor, contains plenty of really good reading. Following the usual Awards write-up we’re off to the Baltic with Fergus and Katherine Quinlan, with Beethoven and Shostakovich playing in the background, then on to the Western Pacific, where Graham Johnson considers how lucky he is to belong to homo sapiens and not sus scrofa domesticus. Continuing westward, to the Indian Ocean, we witness the loss of the Alecio’s much-loved gaff-cutter Iron Horse, a vessel which has so often featured in Flying Fish. Back nearer home – or at least nearer the editorial office – the Owens family enjoy exploring Galicia, after which John Franklin describes Al Shaheen’s transit of the Göta and Trollhätte Kanal systems – recommended reading for anyone thinking of heading that way. New member Megan Clay sets off with husband Ed on A North Atlantic Circuit – but one with a difference, taking in as it does both The Gambia and Greenland, and covering 16,450 miles in 13 months. Sadly it arrived just too late to be considered for this year’s Awards, though I’m sure it will be for next. It’s back to the Pacific – as well as back in time – with Pam Ward, before returning to British waters for a rewarding circumnavigation, but on a smaller scale than most. Scooting about as far around the globe as we can we join a second circumnavigation, this time of Tasmania, with Roving RCs Jonathan and Anne Lloyd. From Graham and Avril Johnson in Vanuatu’s Banks Islands we ricochet back to Spain – the Med side this time – to join Ken and Carmel Kavanagh, and finally take a dog-leg out to Hawaii en route from Mexico to Victoria, BC courtesy of Daragh Nagle. OCC members certainly do get around! Now for the usual requests... I know that many members write excellent and highly entertaining blogs, and if you’re one of them why not choose a particularly interesting section and forward it to me (with photographs) for all to enjoy? The same goes for recipes, as there’s currently only one remaining in my files. If you’ve not written before – or even if you have – please take time to read the Guidelines for Contributors on page 48, and e-mail me on email@example.com if you have any queries. Finally, the usual reminder – the DEADLINE for submissions to Flying Fish 2017/2 is Sunday 1 October, and even though there may not be as much competition for space as there was a few years ago, I really do appreciate not having a dozen articles all arrive on deadline day ... or the following week! Ironhorse at anchor in the Langkawi archipelago off the west coast of Malaysia in February 2010, see page 53. Photo Alfred and Rosemarie Alecio 3
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THE 2016 AWARDS The AGM, Annual Dinner and Awards presentations were again held at Greenlands, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire and took place on 1st April. An account of the weekend as a whole will be found in the accompanying Newsletter. We were joined throughout by Rob Stevens, Managing Director of Topsail Insurance Ltd, whose company generously assisted towards the cost of the event. Master of Ceremonies duties were split between our two Vice Commodores, Tony Gooch, who has been in post since 2015, and Peter Paternotte, elected earlier that day. Many of the details about the Awards recipients which follow were based on information compiled by PR Officer Daria Blackwell, who also produced a very professional Powerpoint presentation about the Awards, now available on the website as a PDF. If you’ve not seen it – or would like to view it again – go to www. oceancruisingclub.org and search for OCC Awards Presentation 2017. The Awards were made in two groups, with four before dinner and three after. Four other awards – the Barton Cup, the Rambler Medal, the Jester Medal and the Endurance Award – were not made for 2016, due to a lack of suitable nominations. All photographs taken at the Dinner are courtesy of Alex Blackwell and John vanSchalkwyk.
THE OCC AWARD OF MERIT One or more awards, open to members or non-members who have performed some outstanding voyage, achievement or service to the sailing community. The OCC has something of a tradition of honouring those who assist yachts making the difficult Northwest Passage, and this year was no exception with the OCC Award of Merit going to Victor Wejer for his outstanding service and advice to Arctic sailors of all nationalities from his home in Toronto, Canada. He received two separate nominations, both from members who had themselves made the transit. Michael Johnson, winner of the 2015 Barton Cup, wrote: “Victor Wejer has been instrumental in the success and safety of many transits of the Northwest Passage, mine among them. He has provided critical information and expertise without any recompense to those who have approached him for advice, as well as cautioning the dreamers and the unwary concerning a dangerous undertaking. To many he is a friend as well as an advisor. I can think of no better example of Victor’s invaluable advice than to quote an early communication to me: ‘I have gotten many calls from different adventurers wanting to make the NW crossing. For most I strongly advise them to stay away. One has to have the correct mindset. This is not an adventure, it’s a dangerous trip for the unprepared. A perfect crossing will have no story to tell at the end. No problems. No issues. No disasters. All ice openings are taken advantage of. As one Arctic explorer used to say, ‘adventure is a sign of incompetence’.’” 5
We were delighted that Victor and his wife Joanna had flown over for the presentation, and the following is a précis of his acceptance speech: “My sailing experience started when I was 16 and has continued for nearly 60 years. My first encounter with the Arctic was in the early 1970s when I was sent as an engineer to supervise the construction of petrochemical projects there. In those days I could not imagine any practical way of sailing Arctic waters as everything was frozen solid. Icebreakers had serious problems getting from one place to another. When possible I travelled by barge to nearby places, which gave me a practical view of ice navigation and the difficulties of finding a proper route before GPS. In 1985 my sailing mentor W Jacobson started an eastbound transit of the Northwest Passage led by J Kurbiel aboard the French yacht Vagabond’eux. In those days, Arctic sailing conditions were very reminiscent of the days of the Franklin Expedition. The first year they wintered in Tuktoyaktuk, continuing to Gjoa Haven in 1986. There they met the American yacht Belvedere, owned by John Bockstoce, which Peter Semotiuk had joined as crew. Peter was instrumental in gathering critical information to traverse this difficult stage of the Passage, obtaining the assistance of local aeroplane pilots to investigate ice conditions. He had particularly valuable contacts as he was employed on the US Distant Early Warning line in Cambridge Bay. He received this same award two years ago. Vagabond’eux spent two more winters in Gjoa Haven before finally crossing the James Ross Strait and Bellot Strait to reach Baffin Bay and Greenland in 1988, after four seasons in the Arctic. All this sparked my imagination for helping Arctic sailors to make Victor Wejer assists the crew of Lady Dana with their passage planning
Victor Wejer receives the OCC Award of Merit from Commodore Anne Hammick safe transits, and since 1998, when satellite communication using Inmarsat became available, I have been able to track those making the passage and offer them assistance. Over the years I have come across many sailors, prepared and unprepared, who have attempted the Northwest Passage. Every crew is different in their approach. Some head west from Greenland, see their first icebergs, and change their minds and backtrack to warmer southern seas. Others start too early and encounter impossible ice barriers before turning back. Ice is an obvious barrier in the Arctic, but the weather can be as bad as an Atlantic hurricane. I have also supported many successful transits of the Northwest Passage, including a number which have received awards from the OCC. I look forward to continuing to support sailors in their endeavours in these challenging waters.”
THE GEOFF PACK MEMORIAL AWARD Presented in memory of the late Geoff Pack, Editor of Yachting Monthly magazine and OCC Rear Commodore 1993–97, for the person (member or non-member) who, by his or her writing, has done most to foster and encourage ocean cruising in yachts or other small craft. During the past year the General Committee voted to extend the Geoff Pack Memorial Award to cover online as well as conventional writing. A number of those who knew Geoff well were consulted, and all agreed that had he still been alive today he’d certainly have embraced the genre. 7
Sue Richards, Editor of Noonsite He would almost certainly have consulted Noonsite – www.noonsite.com – from time to time. This vast resource, begun 17 years ago by Jimmy Cornell and now funded by World Cruising Club, is edited by Sue Richards with back-up from Researcher Val Ellis and Editorial Assistant Noah Darnett – all working part-time – with input from regional editors around the world and feedback from active cruisers and numerous organisations. Only Val Ellis is UK-based, so she attended, together with Chris Penny, to accept the award on behalf of the Noonsite team. We were surprised when she told us that it was the first time Noonsite had ever received an award, though they did sometimes get lovely e-mails of thanks from users. The entire team felt honoured to be recognised for doing what they loved. She continued: “Most importantly, Noonsite would not be what it is without the support and encouragement of the cruisers who use the site, and the marinas and other businesses whose sponsorship helps finance us. All of them should get credit for what we believe is THE ‘go-to’ resource on the web for cruisers. If our work makes voyaging easier, then Noonsite is a success. We are pleased to announce that developments are planned to make Noonsite even bigger and better in the future, and this recognition will definitely help us continue to serve the cruising community for many more years to come.” Chris Penny and Noonsite Researcher Val Ellis, with MC Tony Gooch behind
THE OCC AWARD Made to the member or members who has/have done most to foster and encourage ocean cruising in small craft and the practice of seamanship and navigation in all branches. Suzanne Chappell received the OCC Award for 2016 for dreaming up, organising and managing last year’s Western Caribbean Rally – the longest and most ambitious OCC Rally since Commodore Mike Pocock’s Millennium Rally 17 years ago. It lasted for over four months (including five weeks of free sailing in the San Blas islands), visited eight countries, and had 26 participating boats. It was the first official rally ever to visit Cartagena, San Andrés and Providencia in Colombia, the Bay Islands in Honduras, and Placencia in Belize. Suzanne stipulated that all participants must join the OCC, resulting in 17 new members and two new Port Officers. Those who took part commented on how Suzanne Chappell, winner of much simpler it was to clear into and out the OCC Award ... of countries in a group, and appreciated entering Cartagena under the ‘protective watch of the Colombian Coast Guard’, while in San Andrés and Providencia they enjoyed welcomes organised by the Colombian Ministry of Tourism. Other highlights were time spent interacting with locals in the ... and her namesake, Suzie Too
San Blas islands, and visiting the Panama Canal. Read the full report by participants John and Georgina Boyles in the June 2016 Newsletter (available in the Publications section of OCC website). Suzanne is now planning an even larger and longer event for 2018/19, as detailed in the March 2017 Newsletter. On learning that she had won the OCC Award Suzanne wrote: “Ever dream of white sandy beaches, deserted islands, visiting places people have never heard of, being able to tick wonderful experiences and places off your bucket list? David and I did! I starting sailing in 2002, never having been on a sailing boat before. We took Competent Crew and Day Skipper qualifications, then went on a Sunsail Flotilla in Greece, and bought our first yacht, a Legend 356, in 2002. We are now on our third yacht called Suzie Too, a Beneteau 57. We have sailed over 50,000 miles, covering the UK, Holland, the Baltic, France, Spain, Portugal, two Atlantic crossings, a seven-month rally to Brazil and the Amazon in 2009, plus the Caribbean, Central America and USA. Over Christmas 2004 we were chartering in Thailand and survived the Boxing Day tsunami. We were in Phi Phi when the tsunami hit, destroying the island and anchorage and taking many lives. This was a life changing experience and since then we have set ourselves a challenge to help make a difference to the people we meet, including our family and fellow cruisers. We are honoured that we are being recognised for this.” Suzanne and David are based at Seru Boca Marina at Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles, where she is Port Officer for Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba.
THE WATER MUSIC TROPHY Awarded to the member or members who has/have contributed most to the OCC by way of providing cruising, navigation or pilotage information.
George Curtis holds the Water Music Trophy, with Commodore Anne Hammick beyond 10
George and Penelope Curtis in warmer climes This year the Water Music Trophy goes to George Curtis, an OCC member since 1958, for the time-consuming salvage, editing, re-formatting and transfer of pilotage data from the CIC website to the OCC Forum. This massive and labour-intensive task ensured that much valuable and unique information has been preserved for future generations of cruisers. After a career in the Army followed by time in the IT industry, George realised he would need a project for his retirement. Spending a fruitless morning trying to locate and download cruising information from the OCC’s fledgling website supplied the answer – he would sort and catalogue the Club’s extensive archive, making it readily accessible to all. That was in 2002 and he has been working at it steadily ever since, with the support of his wife Penelope who cheerfully tolerates the many hours he devotes to the project. Until two years ago cruising information was hosted on a bespoke computer server, but as technology moved on it became necessary to look for a new home for this wealth of information. Where others might have retired defeated, George instead set about editing and pruning the archive before transferring it, country by country, onto the OCC Forum where it now resides. Only George knows how many hundreds of hours went into this largely manual transfer of data, but suffice it to say that the whole migration took 18 months. With a brand new website in prospect for 2017, members will be reassured to know that the entire OCC Forum – including all the pilotage data – is to be transferred as a single unit. George will not have to start work again!
THE QUALIFIER’S MUG Awarded for the most ambitious or arduous qualifying voyage by a new member or members, as submitted for publication in Flying Fish or the Newsletter. The 2016 Qualifier’s Mug was awarded to James Muggoch for his 2900 mile passage from Fuerteventura to Grenada aboard his Frigate 27 Annie of Orford, as recounted in Sailboat to Grenada, Flying Fish 2016/2. There was no doubt in the judges’ minds that it met the criteria as both ambitious and arduous! Despite a lifetime on the water in a variety of craft, James had little offshore sailing experience and was relatively unfamiliar with the boat, having only managed a few weekends aboard before a friend delivered James Muggoch with the Qualifier’s Mug ... her down to the Canaries. He found the early part of his 41-day voyage very challenging, with a non-functioning engine, no GPS signal, trouble setting the windvane self-steering, heavy winds, lack of sleep leading to hallucinations, and poor night vision leaving him reliant on the stars to steer a course after dark. ... and telling members about his Atlantic passage as MC Peter Paternotte (a previous winner of the Mug) looks on
Thirteen days out and about a third of the way across, Annie was hit by a large wave just as James opened the hatch, the water below causing an electrical fire. At the same time a stanchion pulled out of the deck, leaving ‘a triangular hole big enough to put my fist through’. Thinking the boat might sink, James put out a Pan Pan call followed by a Mayday, but there was no response and ‘I realised it was down to me’. He routed the incoming water down the sink drain and. after a night’s sleep, life began to improve. The trade winds finally kicked in, with warm sunshine and clear skies, and the selfsteering began to work better. The remainder of the passage was definitely ‘downhill’. Before departure James had promised to donate the boat to the Grenada Sea Scouts on arrival. He was met by the Grenadian High Commissioner, the Governor General and the local Chief Commissioner of Scouts – as well as his very supportive wife, Louise. Over the next few years he hopes to assist young people in Grenada gain recognised sailing qualifications (perhaps leading to employment on charter yachts), as well as helping purchase a 14ft sailing dinghy and a minibus.
THE DAVID WALLIS TROPHY Awarded for the most outstanding, valuable or enjoyable contribution to Flying Fish, as nominated by the Editorial Sub-Committee. The David Wallis Trophy was awarded to Associate Member Bex (Rebecca) Band for her lively and entertaining account of a passage across the North Sea from Gothenburg to Portsmouth aboard the Tall Ship Adventures yacht Challenger 3 – see Gothenburg to Portsmouth with OCC Sponsorship in Flying Fish 2016/2. Bex Band, winner of the David Wallis Trophy
Bex Band, winner of the David Wallis Trophy From a non-sailing background, Bex became hooked on sailing at the age of 19 when she was offered a place on a subsidised youth voyage. She went on to sail as a volunteer, working afloat with disadvantaged children, but her experience was limited to day sails in The Solent and English Channel. In September 2016 a grant from OCC Youth Sponsorship enabled her to make her first long passage, albeit not the 1000 miles required for Full Membership.* The Editorial Sub-Committee were particularly struck by Bex’s enthusiasm for all aspects of the voyage – except, perhaps, for her first experience of seasickness! It was also the first time she had ever sailed at night ‘under a bursting sky full of stars, gazing at the Milky Way, satellites and catching the occasional shooting star’; stood regular watches ‘the constant on-off watches meant that I had no idea what day we were on. My body had learnt to sleep and eat when it had the chance, regardless of what time it was’; lived on a boat ‘heeling at an impossible angle’; or made landfall at the end of an extended passage – all things that most OCC members take for granted. Finally, her choice of photographs reflected the daily realities of life at sea, from dramatic sunsets to a sink-full of washing up. A particularly enjoyable account and a very worthy winner. * The criteria for the award has since been revised – search for Youth Sponsorship Programme on the OCC website.
THE OCC PORT OFFICER MEDAL Instituted in 2008, the Port Officer Medal is awarded to one or more Port Officer/s or Port Officer Representative/s who has/have provided outstanding service to the Club and the wider sailing community by developing and promoting their port, harbour or area. 14
As is frequently the case, two medals were awarded, one to Port Officer Nina Kiff of Opua, New Zealand, the other to Port Officer Representative Agustin Martin of Gran Canaria, Spain. Nina joined the OCC in 1992 and has been Port Officer for Opua for some 20 years. In the early 1990s she and her husband Tony – together with their four children then aged between six and twelve – emigrated to New Zealand aboard their Nicholson 45 Wetherley, a boat they still own. She never forgot how wonderful it was to be met on arrival by the previous Opua Port Officer, George Bateman – friendly, smiling and helpful – so when George decided to retire she took his place. Every year hundreds of yachts sail south from the tropics to New Zealand and most of them make Opua their Nina Kiff, Port Officer for Opua, NZ first port of call. Many need advice on repairs and other services, and Nina is always there, welcoming newly-arrived yachts and ready to provide the vital information we all need when we arrive in a new port: Opua harbour, Nina’s ‘patch’ for some 20 years
sailmakers, mechanics, electricians and all the other trades that are just not available in the islands, as well as advice on local transport, medical services etc â€“ always being that vital friendly face in a new country. In addition to visiting all arriving yachts flying the OCC burgee, Nina organises an annual pot-luck dinner evening at their home each November, at a time when the majority of visitors have arrived and before they head further south. We hope that her medal will be presented to her in person at the next pot-luck evening by Peter Barton, son of founder Humphrey Barton. Agustin Martin is Port Officer Representative for Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, despite living on the opposite side of the island at Pasito Blanco. In fact he covers the entire island and, like Nina, tries to make contact with every yacht flying the OCC burgee which
Agustin Martin, Port Officer Representative for Gran Canaria, who flew north to join us for the weekend
Agustin and his wife aboard Caballito de Mar IX, their Beneteau Oceanis 40
passes through Gran Canaria. He checks what they need, helps sort out any problems they may have, and with his excellent English offers vital help with translation to the many who don’t speak Spanish. He faithfully posts photos of his ‘latest catch’ on his Facebook pages, Flying Fish proudly on display, raising awareness of the OCC to other yachts in the area. Such is Agustin’s pride in his role that he took time out from his job in the Canarian aircraft support services to fly to the UK for the Awards presentation. He is a true ambassador for the Canary Islands – an archipelago until recently viewed by many yachtsmen as little more than a staging post en route to the Caribbean – and a huge credit and inspiration to the worldwide network of OCC Port Officers.
THE VASEY VASE Presented by Past Commodore Tony Vasey and his wife Jill, the Vasey Vase is awarded for a voyage of an unusual or exploratory nature made by a member or members. The 2016 Vasey Vase was awarded to Simon and Sally Currin of Shimshal II, a 48ft cutter built to their specifications by CR Yachts Sweden AB and intended as their ultimate boat. They left Scotland in 2015 to begin a slow circumnavigation taking in various high latitude destinations. Sally and Simon Currin receive the Vasey Vase from Past Commodore Tony Vasey
An unusual view of Simon and Sally’s 48ft cutter Shimshal II The full story of the voyage for which they received the Vase will be found in Flying Fish 2016/2 under the title Shimshal in the Arctic: Iceland and North East Greenland. Leaving from winter quarters in Reykjavik in mid April, they headed northwest to anchor in the remote and uninhabited Hornstrandir National Park for a spell of ski-mountaineering, leaving their two crew to mind the ship. Needing to return to the UK for work, they left Shimshal on a mooring in Isafjordur in the care of the harbour master and the OCC Port Officer, checking her from time to time via a conveniently placed webcam. Three months later they were back, heading north across the Denmark Strait towards Kap Brewster and Ittoqqortoormiit at the mouth of Scoresby Sound on Greenland’s east coast. Again they invited two friends to sail with them. Careful planning had ensured that they arrived when the entrance to the Sound – the largest fjord system in the world – was largely free of ice, though the same could not be said of Milne Land, at its centre. They sailed via the northern, Ofjord channel as far as Harefjord and Rodefjord, taking thousands of photographs of the scenery and wildlife and hoping to achieve a full circuit of Milne Land, some 300 miles in all. Sadly it was not to be, due to ‘the oncoming motorway of icebergs that was the Rodefjord’. Cutting their losses, and with satellite images showing that the evocatively-named Forbidden Coast had never been so ice free, they returned to Kap Brewster and turned southwest for Turner Sound, some 44 miles away. After a few days exploring the area their plans were again frustrated, this time by a developing system in the eastern Denmark Strait. It was time to head back to Iceland, but already making plans for their return. Earlier on the day of the Awards presentation Simon was elected a Rear Commodore, and Sally previously served as Honorary Treasurer for four years. In addition Simon is chairing the team working on the new website, as well as running both the Forum and the OCC Fleet Map. It comes as no surprise that their blog is highly professional – find it at https://voyagesofshimshal.blogspot.pt/p/blog-page.html. On their return, Simon posted meticulous notes about the anchorages they had used on the OCC Forum to benefit those following in their wake. 18
THE ROSE MEDAL For the most challenging short-handed voyage made by a member or members. The 2016 Rose Medal was awarded to Roving Rear Commodores Franco Ferrero and Kath McNulty, who were unable to attend the presentation ceremony due to being somewhere at the northern end of the Chilean Channels on the west coast of South America. A very OCC excuse! The Rose Medal is frequently awarded for a specific part of a longer cruise, as was the case this year. Franco and Kath’s ‘longer cruise’ is a leisurely circumnavigation, begun in May 2014, while the ‘specific part’ was the 7½ weeks spent sailing from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia and back in early 2016, described in South Georgia: A Wild Paradise in the Southern Ocean in Flying Fish 2016/2.
Kath McNulty and Franco Ferrero on the bow of Caramor, their Rustler 36 They left Port Stanley for South Georgia – 800 miles east-southeast across some of the world’s most unforgiving seas – on 6 January and arrived six days later. During the five weeks they spent exploring the island they encountered icebergs, severe weather both at sea and at anchor – the front cover of Flying Fish 2016/2 features their Rustler 36, Caramor, at anchor in Husvik in 40–50 knots gusting 70 – gear failure included 19
... and in the Falkland Islands a broken tiller, and later a disabling back injury. On the plus side, and when conditions were more benign, they were able to explore ashore among elephant and fur seals, not to mention thousands of penguins. In Husvik they met up with other cruisers and witnessed a dramatic grounding, although unable to assist due to winds by then reaching 50–60 knots gusting 85, ‘the strongest we have ever experienced in Caramor’. The windward leg back to the Falklands took them just under eleven days, eight of them to windward in force 6–7, and including ‘four nights hove-to because of icebergs and during ten hours of force 8’. Their yacht, Caramor, is a production Rustler 36 – an exceptionally sturdy, long-keel design, albeit not particularly fast – and their brief mission statement “To circumnavigate the globe ... slowly”. Their blog, at www.caramor. co.uk is outstanding, even by OCC members’ high standards.
THE OCC SEAMANSHIP AWARD Presented by Past Commodore John Franklin and his wife Jenny in 2014, and open to both members and non-members, it is intended to recognise exceptional feats or acts of seamanship. The OCC Seamanship Award for 2016 went to Gavin Reid, together with the skipper and crew of the Clipper Round the World Race yacht Mission Performance, for going to the assistance of the yacht M3 which had a crewmember entangled in rigging near the masthead. Gavin was unable to attend the dinner, having already booked a sailing course for that weekend, but we were delighted to welcome crewmembers Janine Rubie, Lucy Grimstead, Richard Foulkes and Allan Jones. Lucy told us how the incident developed: “After the 2016 New Year celebrations the Clipper fleet commenced race 6 of 12, navigating the notorious Bass Straight and Tasman Sea for the third time en route to the Whitsunday Islands. I had fallen victim to broken ribs during the Rolex Sydney Hobart race, and had only been coaxed back aboard with my painkillers on the promise of champagne sailing and a smooth run north. 20
Gavin Reid, who received the Yachtsman of the Year trophy in January this year On the fifth day, in between spells of sleep, I heard some radio chatter – a calm exchange between a fellow Clipper yacht and the delivery crew of M3, who were having difficulties with a fouled propeller and a twisted halyard at the masthead. One of the crew had been despatched aloft to sort out the problem and the tone of the conversation changed when he in turn became entangled. Another climber was despatched to the rescue but soon had to retreat injured. By this point I was fascinated. They put out a distress call, only to be told that it would take four hours for a police launch to arrive. By my maths we could be there in two – time to wake the skipper. Contact was made, we abandoned the race, the headsails came down, our course changed and we were off. We had no idea what we’d find, but it was clear they needed bodies and we had 14 of them. Roles were assigned and a plan put into action. On arrival, after an attempted boat to boat transfer failed due to the swell, Gavin Reid – who, incidentally, is deaf – volunteered to swim to M3. Janine stood by in reserve and Alan, our retired GP, waited to administer any medical help. Only then was any thought given to the possibility of sharks, but Gavin went in anyway. Once aboard he found the four crew largely incapacitated. Using the one remaining staysail halyard, he hoisted himself two-thirds of the way up the 65ft (20m) mast, then climbed the rest of the way hand-overhand to reach the crewman Clipper Round the World Race yacht Mission Performance 21
Gavin scaling the mast of M3
and untangle the lines. After nearly two hours aloft he was back on deck, soon followed by the limp and exhausted M3 crew member who had just endured probably the longest seven hours of his life. The police vessel appeared and returned Gavin to us to rapturous applause. We dusted ourselves off and resumed our course towards Queensland. We finished the race last but it was irrelevant – we were all proud to be part of a courageous and determined crew, every one of whom played a role in the rescue.”
The Seamanship Award is also made ‘to recognise exceptional personal feats of bravery at sea’ and Gavin’s actions – both the swim and the mast ascent – met these criteria perfectly, as do those of the entire Mission Performance crew. Dr Allan Jones, Richard Foulkes, Janine Rubie and Lucy Grimstead received the award on behalf of Gavin and the Mission Performance crew, as donor and Past Commodore John Franklin looks on
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THE RUSSIAN VOYAGE Fergus and Katherine Quinlan (Pylades is 12m van de Stadt-designed cutter, built in steel by Fergus and Katherine at their home at Kinvara on the west coast of Ireland. In 2009 they embarked on a circumnavigation, returning three years later having logged more than 40,000 miles. Read ‘The Origins Cruise’ – Circumnavigation 2009-2012’ in Flying Fish 2013/2 for the full account. Visit their website at http://www.therepublicofreason.ie for other fascinating and unusually thought-provoking reading.) Saturday 14 May 2016: Pylades, with Katherine and myself on board, motored west from Kinvara. Galway Bay had a limpid calmness which extended out beyond the Aran Islands, and at dawn the Blasket Sound was shrouded in a slow fog, its islands and their outliers ghostly images imparting an air of deep melancholy. The Fastnet Light emerged from a flat ocean in whispers of wind, and we reflected on a previous storm as we passed. It was a cold night on our three-hour watches as we turned southeast and motored towards the Sevenstones Light. From Plymouth the passage was rotten, a night of rain and winds of sixes and sevens compounded by fast patrol boats passing at 33 knots. Nevertheless, we made significant progress. Sheltering in Poole Harbour, diversion came at night with a wind blowing against the tide. At the height of the ebb we were overriding the mooring buoy, which dragged itself back and forth under the bow with alarming noises. A calm Fastnet
Sunday 22 May: With the flood carefully calculated we sailed for the Needles, where the cardinal buoy approached with an alarming bow wave and passed within a hair’s breadth. Choppy swirling currents carried Pylades to the home of English ‘yachting’ ... the Solent, filled with boats of all descriptions. We saw more boats in the next few hours than in the previous ten years. We put into Cowes, a pleasant place. In 1914, two yachts left Ireland to collect 1500 rifles off the coast of Belgium on behalf of the subsequent Irish Rebellion, and intending to write about these events we were following their amazing adventures. We sought the Royal Marine Hotel where, in July of that year, the crew of Asgard supped as they waited for the arrival of Kelpie. We were informed that the hotel was now the clubhouse of the Royal London Yacht Club. We called there and met fellow OCC member John Power, a repository of knowledge regarding the events of that period. To an expanding and rather incredulous circle in the club, we explained our quest to explore the relative benefits to the Irish people of the 1916 rising and the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. Unfortunately, our intention of a drink in the Royal Marine Hotel did not materialise – it had been demolished. We handed the club a copy of the skipper’s book written during our previous circumnavigation, The Republic of Reason and the Poverty of Philosophy. As we left the Solent, out of the blue came the roar of a low-flying fighter, a Spitfire, displaying its distinct profile. With its electrifying scream it banked at mast height around Pylades, linking us back to wars, guns and boyhood memories of the passionate desire to fly that ultimate air machine. From a position southeast of the Goodwin Sands Pylades proceeded on the requisite 90° crossing of the shipping lanes. With perfect timing the plotter screen went black, leaving dozens of moving AIS images but no chart or position. The favourable flood tide swept us sideways down on the Ruytingen southwest buoy. This had been the station of the Ruytingen Lightship in 1914, the rendezvous for the yachts Asgard and Kelpie with the German tug Gladiator out of Hamburg. Through the fog of time, we imagined the racing hearts of the young men and women aboard those yachts on 12 July 1914 as 1500 guns and heavy ammunition boxes were transferred. How could they foretell what glory, what blood, what disaster, these instruments of death would bring? Reflecting on these rich moments of history, we swept into the deserted Dunkirk marina. Thursday 26 May: We could not escape the shadows of war! Thick black smoke poured across the town and beaches of Dunkirk, another Spitfire screamed overhead, vintage warships filled the bay, hundreds of soldiers in World War Two fatigues swarmed in the surf – film making was underway. It was the 76th anniversary of the evacuation of 338,000 English, French and Belgian soldiers snatched by a medley of boats, including yachts, from the approaching Nazi army. Reflecting on nationalism and competitive greed, forces which still destroy countries and people, the skipper worked on a jammed reefing block. Over the next week headwinds persisted. We decided to take the mast standing route through the Netherlands. Fog and ripping tides heralded our arrival through the lock gates at Vlissingen into the calm and amazing canal system. Motoring through swirling fog, ghostly traffic lights flashed their signals to proceed or pause as spectral bridges swung or lifted before us. The infrastructure for the passage of Pylades is a feast of beautiful engineering, all provided as an extensive state-funded service. That 27
Ghostly bridges in the Netherlands evening at anchor, as we sipped our wine the cuckoo’s call echoed along the waterways while thunder rumbled in the distance. It was an excerpt from Beethoven’s Sixth ‘The Pastoral’ Symphony. Sunday 5 June: Commencing at 0530 the day was travelled at 5 knots, looking into a thousand back gardens, gliding over motorways, steering our ship level with roofs, bridges tilting and turning and children jumping into the canal. At Amsterdam heavy rail and road city traffic dictated a night passage. At midnight bells clanged, The dock at Leeuwarden
lights flashed, huge bridges opened, the lights went green, and a loud voice from the dark shouted “Go! Go!” We slammed the throttle to the floor and a minute later the bridges closed and trains and trucks resumed their voyages. Our hearts were pounding. Over the next few hours we passed twelve bridges, during which a man on a high-Nelly bike* with coat tails flapping shouted encouragement as he whizzed past. It was he who opened each bridge. Entering the pretty town of Leeuwarden, a lock-keeper swung a clog on a fishing line to collect a €7 toll. For the service, one could hardly complain. Then on the approaches to the Lauwersmeer, in the centre of a well-marked channel, we ran hard aground. Two yachts eventually combined forces with our engine and hauled us off. Next day we exited the last lock into the Waddenzee and, adjusting to a more solitary life, Pylades pushed northwest between the Frisian Islands in the wake of Dulcibella, the yacht Dawn beyond the Ijsselmeer in The Riddle of the Sands – a book written by the same Erskine Childers whose real-life adventures in running rifles from the Ruytingen Lightship back to Howth we were following. Apprehension grew as one of the buoyed routes shown on our chart disappeared. Another, the one we were following, headed out into the North Sea and did not correspond with the chart. Our soundings decreased and the sea grew higher. Many miles out, where we could barely see the islands, were sandbanks and breaking seas. Then, as despair was about to consume us, the soundings went from 3m to 10m. For a crew used to the generous depths of the west coast of Ireland the experience was, to say the least, stressful. * Curious? Visit HighNelly Bikes Ltd at http://www.highnelly.ie/ to learn more about these classic machines. 29
Bicycles in Kiel With the wind on the nose we battered our way 80 miles overnight to the River Elbe and Brunsbüttel. On a wet grey morning we were sucked by the tide into the Elbe, sticking to the starboard edge of the channel as a chain of grey ships with frothing bows overtook us on their way to Hamburg. We found a gap in the procession and, gunning the engine, skidded across the river to the gates of the Kiel Canal. This 60 mile shortcut into the Baltic was built primarily to facilitate German Naval power before the First World War – it is so wide and straight that much of the passage could be on autopilot. Wednesday 15 June: We entered the Baltic and Kiel. Hiring bikes, we whizzed along the myriad cycle lanes in a city where bicycles and pedestrians seem to have priority. Kiel Week, the biggest sailing festival in the world with 2000 boats partaking, commenced. To make space, we left for the bleak and shallow marina at Wendtorf. Crossing to Bornholm we received a sécurité call from German warship, Rothwild, warning of an underwater explosion at 1245. They repeated the warning every 15 minutes with a final countdown over channel 16 in which the whole bridge of the warship participated. A few seconds after the zero there was a mighty dull double thump, followed by an eerie silence. The skipper will always regret not ascertaining that all was well on the warship, wishing them well, and a good fish supper! The next morning, with more luck than ability, we cracked the electronic glitch – AIS, GPS and electronic charts were finally brought back together ... bliss. Sunday 19 June: The following sea grew boisterous and the water shoal as we approached Rønne harbour in Bornholm. Apprehension peaked when there was no green entrance buoy as shown on the chart, then as we rounded into the harbour we discovered the layout had changed. We tied up and spent a day shopping, walking and fixing the staysail and our nerves. 30
Midsummer’s Day was cold and raining as we headed east to Lithuania, with one reef in the main and a poled-out genoa. Entering Klaipėda, we passed through an intriguing hand-operated swing bridge into a picturesque marina. They told us that we were the first Irish boat to visit. Warm days were spent walking the attractive town and sipping coffee in sidewalk cafes, people watching. Observing the almost complete absence of women wearing high heels, we decided that they walked as though about to go on stage and dance – was Good company in Latvia it all that previous socialist gym and ballet? The next day, calm and under a blue sky, Pylades pushed north. To starboard was the endless ribbon of sand that comprises the coasts of Lithuania and Latvia, backed by a pine forest – its perfume washed over us. Later the idle offshore breeze got bored and dumped a squall with 35 knots, thunder and lightning. In Ventspils, Latvia, we were the only vessel in the marina – we received a warm welcome. The three mile approach to Kuressaare on the island of Saaremaa, Estonia is narrow and only 2∙7m deep. Of the 132 spaces in the marina only six were occupied and we were the second Irish boat in 12 years. Hiring a 49cc scooter, we both squeezed on the tiny bike and roared off into town. Katherine shouted from aft to keep the speed down, the skipper retorted that we were doing just over 20 mph and were at full power. Power biking in Estonia 31
The ‘guest harbour’ of Pirita, built for the Moscow Olympics of 1980, looked fairly down at heel, but it was only 15 minutes by bus to the gorgeous medieval city of Tallinn, with its winding narrow streets and myriad little bars and restaurants. Looking at a church, we contemplated the ebb and flow of history’s tide – converted into a dance studio during the Socialist period, it was now under restoration for worship. An evening of wine, food and ambience in Frank’s Bar was a fitting climax to the day. We crossed the Gulf of Finland with a red thundery dawn and gale warnings. Near the Russian border our GPS positions went wild, jumping a mile back west, east, north. It took 15 minutes to settle down. Later, asking the Finnish Border Guard who or what might be responsible, ‘impossible to know’ was the answer – the Russians, the Americans or NATO.
Wednesday 6 July: Having checked out with the Finnish border guard we sailed east. Crossing the border of the Russian Federation we contacted the coast guard – a deep, gravelly voice bade us proceed. By 0300 the following morning the westerly wind and seas had increased, and while the marked shipping lane is dredged to accommodate cruise liners, the approach to Kronshtadt had the feel of shoal water. During the final mile the waves became very confused, bouncing back from the fort walls; we hand steered. As we approached the dock a woman in a Soviet-looking Entering Russian waters 32
uniform shouted across the water to ‘tie here’. When the skipper leapt ashore and shook hands she almost smiled, and instructed us regarding passports and papers. A few hours later we continued to St Petersburg. On our final approach, the thudding beat of Shostakovich’s 7th ‘The Leningrad’ Symphony filled the cockpit. It was first performed in March 1942 while the German and Finnish armies surrounded the city in the most lethal siege in history – over 900 days during which one and a half million people died from bombardment and starvation. Hitler had commanded its destruction. The musicians who played were starving, three had died during rehearsals. The performance was broadcast live to the city and the German lines by loudspeaker. This première was one of the most remarkable At the Kremlin artistic achievements of the war, and its psychological and political effects triumphed over the soulless Nazi war machine. The concert prompted an hour-long ovation, one that still echoes. High-speed hydrofoil ferries darting past in all directions concentrated the mind as we maintained slow, steady, progress along the starboard edge of the channel. Gingerly sounding our way through the rain into the Central Yacht Club Marina, to our delight we saw Port Officer Vladimir Ivankiv waving – what a welcome! We had reached the Russian Federation and the end of our journey east. Walking to the centre of St Petersburg, the city slowly opened before us with all its waterways and magnificent architecture. Soaking ourselves in its ambience, we had a delightful lunch and travelled back to base on the fantastic metro. The grip of the new culture was apparent. The propaganda posters of Soviet years, pushing for gender and race equality and international solidarity, had been replaced with advertising for personal consumer goods, motor cars and whiter teeth. After another few days exploring the city we caught a train to Moscow – travelling at up to 150 mph, the Sapsan Express covered the 400 miles in under four hours. Another vast city. When we produced a map, people inevitably approached and would go out of their way to help and explain. When Katherine was a young girl, she dreamed that one day she would dance in Red Square. That evening at the Kremlin Wall, we danced by the light of the moon. 33
A rising moon in Red Square Wednesday 13 July: we met with representatives of the Moscow Museum of Architecture as part of our quest to bring an exhibition of VKhuTEMAS* to Ireland, but that is another story. Our return to Pylades was via the romantic overnight sleeper train. Next day we bade farewell to our extremely helpful host Vladimir and presented him with a copy of the skipper’s book, before heading back to Kronshtadt. Outside, the westerly wind was throwing up a nasty sea but, hoisting the mainsail, we battered our way west. The wind eventually eased and the sea turned silky smooth. Entering Finland, its waters and islets were washed with the light of a spectacular sunrise, and Sibelius’s ‘Finlandia’ filled the air. After clearing in at Haapasaari, the easterly wind blowing at 20–30 knots gave exhilarating sailing Farewell to Vladimir through the archipelago. Due to their twisting nature, Ivankiv most of the passages required hand-steering and this was to hold true until departing Sweden. Over the next days high winds persisted in the Gulf, but we became used to its complexities and its swell-free, sheltered waters. We loved Helsinki, and for two days luxuriated in the reflected ambience of one of the world’s most egalitarian societies. At a sidewalk bar we shared an excellent bottle of cava for €15, counted our blessings, and deliberated on how one might develop such a society back home. * VKhuTEMAS was the art and technical school founded in Moscow in 1920 to actualise the new revolutionary government’s approach to art. 34
Pylades being steel, with windvane self-steering and solar panels, sparked discussions on boats and sailing grounds. More than a few Baltic sailors expressed reservations about sailing in the tides and swell of the Atlantic seaboard – perhaps they had a point! Marieholm, the capital of the Åland Islands, is a busy port with cruise liners, ferries and a beautiful historic sailing ship. We walked the woods and slept well. On the passage to Sweden the windvane came out of hibernation, even though it’s only 25 miles of open water. Anchoring off Söderfladen, we changed courtesy flags and timepieces. The marina at Nynäshamn had an excellent shower area, a shoe rack at the entrance, a spacious undressing room, an even larger open shower room and a sauna from which – in searing heat – one looked at boats through large triple-glazed windows. A delightful ritual, even down to the dousing of coals to envelop the naked in steam. This homage to the body has a humanist feel, perhaps a replacement to declining theist beliefs. Or maybe the explanation is more mundane ... where else to spend long Nordic nights?
Anchoring in Finland
At Arkösund we uncovered the leading Swedish fetish – it’s not sex or saunas, it’s ice cream. Everywhere, there were queues for ice-cream. The ground shook as a motorcycle gang rode into town, studded jackets, tattoos, rings everywhere, the menacing formation pulled up in line and kicked dirt as they sauntered into – an ice-cream parlour! Lutheran-bikers we concluded, the type who roar into town, fix things, pick up litter and roar off. Entering the Göta Canal, the staff were efficient and friendly. Passing through the 58 locks was solid work for two, particularly Katherine who jumped off before each one, carried the bow warp forward, and picked up the stern line with a boat hook. 35
Wednesday 3 August: Pylades reached 93m above sea level on stunningly beautiful Lake Viken. It fairly took our breath, a place of magic, conducive to the birth of fairies and trolls. Trollhättan was exquisite; we stayed a few nights before descending its flights of locks to the Göta älv. Motoring downstream, the river current gave us an additional 1∙5 knots, but the wind gusting 35 knots on the nose turned the river to a race. That evening in Gothenburg marina our rigging screamed and so also did the adjacent marina sign as it shredded. We met up with John Franklin and Jenny Crickmore-Thompson on board Al Shaheen as they too snugged down from the high winds. It’s a great walkabout city, and we celebrated our arrival with a meal at an excellent tapas bar. Leaving Sweden involved an exhilarating 45 mile close-hauled sail across the Kattegat. In Skagen, Denmark we hired bikes and cycled out to the lighthouse at Grenen beach, where the seas of the Skagerrak and Kattegat skirmish. Conscious of the impending North Sea crossing, we watched weather patterns. A miracle – the wind began to shift to the east. We abandoned our plans for Norway ... it was time for Caledonia. Skagen, where the Skagerrak meets the Kattegat Monday 15th August: With the barometer at 1020 mbs and steady, we sailed west. The swell faded, and a red sunset and rising moon heralded a beautiful night at sea. Next day, oil fields – steel behemoths sucking the residue of long dead microscopic plants and animals. The massive fire flares of the rigs welcomed Pylades. Towards dawn, a southeast wind picked up. Passing into the relative shelter of the Moray Firth, the wind increased further, and hugging the south shore we jogged happily along all night under a scrap of headsail. At dawn we entered the snug marina at Inverness, the warm welcome offsetting the slightly shabby town – perhaps we had become used to Nordic habitats. Next day we paid £233 and entered the Caledonian Canal, its magnificent 200 year-old36
At Neptune’s Staircase engineering working perfectly. Loch Ness is long, narrow, dark and funnels the wind on the nose. By Loch Lochy’s shore a golden eagle held position in a westerly breeze, and we caught a glimpse of Ben Nevis. Tuesday 23rd August: We had a busy descent down Neptune’s Staircase to the fine stone basin at Corpach with, to the south, the magnificent bulk of Ben Nevis bringing back great memories of a day spent on its airy ridges. The following morning saw us rushing south with a fair tide through the Corran Narrows. Oban Marina was almost deserted – we ferried to town and stocked up. The Corran Narrows
There was a cold autumnal feel to the air as a light wind freshened from the southeast. In a rollicking sail, Islay faded as Malin Head materialised to the south. Seven miles from the entrance to Lough Swilly the wind veered against us, squalling to 35 knots. We battered our way to the calmer waters of the lough and in darkness and rain felt our way to Port Salon. Assisted by a howling wind, we bedded our anchor at 2315. The next morning it was blowing hard from the southwest, so a lazy day was passed swinging to anchor. Next day, with favourable winds, we sailed south in splendid conditions musing on the magnificent headlands Ben Nevis and islands of our coastline. through By Sunday the rig 28 August we had reached Kilronan, Aran Islands where we did little all day except slowly walk the beaches and make sandcastles. Tuesday 30 August: Overcanvassed and with mixed feelings, we had a fast reach east to Kinvara bay and picked up our mooring at Parkmore. Our voyage of 109 days and 3800 miles to Russia was over. Ashore, we looked out at Pylades, alone on her mooring and, with a tear in our eyes, drove slowly home. 38
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PIG TALES Graham (and Avril) Johnson (See page 149 for a little background on Graham, Avril and their 44ft sloop Dream Away.) On a peaceful night watch the mind often wanders to bizarre places. Occasionally when contemplating the heavens I consider what manner of creature to return as. Normally the choice lies fairly high up the food chain, a dolphin often being favourite, but I suppose an amoeba leads a pretty stress-free existence. Inevitably many options are rejected, and currently top of that list is a Vanuatu pig. Being a pig in Vanuatu is VERY BAD NEWS INDEED. Every event, ceremony or occasion demands the killing of pigs. In the central island group, Ambrym, with its two active volcanoes, has a deserved reputation as a centre for black magic and strong cultural tradition. The northwest shoreline has several excellent anchorages, the only drawback being the often dense volcanic smoke producing acid rain in southeasterly downpours. The upside is spectacular night skies. Anchored in Ranvetlan Bay, with a black sand beach and excellent holding, we were welcomed by the villagers. Food was in short supply as most of their gardens had been wiped out, but Geoffrey showed us the replanted garden where new crops were flourishing. The surrounding stone wall and fencing was to keep out the pigs who would quickly destroy the crops. Ambrym is famous for its woodcarvings, allegedly having the best woodcarvers in Vanuatu, and we found some fine examples. Following an invitation to a school fund-raising with all manner of outdoor events planned, we asked “What if it rains?” “That’s taken care of,” replied George. He had been to one of the isolated hillside villages where, for a fee, the black magic practitioners would ensure a dry afternoon. The fee was two pigs ... we knew what had happened to them! The event was great fun, we introduced the kids to several games played with tennis racquets and balls and it didn’t rain! Our focus was the three day ‘Back to my Roots’ festival organised by Chief Sekor, which the tourist board in Port Vila was telling people was a local event and not for tourists. We anchored in Rodd’s Anchorage, a lovely bay sheltered by a bluff with a reef on three sides near the top end of the island. A brisk half-hour walk along a undulating Pig presentation
Call that a pig? track took us to Chief Sekor’s village. We met and enquired about the festival – true, it was a local event, but tourists were welcome, for a fee. Next he escorted us to the sacred site deep in the jungle where the festival was to take place. It was like something out of a film set. The long entrance path guarded by massive carved heads and figures led to a large grassy clearing surrounded by more giant wooden effigies and ancient tam tams (drums made of hollowed-out tree trunks). The focal point on one side of the arena was a 6m tall, bamboo-framed structure, housing various effigies and having a large platform high above. He explained that the event was really about upgrading a chief and this year both he and two others were to be promoted. The chief system is fundamental to the culture of Vanuatu. There are twelve levels, the highest being a Paramount Chief, called by the populace ‘the Eye of the Sun’, which gives some idea of the power they wield. The first six levels concern knowledge of cultural things such as history, traditions, rituals, dances, protocols and organisation, and these levels are open to most people. After that it becomes far more spiritual, and only members of certain clans can move up to these higher strata. The higher levels supposedly can travel outside their bodies, cause healing or death, foretell future events, and control all manner of natural forces. A village will have a hereditary kastom chief and a number of elected lesser chiefs, who typically serve for about four years, responsible for managing the village. Don’t look for local policemen in the outer islands, there aren’t any! Ceremonial transition between levels naturally involves the killing of pigs. First level is one pig and ten chickens, and it progresses from there. Several other yachts arrived in the anchorage, so a good audience for the festival was assured. Day One had plenty of high energy men’s and women’s dancing, the men often in a tight circle with the women forming an outer ring all moving to the beat of 43
Big boar for a Big Chief the tam tams. We were treated to a magnificent village lunch, and then it was sanddrawing, bamboo flutes, tam tam drumming and more dancing, with everyone invited to join in at the end. Next day was the upgrading ceremonies, starting with a ritual presentation of pigs to the three chiefs. More dancing, and then each chief climbed in turn to the high platform and was pelted with coconuts, which he jigged around trying to avoid. Given he was wearing nothing but his namba (penis sheath) getting hit must have been quite painful. It is a symbolic chance for the villagers to â€˜insultâ€™ him before he moves to a higher rank. High octane womenâ€™s dance
Dusty dancing We moved onto the pig killing ceremony, definitely not for the squeamish. A massive boar was carried in, suspended from a pole by its trussed feet, and laid on the ground. Chief Sekor stood over the grunting beast, raised a large ceremonial wooden mallet high above his head, and swung it down to a sickening crunch on the pig’s head. Much hideous screaming and squirming proved he had failed to dispatch the beast. Numerous further blows were delivered until it finally succumbed – the kind of thing that would give an animal rights activist apoplexy. We could understand why the tourist office had been reticent about promoting the event. The two lower chiefs undertook similar tasks but with smaller swine that were more swiftly dispatched. More would be killed later, but now was time for dancing. The highlight of the final day was the rom dance, the most famous dance in Vanuatu, only performed in its true form on Ambrym. Prospective dancers have to make a payment to be allowed to participate (more pigs) and there is a lot of practice. The final public dance is scrutinised by the elders and anyone getting something wrong is ‘fined’ – guess what that would be! The costume shrouds the dancer in a mass of long, dried banana leaves so he appears like a large conical bush; a tall mask with a dragon-like face and huge plumes caps the outfit. The tam tams throbbed. Behind a screen of woven palm fronds the dancers were warming up, the audience hushed in anticipation. The screen suddenly parted and the Chief – with two huge, round boars tusks hung around his neck, bright red flowers on his head, thick arm bands, the inevitable namba and carrying a long staff – led the troupe of eight dancing shrubs into the arena. With arms outstretched, leaning forward, staring wildly and uttering blood curdling cries it was an awesome start, totally wild, raw and primitive. There then followed over an hour of amazing choreographed movement. No dancer was ever still – even when standing they would always be swaying and shuffling to the beat of the drums. They paraded back and forth, formed tight groups, spread apart, wove in between each other, wound up into spirals ... it became a hypnotic experience as one felt drawn into some magical mystical world fuelled by the drumming, mesmeric movement and atmospheric jungle setting. We made the short passage to Pentecost, a long, narrow island with a high central ridge famous for its land diving, the forerunner of bungee jumping. The west side 45
Stamping of the feet, hypnotic beat has many anchorages, but with a brisk southerly wind and swell sweeping along the coast none were attractive for a quiet night until we passed a small headland near the north end and found Loltong Bay. Here was a delightful protected anchorage behind a large reef with a narrow pass, lying in front of a sizeable village, plus a nice sandy beach on which to land the dinghy. Following the recent death of the The intricate rom dance
Spot the mobile phone kastom chief the funeral ceremony had involved the killing of fifty pigs. The village was close to the middle of the hundred days mourning period and we were soon assimilated into the proceedings. The fiftieth day of mourning fell on a Sunday, and we were woken by the daily early morning drumming on the tam tams. The opening of the recently-built church had been celebrated by the killing of one hundred pigs, today it was packed with over one hundred people. After Sunday service everyone trooped back to the village square in time for a ceremony where a young man killed ten chickens and a pig using a club. This happens every ten days during the hundred-day wake for a dead chief. Such was the level of slaughter that nearby villages were being asked to supply extra livestock, a debt our village would have to repay. A trail reached by a steep climb past the terraced gardens runs atop the spine of the island. Whilst walking this we were asked if we were going to the kastom event. We had no knowledge of it, but followed directions, finally arriving at Asaranmanu where an upgrading ceremony was in progress. We witnessed the liveliest women’s dance yet seen – at least fifty were in a long column weaving around the large clearing, chanting and singing in a high octane dance. Gifts were being piled up before the chief, including a high stack of beautifully woven red-dyed pandanas mats. The dye is only found in central Pentecost and the mats are unique to the area. They have a high value, and can be exchanged for store goods. Then came the pigs. Each was led around by its donor, presented to and accepted by the chief, finally being tethered with its mates to await the inevitable end. It was late afternoon and several hours’ walk back, so we took our leave before the killing started. No, I really don’t want to come back as a Vanuatu pig! 47
GUIDELINES FOR CONTRIBUTORS ELEGIBILITY: space in Flying Fish is limited, so publication is normally limited to articles written by members (including associate members), their spouses/partners, or their long-term crew. CONTENT: anything which is likely to be of interest to other members – cruise and liveaboard accounts (including humour), technical articles, recipes, letters, book reviews and obituaries. Please check with me before to submitting the latter two, and also tell me if you’re sending the same piece elsewhere, inside or outside the OCC. Finally, please ensure that all personal, boat and place names are spelt correctly, in both text and captions. I can’t always check them and errors can offend! LENGTH: no more than 3500 words and preferably under 3000, except in very special cases – and normally only one article per member per issue. I dislike having to cut other people’s writing and generally throw overlong offerings back to the author for amendment, so if your efforts are lengthy, please allow extra time. FORMAT: MS Word (any version) or PDF, with or without embedded photos (though see next page), sent as an e-mail attachment. With prior warning I’m willing to scan good quality typescript, but Flying Fish no longer accepts faxed or handwritten articles. If sending by snailmail a warning e-mail is helpful, and sets bells ringing if the envelope doesn’t follow. (If posting in the UK, please check the thickness of your package – an ordinary letter must not exceed 5mm, which catches many people out.) If place (or personal) names need accents which you aren’t able to create in Word, please include a list at the end – something along the lines of ‘the A in Mogan and the I in Bahia both need acute accents, and the N in Montana needs a tilde’ (aka a squiggle above it) works well. Please don’t spend time on fancy formatting – it won’t import into my layout programme. Stick to a standard font such as Times New Roman, Ariel or Calibri, and limit yourself to capitals, italics and bold. Finally, PLEASE BE ORGANISED! If the text you send is not intended to be your final draft please make this clear in your cover note. It’s frustrating to spend time editing only to receive a new, and very altered, version a month or two later. Minor amendments or corrections are fine, however, either made using the ‘tracked changes’ feature in Word or typed into the previous version in RED and then highlighted – though note the deadlines near the bottom of page 50. ILLUSTRATIONS: please send photos in JPG format by e-mail, WeTransfer, Dropbox or similar, though by arrangement I’m willing to receive prints for scanning (most often to accompany obituaries). If sending the latter, never write the caption on the back in ink or ball pen as it often smudges onto the next photo – a self-adhesive sticker on the back bearing a pencilled caption is much safer. I take great care of prints and original artwork and return them after use, but neither Flying Fish nor the OCC can be held responsible for loss or damage. Watercolour paintings or black-and-white line drawings (including cartoons) make an 48
interesting alternative should you or your crew have skills in that direction, in which case you may prefer to send a high resolution scan to avoid parting with the original. PLEASE DON’T SEND MORE THAN 20 PHOTOS MAXIMUM – while you’re submitting a single article, I receive up to 20 for the average issue, which means around 400 images to juggle. My filing system is legendary, but it has its limits! Some contributors also send a Word document or PDF showing where the photographs should fall. This can be very helpful, but please don’t forget that I’ll still need the photos as individual JPGs. Although it’s possible to extract pictures from document files, the quality suffers dramatically. To reproduce well, photos need to measure at least 16cm wide at 300 dpi or 67cm wide at 72 dpi (the default setting for most cameras). If this means nothing to you, please send your photos EXACTLY as they were downloaded from the camera – even opening and saving under another name will degrade the quality. Like all editors I detest times and dates embedded into photographs, and even worse are embedded captions. The former are generally added by the camera, the second by a software programme, but both can and should be turned off. When sending photos by e-mail, manually attach no more than three per e-mail (do NOT use the ‘attach to e-mail’ facility available in some image programs, which compresses the file data). A label in the e-mail’s subject line – ‘CAPE HORN article; e-mail 1 of 6; pics 1 to 3 attached’, for example, ensures that I know what I should recieve and you know what you’ve sent. Then round off with a final e-mail, with no attachments, confirming how many e-mails and photographs are on their way. I try to acknowledge articles and photos within 48 hours, but like most of us I cherish the occasional day away from my computer, so don’t panic and start resending until at least five days have elapsed. If using WeTransfer or Dropbox please don’t be tempted to send enormous TIFF or RAW files. I sometimes use mobile wifi, and the photos for one article can gobble up a month’s quota in half-an-hour. If you work on your photos in TIFF (as I do), please save them as high-res JPGs before sending. Note also that whatever the order in which you upload your photos, they’ll download in numerical or alphabetical order – not a problem so long as they tally with the captions ... see next paragraph. CAPTIONS: please provide a list of captions in the order they relate to the text. Don’t spend hours renumbering or re-titling the photographs themselves – I’d much rather receive captions in Word than have to extract them individually from each photo’s file title. Something along the lines of: Photo 1 (DCM 3285) Getting ready tfor sea Photo 2 (DCM 3321) Leaving Lajes, Flores, John at the helm Photo 3 (DSP 00045) The whale! (photo Sue Black) is perfect and gives me all the information I need. For a five-star rating, indicate in the text approximately where each picture should fall – ‘...We arrived in Horta (pic 5) and promptly started our painting on the breakwater (pic 6) ...’ etc. (Not necessary if you’re also sending a PDF or Word documents with the photos in place, of course). CHARTLETS: if relevant, please include a rough chartlet of your travels, showing 49
your route and the places mentioned in the text. Don’t worry if the map on which you draw your route (on paper or computer) is copyright, or if your efforts are a little untidy – Flying Fish chartlets are nearly always redrawn for us, overcoming both of these problems. Google satellite images are among those covered by copyright, but their ‘Permission Guidelines’ (see www.google.com/permissions/geoguidelines.html) allow reproduction in order to ‘demonstrate product use’. LAT/LONG POSITIONS: if your article includes cruising information useful to others, please include latitudes and longitudes where appropriate, preferably as a separate list. Although unlikely to be included in the printed version of Flying Fish they will normally be retained on-line. They can also be very useful in locating outof-the-way harbours and anchorages if a chartlet is being drawn. COPYRIGHT: please ensure you either own the copyright of photos or have the photographer’s permission for them to be reproduced on the OCC website as well as in Flying Fish. A credit will be printed if included with the caption, but Flying Fish cannot pay reproduction fees. Note that if you hope to sell your work to a commercial magazine you should do this first, as most will not consider an article which has already appeared elsewhere, even in a humble club journal. Flying Fish, on the other hand, is generally happy to print articles which have already appeared commercially, and can often feature them at greater length and with far more photographs. DEADLINES: Final submission deadlines are 1 OCTOBER for publication in December, and 1 FEBRUARY for publication in June. An issue may be closed earlier if it becomes full, however, in which case the pieces last to arrive will be held over for the next edition. I always appreciate prior warning that an article is imminent – doubly so in the weeks immediately preceding a deadline – and though this won’t guarantee space in a crowded issue it will certainly increase your chances. Anne Hammick, Editor email@example.com
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TRAGIC FAREWELL TO IRONHORSE Rosemarie Smart-Alecio (During her and Alfred’s 22 years of cruising aboard their 38ft gaff cutter Ironhorse, Rosemarie was one of Flying Fish’s most prolific contributors. In addition to sailing and boatyard stories, travelogues and humour also flowed from her pen and she was twice awarded the David Wallis Trophy for ‘the ‘most outstanding, valuable or enjoyable contribution to Flying Fish’. Members will understand why it was some time before she felt able to submit the following account of the loss of their much-loved vessel, which also features on the cover of this issue. All the photographs were taken by Captain Yuriy Bondar and the crew of MV Bittern, who very kindly gave full permission for their use.) It is 28 October 2015 and I am trying to reassure myself that this is just a bad dream. In all our cruising with Ironhorse we never experienced problems which combined to leave us so completely impotent as did those which hit us during our final leg across the Indian Ocean from La Réunion to South Africa, prior to re-entering the Atlantic for our journey home. Today we have been weather-watching again, noting that the predicted winds and higher seas south of Madagascar have become reality, but what irony! We are retracing our wake, back across the ocean to Singapore, where we’d stopped in April on exiting the Malacca Straits for Indonesia, in preparation for this 5000 mile ocean passage. Now, however, we are viewing it all from 25m above the waves with Captain Yuriy Bondar, the Ukrainian Master of the bulk carrier Bittern, who responded to our unhappy situation. Apart from (relatively) minor concerns with the engine cooling (a damaged drive to the impeller), plus two leaking seacocks, we had been enjoying great sailing in strong easterly trades, which Ironhorse loved. Then, during the night 150 miles south of Madagascar, a brand new 20mm 316 stainless steel mast-through-bolt (replaced during our haul-out before we left Thailand in January) sheered clean through at the mast top, sending the inner stay and stays’l over the side. With the mast’s main forward support lost, we were left with only the smaller forestay to the end of the bowsprit, designed simply to carry the small yankee jib. This was not the result of negligence. Indeed, Alfred had always been more than cautious, any suspicion of weakness in any equipment and it was repaired or replaced immediately. We were always working in some way to ensure Ironhorse was in tip-top condition. Alfred lashed the unused topsail halyard to the bow for extra support, wondering how long it would hold. Certainly, with the 4–5m seas and 25–30 knots of wind (both confirmed later by Bittern’s instruments), the possibility of the mast falling was very real, with predictions for much stronger winds (friends a day ahead were already experiencing upward of 40 knots) and another week of sailing before we reached South Africa. In spite of this we were maintaining a good 5 knots with reefed main and small yankee jib. Unbelievably, another major problem hit us the following day when our rudder suddenly stuck fast. We immediately hove-to, drifting with the east-going current, but despite our efforts over the next few days it remained immovable. 53
Approaching Ironhorse hove-to, as seen from MV Bittern’s bridge
Ironhorse was a 11∙8m steel gaff cutter, a strong, comfortable ocean-going yacht and we were carrying supplies on board sufficient for more than three months, so were in no immediate danger. Our only home, she had carried us safely across the major oceans and more. Like all cruisers, we’d experienced numerous equipment problems during ocean passages. None had beaten Alfred’s ability and resourcefulness. Now, after a couple of days of deliberations, with much effort, little sleep and no solution, we began discussing the unthinkable – abandoning Ironhorse together with ‘all our worldly goods’ and the priceless souvenirs from our travels. On the Cruisers’ Morning Net Alfred reported that, having exhausted every obvious solution, we didn’t see how we could continue. Unaware of this, the Dutch crew of the sailing yacht Avanta, whom we had never met but who were within 8 miles of us, contacted us having noticed on their AIS that Ironhorse was making no progress. On learning of our dilemma they kindly offered to take us on board as far as Durban, about 900 miles away. We eventually accepted, and during their approach, via a commercial vessel in the area, they informed Durban Rescue Services of the situation. Alfred and I prepared our small dinghy for launching, then, in consideration of the limited space available on another yacht, packed a few vital possessions in Dry Bags – documents, a few clothes, our computers, phones and cameras. Alfred also made preparations to scuttle Ironhorse, but I persuaded him to leave the actual deed until certain of our safety. Thank goodness I did! We prepared to launch the dinghy on a 70m line, thus making it possible for Avanta to come alongside it as it dropped astern and take us aboard. To our dismay, before we could launch, Avanta attempted to come alongside Ironhorse, leaving our solid rail dented, two of the three shrouds broken and port light-box dangling. We went on to launch the dinghy as originally planned, however, tying the line to Ironhorse to be carried downwind to Avanta, keeping the yachts safely apart. Whilst Avanta stood off, we put our bags into the dinghy. Quick-witted Alfred had grabbed the portable VHF, and wore his rigging kit. 54
We had never used a dinghy in mid-ocean and only now appreciated the physical demands of battling against swell, wind and breaking waves to get heavy bags into it as well as ourselves. Eventually we settled onto our bags, which quickly became submerged in water before we realised the bung had come out! It was hastily replaced and we drifted to meet Avanta. With her bow and stern rolling and bucking wildly, amidships showed least movement. But, with no ladder or steps to assist, getting a foothold up to the height of the sidedeck was impossible. They indicated their swimming platform aft, so we slid back to try there, grabbing a thrown line as we went. Perfect for climbing aboard in a calm anchorage, it was positively lethal in this seaway. When we reached to grab the wet edge of it, the upward forces as the stern bucked high away from us wrenched me aloft and, as I lost my grip, it threatened to crash down onto the dinghy. Had Alfred not grabbed me and pushed us from it, I would have landed in the sea. We held on to their line to try again and again, sensing the efforts of Jan and his wife willing it to happen. But eventually we were forced to accept that it was impossible and Alfred, with considerable strength, pulled our water-filled dinghy back to Ironhorse once more. We were grateful she hadn’t been scuttled earlier. The ship – MV Bittern – eventually came into view. Having learned that our rescue had failed, they had turned back immediately (after requesting we release our EPIRB signal to make it official) to give us a lee to ease conditions so we could try again. Avanta and her crew stood by while Alfred asked her Captain if they had a rescue boat which might assist with a transfer from the higher point we needed, but the Captain replied that, were he to launch it, it would break up in the conditions! We waited aboard Ironhorse for some time, during which Alfred, concerned that our bags might not make it, transferred passports, credit cards and cash to his jacket pocket. Slowly closing in to stop next to a small vessel hove-to in a boisterous ocean cannot be an easy manoeuvre for such a ship, and a second circuit was needed to allow time
Still hove-to while awaiting MV Bittern’s lee
for us to climb into the dinghy and then make another attempt to board Avanta, still too far away to take advantage of the lee. Following Bittern’s more successful second attempt, and in VHF contact, her Captain suggested that a heaving line to our helplessly drifting Ironhorse might hold us in the ship’s lee, giving time for us to try again. The winds carried each monkey-fisted line away as it was thrown, but eventually Alfred caught one and attached it to the bow. Unfortunately the crew’s enthusiastic efforts brought Ironhorse too close to Bittern and, anticipating the inevitable, Alfred rushed to cut Ironhorse free again – seconds too late. It was a whisper of a touch, but the impact was precisely onto the end of her bowsprit which, like a match stick, was broken clean off, flying high into the air before disappearing into the waves. The forestay, with jib attached, immediately flew aft towards the mast, flapping madly and horizontally across the sidedeck, effectively closing off our route to where the dinghy was still leaping about. Free again, Ironhorse moved back into the weather and, bereft of forward support, the mast jerked within its tabernacle, slackening the mains’l, which flapped uncontrollably. Alfred was on the bow and I on the forward end of the port sidedeck. I looked to our solid pine mast and its obvious wobble with the seaway. “It’ll come down, get forward of it!” screamed Alfred. Sitting within its tabernacle, a huge through-bolt holds it. With little forward support, it would fall aft. We watched it sway for a few more seconds. The halyard which Alfred had set up was still holding. “We MUST get into the dinghy!” screamed Alfred, as we watched that hefty pole sway, jolted to a stop by the shrouds and stays at each flop. The upper holding points were all held by new through-bolts identical to the one which had broken days before. What if they were also to fail? “Get to the bows!” he ordered, and nervously I did so as quickly as the rolling and bucking allowed. But the swaying mast was clearly going to distract us from getting into the dinghy. The knife came out again and he sliced through the halyard, forcing the issue – and now, with no forward support, the violent, incessant movement of the hull jolted the
The bowsprit snaps as Ironhorse touches MV Bittern’s side
With Ironhorse’s mast down, Rosemarie and Alfred get the dinghy alongside the bow ... collapse. I froze and watched helplessly as the great mass fell slowly astern, exactly along the meridian line – mast, topmast and spreaders, port and starboard shrouds, light boxes, radar dome, aerials and a mass of halyards. The higher part crashed over the strong metal pilot house, splintering the solar panels fixed on top, but the roof remained intact. Astern of this the top section had caught the wind generator, then crashed across another, higher set of solar panels, the middle one of which caved and wrapped itself around the mast. Dust clouds rose as the shrouds crashed along the sidedecks and, relieved that it had fallen away from us, I remember staring at the bottom of the mast, and thinking how it all looked as perfect as when it was stepped back in January. The Thai coin placed beneath (traditionally for luck!) lay there still! With the 22ft solid wooden boom having tucked itself squarely beneath all the mess everything was held steady from rolling, which I’d thought might affect her stability. Nothing moved, and hull-wise she looked and behaved as well as ever. However, our route along the sidedeck to the dinghy was totally blocked by the shrouds, halyards, and violently flapping jib. There was certainly no way of returning to scuttle her now. “We HAVE to get into the dinghy – NOW!” And, struggling to get back around to the sidedeck, I realised the only clear way off was over the sheer of the bow. No scuppers and no footholds. I looked down at the dinghy, bouncing around, rising and falling with the swell, and sheering off at all angles at the end of the short line. I searched uselessly for somewhere to put a foot on the outside of the hull so that I could lower myself and time my dropping into the constantly moving dinghy, our bags still underwater inside. The dinghy would rise past the rail, then jolt away and drop way down again. The idea of getting outside the security of our wonderful solid hull and rails horrified me. Exasperated, Alfred rolled himself over the rail, managing with great strength not only to reach the jigging dinghy but to continue holding it into the hull for me. Quite a feat, I realised later, as the rail was way above his head. “USE ME AS A LADDER”, he ordered and, blindly, over I went. With luck on my side, and his firm body to give a foothold, I somehow landed beside him. 57
... and Rosemarie scrambles aboard
Ironhorse, to which we were still tethered, was now picking up the wind raging around Bittern’s stern and was being blown onto us. “I’m cutting us free!” yelled Alfred above the noise, setting us adrift in the ocean and, as another wave broke into the dinghy, on towards Avanta, still outside Bittern’s lee. Bittern’s mightiness rose high behind us as Avanta began to close the distance, and we set about reaching her again. But her bucking and rolling was as bad as ever. “Doesn’t look any easier”, shouted Alfred as we watched her approach and tried to imagine just how we could muster strength to board her for, not only had we not slept for so long, we – and especially Alfred – were becoming physically exhausted. Then, when she was within about 30m of us, Avanta suddenly began motoring away! We were dumbfounded. As we reached for the paddles to prepare once more for her return, The dinghy is secured to MV Bittern with a line, to allow Rosemarie to climb the interminable ladder ... 58
... and catch her breath on deck as Alfred prepares to follow the bags up the side relieved that the bags were not trapping them, the dinghy was swung towards Ironhorse and Bittern, now over 100m away. I spotted the ship’s crew unrolling a ladder which dropped down amidships. (We learned later that the Captain ordered this when Avanta motored away from us.) “Make for Bittern!” I yelled, and we paddled towards her as though our lives depended on it – as indeed they did. Her lee made things easier as we got closer, although being perched amongst the tubes and bags made paddling awkward and any manoeuvre precarious. But despite extreme exhaustion, with our eyes on that ladder we somehow found new strength. As Bittern rolled threateningly towards our tiny dinghy, the lower part of the ladder (of rope with hefty wooden steps) tumbled into the swell which raced along the hull from bow to stern, then was jerked above us, before being flung back down as the swell ran on along the hull. Once more, we had to avoid being hit! As we reached her, we anticipated judging our transfer for a foothold on that wildly moving ladder. We were about 3m aft of the ladder, but each impact bounced us away again. Then a thin rope slid down past the ladder and, as we paddled back again, I grabbed it, holding us close to the hull. Way above us, carried away by the wind, was unintelligible shouting. Two safety lines were lowered to attach each of us to Bittern. Safety was high, SO HIGH, above us, and all we had to do was get on that ladder and climb up there. Timing was crucial, and Alfred repeatedly urged me to “go for it”. Ensuring that my feet were fully free from between bags and dinghy tube, and finding strength I wouldn’t have believed I had, I pushed off from the dinghy – it, miraculously providing resistance to send me off. Then I was on the ladder. The shouts continued from above. I looked up – and up – and up ... vertically forever! I could see the faces of six or seven men. Prone on the deck, head and shoulders over 59
Thanking Avanta and wishing her safe passage
the side, they yelled encouragement. I was on the last lap, but what a distance between each rung! But hand over hand, step by step, and hearing the guys above urging me on, the adrenaline must have kicked in big time, keeping me going up and up forever. And then strong hands grabbed me, hoisting me over the last step and onto the deck. It felt like terra firma! Alfred and Rosemarie on MV Bitternâ€™s bridge with Captain Yuriy Bondar
With Captain Yuriy Bondar and his officers â€œOkay, your man coming tooâ€?, said a tall, smiling, young man in a gentle foreign accent, guiding me to sit away from the edge. Amazingly, Alfred managed to tie all the bags to a line for lifting on deck before he himself finally climbed to safety. I ran to him and we hugged, holding each other like we had to forever, before thanking the crew. There were twelve or so strong-looking young guys around us. How hard they had been working from so high above us. They smiled at us and each other in a mixture of embarrassment and pleasure. Then, as reality began to set in, Alfred and I looked below. Mast-less, sails now billowing a-top the coach roof, but still floating high as always, Ironhorse looked very sad and rejected, and it remains an abhorrent vision for us both. She had looked after us perfectly, especially in bad weather, for more than 65,000 wonderful miles and we had abandoned her in mid-ocean. We both felt weâ€™d somehow let her down. We waved to Avanta as Alfred expressed our thanks to them via VHF, wishing them a safe passage to Durban, a tad disappointed not to be with them to enjoy South Africa. But the Bittern crew, all Ukranian, had done a fantastic job and now we were being led below by Mykola, the Chief Officer, who together with Captain Yuriy Bondar managing the helm so skilfully, had worked expertly throughout our rescue. We felt very humble. Clearly we were in good hands, as we would discover during the next 16 days.
FROM THE GALLEY OF ... Misty Fitch, aboard Tamoure GPQ Cake Ingredients • 170 g (6oz) plain biscuits (Marie, digestive or similar – a mixture is okay, and it’s a good way to use up stale ones) • 80 g (3oz) dark chocolate (cooking chocolate is fine, not expensive dark) • 40 g (1½ oz) butter • 150 g (5 oz) mixed dried fruit, pre-soaked in alcohol if preferred • 4 tsp cocoa • 2 tsp golden syrup or honey • rum or brandy – a generous splurge • pecans/walnuts – optional, but nice if you have them Bash biscuits in a plastic bag, not necessarily to fine breadcrumbs – keep some ‘bite’. Put the chocolate, butter, cocoa, and syrup/honey in a saucepan and melt to mix well, then take off the heat. Add the alcohol and dried fruit and mix well. Finally stir in the biscuits. Line a shallow plastic dish with foil, add the mixture and cover. Leave in the fridge for a few hours (the difficult bit!), or in the freezer if you have one. Once hard it can be removed from the container and wrapped in foil – it only needs the container to keep its shape when soft. Credit for this recipe should go to Di of Independent Freedom, who introduced me to it, and whose permission I have to submit it. I have amended the ingredients slightly – less butter, more booze – and when the Skipper declared that ‘Chocolate Refrigerator Cake’ didn’t describe it very accurately I renamed it Get P****d (into an alcoholic state) Quickly Cake, or GPQ for short. I have also removed Di’s wise and well-meaning comment when she passed over the recipe: ‘It’s very rich, don’t over indulge...’.
Dinner ran a smooth course, but just as coffee was being brewed the hull, from pitching regularly, began to roll... Every loose article in the boat became audibly restless. Cans clinked, cupboards rattled, lockers uttered hollow groans. Small things sidled out of dark hiding-places, and danced grotesque drunken figures on the floor, like goblins in a haunted glade. Erskine Childers, The Riddle of the Sands 62
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GALWAY TO GALICIA: A FAMILY CRUISE TO THE SPANISH RIAS Peter Owens (After completing an Atlantic circuit in their previous boat, in 2011 Peter and Vera bought Danú, a Bruce Roberts-designed 13m Mauritius ketch. In 2014 they cruised the Norwegian coast – see Northern Adventure, Lofoten 2014 in Flying Fish 2015/2 – but in 2016 the crew were younger and the destination somewhat less ambitious...) Our passage to Galicia from Galway in the west of Ireland was surprisingly easy. I was off work on Friday, and planned to be away early the next day. We got away first thing, and with northerly winds enjoyed a fast sail southbound along the coast of Counties Clare and Kerry. Past midnight the loom of the Fastnet finally dimmed and we began our passage to Camariñas. On board was Paul Murphy, a veteran of Danú’s previous adventures, and new lad Cian Kearns. I had met Cian – a broadcaster, adventure surfer and boulderer – a few weeks earlier and asked him if he was on for a 600+ mile trip to Spain, and despite having sailed only short distances previously he jumped at the chance. Off to a good start, we clocked up the miles, motoring for only six hours in calm before the wind picked up, again from the north. Morale was high, food was excellent, no tangos with shipping. Apart from the autopilot falling apart, no major repairs were necessary. A few times on the passage our batteries died due to inadequate solar replenishment and we had to run the engine to top them up. A mental note was made to double the amp hours. Cian interrogates Paul for an audio diary on the passage to Galicia 65
At 1700 on day six we tied up at the marina in Camariñas, having experienced a comfortable passage with northerlies in tandem with the northerly swell. Going onshore we were pleasantly surprised by the Galician prices – a beer cost only a euro. You could say we then made a traditional Irish landfall. Being such a laid back location, Camariñas makes a perfect place to arrive from Ireland. We stayed a few nights at the marina, but when Cian left to return home we abandoned the marina for the anchorage at the north end of the bay. The holding was excellent in the river mud, and Danú held fast despite the wild northerlies that developed the following day. In fact it made more sense to be on anchor in those conditions when we looked at the oscillating boats in the marina. We moved across the bay to Muxia, a pleasant town at the south end of Camariñas bay, where Vera arrived with Lilian (8) and Ruairí (6) and we begin our family cruise. We stayed a few days at Muxia, a laid-back place with less traffic than Camariñas, and the kids entertained adjacent crews with their pontoon jumping antics. Later we moved back to the anchorage at Camariñas and enjoyed a dinghy trip up river to Punto del Puerto, but it’s best to get the tides right for this one. We were able to hire bikes in Camariñas and had some fantastic (albeit hot) days exploring the surrounding hills and beaches. Rounding Finisterre and into the Ría de Muros was to be the biggest jump with the family on board. We motor-sailed for the bulk of this, experiencing light northerlies and a westerly ground swell. Lilian as ever was immune to any influence of the sea. Ruairí suffered, but by now he knew to keep up in the cockpit where he made a little bed for himself. We sailed south through fog banks, clearing when we made the final The Galician crew – Lilian, Vera, Peter and Ruairí
approach to Muros. We tied up alongside Irish boat Snowgoose and had a fine evening of songs and music with all. Moving on to Punta Negras, we anchored off the affluent beach frontage, noticing that the price of a cerveza was creeping up the further south we went. By now a pattern was emerging – this was not a sailing trip, it was becoming a beach holiday. Every day the weather was glorious, and every day the kids either wanted to be in the water or at the beach – and there is no shortage of beaches in Galicia, all very safe and suitable for kids. We continued southwards, stopping at the Isla Salvora en route to the Ría Arousa. This deserted island is part of the protected Atlantic Islands Nature Reserve, where permits are necessary in order to anchor and land. We had registered the boat the previous winter, and could then log in to book nights up to a week in advance. We spent a few hours on the island, including the obligatory pier jumping, for the weather was quite hot. Some local competition on the plaza in Muros
Forget the chartplotter, Ruairí shows the way Passing through an open field on the way back to the dinghy, we were chased down by a rogue stallion which really was scary. Relieved to be away from land, we upped anchor to relocate to the Isla d’Arousa. By day this popular tourist destination was noisy and brash, a host of floating craft vying with each other to create the loudest noises. We didn’t linger, weighing anchor the following morning and moving further up the ría to Cabo Cruz, which somehow doesn’t get much of a mention in the pilot. We planned for one night at the marina but stayed for four at this friendly place. One day we took a taxi to the river gorge of the Río Pedra above Pobra do Camariñal. The river has carved out many swimming holes – great fresh water fun with kids (make the trek up as far as possible, the best pools are furthest from the road). From Cabo Cruz we took the bus to Santiago de Compostela. Touristic kitsch almost outweighs the splendour of the architecture, which in any case was lost on Lilian and Ruairí – they Danú at anchor off the Isla Salvora
No shortage of wrecks off this coast! spent more time in and out of the water fountains in an attempt to cool down. Next we visited the Isla Ons and anchored off the stunning Playa Melide for three nights, though the swell got in there at times. From there we moved into the Ría de Pontevedra, calling in at picturesque Combarro, where we found Irish Cruising Club and OCC boats aplenty. Our welltravelled Optimist dinghy was launched and provided much entertainment, a perfect bay for teaching the kids sailing. By this stage, they’d mastered the art of
getting back onto the pontoon from the water, resulting in less stress on their parents. Pontoon jumping of all forms was a daily exercise. The downside to Combarro was that there is no nice beach nearby. After that it was a short spin to the Ría de Vigo, where there is noticeably more development than in the northern rías. We anchored for a few nights off the Enseada da Barra, a picturesque spot just at the entrance to the ría. From there we made for Moaña, where we anchored just off the marina in good holding. I had arranged for the broken part of the autopilot to be More snorkelling 69
The glories of Santiago de Compostela were rather wasted on the kids sent to Naco Marítima who are located in Moaña. They did the repair, and Raymarine honoured the warranty even though it was up by six months – hats off to them. I would highly recommended Naco Marítima for electrical/electronic repairs. Then it was back out into the ría in search of new beaches before hopping across to Vigo, which was our last destination and port for crew change. On the final night we reflected on the month’s cruise, and sailing with kids in particular. Their abilities improved vastly over this time, fast becoming little ship rats. The Galician rías give a perfect sailing destination for families, with plenty more anchorages still to visit. Next time round we may stay a little more time in the north. Vera and the kids flew back from Vigo, which has a convenient Ryanair connection, and the same day Christopher Lacy, Diarmuid Duggan and Damien O’Sullivan (Damo) arrived, ready for action. So with sore heads from perhaps one beer too many the night before, we manoeuvred clumsily out of the Real Club Náutico and headed out to sea, bound for Kinvara once more. It was a crew of climbers this time, though Damo has a racing pedigree, having competed in many events before he took to climbing. I had climbed with Diarmuid many times before he emigrated to Austria, but in recent years
Optimist sailing off SanVincent Del Mar; Ruairí in his element 70
Working for your keep, Cabo Cruz he had started sailing, and was keen to get more offshore experience. Vera’s nephew Christopher was 18 and had no sailing experience, but didn’t hesitate at the offer of joining us. Up for an adventure as any of us, he took very well to the life at sea. As we bashed our way offshore from the coast of Galicia in a strong northerly wind, all feeling rough, I wondered what lay ahead. Following on from a good passage south, and four weeks of brilliant cruising around the rías in perfect weather, the odds must be stacked against us. Pushing on, we eventually shook off the grip of the coastal northerlies leaving us to experience calms or fluky winds in Biscay. Damo tweaked as much as he could to improve our northbound performance. Years of fine tuning on racing boats were applied to Danú’s setup but produced little improvement in speed, much to Damo’s frustration. Maybe tweaking on Danú’s 18 tonnes was futile in light airs, but it provided distraction nonetheless. Christopher was found to have a notable ability to sleep despite the rolls and engine whine. Despite the slow northerly progress, whale sightings were exemplary with many observations of cetaceans, sometimes at very close quarters. We spotted some huge creatures, one just dipping before our bows in a choppy sea. As we got closer to Ireland the skies darkened, moving to monotonous grey, in stark contrast to intense blue while in the rías. The wind strengthened by the hour and the Navtex gave warnings of southerly gales in the western approaches. We ran goose-winged for as long as we could, reducing to headsail alone when beginning to surf the swells. As the wind increased further to southerly force 7–8 we had to hand steer in 4–5m swells, with many breaking waves. But over time we developed a ‘spotter’ technique, whereby your watch-mate would describe the swells coming from behind and direct the helmsman to cut left or right to avoid any breakers. It was demanding sailing and we felt very small indeed in those big seas. Closer to the Irish coast, the radio warned that the heavy swell conditions and strong winds would continue – this one was not letting up. Damo was in his element, and at times Danú surfed at 15 knots. 71
At last we were moving fast, which was what he signed up for. Passing Loop Head we were hailed on the VHF. It was comforting to hear Valentia Radio Station call us, and then Vera on the other end via a link call. It was in these conditions that we transited the south sound between the Aran Islands and the mainland. As we did the wind veered to the west, continuing very strong despite the forecast to moderate. It must have been a wild sight to see DanĂş from Black Head that day. Edging back to Kilronan in the Aran Islands was not possible in that wind, so we made the decision to make a dash for it back to DanĂşâ€™s home port, with the hope that we would make it before dark. We didnâ€™t. The tension continued right to the end, when we slipped into Parkmore in an early morning lull, all a bit frazzled but happy to have made it in one piece, the last miles of our summer cruise done in record time.
NAUTICAL CRYPTIC CROSSWORD Compiled by Domini Flying Fish 2016/2 carried the first nautical crossword for many years, and it would be interesting to know how many members manage to complete both. I’m quite sure I couldn’t, but am spared the ignominy by the requirement to check clues against answers during the layout process. Do please send feedback (to firstname.lastname@example.org) to confirm whether you’d like a crossword to become a regular feature ... always supposing that Domini doesn’t run out of inspiration, of course! ACROSS 1 Some Premier Cru is in great demand and all OCC members love it! (8) 5 & 23 Unaided, was he the first to qualify for the OCC? (6,6) 9 Standard socialist rag (3,6) 11 A back to front group of buddies first swallow tablets (5) 12 Notice crack when Not Under Command (6) 13 Strangely calm about an article originally seen in reference books (8) 15 Highly stiffen at sea, but it’s in your hands now (3,6,4) 18 Hardy friend first heard speech by the Spanish boy (7,6) 22 This is what the sailors were when the blue ship hit the red ship! (8) 23 See 5 across (6) 26 Ready about. Note safety device (5) 27 Beams up broken steel round harbour (9) 28 Break down dying genset regularly (6) 29 Sounds like sailor did what he does best – went down a rope (8) DOWN 1 Ocean streams reportedly dried fruit (8) 2 Decapitate helm to see the Milky Way! (5) 3 Emotional on the radio – the cabin floor is overflowing (7) 4 Leaders never expose the safety catches (4) 6 Comes in to rig a miniature folding craft (7) 7 They can hurt a rebel found in the ship’s toilet (9) 8 Mark a point between two ships (6) 10 Stupidly I rig alone, without a system of belief (8) 14 Stir tide around most obscenely (8) 16 Encouraging selling overseas, with hotel for papa (9) 17 Victoria was this virgin holding a masthead (8) 19 Replot so rhumb lines make a lopsided square (7) 20 Cuts between two points to block the light (7) 21 A backward turn taken from the impellor, and in the offing (6) 24 Rock up in La Rochelle (5) 25 Beat sandwich (4) Solution on page 182 73
DRIVING ACROSS SWEDEN AT 5 KNOTS John Franklin (After four years as our Commodore – April 2012 to April 2016 – John needs no introduction, and neither does his wife Jenny, but for those who’ve not previously met Al Shaheen, she’s a 42ft sloop, built in aluminium to a design by Past Commodore the late Mike Pocock, and launched in May 2001. According to John and Jenny’s website at www.alshaheen.co.uk, she takes her name from the Arabic for a female peregrine falcon – very suitable for a powerful and handsome yacht capable of covering long distances.) We had left Al Shaheen outside Stockholm for the 2015/16 winter, and the idea of crossing Sweden via the Göta canal first arose when we were planning to join the 2016 OCC Arctic Rally to the Lofoten Islands, starting from Bergen. The canal route appealed as being perhaps the least weather-dependent and warmest route to the Skagerrak in late April. As it transpired, Al Shaheen was at the back of the storage shed and that, with other factors, conspired against us getting to Bergen for early June. We did, however, drive to Bergen from the UK in order to meet all the participants and see them off, spending a very pleasant couple of days with Port Officers Jan Isaksen and Eli Steffensen and their crew Mike Bowker (all OCC). I was lukewarm about the prospect of subjecting our newly re-painted hull to the damaging prospect of manoeuvring her through the turbulence of 64 locks – it just didn’t seem to be the place to be for an ocean-going yacht with 2m draft and an 18m mast. But we had also made a commitment to provide an adventure for Connor, a 15-year-old South African grandson who had never been aboard a boat before, so a transit of the Göta and Trollhätte canals seemed a safe Al Shaheen ready for the season 75
Exhausted line handler way of doing that and getting us to Sweden’s delightful west coast with an agile young crew to do all the leg work in the locks! What is usually referred to as ‘the Göta Canal’ is, in fact, a combination of two canals connecting Stockholm with Gothenburg – the Göta Kanal and the Trollhätte Kanal, crossing both Lake Vattern and Lake Vänern (44m above sea level) before reaching the coast again. The Göta Kanal is one of Sweden’s best-known and most popular tourist attractions, and has been named the Swedish Construction of the Millennium or Sweden’s biggest ever construction project. The 190km (103 mile) canal was built between 1810 and 1832 by some 58,000 Swedish soldiers who dug half of it by hand. It stretches from Mem o n S w e d e n ’s e a s t (Baltic Sea) coast to Sjötorp on Lake Vänern, reaching 91∙8m above sea level at its highest point. It contains 58 locks, 21 marinas, many canalside mooring wharves and 45 remotecontrolled opening bridges. The very substantial transit fee entitles one to stay in each of the marinas for five nights free of charge, and some locals use this as their annual vacation. A typical lock scene 77
All the locks are manned and operated by lock-keepers, although often one lock-keeper operates a group of locks which may result in a long wait while he handles boats through the other locks. During the summer peak season (mid June to mid August) the locks are operated by college students, all of whom speak perfect English and whose relative lack of boating
Recessed bollard on the Trolhätte Kanal Trolhätte Kanal bollard and ladder attachments knowledge is made up for by their very cheerful and helpful natures. In general the lock-keepers do not handle your lines so, ascending, you have to land a crew member before the lock, who then runs ahead and takes your lines as the boat enters. Descending is much simpler as you enter a full lock and the crew can step ashore with the mooring lines. When ascending, the incoming water causes a great deal of turbulence and it is essential to keep the bow line tight and the bow pinned in to the wall as the boat rises. The preferred technique is to run a bow line from a ring ashore through a fairlead or snatch block right forward, and than back to a sheet winch in the cockpit. The stern line is set up tight vertically and left secured. As the boat rises, the bow line is kept tight with the sheet winch and the boat edges forward. Descending is much easier and faster, without any turbulence and, if rove as a ‘slip line’ you can recover your lines in the empty lock without getting off the boat. Water is very plentiful, so if yours is the only boat lock-keepers will normally lock you through without waiting for other boats to arrive. This has the great advantage that you can take a middle position without the worry of surging into other tightly-packed boats in the turbulence. In busy periods there will often be four boats in a lock, and it helps to be in the second tier to lessen the effects of the turbulence. 78
There are a few pitfalls to watch out for in addition to the turbulence. Wind on the rig is a problem, especially when entering a full lock, as there isn’t the shelter from the walls that there is when entering an empty lock. When descending, it is essential to remain clear of the cill under the upstream lock gate as the water level falls. At times of excessive water in the canal, as it was for our transit, when some of the locks are full there is only about 15cm (6in) freeboard on the stone lock walls and it is very difficult to prevent fenders being squeezed out. Also, fenders pick up grit and slime from the stonework which marks or even scratches the topsides. The Trollhätte Kanal is very different. It was constructed for the passage of seagoing ships of up to 4000 tons between the Kattegat on the Swedish west coast and Lake Vänern, 44m above sea level, and opened in 1800. Nowadays over 3∙5 million tons of goods are shipped through the canal annually. It is 82km (44 miles) long, of which 10km is man-made and the remainder a natural waterway, the Göta Älv (river). The canal is dredged to a minimum depth of 6∙3m. The locks are huge in comparison to those on the Göta canal, being 6–8m deep, with double bottoms which give a very even distribution of water and almost no turbulence. Each lock movement takes between 8000 and 12,000 cubic The first lock on the Göta canal at Mem metres of water. The locking technique for small craft is to hook the bight of a line over small bollards recessed into the lock wall, or to pass a bight through the side rails or rungs of steel ladders, also recessed in the walls. We also followed the example of several others, and used a boat hook on the ladder to simply hold the boat in place These are spaced about 10m apart and 2∙5m vertically, so with a 10–16m boat it is possible for two crew to hook on to one bollard and one ladder. As the water falls, or rises, the lines have to be transferred onto the next set of bollards above or below and the line to the ladder moved accordingly. It sounds 79
difficult, but with no turbulence in the lock it is all very easy and relaxed. The locks are operated by staff in a control room, and it all happens very smoothly without any sign of human intervention. Bridges on both canals are mainly remotely operated, but the larger ones on the Trollhätte canal have a bridge tender in a control room on the bridge. The small, remotely-operated bridges can be quite frustrating as you have to get up quite close to ensure that the camera has ‘seen’ you, but you are never quite sure and if there is a long delay in opening there is no mechanism for progressing the operation. It is no use making a lot of noise with a gas horn as there is no one in attendance! On the Göta canal, bridges and locks operate from 0900 to 1700. Navigation is permitted outside these hours but is limited by locks and bridges. Railway bridges have very specific and limited opening hours, which often means quite a long waiting period. Waiting in the Trollhätte canal is a problem, as there are very few pontoons or wharves suitable for small craft to wait at and it usually means gilling about in mid-stream, coping with the wind, current and other traffic, while trying not to be blown into the shallows or against industrial docks. A number of old passenger boats, some still using their original steam engines, ply the canals between Stockholm and Gothenburg. These vessels are often moved through the locks at night to avoid disruption to the leisure traffic, but even so one often finds that a lock, or even a staircase of locks, is closed while a passenger boat is brought through. This can be frustrating if you have a tight schedule, so it is best not to have one and to enjoy the sight of these old vessels being manoeuvred through.
Waiting for the 1912-built MV Wilhelm Tham
MV Juno, built in 1874 and the world’s oldest cruise ship How long does it take? The Göta canal between Mem and Sjötorp normally takes six or seven days to transit in peak season, and if you plan to continue through Lake Vänern and the Trolhätte canal to Gothenburg add another three or four days. It would be difficult to do it much faster than this due to lock and bridge opening times, bridge delays, lock delays due to other craft and lock closures to allow passage of one of the passenger boats. But it is best to take your time, have a relaxed schedule, enjoy the scenery and the experience, explore locally and not get frustrated by the inevitable delays. We took 12 days, which was rushing it – 20 days would have been more enjoyable. We started our trip from Saltsjöbaden near Stockholm, and spent Public park facilities at Söderköping 81
Ice creams at Söderköping several days sailing the 110 miles through the Stockholm archipelago southwards to Mem at the western end of the Slätbaken and the entrance to the Göta canal. We then spent a few days moored at the delightful old town of Söderköping, waiting for our crew to arrive and sampling one of the world’s largest – and probably most expensive – icecream parlours. One of the oddities at Söderköping was the large number of Syrian refugees around the town, and it was quite out-of-place to hear so much Arabic spoken in this aquatic backwater. Leaving Söderköping, we progressed westwards through Lake Asplängen, where we anchored, and then through Norsholm with its railway bridge and into Lake Roxen. There we plugged away against a 20 knot headwind, before ascending a seven-lock staircase into the Berg Basin marina for the night. Next The Söderköping Midsummer festival
The flight of six locks at Berg morning we had a long wait for a passenger vessel to come down before we could continue, but were pleasantly surprised the following day by a visit from a drone operated by Port Officer Mike Westin. We stopped for a couple of hours to share a drink with Mike and his father, who were researching information for a guide t o S w e d e n ’s I n l a n d waterways that Mike was producing. In Borensburg we came across the only manuallyoperated lock in the canal, which Connor operated for us, all the others being hydraulically-operated with electric controls. After Borensburg we entered Lake Boren, and then ascended a flight of six locks up to Motala, where we berthed alongside for the night outside the town. After Motala we motored into the vast Lake Vättern and spent a few hours at Vadstena Castle, before crossing the lake to Karlsborg and Forsvik where we spent the night under the lock. We had a delightful and unexpected meeting with Peter Holliman and Lore Haack-Vörsmann, OCC, aboard Orion, and spent a pleasant evening telling the usual OCC stories of adventure. Next morning we passed through the Forsvik lock – the high point of the Vadstena Castle 83
The summit at Forsvik, 91∙8m above sea level canal at 91∙8m above sea level – into Lake Viken and Tätorp, and then through a long stretch of narrow, winding channels to Töreboda for the night. The next day 18 locks took us down to Sjötorp on Lake Vänern and the end of the Göta canal. We did do some sailing on Vänern on the first day and found a very pleasant, secluded anchorage for the night. We should have stayed a day or two but, anxious to be on our way to get Connor to Oslo airport for his return to South Africa, we set off for Vänersborg 38 miles away and the entrance to the Trolhätte canal, plugging away against a southwest wind and a nasty short chop in the shallow water – a thoroughly miserable trip. Vänersborg marina wasn’t up to much either, very shallow and few places with sufficient depth for us. It was a mistake to miss out on exploring Lake Vänern, as there are some interesting places to visit – take the time to do so.
End of the Göta canal at Sjötorp on Lake Vänern
Evening anchorage on Lake Vänern The next day we started down the Trolhätte canal, passing through the first lock at Brinkebergskulle without mishap and much relieved by how easy it was. Then the flight of four locks at Trolhättan dropped us 32m down the almost vertical escarpment alongside some of the fascinating old locks, now disused but preserved for display, and also the canal museum. Still feeling a need to press on, we carried on downstream and went into a delightful little marina with a very narrow hidden entrance, immediately before the next lock at Lilla Edet. There we met an Irish boat Oisin Bån, with two ICC couples aboard, and had a pleasant evening of Irish tales and mutual acquaintances. The next morning we passed through the Lilla Edet lock – the last of 64! – as soon as it opened and then had to wait an hour for a 10m bridge under repair to be opened for us. About 20 miles further on we had another long wait at the 13m bridge at Kungälv. This is quite an industrial area with no yacht-friendly wharves to moor to, so we had to gill about to stem the current and deal with the cross-wind. The final bridge before Gothenburg is a busy road bridge with a stated height of 18∙3m, which they are reluctant to open at rush hour – which it was, of course. Having a mast height of 18m I didn’t want to risk it and requested an opening, having quoted our air height as 19m!
Lilla Edet marina
We emerged from that bridge only a few hundred metres from the only marina in the centre of Gothenburg, Lilla Bommen. A huge square-rigged ship marks the entrance, but its bowsprit overhangs half of it, making it difficult to assess whether or not there are any vacant berths before being committed to entering. Our approach turned into a nightmare as, with 25 knots of wind under our stern, we got halfway in, were chased away from the only vacant hammerhead berth, and as we tried to turn against the wind in a very restricted space very nearly got run down by one of the many ferries whose berths occupy one side of the marina. Eventually emerging unscathed but shaken, we managed to berth alongside the river A bridge lifted wall in front of the Opera House and to 20m for us on top of a ‘no mooring’ sign, along with three friendly Norwegian yachts. We later learned that Lilla Bommen is the most expensive marina in Sweden, so although our berth was not very comfortable with the wash from countless ferries, at least it was free. In all we logged 220 miles and spent 12 days over the transit, with 64 locks and what felt like as many bridges. In retrospect we did it too quickly, and didn’t spend enough time exploring the local towns which we passed through. It was certainly an experience, with attractive scenery and enjoyable on the whole, but at times it was stressful handling a seagoing boat in and out of locks with crosswinds. It certainly taught me a lot about boat-handling in confined spaces! Useful references: The Göta canal website: http://www.gotakanal.se/en/ The Göta canal Skipper’s Guide: http://www.gotakanal.se/media/1159/gota-canalskipper-s-guide-eng-2015.pdf History of the Göta canal: http://www.gotakanal.se/en/gota-canal-history/ Trolhätte canal information: http://www.kissen.co.uk/trollhattan.php http://www.sjofartsverket.se/sv/Batliv/Trollhatte-kanal11/Eng_Tys-versioner/ trollhatte_eng/ Eight NV charts cover the Göta Kanal and Trolhätte Kanal, and it is also described in some detail in the RCC Pilotage Foundation’s The Baltic Sea. 86
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BOATOWNER’S MECHANICAL AND ELECTRICAL MANUAL – Nigel Calder, 4th edition. Published in hard covers by Adlard Coles Nautical / Bloomsbury Publishing [www.adlardcoles.com / www.bloomsbury.com] at £60.00. 944 284mm x 228mm pages, many with black and white photos. ISBN 978-1-4729-4667-6 Nigel Calder’s Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual was first published in 1990 and is now in its fourth edition. It is essentially a ‘how to’ guide for the mechanical and electrical systems generally in use on most boats. The sub-title says it all – ‘THE Guide to Fixing Everything on Your Boat’. There are 17 chapters covering most systems you can think of, and these chapter headings have in general not changed over the previous versions. The book starts with an extensive exploration of electrical systems, including battery management, power generation (different types of generators, solar, inverters), electric circuits, lightning protection, electronics, lighting, radio and so on. One new chapter provides significant detail for energy intensive boats, reflecting the recent trend in boats using more power-hungry systems. This is also Calder’s opportunity to provide knowledge of hybrid propulsion technologies (diesel-electric boats), for which he must be one of the world’s leading authorities. On the mechanical side there are chapters dealing with transmissions and propellers, refrigeration and air-conditioning, plumbing, pumps and watermakers, steering systems and self-steering, heating, deck gear and rigging. Diesel engines do not get extensive coverage, although basic operation, maintenance and troubleshooting are included. Calder has written a separate book – Marine Diesel Engines – which covers the subject in detail and could be considered a companion guide, although there is some cross-over. Each chapter includes basic concepts and theory before moving into problems, troubleshooting, fixing and maintenance. Calder makes good use of the many black and white photos, illustrations and cut-away diagrams to visually explain his points. There are 28 trouble-shooting charts to help diagnose problems, and over 100 reference and conversion tables. Calder’s explanations are very comprehensive and clear, especially when troubleshooting where the combination of charts and text is excellent. Some of his detail can go down to quite a low-level and may be off-putting for someone with no prior knowledge at all, but anyone performing their own maintenance or in need of answers in a remote location will appreciate the extra depth. The Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual has grown considerably in size over the years. The reviewer’s own, well-travelled second edition from 2003 tipped the scales at 592 pages, compared to 944 pages in the latest edition. These extra pages 89
are partially attributable to more diagrams and illustrations, but mainly to significantly more content. For example, the Electronics chapter now occupies 32 pages compared to 16 previously, covering additional detail such as instrumentation network standards and cabling which weren’t included in the second edition. This book is a very comprehensive guide for the systems you are likely to find on a bluewater cruising boat. It lets you make informed decisions about new equipment and also about repairing, improving and maintaining existing systems. It is not a casual read from front to back, rather it is a reference work that should be dipped into when needed. It is not a complete beginner’s guide, and it helps to have some prior understanding of the subject matter, but there is enough in here to help and inform the beginner and expert alike. It is well written, and you will be glad you have it on board if local services aren’t available or the budget won’t stretch. At a recommended price of £60.00 this book is not cheap, but is well worth the cost if you don’t already have it. If you do have a prior edition then you may think twice about upgrading, but either way there should be a copy of the Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual on any long distance cruising yacht’s bookshelf. AJB
THE TASMANIAN ANCHORAGE GUIDE – edited by Jeremy Firth, 5th edition, 6th printing. Published in soft covers with a robust spiral binder by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania [www.ryct.org.au] at A$65.00. 146 210mm x 297mm pages with 80 maps, 12 photographs and a comprehensive index. ISBN 978-0-646-59153-7 Participating in the Van Diemen’s Land Circumnavigation Cruise organised by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania in March of this year (see Cruising Tasmania, page 133) provided the perfect opportunity to review the latest edition of the Tasmanian Anchorage Guide, edited by Jeremy Firth who as many members will know also edits the OCC Newsletter. The Guide was first published in 1992 and, as Jeremy points out in the introduction, now ‘combines hundreds of person years of knowledge and experience of cruising on the Tasmanian coast’. This is immediately evident as soon as you study the contents in detail. The Guide itself is divided into seven sections. The first is a general introduction covering information on useful charts and publications, biosecurity, passage distances and coastal radio stations, as well as a helpful glossary of abbreviations and acronyms. The remaining six sections divide up the Tasmanian coastline in anticlockwise fashion, starting with the east coast north of Hobart and finishing with the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. Each section includes a series of chartlets of the available anchorages along the coast, together with accompanying notes for each anchorage covering approaches, hazards and points of interest. The information is clearly laid out and easy to follow, and is illustrated by some excellent photographs, though in my view it could benefit from a few more covering the approaches and entrances of the principal harbours and anchorages around the 90
coast. It would also be helpful to have a short introductory paragraph at the start of each section describing in general terms the type of cruising and anchorages on offer. That said, Jeremy has done an excellent job in making the Tasmanian Anchorage Guide a very professional and useful publication. This view was certainly shared by the other participants in the 2017 Circumnavigation Cruise, who were all issued with a copy of the Guide as part of their entry fee. If you are contemplating cruising in this beautiful and unique part of the world – which I would thoroughly recommend – then you should definitely arm yourself with a copy of the Guide. You will find it invaluable. JSL
THE FROZEN FRONTIER: Polar Bound through the Northwest Passage – Jane Maufe. Published in hard covers by Adlard Coles Nautical / Bloomsbury Publishing [www.bloomsbury.com/uk/non-fiction/nautical/] at £18.99 / US$28.00. 320 150mm x 236 page, with colour photographs. ISBN 978-1-4729-3571-7 When I tell you that I have sat with my crew in the comfortable saloon of Polar Bound at Fort Ross, waiting for ice to clear in Prince Regent Inlet to let us through to complete the Northwest Passage, and enjoyed the warmth of the excellent Dickinson stove, eating an equally excellent supper cooked by the author herself, and that the boat was designed by naval architects based in Oban near where I live and largely built by a fabricator even closer to home, you might suspect I would be prejudiced in writing this review. Be that as it may, it is a good read and not just for those who have an interest in the Northwest Passage and a yearning for adventure, but rather for those who want to learn more of the background to the voyages. Thankfully, as the Preface is keen to point out, it does not consist of a list of courses steered, wind directions encountered and sail changes made (difficult on Polar Bound which has no mast). Rather it is a personal account, told from the personal point of view, of the author’s voyages through the Northwest Passage undertaken with that redoubtable but enigmatic character David Scott Cowper, in his powerful, purpose-designed, ice-strengthened Polar Bound, written in an energetic and page-turning style. Broadly speaking two ground-breaking transits of the Northwest Passage are described – though the second attempt at a record did have to be aborted due to ice – both told very much through the eyes of the lady crew member. Some might wish for more derringdo, with successes and near misses, and difficulties encountered and surmounted, rather than the strong emphasis on events, with impressions of harbours and ports, places and people (and the kindnesses of the latter), and the fauna and flora. But this is a story with highlights, and some low-lights, described with occasional pithy personal comments and impressions, and with all revealed in places. If you have travelled this way you may not agree with some of the opinions expressed regarding places and peoples, but remember that the story is told from a personal point of view, and Jane has avoided the pitfall 91
of including too much detail. On the other hand there is some excellent descriptive writing, and not just about tumultuous seas and mighty winds. So if you want a unique insight into the people, places, fauna and flora of these wonderful lands, then this book is for you. If you want a blow by blow account of the adventures and the intricacies of how the passages were accomplished, then maybe not. But there is enough to see how the passages panned out and to keep the excitement going, and to reveal insights of David at work on two of his incredible voyages. I am told that I am but an adventurer and a Philistine but I still read it right through ... well, almost ... and I learned a lot, even some English words I had never met before and the meaning of which I still don’t know! While the pictures are clear and tell their own stories, maybe initially they are over-weighted with regard to Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians which is not really part of the Northwest Passage. And where is the one with Polar Bound squeezed out and lying on top of the ice in the McClure Strait which made such an excellent Christmas card? There is the occasional factual inaccuracy – self-governing Greenland may be surprised to hear that Denmark ‘owns’ their country! – and Jane does seem a little hazy historically regarding her forebear, Sir John Franklin, and the course of his disastrous expedition. And I would certainly deny most strenuously the implication that we had anchored in too shallow a depth and not veered enough chain! But these are small quibbles in an interesting and informative book. In the background throughout one is made aware of David’s incredible achievements in this realm, and personally I know that David, hopefully accompanied again by Jane this time, has just one more strait to traverse to achieve the amazing record of having made the voyage through the Northwest Passage by every conceivable route available to a small, private vessel. Maybe it will be made this summer. We wait with bated breath, and so for the sequel to this book ...! RLMS
SOLO AROUND CAPE HORN and beyond – Edward Allcard. Published in soft covers by Imperator Publishing [www.imperator-publishing.com] at £17.99. 194 156mm x 234mm pages, with hand-drawn chartlets and colour photographs. ISBN 978-0-9560-7224-5 A long time collector of cruising narratives, I was familiar with the two books detailing the transatlantic voyages made by Edward Allcard in his yawl Temptress. His Voyage Alone had somehow eluded me, however, and I had not known of his purchase of Sea Wanderer, her extensive refurbishment, and his setting out on what would be an episodic and lengthy solo circumnavigation. This book describes the second and most notable leg of this voyage. It took him from a semi-settled life in Buenos Aires way south “to the uttermost part of the earth”, rounding Cape Horn as part of a thorough exploration of the maze of channels, straits and islands which fringe the extreme south and west coasts of the 92
Americas. In just over a year he regained the latitude of Buenos Aires on his arrival at Valparaíso, Chile. Fifty years ago, when this voyage was undertaken, most yachtsmen hoping to double Cape Horn followed the clipper route from the Pacific into the Atlantic. A very few chose the route against the prevailing westerlies. The idea of lingering to explore the Patagonian channels seems familiar now, but then it was extraordinary. Sea Wanderer was more than fifty years old, but her design was ahead of its time, with quite generous beam, easy sections and moderate draught. She was fitted with a doughty Lister engine which was used frequently as a true auxiliary. In the most perilous part of the voyage it saved both their lives, enabling the bilge pump to keep pace with a serious leak. The engine was supplied free by the manufacturers – an early example of sponsorship. Edward Allcard designed and built an effective windvane self-steering gear, not easy on a counter-sterned hull. His dinghy was constructed of aluminium for strength and integrity. In so many ways he demonstrated a pragmatic, forward-thinking approach to sailing. His descriptions of the endless battle with the weather below 40°S give the measure of the determination and grit necessary to keep going and make progress. However, this is by no means a grim tale. His delight in and appreciation of the natural wonders of his surroundings, the intricacy of the navigation, and the hospitality of the people he encountered make this a thoroughly engaging read. His daily log is interwoven with references to the original inhabitants, early navigators and settlers – although solitary, he travelled in good company. The splendid charts drawn by his daughter break the text into manageable sections, making sense of the complexities of the route. Edward Allcard’s own slides have survived very well and illustrate many of the high points of the story. They give some idea of a world which has largely vanished. This account of a fascinating period in a long and remarkable life is a tribute to Edward Allcard’s own memory and to the practical support of his wife and his publisher. It rounds out the picture of an intrepid navigator and incurable adventurer – I wish I had had the privilege of meeting him. FASF
CRUISING GUIDE TO THE CANARY ISLANDS – Oliver Solanas Heinrichs and Mike Westin. Published in soft covers by Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson [www. imray.com] at £29.50. 184 200mm x 240mm pages, most with a colour photograph and/or a four-colour plan. ISBN 978-1-8462-3847-5 We have been cruising the Canary Islands since July 2016 and had the pleasure of meeting Mike and Oliver in Gran Tarajal, Fuerteventura. They were in the process of producing an exciting new Cruising Guide to the Canary Islands and we offered to help with proof-reading. The book was published at the beginning of January 2017 by Imray and is modern, colourful, easy to read and fun. 93
It must be noted that this book is not a pilot, it is a sailor’s guide to harbours, marinas, anchorages and land-based activities. The assumption (correctly in our opinion) is that most sailors have electronic charts which give sufficient information for pilotage. The harbours are not always covered in a logical order due to the magazine-style layout. We didn’t find this a problem, however, as there are chartlets for each island at the beginning of each chapter. In the Canary Islands the marinas and harbours are run by either the Spanish government, the Canarian government or private enterprises. When we first arrived we had a lot of difficulty understanding the differences. This new guide has all this information clearly explained, which is invaluable for anyone cruising the archipelago. We also found it difficult to get prices, particularly from the government marinas, so it is really helpful to see an indication of prices in the guide as they do vary considerably. In addition, Oliver and Mike have detailed where it is possible to get your boat lifted out and have work done, which can be expensive in private marinas. Mike and Oliver suggest land-based activities for every island, as well as clarifying the wind acceleration zones (respect them!) and the local sailing conditions. They then describe every marina or anchorage, with essential facts, great pictures, a chartlet and a ‘local sailor’ comment – we are the local sailors in Gran Tarajal – our claim to fame! Services, transport and amenities are included for the island at the end of each chapter, with lots of useful and up-to-date information. The new Cruising Guide to the Canary Islands is a great resource for anyone sailing the Canary Islands and is highly recommended. There are some excellent photographs including many aerials which are very helpful. Mike and Oliver are currently revisiting each island to ensure the information on their website at www.canarycruisingguide.com remains up-to-date. Please support them by sending any feedback or useful updates to firstname.lastname@example.org. JB &IB
LAST VOYAGES – Nicholas Gray. Published in soft covers by Fernhurst Books [www.fernhurstbooks.com] at £9.99. 236 130mm x 198mm pages with about two dozen b/w photos. ISBN: 978-1-9099-1155-0 I really enjoyed Last Voyages. At first glance the subject matter ‘The Lives and Tragic Loss of Remarkable Sailors Who Never Returned’ might sound depressing or even morbid, but all those selected by Nicholas Gray – in one case an entire crew – were doing what they had chosen to do. The tone is calm and factual, avoiding any hint of the sensationalism to be found in other books on similar themes, and what might have been little more than an anthology of well-known tales is brought into sharp focus by the fact that the author knew – and in many cases had either sailed with or competed against – a large proportion of the sailors whose final voyages are recounted here. He is also an outstandingly good writer. The Last Voyages are described in eleven chapters arranged in generally chronological 94
order, from 1949 and Frank Davison – husband of Ann Davison, who later became the first woman to cross the Atlantic singlehanded – to Philip Walwyn in August 2015. Each is written with real understanding of the individual circumstances, and it is here that the author’s own extensive cruising and racing experience shines through. A sailor all his life, in 1978 Nicholas Gray became hooked on fast multihulls and went on to class wins in the 1979 AZAB and 1982 Round Britain and Ireland races before reverting to classic wooden yachts. In some cases – as with the loss of Bucks Fizz and her four crew in the 1979 Fastnet Race – he makes informed comment at the end, honestly assessing that his own very similar Whisky Jack would have been unlikely to have survived such conditions. One or two of the lives lost are due to inexperience – being in the wrong boat in the wrong place at the wrong time – and at least one is partially down to poor preparation. A few are the result of sheer ill luck, while others lie somewhere in between. In each case the author tells us first about the person’s life and, in many cases, their very significant achievements in the world of sailing. Only then does he lead into the voyage which led to their death. There are a few minor errors – such as the reference to a Contessa 25 rather than 26, spelling Jeff Houlgrave’s name incorrectly, and stating that the first AZAB accepted two-handed entrants – but these are unimportant and it may be petty to mention them. There is a bibliography but no index, which would have been useful as the sailing world is close-knit and many of those Nicholas Gray writes about appear peripherally in the stories of others. The afterword provides additional food for thought, drawing practical lessons from some of the losses – would a different course of action have led to a happier outcome? – as well as underlining the author’s deep humanity and understanding of human nature. Last Voyages is a book relevant to all OCC members, both for the lessons in its pages and the light it throws on some of the most celebrated sailors of recent decades. Very highly recommended. AOMH
THE BOAT DRINKS BOOK – Fiona Sims. Published in soft covers by Adlard Coles Nautical / Bloomsbury Publishing [www.adlardcoles.com / www.bloomsbury. com] at £16.99. 176 183mm x 218mm pages in full colour throughout. ISBN 978-1-4729-3065-1 It’s reasonable to expect a book to do what it says on the tin/cover/bottle, but The Boat Drinks Book does that and a great deal more. I was expecting some kind of serious bar tender’s guide, maybe using a few exotic ingredients not found in the average UK supermarket, with a few pretty pictures of superyachts in the background. Was I wrong! Leaving aside the age-old appeal of anything to do with alcohol for most seafarers, The Boat Drinks Book is totally fascinating. Fiona Sims is an established writer about all things 95
food and wine, including The Boat Cookbook,* and as such conspires to disguise a great deal of knowledge in a very entertaining, colourful package. Whether or not you like the tipple in question, it’s still useful to know that vodka can be used to prevent razor blades rusting, to clean your glasses and to alleviate the pain of a jellyfish sting. After some suggestions for galley equipment – all sensible stuff, no mains-powered blenders or juicers – cocktail ‘add ins’, and advice on ‘Ten Ways to Cure a Hangover’, we’re off on a brisk tour of the alcohol-producing countries of the world, touching on the specialities and bargains of each region. The author is clearly very well-travelled, writing with equal enthusiasm of drinking manzanilla in Andalucia, wine in Australia (which now boasts no less than 60 designated wine regions), Singapore Slings in the bar of the Raffles Hotel and Painkillers in the Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke. Virtually every country with a sea coast gets its page or two, lacking only those where alcohol production and consumption are forbidden by law. To complement drinks one needs nibbles, and again Fiona Sims is in her element, from Potted shrimps (Britain), Sardine-stuffed eggs (Portugal), Gravadlax and beetroot (the Baltic) to Jerked fish skewers and chutney mayo (Barbados). Hungry, anyone? The final part of the book is devoted to cocktails. Not just how to assemble them, but some background about the spirits on which most are based, with a few non-alcoholic beverages included for good measure – see page 146 for a couple of examples. Not to put too fine a point on it, The Boat Drinks Book is a joy from start to finish. The text is intriguing, the recipes – liquid and solid – easy to follow and practical for a small galley, the illustrations (mostly photos, but also some bold and attractive watercolours) entirely apt, the production first class, and the price no more than a bottle of supermarket rum. It would make an excellent present, but be sure to buy two (or more) as you really won’t want to part with it. AOMH * To be reviewed in Flying Fish 2017/2, I hope.
SOLENT HAZARDS AND SECRETS – Peter Bruce, 6th edition. Published in soft covers by Boldre Marine [www.peter-bruce.com] at £16.95 + £3 p&p. 120 190mm x 255mm pages with colour photos (some aerial), drawings and chartlets. ISBN 978- 1-8716-8032-4 I was delighted to receive a request from the editor to review the new edition of Peter Bruce’s Solent Hazards and Secrets. I am a frequent sailor in The Solent, so was interested to see whether Peter had included all the hazards that I have managed to ‘find’ over the years – which he has. He mentions one or two others of which I was unaware, such as wrecks, unmarked by buoys, dangerously close to the surface at low springs. No prudent yachtsman would embark on an offshore voyage without first reading Adlard Coles’s Heavy Weather Sailing, now in its seventh edition as edited by Peter Bruce. 96
And no prudent mariner would go racing in The Solent without consulting Peter’s latest book on Solent Hazards. But what has this racing nonsense to do with the OCC? One or two of us may well race from time to time, and even possibly try to cheat the tide under sail while cruising. The question of ‘how close to the shore can I go’ always has relevance. But the real beauty of this book is the word ‘Secrets’. If you want to find an anchorage amongst the saltings, or head inland in your dinghy up a creek to find the pub, reading this book will greatly enhance your Solent cruising experience. It prompts me to reminisce about some of the stories related to these hazards. Peter mentions the grounding of the battleship HMS Nelson on the Hamilton bank in 1932. The Nelson was built during negotiations with Germany which limited the size of capital ships, so she was modified during construction with the back end of the ship chopped off, which made her uncontrollable at under 10 knots. The pilot was attempting to bring her into Portsmouth Harbour at 8 knots, and she took a sheer onto the Bank. ‘Into the arms of Emma at last’ flashed the Naval signals. Chief Petty Officer Williams, who was on board at the time, told me that they got her off by attaching eight tugs, motoring a flotilla of destroyers past flat out, and having the ship’s company jump up and down on the quarterdeck in time to the Marine band! Then there is the story of Uffa Fox’s wife, while bathing, standing on Grantham rocks off the Green at Cowes so that her husband in his Flying Fifteen could see from her head exactly when to tack. But one weekend she decided to squat down – half the fleet went in too far and got stuck. Uffa stayed a bit further out that day! Dick Hewitt knew the transits to go inside the Black Rock off Yarmouth and did so while navigating a 12 Metre. Their deadly rival was well aware of the rock, but mistakenly thought they were safe so long as they remained outside Dick... Then there was the novice couple on their first day out. He was below fiddling with the engine and she was following instructions to sail down the Lee-on-Solent shore. They ended up on the hovercraft ramp. The security staff allowed him to use their workshop to repair their bent rudder pintles in time for them to proceed at the next high water. She was very unimpressed with this whole seagoing thing. In Solent Hazards and Secrets, Peter alludes on page 6 to the greatest danger in The Solent, which of course is the presence of lots of other boats of different shapes and sizes. One can never be sure that everyone knows the rule of the sea, or can be bothered to keep to it if they do. There is the story of a member of the OCC in a 65ft yacht on a collision course with a small coaster in the Western Solent. The coaster was displaying no signals indicating any lack of ability to manoeuvre and had plenty of space to give way, but its skipper thought that ‘might was right’ and there was no need to alter. The yacht held her course. A collision occurred between the yacht’s spreader and the side of the coaster. In the subsequent enquiry by the Department of Trade and Industry the ship’s skipper’s defence of ‘inexperienced yachtsmen’ did not cut much ice when it was revealed that the yacht’s skipper was the Admiral of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the navigator was the serving Rear Admiral Hydrographer to the Royal Navy. However the DTI enquiry did sympathise with the tramp steamer skipper over the language used by the yachtsmen. I greatly enjoyed reading Solent Hazards and Secrets. The new, slightly larger, size of this edition does justice to the excellent photographs, for which Peter has obviously persuaded his aviators to take him up at very low springs and swoop down over every 97
rock and sand bank. He makes the point that many of the banks change shape from year to year, and I was unable to spot in his close-up of the Bramble Bank the furrow that I made across it some 30 years ago. We took a shortcut ... and won the race! AGHC
QUALITY TIME? – Mike Peyton, 2nd edition. Published in soft covers by Fernhurst Books [www.fernhurstbooks.com] at £14.99. 96 172mm x 239mm pages, most in colour. ISBN 978-1-9121-7701-1 and AN AVERAGE WAR – Mike Peyton. Published in soft covers, also by Fernhurst Books, at £12.99. 136 152mm x 210mm pages, with b/w photographs and cartoons by the author. ISBN 978-1-9099-1112-3 Mike Peyton died in January this year, a few days after his 96th birthday. To those of us who grew up with his cartoons – one or two a month in sailing magazines, plus a book given or received at Christmas – he was unique. Other cartoonists occasionally drew boats, of course, and a few were good, but no-one held a candle to Mike. He’d been there, he’d done it – or more likely watched someone else do it – and from that he derived his complete authenticity. There was never a single detail wrong. Quality Time? was first published in 2005, and now reappears with short tributes from some of his many friends in the sailing world. It is divided into two parts, the first 33 pages being reminiscences of his ‘Fifty Years of Sailing’, from a canvas canoe on the Thames to his drift into charter skippering – clearly fertile ground for a cartoonist – and succession of home-built ferro-cement yachts, Lodestone, Brimstone and Touchstone. (I recall him regaling the staff of Yachting Monthly in the 1970s with tales of his charterers and their self-induced mishaps, and remarking with a perfectly straight face that if he built another ferro boat he would probably call her Tombstone. I certainly wouldn’t have put it past him.) Following the text are 58 pages of cartoons, nearly all in colour (though some may not have been originally) with a bonus one, never seen before, on the inside back cover. Smiles guaranteed throughout. For a little more about Mike’s early, pre-boat life, read An Average War from the same publisher. It’s doubtful if any war can be ‘average’, and Mike’s certainly wasn’t, from army training camp to the Western Desert, as a prisoner of war in Italy and Germany – where he drew his first cartoon for a wall newspaper – and finally his escape from a working party to walk east and join the Red Army, until once again captured by the Germans. Based on his letters home, rediscovered in the proverbial box in the attic, this has the feel of a contemporary account and makes for surprisingly compulsive reading. Had Mike not found a unique place as a yachting cartoonist he undoubtedly had the talent to become a first-class writer. To use the time-worn phrase, ‘they don’t make ’em like that any more’. AOMH 98
Peter Bruce, author of Heavy Weather Sailing
Your reviewer of the 7th edition of Heavy Weather Sailing makes some welcome complimentary remarks, but mentions that a race-winning factor for diabetic Adlard Coles and his crew was having ‘three proper hot meals each day’. I have heard from Adlard’s son, Dr Ross Coles, who says he crewed for his father most of the time and that this was not really what happened. They did have hot meals when circumstances allowed but, what was important was to have three meals a day, and sandwiches would often suffice to keep Adlard’s sugar balance correct. Regarding food when racing, I am reminded of a story from Iain MacDonald-Smith, the Olympic gold medallist, who was crewing for Peter Whipp in Panda on the 1985 Fastnet Race when she was part of the British Admiral’s Cup team. Not much food or drink appeared at all during the whole of this wet and very windy race, and none of it hot. Just after the finish, a kettle was finally boiled but, to Iain’s disappointment, nothing more came of it. However, in spite of this trial and tribulation, Panda did come first overall ahead of the several hundred other entries, so it seems that while hot food may be more enjoyable than cold food, it is not essential to winning. Your reviewer complains about the use of the word ‘floor’ rather than ‘cabin sole’ in the caption on one of the final pages, and in this I do agree with him. Cabin sole is correct, both in the UK and USA but, in both countries, the word ‘floor’ is now used equally with ‘cabin sole’ and increasingly by the young who, I am glad to say, when planning to set off around the world often use Heavy Weather Sailing as their first reference. I feel that allowance should be made for this group as well as the translators, of which there were 11 for the last edition. It has been revealed that on one occasion another author’s use of ‘the cabin sole’ was translated into ‘the only cabin’! Heavy Weather Sailing continues to be the bible for the offshore sailor, so the terminology should be right and I shall try to use ‘cabin sole’ in future.
If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing. Benjamin Franklin 100
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HIPPOS TO HUMPBACKS: A NORTH ATLANTIC CIRCUIT Megan Clay (When Megan and Ed started looking for a boat of their own in 2015, Ed’s parents offered to sell them a half share in Flycatcher, an S&S-designed Contessa 38. Built as a One-Tonner in 1973, she was raced extensively by her original owner but became a family cruiser after the Clays bought her in the 1990s. Megan describes Flycatcher as ‘a fun boat to sail, handling like a dinghy, moving in almost any breeze and going upwind particularly well. She can also take much worse weather than we can.’ All the photos are by Ed and Megan except where credited.) It was with mixed emotions that, on 15 August 2016, we motored east into a sloppy sea and watched the early morning sun bathing the mountains of southern Greenland in pale pink. We were sad to leave but, with a full year of cruising behind us and a promise to my father-in-law that his half of the boat would be in Chichester Harbour in less than a month, it was time to sail for home. We had left Chichester Harbour on 7 August 2015 and sailed for La Coruña via Lulworth Cove, Exmouth (where my parents are based) Flycatcher and ice in Disko Bay, and Falmouth, where we Greenland. Photo Tom Smedley enjoyed excellent Cornish hospitality, primarily in the form of Betty Stogs and Old Rosie*. Biscay was kind, treating us to dolphins in the moonlight and airs light enough for us to try out our ‘solar shower’ (black plastic bag) on the foredeck. We adopted a previously-successful watch system, splitting the night into two five-hour watches. The rest of the day we broke up as we pleased, sharing out time on watch and relaxing. We slipped * For those unlucky enough not to have sampled them, Betty Stogs is a famous Cornish beer, while Old Rosie is an equally famous (and powerful) Devonbrewed cider. 103
into this system whenever we were sailing overnight, and it kept us topped up on sleep and in (mostly) good humour. In La Coruña we shopped for stores in the wonderful market, wandered the buzzing streets choosing between tapas bars, and began a love affair with polpo (octopus). We sailed in and out of the rías and south along the Galician Costa da Morte. Thankfully the only death was that of our (new!) dinghy, whose D-ring painter attachments couldn’t withstand the strain accompanying a passing cold front as we towed her to the next anchorage. We hid from gales in the Ría de Camariñas and Ría Arousa, enjoyed the narrow streets and epic slabs of corn bread in Muros and, sailing south, spent an afternoon exploring the Islas Cíes. We hopped down the coast of Portugal, stopping in Nazaré, where the biggest wave ever surfed was recorded in 2015, and Portinho da Arrabida, where we went for a walk and accidentally scaled a small cliff before trespassing into a convent. We had another smooth crossing from Sines to Porto Santo, arriving on 15 September. We walked the island, from the wooded slopes and levadas of the Pico Castelo, where the population sheltered from pirate raids in days of yore, to the more barren northeast coast. In Madeira we anchored in the beautifully rugged, if a little rolly, Baía d’Abra, and explored the markets of Funchal and the rain-soaked levadas of the mountainous interior with Ed’s parents, Henry and Louise. We celebrated the festival of Nossa Senhora da Piedade in Caniçal, and visited the remote Ilhas Desertas and Ilhas Selvagens on the way to the Canaries. Henry and Lousie left us there, and we cruised the Canaries for three weeks during October. We had our trusty Avon dinghy stolen in Fuerteventura, but enjoyed good food and wine (though we couldn’t drink the pine-aged Vino de Tea), and some great walks on Tenerife, La Gomera and La Palma. We had an uneventful sail from El Hierro to the Gambia, broad-reaching and then running south with time spent reading, shade-bathing, and sewing together the toosmall mosquito nets we had picked up in the bric-a-brac shops of Puerto de la Restinga. It was only when the wind dropped almost completely that we felt for the first time our lack of the ’fridges and fans that many who cruise the tropics consider indispensable. We kept well off the coasts of Morocco and Mauritania, before gybing to close the Senegalese coast on 30 October. Our first taste of the African continent, though, came an hour or so before dawn on 1 November, when we were inundated by a swarm of crickets. I was on watch, trying to keep track of the erratically-flashing lights of the first few pirogues we had seen, when the crickets began their haphazard aerial assault, flying into me and crawling around the cockpit. Before I knew it, the boat was covered in them and the noise was maddening. As the sun up came the invaders scuttled into nooks and crannies in the deck, rigging, mast and cabin lining, and our initial horror gave way to pragmatism. In spite of our best efforts with dustpan and brush (with which you could scoop up at least half a dozen at a time) we did not hear the last chirp until nearly a month later. What a welcome! The wind had died and we had a sweaty time motoring into the River Gambia, trying to get rid of the worst of our clamorous cargo while dodging fishing marks, nets and the low-freeboard pirogues that were hard to spot in even the modest swell that was running. Slipping through the brown river water past the city, we were excited to be sailing into Africa, and gazed at the number of pirogues pulled up on the beach, the palm 105
trees and the low cityscape of the capital. We rounded Banjulâ€™s southwest corner, passed the main docks, and dropped our anchor in the afternoon of Tuesday 1 November after 988 miles and seven days at sea. In order to clear customs, visiting boats are required to anchor at Half Die (so called since a cholera epidemic in 1869 wiped out much of the population). To enhance the yachtsmanâ€™s pleasure, the anchorage is poor holding in soft mud, has a fetch of a dozen or so miles of open river stretching away to the south, and is littered with wrecks. We had been warned that the clearance process in Gambia could Sunset over take several days and were Kuntaur, River Gambia ashore before 9am to find very friendly security guards who insisted we try some of their breakfast. Then it was along the dusty red roads to the container port, weaving between lorries belching blue smoke, open sewers, stalls selling baguettes and SIM cards, and the odd chicken or goat rummaging in a pile of
Hippo, River Gambia
Megan drinking tea with the port police in Banjul rubbish. There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between customs, immigration, port authority and cashiers to secure the correct paperwork, and a packet of Love Heart sweets did not prove an adequate ‘present’ for one official, but by 2pm we had finished. Though we were exhausted, everyone had been friendly, some incredibly so, and we could see why the Gambia’s tagline is the ‘Smiling Coast’ of Africa. Our time in Gambia was a world away from the rest of the trip and unlike any sailing (well, motoring) either of us had done before. Taking tides upstream and working off 19th century data on black and white charts, we watched the flora and fauna change as we moved upriver into fresher water. It was hot. With windless days and the engine radiating heat into the cabin, we took to pouring buckets of river water over our heads to cool down. In Bintang Bolon we saw riverbanks full of flamingos and went ashore to buy groundnuts cooked over charcoal and wrapped in paper under the eaves of corrugated-iron roofs. At Kudang Tenda, scores of children swam out to meet us and we were given a meal of fish before being taken for an exhausting paddle around the Deer Islands in a pirogue. The further up the river we went, the more wildlife there seemed to be: African fish eagles, vultures, herons, egrets, kingfishers, village weavers and other birds we failed to identify. Anchoring west of Bird Island, a hippo snorting 20m from the boat reminded us that we weren’t alone, even when we were miles from the nearest village. We didn’t swim that evening! Keeping Flycatcher’s 60 litre fuel tank topped up gave us adventures ashore. Our most memorable was at the ferry crossing at Mandina, where I stayed with the boat and Ed took two jerry cans to the nearby town of Farafenni. Returning, he was stopped and searched by the police. While the bread and vegetables were easy to explain, the roll of cling-film (one of the jerry cans leaked) and bundles of cash wrapped up in foil (you need a lot of Gambian notes to buy diesel) apparently looked suspicious and a policeman and drugs squad officer asked to see the boat. Picking Ed up in the dinghy, I was somewhat alarmed by his escort. We tried to make friendly conversation, but were both thinking that at best this was going to involve some big ‘presents’. Back aboard, the officers quickly found the medicine cupboard which they started taking apart. It was very hot, and seeing Ed crouching in the forepeak in a puddle of sweat explaining what contraceptive pills are was frankly 107
Walking on São Nicolau in the Cape Verdes surreal. Thankfully, they didn’t realise the full extent of Flycatcher’s stores, and after an initial inspection began to relax. Moses (the policeman) took an interest in the wine box, and I had to give a demonstration of the accordion. Back on deck we were invited to come for a meal on our return leg downriver. We parted great friends and were reassured to see that even Gambians thought it hot down below. When at last we tore ourselves away from Gambia (after spending a week at anchor in the mangroves while Ed recovered from an unknown tropical illness), we sailed for the wildly beautiful Cape Verdes. Sal, our landfall, was a flat, gritty sand dune, but São Nicolau was mountainous and green. We took an aluguer (a privately-run minibus carrying everyone and everything from chickens to whole tuna) across the island and walked up Monte Gordo. We spent a windy night anchored off the deserted island of Santa Luzia, before sailing on to Mindelo, São Vicente, where we spent two days exploring, stocking up, eating cachupa and pastel de nata (my vote for the best pastries of the trip) and listening to the local music, before setting sail for Barbados on 5 December. Unstable trades for the first few days saw us pushing south in light airs, and even beating, before they and we settled into our respective rhythms. After a relaxed crossing, with Monique (our Monitor self-steering gear) by far the most active crewmember, we rounded the northern tip of Barbados accompanied by dolphins after 15 days at sea. We spent Christmas anchored in Carlisle Bay, where my parents joined us, before devoting January and February to cruising the Windward and Leeward Islands from Grenada to Saba, visiting 40 anchorages in 11 countries. It was a sociable time as we met up with old friends and made new ones, and Ed’s sister Jo and her boyfriend Oli joined us for a couple of weeks. We had some great walking, particularly in the rainforests of Grenada, to a boiling volcanic lake on Dominica, and up the steep sides of Saba. On Montserrat we stumbled across Winston, the former Head 108
White Island, Carriacou of Police. He is one of only two people allowed into the southern part of the island, including the former capital Plymouth, which was destroyed by the (still active) Soufrière volcano in the 1990s. Due to a cancelled ferry we were the only people on his tour. It was fascinating and eerie to see the buried buildings and hear about the evacuation he had planned and executed. Thankfully only 19 people died, but many lost everything and the population fell from 12,000 to 5000. While there is rebuilding in the north, with the only wharf untenable in even the slightest swell things seemed to be progressing slowly. A whistle stop sail around the British and US Virgin Islands took us to the unspoilt Passage Islands off Puerto Rico, which offered a choice of deserted anchorages. Then we rushed along the south coast of Puerto Rico, sad not to have more time to explore, or to visit Hispaniola and Cuba, but if we wanted to see the States it was time to head north. The last day of our passage from Puerto Rico to the Bahamas brought such light airs that we were radioed by a friendly American skipper who was “just checking everything was okay”; we were sailing at under 1 knot while he motored along at 6. We reached the white sand beaches of Conception Island on 16 March, marvelling at water which went from dark blue to the colour and clarity of a bottle of Bombay Sapphire as the depth dropped from several hundred metres to twenty in under a minute. Buried houses in Plymouth, Montserrat
The following day we sailed on to Georgetown, where we met Ed’s sister Philippa and her now-fiancé David. The Exumas seemed to be a theme-park archipelago, with Staniel Cay offering snorkelling in James Bond’s very own ‘Thunderball Cave’, and Normans Cay on the submerged remains of an aeroplane that crashed trafficking cocaine for the local drug baron. Other uninhabited islands offered delightfully pink, free-range pigs trotting along the white-sand beaches (Big Major Cay), or hundreds of indigenous iguanas relaxing in the sun (Allen Cays). As we hopped from cay to cay we became more confident reading depth from water colour (broadly speaking, lighter is shallower, though with lots of caveats) and grew accustomed to a depth of 3m being commonplace. From Hope Town in the Abaco Islands we sailed for Charleston, South Carolina on 31 March, feeling our first cool night for six months as we crossed the Gulf Stream in a southwesterly gale. We had studied the weather forecasts before leaving, and decided that strong winds from the south were better than moderate winds from the north when crossing the Gulf Stream, so settled down to fast progress surfing downwind. It was a passage of birds as well as breeze, with an exhausted snowy egret making an emergency landing on Flycatcher’s toe rail. Separately, a second, unidentified, bird made it down below to flap frenetically against the deckhead and rouse me, very confused, from a deep sleep. Later, tired of the waves washing along the deck, the egret took to the cockpit, standing on whichever sheet we needed and squawking reproachfully whenever one of us tried to move about. He rejected food and water and looked increasingly bedraggled as waves sluiced through the cockpit (one large enough to set off my lifejacket). We were sad, though, when he jumped overboard after a particularly bothersome manoeuvre, leaving him floating alone on the waves only eight hours before we made landfall. We spent April and May chasing the start of the sailing season from the Carolinas up to Maine. This meant quiet anchorages, though it was mooring-laying season and the harbours were often full of buoys but no boats. We had thought that the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) might help us make progress when the weather was inclement, so set out along the Stowaway egret looking unhappy as we cross the Gulf Stream 110
Sailing into New York ICW from Charleston towards Georgetown, revelling in the beautiful early April mornings that greeted us as we moved north. Watching eagles circle overhead as we set out from Awendaw Creek and motored through the low marshland was magical, though the sharp, cool air ensured that only the helmsman was on deck to experience it until the sun was higher in the sky! Long stretches on the ICW were not for us, however. Perhaps it was that Flycatcher’s 1973 Perkins 4108 is louder than many of her more modern brethren, or that our first day was spent with eyes glued to the echo-sounder with less than 2ft under the keel. Or maybe the enforced cup of tea when we ran aground near the bottom of the tide. Either way, we sailed back out to sea and jumped to Beaufort and around Cape Hatteras. In the Chesapeake we developed a taste for the historical sites, myriad creeks and excellent oysters, before taking the C&D canal into the Delaware (less picturesque, unless you like power stations). A stunning morning sail into New York harbour, past the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan, was followed by four days exploring the city with my parents. Ed’s sister Bridget, and her boyfriend Ben, joined us in Long Island Sound, to be bored senseless with our enthusiasm for the excellent maritime museums and beautiful wooden boats built in this part of the world. We were constantly surprised by people’s kindness to visiting sailors, and loved Maine’s Scandinavian-feeling islands. From Maine we crossed to Nova Scotia, where we fortuitously arrived in Shelburne during their annual lobster festival, happily eating lobster ‘creamed’, gratinated and boiled, and receiving the best hospitality of the trip at Shelburne Harbour Yacht Club. In early June we met up with Ed’s parents in Lunenburg, and explored the south shore of Nova Scotia before cutting through the Bras d’Or lakes for a few days out of the fog and some Cape Breton music in the pub. We sailed on to the Bay of Islands, western Newfoundland, where we were greeted with 45 knot katabatic squalls. We 111
found shelter at Woods Island – though the house that had blown over suggested it wasn’t always so sheltered. Fresh southwesterly breezes blew us to the Straits of Belle Isle, where we visited Port au Choix, Red Bay and then L’Anse aux Meadows. Though the right whales the Basques hunted from Red Bay are long gone and the fish stocks have collapsed, the welcome was warm, and we had to force money into the hands of one fisherman who gave us diesel from his own stores when none was available. It was getting colder – lots of layers and big gloves were required on deck, and we met our first iceberg in the straits. We re-crossed to St Charles Harbour and Battle Harbour, known, when cod was at its peak, as the capital of Labrador and now a museum settlement. We had read that Labrador had two seasons: winter and July, and with July starting we were tempted to stay. But it was time to sail for Greenland, so we consoled ourselves with thoughts of returning. We pushed offshore to clear the icy Labrador current before heading north for two fairly hard days of cold, wet weather, with up to 30 knots against us and a large pinch of seasickness. The wind slowly moderated before dying completely, leaving us motoring over glassy seas in the midnight sun to Paamiut. After buying fish at the local hunters’ market and enjoying showers at the fish plant, we followed the inner leads north to Nuuk, snaking between sporadically-charted islands and skerries – Greenland’s motorways. We had a cold, foggy time of it with light headwinds, but explored deserted Faroese fishing stations and found ourselves new anchorages between the skerries. Local supermarkets were a treat, not only selling excellent
Flycatcher on the wharf at Qeqerttarsuatsiat, Southwest Greenland Danish-style bread, pastries, fruit and vegetables but also rifles, ammunition, flotation suits and anchors, alongside frozen whale meat. Ed’s parents left us in Nuuk and we were joined by Tom Smedley, a friend from university. With a southerly wind blowing we put to sea half an hour after he arrived in the midnight twilight. A following breeze with sunshine and spinnaker took us north to the Arctic Circle, which we crossed under motor in a flat calm. We saw more bergs as we neared Disko Bay, where several active glaciers calve huge icebergs. Many of the bergs we saw in Labrador had started life here a season or two earlier, and thousands process across Disko itself. In Aasiaat it was so warm ashore that we were walking around in T-shirts. But next morning the fog descended once more and we carefully picked our way through islands and ice, able to hear whales blowing but not see them, although we convinced ourselves that we could make them out on the radar. Approaching Ilulissat we were treated to two groups of humpback whales bubble-netting – corralling the fish, diving down and erupting, mouths agape, out of the water through the middle of their ‘net’. We had to tack to avoid one group but got an amazing view, and overpowering smell, as they passed a few lengths in front of us. Next day we walked along the side of the ice-fjord, which is crammed with ice from the glacier at its head. Humpback whales feeding in Disko Bay. Photo Tom Smedley
Sailing amongst the ice in Disko Bay. Photo Tom Smedley We sailed north through the bergs to Paakitsoq Fjord, where we celebrated our furthest north of the cruise at 69°31’N. The next morning, we took a mosquito-ridden walk to a waterfall and, in accordance with Flycatcher’s one-in-all-in policy, all got underneath it. It was icy but at least there were no mozziez in the water. At Kangaatsiaq we moored alongside a fishing boat and I got a big surprise next morning when, while Tom and Ed filled fuel cans ashore, I felt Flycatcher start to move. Jumping up on deck, it quickly became apparent that our mooring lines were still intact and our neighbours hadn’t thought to mention the small matter of getting underway. Fortunately, we were only moving for a ferry and were soon alongside again. Fog lifting in our anchorage at Manîtsorssuaq, Western Greenland
They even gave us seven snow crabs. We tend to eat well on Flycatcher, but the snow crab thermidor that Tom created as we ran south took cooking onboard to another level. Our bellies full, we kept going through the night to Sisimiut. Beautiful anchorages at Manîtsorssuaq (south of Sisimiut), Cruncher Island (near Kangerlussuaq fjord) and Appamiut cemented Greenland as our favourite place of the trip. A detour up Sermilingnaq fjord, with hills and glaciers reflected in the still water, was breathtaking. Alas, it was (again) time to press on and we headed offshore to Nuuk, where Tom left and Ben Lister joined us. We hopped to Paamiut and followed the inner leads from there, with three relatively sunny days and some more lovely anchorages. Approaching Kap Desolation we met katabatic squalls, and beat into a gale up Torssukatak, the narrow gap between the mainland and the Kap. After 45 tacks we had done enough for the day, and sat out the rest of the gale in the nearest bay marked ‘havn’. At Sildefiord we couldn’t find the reputed remains of a Norse settlement, though we did gather mussels and blueberries for supper. Appamiut – the best anchorage in Greenland (and the mosquitoes agree)
At Unartoq, a small island with a hot spring apparently used by the Norse, we spent a surreal twilight hour sitting in the small pool drinking beers and watching icebergs. But we had been studying the weather models and, with a possible window for an Atlantic crossing opening up, kept moving towards the fjord system around Kap Farvel. Having stocked up on fuel and food at Aappilatoq, an amazing key hole harbour, we motored down Ikerasassuaq (Prins Christian Sund), a channel which runs for some 40 miles between mainland Greenland and its southern tip. Glaciers reach the water and mountains rise up on either side, and we spent an incredulous day motoring, negotiating brash ice and passing seal-topped icebergs. We tied up at the Danish weather station at the entrance to the fjord, which this year became unmanned. Everything remains intact, with tens of buildings, bridges, cable cars (still working), fuel tanks and aerials. A kayaker had told us that you could get into 115
Motoring up Sermilingnaq, Western Greenland one of the buildings and, after a bit of exploring, we found an entrance to the living quarters. It was as if it had been left yesterday, with the power still on, furniture intact and freezers and stores full of a year’s supply of food. We sailed from Greenland early on 16 August, with initially slow progress and a worst run of 66 miles in 24 hours. But we had escorts of pilot whales and fulmars and, five days out, we met the next low pressure system. Having worked south to keep the wind behind us, we had four days of favourable winds of between 20 and 35 knots, albeit rainy and grey. The wind dropped and veered to the east as we approached Ireland, and our final night was a beat past the Skelligs to Lawrence Cove, Bantry Bay, where we tied up after 11 days at sea. From there we stopped at Crookhaven, the Scillies, Falmouth and Exmouth, where we were fed well by my parents and spent our first nights ashore for 13 months. On 11 September we finally picked up our mooring in Cobnor, Chichester Harbour, 400 days, 16,450 miles and 240 harbours after leaving. We were surprised to find that we had been underway nearly a third of the time – perhaps we should go more slowly next time.
B Q # K # Q B Victory awaits him who has everything in order – luck we call it. Defeat is definitely due to him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions – bad luck we call it. Roald Amundsen, the first man to sail through the Northwest Passage, in 1903–1906 116
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THE TOOTH FAIRY Pam Wall, Port Officer Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Pam joined the OCC in 1975, and ten years later set off to circumnavigate with her late husband Andy and children Samantha and Jamie aboard Kandarik, their home-built 39ft Freya sloop. They returned home in 1991, but made several more long cruises aboard Kandarik, which Pam still owns. Pam is in demand to speak on cruising and fitting-out at boat shows and clubs across the US, and for more than ten years was an instructor at the annual Women on the Water Week at Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI.) Many years ago, as we were sailing around the world in our 39ft sloop Kandarik, we had a watch system for our longer passages. Our children Samantha and Jamie were aged seven and four respectively, but our watches included them from the moment we departed Port Everglades. Three years later, when Jamie was seven, we took Kandarik part in the Darwin to Ambon International Yacht Race. There were about 100 entrants and it covered approximately 600 miles. The Race Committee required each entered yacht to have a minimum of four adult crew members, but when Andy and I were filling out the paperwork to enter the race I must confess that somehow or other we simply forgot to include the dates of birth of our two young crew members! The race started on 28 July, Sammyâ€™s birthday, and we were all excited to have the chance to compete against our cruising friends. Our watch system of two hours on and six hours off was strictly kept â€“ all four crew members were making a concerted effort to get the most out of Kandarik and win the race! 119
Jamie aged four, when we departed on our circumnavigation The wind was fresh and it was a fast, wet race, but that never daunted our desire to give Kandarik her head and make a fast passage. Andy was on the midnight to 0200 watch. The wind was on the beam, the seas slapping the hull, the decks wet, the night dark with clouds,
and Kandarik was lifting her skirts and just flying along. Jamie, always hard to wake up for his watch, came into the cockpit sleepyeyed, and took over with his two-hour steering watch in the cockpit. Andy and Jamie went over the course, the trim of the sails, the speed of Kandarik, the lookout situation with racing boats Sammy and Jamie look for dolphins from Kandarikâ€™s bow all around us, a few ships to be seen ... the usual hand over of good watchkeepers. The race rules required hand steering at all times, so Jamie was left in the cockpit on the helm acknowledging all the information that his Dad had pointed out to him. Then Andy went below, dried off, brought the log up to date, checked our course and speed, and went to the aft quarter berth where he slept near the companion hatch. Only about ten minutes into his watch, Jamie called for his Dad to come into the cockpit. Sleeping lightly as he always did when Sammy or Jamie were on watch, Andy rushed up to the cockpit to see what Jamie wanted, knowing he would only ever call him if in real need. 120
Jamie, Sammy and friends in their tent on deck while crossing the Pacific in 1985 “Could you please open the forward hatch?” Jamie asked. Astounded, Andy replied, “Jamie, we are taking green water over the bow, why on earth should we open the forward hatch?” Jamie responded a little sheepishly, “Daddy, I lost my last tooth today and it’s Our route around the world, 1985-1991
Jamie examines his tooth under my pillow.” He really thought his father would understand. When Andy said, “Yes, I know that! But why open the forward hatch on a night like this?” Jamie, wide-eyed and with tears coming, said, “How is the tooth fairy going to get below if I’m sitting here in the cockpit near the companionway hatch? She’ll be scared of me!” Andy immediately understood and had to think quickly. He patted Jamie on the shoulder and told him, “Jamie, the tooth fairy is very small – remember Tinkerbelle in Peter Pan that we read about? She was a tiny fairy, just like a tooth fairy. You don’t have to worry, the tooth fairy can get to your bunk through the vents in the dorade boxes. No worries there, Jamie.” With great relief Jamie thanked his father and continued his watch, steering a good course, keeping a close lookout, trimming or easing the sheets as necessary, keeping a watch on the wind and weather, and making sure that all the sleeping crew aboard Kandarik were safe while he was in charge. But all he really cared about was the tooth under his pillow, and the 25 cents that the tooth fairy would leave for him! Thank goodness Jamie reminded Andy about the 25 cents under the pillow – imagine how terrible for Jamie if the tooth had still been there after his watch, and no coin! Children brought up on a boat – the best life a family could have together!
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AROUND THE ISLE OF WIGHT ... BY WAYFARER! Mike Norris Helen and I have always felt that yacht and dinghy sailing complement each other. Indeed, we took up both activities at the same time in 1992, after the children decided that going on holiday with friends was more fun than going with their parents! Bluewater cruising in our 37ft Countess ketch has given us mileage and therefore experience of a wide range of conditions and situations; dinghy sailing keeps us fitter and helps hone basic sailing skills. Hence we still own and sail both a Countess and a Wayfarer dinghy. Over the winter of 2015/16 we enjoyed a second six-month cruise of the Canary Islands in Island Drifter before sailing back north in April 2016, via Madeira, to Lagos in the Algarve. There we decommissioned her and had her pulled out on to the hard at the Sopromar Boatyard before flying back to the UK at the end of May. Much of this summer has been spent in our beach chalet on Calshot Spit at the mouth of Southampton Water, opposite Cowes and the Isle of Wight. We are fortunate that, when at the chalet, we can moor our Wayfarer for free on a drying mooring some 50m off the beach. Being able to sail it easily and regularly in the Solent helps mitigate any withdrawal symptoms in respect of our Countess! The 16ft Wayfarer was designed as a ‘cruising dinghy’ by Ian Proctor in 1957, initially built in plywood although subsequently most were made in GRP. See http://wayfarer. org.uk/ for full details. The UK Wayfarer Association organises an annual 70 mile open-sea rally around the Isle of Wight, unquestionably the most challenging event in the UKWA’s cruising calendar. This year, because it was held in mid-August, I was able to participate for the first time. In the 1960s and ’70s Wayfarer sailors explored the limits of the boat’s open-sea capabilities. One of them, Frank Dye, who sailed to both Norway and Iceland, wrote a classic book about his experiences. After his death his widow was instrumental in persuading the UKWA to organise the IOW Circumnavigation, in order to continue to encourage seamanship and navigation skills in open boats. The Rally first took place in 1985 and was repeated annually for the next 12 years. Red Kite moored outside our chalet
UKWAâ€™s 2016 IOW Circumnavigation logo Unfortunately, in 1997 the event had problems that necessitated assistance from the RNLI, and as a consequence the UKWA withdrew their support for the event. It was reinstated in 2002 by two experienced Lymington-based Wayfarer sailors who introduced improved safety procedures and regulations. The 70 mile circumnavigation is run as a rally, not a race, and can take between 10 and 18 hours to complete. Only experienced sailors are
allowed to participate, and boats and gear are rigorously inspected beforehand by the organisers. Participants, however, have to sign a waiver acknowledging that they take full responsibility for their own decisions, actions and the resulting consequences. There are no safety boats. There are, however, four safety officers on the ground who maintain radio contact, monitor the fleet at key locations around the island, and keep the Coastguard informed about the progress of each boat. Preparing Red Kite for inspection and launch at Calshot Activity Centre 126
Preparing to leave our mooring The rally divides naturally into four stages of approximately 15 miles each: from Calshot down the Western Solent to The Needles; from there along the southwest coast of the island to its most southern tip at St Catherine’s Point; up the southeast coast to Bembridge Ledge; and finally northwest up the eastern Solent back to Calshot. Ian Ross, a good friend and fellow Wayfarer owner who has cruised with us on our Countess 37 in the Caribbean, Norway and the Canaries, agreed to join me on the circumnavigation. We had, however, only sailed together in a Wayfarer once before, so we went out in the Solent the day before the event. It didn’t highlight any problems nor dent our confidence. We were up in the chalet at 0500 on Saturday 13 August, and after a hearty breakfast rowed out to Red Kite on her mooring. There we prepared for sea, before advising the Rally Controller of our departure at 0630. (The other participating crews stayed overnight in the excellent accommodation at Calshot Activity Centre before launching from the Centre’s slipway soon after dawn in order to catch the ebb tide down the Western Solent. The first leg, although with the outgoing tide, was against a southwesterly force 4. This combination created a choppy sea and forced us to tack, closehauled, all the way to The Needles. We Departure from our mooring to head southwest were very conscious down the Western Solent to The Needles of the need to get round The Needles before the strong flood tide began at 1230, as after that we wouldn’t have been able to get round and would simply have had to return to Calshot with the incoming tide. 127
Looking back at The Needles from the south The Needles were not only the principal tidal gate on our passage, but also the point at which each crew had to make their own decision to either ‘Go’ or ‘Not Go’, depending on their assessment of the weather and their confidence in their own ability. Having made good progress down the Western Solent, and being happy with the conditions, we rounded The Needles an hour before the tidal deadline. The leg to St Catherine’s Point at the southern tip of the island contains only one port of refuge, and there is hardly any sign of habitation except at Fishbourne Bay. The rest of the coastline is barren and rocky, with steep sandstone cliffs – not a good place to turn over or suffer a breakage! We therefore played safe and put a reef in the main. On this leg we sailed on a broad reach, with the flood tide, a 2m sea and a force 5 wind. We literally surfed along at 7 knots over the ground, and in consequence reached St Catherine’s Point well before the worst of the overfalls had developed. A really enjoyable sail! We hove to when just short of the lighthouse and quickly dropped and furled our main, before sailing round the headland under jib only, the shore some 50m to one side and overfalls on the other. Even so, we travelled like a slingshot at 10 knots over the ground! Once past the Point we raised the reefed main again, and ran with the jib poled-out for most of the third Fast progress on the leg from The Needles to St Catherine’s Point 128
A fellow Wayfarer sailing under jib only
Another of the rally participants sailing poled-out up the southeast coast of the Island
leg to Bembridge Ledge outer buoy. From St Catherineâ€™s Point onwards the coastline is sheltered from the prevailing southwesterly winds, hence is more populated and even has a few ports of refuge. Very comforting to know! The flood tide approaches the Isle of Wight from the west. It splits at The Needles, where it initially enters the Solent at Hurst Point. Three hours later the same tide, which continues round the southern part of the island, enters the Solent from the east, leading to the phenomenon of the so-called double high tide in Southampton Water. Having successfully caught the flood at The Needles, we were able to sail all the way round the Island and back to Calshot with a favourable tide. Returning to our mooring at the end of the circumnavigation
Red Kite moored off our chalet at low tide On the final leg of the rally from Bembridge up the eastern Solent to Calshot, we therefore ended up with the tide in our favour, albeit against more than 20 knots of wind from the southwest. With wind over tide it was a very lumpy, closehauled passage, although it was achievable in only one tack. We did, however, have to hike out for over three hours on this leg, even though by then we had reduced the main to its second reef. The boat’s large self-bailers worked perfectly. We arrived back on our mooring buoy off Calshot beach and reported in to Rally Control at 1830, almost exactly 12 hours after leaving. After tidying up the boat, rowing ashore, and having a shower and supper we attended the ‘debriefing party’ at Calshot Activity Centre. That night we slept like logs. A great day’s sail and a great experience.
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CRUISING TASMANIA Jonathan Lloyd, Roving Rear Commodore (Jonathan and Anne Lloyd have both been sailing since childhood. They bought Sofia, a Malo 42, in 2013 and spent that year equipping her for ocean cruising with helpful guidance from their OCC mentors Pam and Dick Moore. Following retirement, they left the UK in June 2014 to fulfil a long-held ambition to sail around the world. They took part in the OCC East Atlantic Rally before crossing the Atlantic to Antigua, then cruised the Pacific to New Zealand in 2015. In 2016 they were appointed Roving Rear Commodores, and returned to the Pacific before arriving in Australia in late October. Future plans are to head back up the east coast of Australia to the Whitsundays and thence through the Torres Strait to Darwin, and then cross the Indian Ocean to South Africa in the latter half of 2017.) Tasmania did not feature as a cruising destination when we made the original plans for our circumnavigation back in 2014. All that changed during our crossing of the Pacific in 2015. While in Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas we met a charming Australian couple who hailed from Hobart, Tasmania â€“ they had purchased a Catalina 42 in Mexico and were heading home. We cruised in company as far as Fiji, and over a number of conversations along the way they convinced us that Tasmania was definitely worth a visit as a beautiful and unspoilt cruising ground. This view was reinforced by a series of encounters with both American and Canadian sailors cruising in the southwest Pacific in 2015/16, who had cruised in Tasmania and extolled its virtues. They were unanimous in their view that we should include Tasmania in our cruising plans. They said that we would not regret it and they were absolutely right. Fortuitously, on our arrival in Bundaberg, Queensland as part of the Down Under Rally in October 2016 we received an excellent briefing on Tasmania during the DUR welcome week from Campbell Pennefather who, although he lives in Brisbane, keeps his yacht down in Hobart. The breathtakingly beautiful photographs of the west coast of Tasmania which he showed whetted our appetites, and when Campbell mentioned that the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania organised a circumnavigation cruise that departed from Hobart immediately after the Wooden Boat Festival in mid-February 2017 we signed up on the spot.
Anne and Jonathan. Photo Maggie Chalmers 133
Sofia at anchor in Wineglass Bay From Bundaberg we made our way down to Sydney, where we spent Christmas and the New Year. While in Sydney we received an excellent briefing on Tasmania from OCC Port Officer John Maddox, who has many Sydney-Hobart races under his belt as well as several circumnavigations of Tasmania. After a very enjoyable five weeks in Sydney Harbour, Sofia set off for Tasmania on 10 January 2017. Following a brief stop in Jervis Bay we spent four days in Eden, New South Wales, waiting for the right weather window to cross the Bass Strait, which has a reputation for catching out the unwary with very unpleasant weather. With forecast northerlies in store we set off, and had an uneventful passage until just short of Wineglass Bay on the east coast of Tasmania, where we intended to make our landfall. When we were 12 miles north of the Bay the wind swung round to the southwest six hours earlier than forecast and increased to gale force, and we spent the next five hours beating into the Bay in very unpleasant conditions. After spending a night recuperating in Wineglass Bay we set off for Hobart 120 miles to the south, arriving next day to a very warm welcome from OCC Port Officer John Solomon, who was waiting to greet us on the dock of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. He had been tracking our progress down the east coast of Tasmania on AIS! He very kindly invited us for drinks at his home, which has stunning views out across the Derwent Estuary, and was a mine of information about the services we required in Hobart. During the next fortnight Sofia was hauled out for a much-needed scrub and polish, while we linked up with old Tasmanian friends Philip Bragg and Barbara Wheetman, who had persuaded us to visit their island. They were very helpful and generous hosts while we were in Hobart. We were also joined by OCC member Eve Wilhite, owner of Auntie, who flew down from Sydney to stay with us during the Wooden Boat Festival, which takes place in Hobart in mid-February every second 134
STS Tenacious in the Parade of Sail year. We had a very enjoyable time visiting the festival, which is a truly impressive event. The UK sail training ship Tenacious was one of the star attractions in the Parade of Sail which preceded the festival, and during the festival itself. The Wooden Boat Festival
The formal title of the cruise – organised by the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania in conjunction with the Royal Geelong Yacht Club in Victoria – is the Van Diemen’s Land Circumnavigation Cruise (VDL-C), using the name given to the island by Abel Tasman back in the 16th century. The VDL-C fleet is restricted to 45 vessels, but an international entrant will never be turned away. The organisers insist on participants meeting strict safety requirements, including an operational HF radio. That said, the requirements are easily fulfilled by any yacht that has crossed the Pacific. Entrants come from across Australia, with the majority on the 2017 cruise hailing from Queensland and Victoria. Most of the entrants belonging to the Royal Geelong Yacht Club planned to join the rally on the north coast at the Tamar River, but the remainder of the fleet assembled in Hobart in early February in time to enjoy the delights of the Wooden Boat Festival. The only other OCC participant was Rosinante, owned by Jeremy Firth and Penny St Leger. Jeremy edits not only the OCC Newsletter but also the Tasmanian Anchorage Guide*, which was issued to all participants and proved to be invaluable. He was also Radio Relay Officer for the 2017 VDL-C and by far the most experienced VDL-C circumnavigator in the fleet. On Monday 13 February the VDL-C crews gathered at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania for a formal fleet briefing. Each yacht was issued with a pack containing a comprehensive cruising guide, the latest edition of the Tasmanian Anchorage Guide and other useful items, all in a very smart red navigator bag. Then after a day of fuelling up and victualling the fleet set off on the five-week anti-clockwise circumnavigation. As we crossed the aptly-named Storm Bay heading for Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula a really brisk breeze picked up and we had a cracking reach across the bay up to Cape Raoul followed by a stiff beat up into Port Arthur, which was the site of the principal penal colony on the island and is now a world heritage site. We did not have the opportunity to see much of it, however, as we were off up the northeast coast the following morning. This is a very scenic coastline, but there are few safe anchorages along its length. The two anchorages which the VDL-C fleet visited were both in national * See review on page 90 of this issue. Cape Raoul, Tasman Peninsula. Photo Jeremy Firth
Sunrise over ‘Hole in the Wall’, Tasman Island parks (all VDL-C participants had been issued with park permits in their cruise packs), but if you are not on the cruise and wish to go ashore in a national park you need to obtain a permit from the Park Service. The fleet’s first anchorage was Maria Island, followed by Wineglass Bay, which we had called in at on our way south to Hobart. We spent several days in Wineglass Bay waiting for a suitable weather window to head north – a noteworthy feature of cruising in Tasmania if you wish to avoid beating into winds of over 20 knots. With a favourable southerly in prospect we set off for the north coast. While most of the fleet chose to anchor overnight in Binalong Bay and then Foster Inlet, we decided to make the most of the favourable winds and pressed on through the Banks Strait between the northeast corner of Tasmania and the Furneaux Cape Pillar and Cathedral Rock
Group. The strait can kick up a very unpleasant sea in wind-over-tide conditions, so we made the most of a flood tide and sailed on to the Tamar River, 60 miles to the west. The north coast is rather flat and dull in comparison with the northeast coast, but in the Tamar the coast possesses a very beautiful and substantial estuary navigable for 20 miles all the way up to Launceston which, after Hobart, is the largest town on the island. The area is also home to most of Tasmaniaâ€™s principal vineyards, many of which are easily accessible from the estuary. The fleet stopover on the Tamar was at Beauty Point, six miles upriver from Low Head and home to the Tamar Yacht Club, which made us all very welcome in their marina. We spent several days there, which enabled us to undertake a tour of local wineries and visit Launceston, where we met up with another charming Tasmanian couple whom we had met cruising in Tonga in 2016. They kindly had us to lunch at
VDL-C participants enjoy a barbecue at Bryans Corner in the Schouten Passage, south of Wineglass Bay. Photo Jeremy Firth their home, which has wonderful views over the town and surrounding countryside, as well as taking us shopping for provisions. The Geelong contingent joined the rally at Beauty Point, and after a dinner for the whole fleet at the Tamar Yacht Club we headed off west. Some of the VDL-C fleet called in at Devonport and Wynyard. However our 2m draught would have made either harbour potentially tricky, so we opted for Stanley harbour 60 miles to the west. Stanley has a fairly narrow and shallow entrance, which is exposed to an easterly swell. A strong easterly breeze and substantial swell were exactly the conditions that we encountered as we made our approach, so we decided 139
Hells Gate, Macquarie Harbour
not to attempt an entry and instead continued to the Spiers Nook anchorage on Three Hummock Island, part of the Hunter Island group at the northwest corner of Tasmania. These islands are deserted and unspoilt, and we spent a very pleasant day at anchor there. Next in store was the wild west coast, which has a somewhat fearsome reputation due to its lack of safe harbours and exposure to the prevailing westerlies, which come all the way across the southern ocean from South America. We were very fortunate, however – the weather gods decided to bestow the most benign conditions on us. For the 120-mile passage down from Spiers Nook to Macquarie Harbour we had an enjoyable broad reach for the first 60 miles down to West Point, and then had to motor the rest of the way. The entrance to Macquarie is known, with considerable justification, as Hells Gate. It is very narrow, and the approach is bounded by shoals on one side and a rocky training wall on the other. An OCC member on a previous VDL-C rally described entering as ‘a hair whitening experience’, but for Sofia the conditions could
Butler Island, Gordon River
not have been calmer, although we had to motor hard to make progress against the outgoing current as it funnelled through the Gate. Once inside the entrance, Macquarie opens up into a substantial inland harbour, 20 miles long and five miles wide. At the north end of the harbour is the town of Strahan, and at the south end is the infamous Sarah Island, which was used as a brutal convict prison from 1824 until 1832 prior to the opening of Port Arthur. There is also the Gordon River, which is navigable by yacht for up to 20 miles. The hills surrounding the harbour are forested with pine trees including the famous Huon pine, which was heavily felled during the 19th century to provide timber for ship building due to its excellent rot-resistant properties. Because the Huon pine takes hundreds of years to reach maturity, today the few remaining trees are strictly conserved. We spent several days in Strahan, a pleasant small town now surviving largely on tourism, seeing the local sites including the historic railway built in the 19th century to bring copper from Queenstown down to Macquarie Harbour. Its steam engines, built in Glasgow over a hundred years ago, are some of the oldest still in service anywhere in the world. We then set off to explore the Gordon River, motoring all the way to Sir John Falls landing. The quiet, unspoilt beauty of the river and its impressive gorges were truly memorable, and as the tourist catamarans from Strahan are allowed only part-way up the river we had most of it largely to ourselves. On our way back to Strahan we called in at Sarah Island, and were fortunate to be able to piggyback on one of the official guided tours which are provided for the catamaransâ€™ passengers. While we knew that the island had been a brutal penal colony, we were interested to learn that during the latter part of its existence it had also been a very productive shipyard producing over 200 ships, some as large as 200 tons, with convicts providing the labour force. After Sarah Island we called in briefly at Strahan for fuel and provisions before heading out to Pilot Bay, just outside Hells Gate, for a short overnight stop before heading further down the southwest coast. Convict ruins, Sarah Island, Macquarie Harbour
Mount Rugby, seen over Claytons Corner, Bathurst Harbour
The next ports of call were Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour, which are adjacent to each other and accessible only by sea, by air into a small airstrip, or on foot. They are described in the Tasmanian Anchorage Guide as the ultima thule of Tasmanian cruising because of their remoteness and spectacular beauty. Again we were remarkably fortunate with the weather, and had to motor the whole 90 miles from Macquarie Harbour. On arrival we headed up to Bond Bay in Port Davey and anchored near several other VDL-C vessels. After a pleasant beach barbecue that evening, next day we explored by dinghy up the Davey River. The scenery here has a rugged beauty, with far fewer trees than Macquarie Harbour â€“ in some respects it is not dissimilar to the more remote lochs in the Scottish Highlands. Next day we motored down the Bathurst Channel, which contains many delightful anchorages, to Bathurst Harbour, Sofia (on the right) in Frogs Hollow, Bathurst Channel
Above the clouds on Mount Rugby, Bathurst Channel where we anchored at Claytons Corner. From there we took another dinghy trip up the Malaleuca Inlet, before heading back to Frogs Hollow, a convenient location from which to attempt the ascent of Mount Rugby which towers nearly 2500ft above Bathurst Channel and Harbour. I was accompanied on the climb by the crewmember of another VDL-C yacht. We took the dinghy across the channel and set off in thick, heavy mist. The climb was steep and very hard work in the muddy conditions, but by the time we reached the halfway point we were above the clouds and mist and able to look down on the harbour and channel covered in a white blanket of mist. Fortunately by the time we reached the summit the mist had cleared providing stunning panoramic views, making the hard climb well worth it. Once back on Sofia we proceeded down the channel to Bramble Cove, where the VDL-C fleet had assembled for a game of beach cricket and a barbecue, a very sociable and enjoyable occasion. The 2017 Bramble Cove Test Match. Photo Jeremy Firth
Rounding Southeast Cape
The next stage of the rally took us along the south coast to Recherche Bay at the southern entrance of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. Like the west coast, the south coast is a rocky lee shore with no safe harbours to speak of. We had a brief stop-over in New Harbour in very calm conditions before proceeding to the Coalbins anchorage in Recherche Bay. The bay was once home to a thriving whaling industry and sawmill, but is now a haven of tranquillity. Here we spent two days with Tasmanian friends Philip and Barbara, who had driven down from Hobart in their campervan. Philip spent the time diving for crayfish and abalone. Sadly the crayfish eluded him, but he did manage to pick up five abalone – we had not eaten abalone before and they were delicious! Barnes Bay, and the last barbecue of the 2017 VDL-C. Photo Jeremy Firth From Recherche Bay we continued up the D’Entrecasteaux Channel between Bruny Island and the southeast coast of Tasmania. The channel provides an extensive and sheltered cruising ground with many attractive anchorages on both sides. We called in at Southport, Port Cygnet 144
and Barnes Bay on our way back to Hobart, and at the time of writing Sofia is berthed in the marina at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. Hobart itself is a delightful city containing many historic sandstone buildings, with Mount Wellington as an impressive backdrop. Fortunately it has escaped the fate of so many cities whose skylines are now dominated by ugly high-rise buildings. It is well served by chandleries, sailmakers and other marine businesses, and has some excellent restaurants and museums including the world class MONA gallery just up the Derwent River. In summary, Tasmania certainly met our expectations as a delightful and interesting cruising ground. We had to use the motor much more than we had expected, but that was the price for the very benign and sunny conditions that we have enjoyed during our two month stay. I can thoroughly recommend Tasmania as a cruising destination to any OCC member contemplating a visit to Australia. It is well worth the effort. If you are able to time your venture to coincide with the Wooden Boat Festival and the Van Diemen’s Land Cruise, so much the better. The cruise certainly provides a very reassuring, sociable and enjoyable way of circumnavigating this wonderful island.
FROM THE BOAT DRINKS BOOK by Fiona Sims (see page 95) Dark & Stormy Ingredients • 2 shots dark rum • 3 shots ginger beer • ½ shot fresh lime juice Mix all the ingredients together in a tall glass and fill it up with ice. The mainstay of cocktail-drinking sailors everywhere. It hails from Bermuda, though the origins are rather fuzzy. What you’re looking for is the perfect balance between the tangy snap of ginger beer and the richness of the rum. The addition of lime isn’t authentic, but it tastes good. Cucumber Smash Ingredients • • • • •
½ cucumber 2cm piece of root ginger, grated 500ml apple juice ½ lime strips of cucumber for garnish
Grate the cucumber into a bowl. Stir in the ginger and the apple juice and squeeze over the lime. Strain the mixture into a jug and pour into ice-filled tumblers. Finish with strips of cucumber, if you fancy. This always reminds me of the summer I once spent in Turkey, buying cold cucumbers from sellers on the beach – cucumber never tasted so good. The Margarita Ingredients • • • •
2 shots tequila 1 shot Cointreau 2 shots fresh lime juice salt, for rimming the glass
Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into a salt-rimmed glass. In theory, there is nothing to making a Margarita. It’s not meant to blow your socks off – it’s about balance, like all cocktails. It’s important to use good tequila, make from 100 percent blue agave – but don’t waste a good aged tequila, which should be sipped on its own. Cointreau is the best orange-flavoured liqueur to use in a Margarita, and always use fresh limes. The best Margaritas are either shaken, or stirred on the rocks.
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BANK NOTES Graham and Avril Johnson (Graham, Avril and their 44ft sloop Dream Away have covered a good few miles since leaving the UK in 2002 on a (very) leisurely circumnavigation. Over the years they’ve written about visits to West Africa (FF 2003/2), Brazil (2004/2), Tierra del Fuego (2005/1 & 2005/2), Chile (2007/2), Lake Titicaca (2008/1), Central America (2008/2), the Juan Fernández archipelago (2009/1), Baja California (2009/2 & 2011/1), the coconut-milk run across the Pacific (2012/2)as well as several technical pieces – and that’s just in Flying Fish! This article covers the period between mid July and the end of October 2015.) As the gibbous moon rose on a cold, dark and windy passage north from New Zealand, an incredible, brilliant silver arch appeared in the sky. A moonbow, a narrow luminescent gateway looking like a time portal to another world. We little realised how it was heralding our forthcoming time-warp adventure in Vanuatu. Aneityum was our landfall in Vanuatu, ravaged by a cyclone earlier that year. After checking in we moved on to Tanna, where Port Resolution was an apocalyptic sight. The main village had been levelled, crops washed away, trees and bushes denuded and the ground turned into a sea of boggy mud and rocky rubble. The people were thin and gaunt – it was impossible not to be moved by their plight. On the next island, Erromango, a large community lived alongside the river flowing into Dillon’s Bay. The river, a constant supply of life-supporting freshwater, had been transformed by the cyclone into a dangerous seething torrent, sweeping away crops and houses as water levels rose up the valley sides. Many still dwelt under large tarpaulins as they sought to rebuild their homes and their lives.
Tarps still in place in ravaged Erromango
As we sailed north, spending time in Efate, Emae, Epi, Malakula, the Maskelynes, Ambrym, Pentecost, Maewo, Ambae and Santo, apparent levels of devastation decreased but everywhere had problems. Our boatload of aid goods was distributed along the way and we offered practical assistance wherever possible. Nevertheless, we often departed aware of how much more was needed, saddened by the desperate situation but heartened by the gratitude and resilience of the people. Remote in the north of Vanuatu, the Banks Islands are well off the tourist route and have few visiting yachts. Kastom (tradition) is very strong here, with village life hardly changing in the isolated communities. The people are dirt poor with a subsistence economy and limited access to health care, although most have schools available. Proportionately little aid arrives, so anything you can give is hugely welcome and kidsâ€™ clothes were truly prized. Gaua (Santa Maria) is the most southerly of the Banks Islands, a jungle-clad, craggy, volcanic island with many reef-strewn bays. From Port Orly, Santo, a lively 55 mile sail in a brisk wind brought us into Lakona (Pwetevut) Bay on the southwest side of the island, sheltered from the prevailing trade wind but subject to swell. Next morning, following a dramatic arrival ashore in the surf, we were grateful to locals who rushed to our rescue. After clambering up the cliff side to the village we were shown around by Father Levi. The villagers organise an annual culture festival and Levi asked if we could update the advertising flyer. Luckily he had a CD of pictures from the last event. We agreed that he and his wife, Linette, would visit later to look at a layout. Levi loved the layout, and next day he and a mate sat below, selecting pictures from the hundreds on the disc. All looked fine except one of a chap lying on the ground Repairing is a group activity
impaled by an arrow. “Don’t think that’s going to appeal to tourists”. “It’s important black magic” replied Levi, our Anglican priest. Apparently the chap gets shot, collapses, and is carried off to the nakamal (the traditional meeting place) where the kastom chief and black magic doctor perform certain rites. An hour later he walks out right as rain. The picture had to stay. Who were we to argue? Back in the village Av had gone to help Linette with a coconut biscuit recipe which had defeated her. She was greeted by a roomful of women with kids gathered around all the windows. Not quite ‘celebrity chef’ but miraculously the end product was excellent. As an encore she baked banana cake, a further huge success. In the meantime, Stephen, one of our rescuers, paddled out with a wonderful selection of fresh vegetables. He was fascinated by the boat, wanting to know how everything worked. It transpired he was the village handyman, capable of turning his hand to just about anything the villagers needed. He was naturally talented, delightful company and always Stephen and his prized toolbelt available to help. Chief John Star lived in a large family compound separated from the village. He had been unwell when we arrived, but we finally got to meet him and present a small gift. His family were a good bunch with lively humour who chatted for ages and made us very welcome. The cockpit was often full with visitors, bringing gifts of food or just enjoying the novelty of being there. For Stephen we put together a box of tools; he was clearly overcome, his immediate reaction being that he could never repay us. Later we gave him a leather tool belt which he wore forever after – he’ll probably be buried wearing it! Water music is an iconic tradition in the Banks Islands and the village women treated us to a special show. Sound is generated by a rhythmic splashing from a line of women immersed chest deep in a pool. A sort of clapping movement somehow produces a deep 151
Water music whooshing bass note adding an extra dimension to the resulting tune. It was both fun and enthralling, with everyone enjoying the event. Our stay ended when a high swell made the anchorage decidedly uncomfortable. We sailed north to Vanua Lava, the largest island in the group, the open water between the islands lively with williwaws blasting up the west coast. We dropped into Waterfall Bay halfway along, protected by a large reef and backed by high hills. It was a good anchorage, named after spectacular twin waterfalls cascading down into a delightful swimming hole in the reef at the southern lip of the bay. The pool separated the family compound of Chief Kerely from the main village, a ribbon development along the coast. Carolyn paddled alongside offering to take us for a hike to the top of the waterfall, wondering if we would like to trade children’s clothes for fruit. Next came Kerely’s daughter, Janet. He was away but could we go ashore to be officially greeted by the family? Would we like some freshwater prawns and had we any children’s clothes? Then Nixon paddled up from the opposite direction, could we charge his 12v battery? The sub-plot being: could we fix his solar system? Did we have any soap, possibly some AA batteries and various domestic items? He then reeled off a list of fruit and vegetables he could trade, and invited us to Sunday family lunch.
Carolyn comes calling 152
Waterfalls and water nymphs Ashore, we were greeted with a welcoming speech and singing to a tune remarkably like our National Anthem. Now we were included as members of the village we were welcome to gather water, do our laundry near the waterfall, and ‘just ask if you need anything’. The waterfall walk was fascinating as it passed through the village gardens, an amazing horticultural endeavour with an intricate system of irrigation channels feeding market gardens that flourished with a prolific variety of fruits and vegetables. Lunch with Nixon was enlightening – becoming disenchanted with village life he had uprooted his family to return to his hereditary land along the coast. The new home was at the wide entrance to a volcanic crater that had blown its side out to seawards. In a short time he had cultivated the slopes with a profusion of crops, the fishing was good, the family happy and he was at peace with his world. He showed us the cave where his grandfather used to live and the skulls and bones of off-island visitors who ‘did not make it back’. Goods were exchanged, songs sung (same tune) and his solar system was working when we finally left. One man and his adze... Chief Kerely returned and spent hours chatting on the boat. He was articulate, well-educated and had spent time in the government in Port Vila. Having quit politics, totally disillusioned b y t h e corruption, he 153
Lobster preparation was now working to improve the lot of his island. His village was hosting an islandwide culture festival, outsiders would be welcome, and he wondered if we could produce brochures, some coincidence! It was brilliant fun, but first we needed pictures. Kerely knew what photos he wanted, and we tried to show everything at its best. Everyone was thrilled with the finished product. A few days later we were enjoying our fourth lobster dinner after another lunch of freshwater prawns – they may be poor, but they know how to say thank you! Finally, after a delicious farewell dinner, we left at first light with Nixon aboard for a lift around to Tivetwot Bay on the northeast side of the island. He soon had the fishing gear out and we arrived with three fine tuna. It was an interesting reef-bound entrance and we were glad of Nixon’s local knowledge, trusting he fully understood the concept of a keel. Samuel paddled out with a hand of bananas and invited us to meet the welcoming committee. More singing (same tune), garlands of flowers and speeches of welcome, then we were led to Vatop, the main village some distance away. Fortunately we had thought to bring gifts, so all went very well. We were made tremendously welcome – obviously yachts are rare visitors and they were not shy in asking for help mending things. Av discovered a previously unknown talent for fixing sewing machines, whilst Graham was at the usual electrical, engine and radio problems. It was a special place, but we were destined to leave the following morning due to weather. We promised to return and took aboard a few items to mend. Following a very uncomfortable rolly night, we left in wind and rain with a nasty cross sea sweeping over the reef into the narrow channel. A few hours later we were bimbling along in glorious sunshine with a gentle beam wind as we approached the volcanic island of Ureparapara. The entrance is spectacular, as one sails through a narrow gap into the flooded crater whose walls tower above your tiny yacht. Dives Bay, backed by the main village, lies at the far side of the crater. Soon after anchoring, Rona, the chief’s daughter, paddled out to greet us and arrange a time for the welcome party ashore ... and would we like to trade some cabbage for AA batteries? It was a good job we had brought several large boxfuls with us. Ashore, Chief Nickelson and his family assembled for another traditional welcome. 154
We were shown around the impressively neat and tidy village and spent time sitting chatting at his compound. We had common friends in OCC members Mike and Hilda Gill of Quicksilver, who were fondly remembered. Their legacy gave us an instant bond, making our stay even more pleasurable. Most island communities have an HF radio for inter-island communication but in recent years mobile phones have been introduced. We were interested by the queue gathered at a hut at the edge of the compound. Nickelson explained that living in a crater was not conducive to good network connection when the nearest tower was miles away on another island. Experimentation revealed a signal at a particular spot and that’s where they built the hut – a unique bush mobile phone box. Nickelson also informed us of a better anchorage, more convenient for the village and with flatter water. He came out to supervise the relocation behind a reef next to the mangroves, and took the opportunity to discuss ‘items that needed attention’. He invited us to join himself and his wife Melody to see a typical islanders’ working day. Another fascinating insight into island life, with Nickelson relating endless tales of past events, kastom and culture, whilst Melody tended the veggie patch, and the whole family was involved in producing copra. We, or rather Graham, wanted to climb to the crater rim for some spectacular views. Nickelson said our safety was his responsibility and there was no way we were going alone. Lindsay was swiftly enrolled, and led us on a brilliant hike/scramble resulting in the desired breathtaking views. He was the local government administrator, and when he asked for help with a number of computer-based tasks we were happy to ovblige. He obviously enjoyed being on the boat and often appeared and sat in the cockpit, sometimes bringing his son. However that was not unusual, folk frequently visited. Adjusting a Chinese sewing machine
Lindsay leading up the crater It was late October, our visas were expiring and we needed to check out in Sola, the ‘capital’ of the Banks Islands back on Vanua Lava. A strong El Niño was forming, causing serious drought conditions on many islands struggling to recover from the cyclone. Sola, on the east of the island, was already suffering serious water shortage. Hearing of our plans, several villagers asked us to carry food and water to relatives in the town. Naturally we readily agreed and Dream Away left with decks loaded with produce and water The caldera of Ureparapara
Sunset at containers. We were the Reef blessed with very Islands calm conditions so elected to stop off at the uninhabited Reef Islands, having already obtained the necessary permission when we were in Vatop. It was a superb location on a reef in the middle of the ocean, with a few low, sandy islands to explore, crystal clear waters to snorkel, and a wonderful full moon to light up the nights. It was a rare couple of days of total peace and isolation on our passage through Vanuatu. We beat the rest of the way to Sola, but all the deck goods survived for distribution amongst the various families. Naturally this gave us an excellent introduction and ensured a good time. It is a typical one-long-street town with various small shacks operating as shops or services. Basic staples were available, including good bread and seasonal vegetables. Highlight for Graham was being able to restock the beer supply that was looking seriously inadequate. We found diesel, delivered by hand pump from 50 gallon drums stored in a small shed. Landing was on a black sand beach through a gap in the fringing reef. Bamboo and palm leaf homes lay amongst the palms behind the beach and much activity was centred on digging new (brackish) water wells in response to the current drought. Drinking water was being trucked from miles away. We were loading our dinghy when Chief Kerely greeted us, having just completed the eight hour walk across from Waterfall Bay. It was lovely to see him again. He said water was plentiful in the hills, the issue was the lack of funding for a pipeline to the town. Poor aid distribution is synonymous with corruption. The restful Reef Islands
We were invited to the kastom part of a wedding ceremony, where the groom’s parents pay the bride’s parents for their daughter’s hand. Alongside money there was the inevitable pig, mountains of food, mats and bright cloths. Following the bride’s village ceremony, the entire party trooped back around the shoreline to Sola, home of the groom. Here further partying took place with the exception of the bride, a sullen, miserable-looking creature who sat weeping with a couple of friends. We were assured this was normal – the girl was now separated from her friends and family and not allowed back to her village. We enjoyed our time in Sola but, being a main town, it is far removed from the traditional village life we so loved. Having met most of the officials socially, checking out was a breeze and was timely as the anchorage was becoming dreadfully rolly. Just prior to this Av, starting down the companionway steps, had lost both footing and handhold and went into backward freefall, landing with sickening thud on the saloon sole after hitting her side on the galley edge in mid flight. It was a moment of great concern. Thankfully there was no spinal damage or serious head injury, but being winded, battered and bruised is not a good state in which to go sailing. Fortunately it was a short leg back to Tivetwot Bay, where conditions were far more peaceful than on our previous visit. Having sighted us on the way in, the small bayside community was out to greet us. We agreed we would go to Vatop next day, but first would fix what we could at ‘our’ bay and distribute the bits Graham had already fixed. Some folk had relatives involved at Gifts piling up at the kastom wedding ceremony
The errant generator a wedding along the coast, but with no outboard fuel couldn’t get there ... could they trade a few lobsters for a couple of litres of petrol? Av was feeling much better already! Next day we were embroiled in sewing machines, outboards, electrical systems and the generator. The generator was a priority. Graham was told it would not start but made a flame. “OK, let’s see,” he said, grasping the starter cord. The audience took at least ten steps back; moving behind a tree seemed popular. One good pull, a loud explosion and a gout of flame. A bit of a timing problem, diagnosed to be a faulty sensor. Other jobs went much better. We waved a sad goodbye to the assembled throng on the shore as we made another dramatic exit, heading once again for Ureparapara. We were greeted by Nickelson’s 10-year-old son who gave us both enthusiastic hugs saying ‘welcome back’ (Graham thinks he had inadvertently mistaken him for Father Christmas...). Melody discussed the problems they had had trying to phone us. She got through once, allowing her to order 2 kilos of rice, 2 kilos of flour and 2 kilos of ... the phone cut off. We had guessed sugar. Nickelson laughed and said what he really wanted was nails. We dipped into our nearly exhausted supplies, and delivered nails the following morning, along with a single coach bolt. His eyes lit up – had we more? We did. He disappeared to call a committee meeting, returning later to tell us that the bolts would help build a new cyclone shelter. We happily passed them over, with the correct sized drill bit for good measure. Having officially checked out of the country we knew we should not linger, so said our final goodbyes and headed towards the Torres Islands. We left many friends, but took enduring memories of the wonderful Banks people. 159
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MARINA-HOPPING ON THE SPANISH COSTAS: Torrevieja to Canet-en-Roussillon and back
Ken and Carmel Kavanagh (After selling their Hallberg Rassy 42 in 2013, Ken and Carmel downsized to a Hunter Legend 36, La Lumière of Howth, as ‘better suiting the needs of two ageing sailors who wished to spend their final years pottering around the Med’. Their ‘delivery trip’ from Howth, on Dublin Bay, to La Lumière’s new home on the Mediterranean coast of Spain appeared in Flying Fish 2016/1.) At the end of April we returned to La Lumière of Howth in her new home at the Real Club Náutico in Torrevieja. As we planned to spend ten weeks aboard we had plenty of time to undertake a reasonably lengthy – and hopefully pleasant and leisurely – cruise. We decided to sail north as far as the Golfe du Lion and visit some friends who live near Canet-en-Roussillon, approximately 425 miles from Torrevieja. We also wanted to visit as many marinas as possible along the way so that in future they would not be ‘terra incognita’! But first some important parameters had to be negotiated with the skipper: 1. There would be no night passages. 2. There would be no heroic feats of sailing. 3. There would be no gunk-holing up remote estuaries. 4. Only quiet storms would be allowed! Terms and conditions were finally agreed and we set off on Wednesday 11 May, returning 44 days later on Friday 24 June after covering a distance of some 850 miles during a most enjoyable cruise. Marinas visited We visited 19 different marinas in the course of our cruise. On the Costa Blanca there were four – Torrevieja itself, Alicante, Altea and Calpe. On the Costa del Azahar we called into Denia, Gandia, Valencia, Canet d’en Berenguer, Castellon de la Plana and Benicarlo. Of the marinas on the Costa Dorada we visited Sant Carles de la Rapita, Cambrils, Puerto de Vilanova i la Geltru, Port Ginesta and Puerto Olimpico (Barcelona); and on the Costa Brava we overnighted in Blanes, Palamós and L’Escala. Finally, after crossing the Spanish/French border we reached Canet-en-Roussillon, where we spent twelve wonderful days with our friends Marion and Francois Lamiaud, and where our daughter Susan joined us for six days. (photo 01) Interesting road trips on the side As Susan is a non-sailor we hired a car during her stay and visited some wonderful beauty spots in the area, including Argelés and Collioure. Further into the Pyrenees 161
A quaint art gallery at Castelnou in the Pyrenees we discovered Eus, which is one of the most beautiful villages in France. We spent another pleasant day visiting the fortress village of Villefranche, and Thuir, which is known for producing the aperitif Byrrh and has the biggest oak barrel in the world. Our final day-trip was to Castelnou, a very quaint artists’ commune nestling on the side of a mountain. Needless to say our road trips were interspersed with some very fine wining and dining in an area which is famed for its great food and wonderful wines! Calpe, on the Costa Blanca, sometimes called ‘little Gibraltar’
The entrance to Canet d’en Berenguer is not for the faint-hearted! A word about the marinas The most expensive and, in our opinion, the least attractive marina we visited was Palamos on the Costa Brava which, although privately owned, we thought in very poor repair. They charged us €56 for overnight stay whereas Valencia, an excellent marina but rather a long way from civilisation, charged a mere €12 a night in May, going up to a high season price of €15 in June! The average price overall worked out at about €30 per night for our 36ft, with the exception of Canet-en-Roussillon which has a flat charge all year, which for us was €24 per night. The marina with the best facilities was without doubt Sant Carles de la Rapita, located in the delta of the river Ebro. It is owned by the British company MDL, and we were already familiar with it having spent some time there on our previous boat, Safari of Howth. It should be said, however, that the facilities in the Real Club Náutico of Torrevieja would also be in contention for that first prize! We really enjoyed the time we spent in Alicante, where the Club Náutico is right in the centre of things and we qualified for two nights free of charge because they have a reciprocal arrangement with the Real Club Náutico de Torrevieja. Cambrils and Blanes were very pleasant holiday resorts, as were Altea and Canet d’en Berenguer, although the entrance to the latter marina is not for the faint-hearted! Located as it is just a short distance from the beach, the breaking waves make for an exciting entry even in extremely calm conditions! Berthing can be a stressful experience! It goes without saying that we were delighted to acquaint ourselves with so many different marinas in our new cruising ground, and noted many things which will make return visits much less stressful. Take, for instance, the height of the pontoons – if low then 163
We prefer to call it the transom! we must berth stern-to, if high we have the option of berthing bow-to, which we prefer. We also noted those which had fingers rather than lines tailed to the quay. The layout of the pontoons can also be a big issue, and becomes essential knowledge when entering a marina. For example, to be informed to go to berth D (Delta) 396 upon arrival is of little help to someone totally unfamiliar with the marina layout and using a cruising guide which is some years out of date! This can naturally give rise to some hearty exchanges between skipper and crew, and occasionally with the dock masters as well! But to be fair, even in the smallest of the clubs there was always someone on hand to take our lines, which is an enormous help when there are only two not-so-agile OAPs on board! Wind and Weather On the way north towards France the weather was surprisingly cold for May. Jeans and warm fleeces were required, with wet weather gear always near to hand â€“ there was absolutely no question of sailing in shorts and T-shirts. The weather on the way back was much more what one would expect in the Med, however, so working on the suntan could begin at last! The wind follows quite predictable patterns along this coast â€“ no wind in the very early hours, then generally filling in from the northwest, freshening and going to southeasterly by the afternoon, before dying off again in the evening. Naturally there are occasions when this does not happen, however, and when unexpected strong winds appear from equally unexpected directions! On the way north we tended to depart in late morning in the hope of having a decent afternoon sail, arriving in the early evening when the wind had abated, thus making berthing a whole lot easier. Mostly we motor-sailed, but on a number of 164
memorable occasions we enjoyed some wonderful passages under sail alone. We sailed most of the way up to Alicante on the first day, moving smoothly along at 6 knots. Then from Alicante to Calpe we enjoyed another pleasant few hours sailing, and after passing Capo de Nao we sailed past Denia (which we called into on the return leg). We enjoyed another pleasant few hours under sail on the way to Valencia, but after that it was mostly motor-sailing, either along with light airs or against northerlies, and quite often into both wind and swell. The return trip was a very different tale. We needed to depart by 0700 each morning and arrive at that day’s destination by 1300 if we were to avoid endless motoring into moderate to strong south-westerlies. There was rarely any wind around in the early hours, so we motored most of the way from Canet-en-Roussillon to Torrevieja! Highlights, lowlights and silly incidents! Specifying ‘quiet storms only’ turned out to be a bit unrealistic and we were caught out twice. The first was on arrival at Sant Carles de la Rapita, which is notorious for sudden gusts of very strong winds blowing down from the high hills on either side of the delta. Towards the end of that day’s sailing the weather took a turn for the worse – an hour of torrential rain was followed by dense fog, which eventually lifted only to be followed in turn by one hell of a squall as we entered the marina. We were unable to approach the berth we had been allocated, but given that we were registering 40 knots on the anemometer were forgiven for going into the first safe berth we encountered, albeit in a section of the marina normally reserved for Mega yachts and catamarans. The second time we were caught out was on our arrival at Canet-en Roussillon, which is in the notorious Golfe du Lion from where all the challenging Tramontanes (northwesterly storms) emanate. Just after pulling away from the waiting pontoon in the marina, a massive wind blew up from nowhere and we had to pull into the first available berth where we spent a most uncomfortable night. That was quickly rectified the following morning when things had calmed down, and we were moved to a more sheltered berth for the remaining eleven days. Sunrise over Canet-en-Roussillon – the calm after the storm.
A magnificent but transient work of art on the beach in Castellón de la Plana Is that a lobster pot I see? The silliest thing to happen involved me (ie. Carmel) – what’s new on this boat? We always kept a vigilant eye out for lobster pots, which tended to appear in clusters with the occasional loner to keep us on our toes. While passing the Islote de Benidorm on the passage north, I was fondly remembering a Kavanagh family holiday spent there in the early 70s when I noticed a rather large, round lobster pot mark directly behind the boat, which we had obviously just run over but without any thump or bump. While considering this conundrum I suddenly realised that the lobster pot was in fact one of our two large, spherical fenders which had untied itself and fallen off the stern! A quick, unscheduled man overboard exercise ensued and the fender was rescued – it’s hard to believe I could have been so careless given the many thousands of fenders I have tied on in my day! An unexpected delay The latter part of the cruise was somewhat marred when Ken became ill on the return journey. He developed a heavy cold and nasty cough, accompanied by a high temperature, which necessitated an unscheduled five-day stopover in Canet d’en Berenguer, between Castellón de la Plana and Valencia. Although a small marina somewhat off the beaten track and with a rather dramatic entrance, we were allocated a berth alongside a finger pontoon, the marina staff were very supportive and helpful, and the local hospital far more efficient than one would be likely to encounter in Ireland. Fortunately the skipper made a full recovery, and we were able to continue our journey back to Torrevieja, albeit in short stages. We arrived back on Friday 24 June with all on board in excellent health once again. We were happy to have achieved what we had set out to do – to enjoy an interesting but leisurely cruise, while becoming more familiar with the area which has now become our home cruising ground.
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CHANTEY V – CABO SAN LUCAS TO VICTORIA VIA HAWAII Daragh Nagle and John Duggan (On 1 August 2011 Daragh and his wife Catherine left their home port of Victoria, British Columbia aboard Chantey V for a five-year Pan American cruise during which they covered 25,000 miles, visited more than 30 countries, and were joined by 33 friends and family along the way. Catch up on their earlier passages at http://chanteyv.blogspot.ca. Chantey V is a Moody 376 centre-cockpit sloop built in 1987, which Daragh describes as ‘a fine, capable, offshore yacht with a good balance of liveaboard comfort and sailing speed’. A decision had been made on Chantey V. Returning home to Victoria from Mexico via Hawaii – sometimes referred to as the ‘Clipper Route’ – would be a lot more appealing than the ‘Baja Bash’ against the prevailing northwesterlies. Besides which, it would be my qualifying voyage for Full Member status in the OCC, something that had eluded me in the previous four years of cruising around North America. Catherine and Daragh en route to La Paz on the Sea of Cortez. Photo Lynn McFarlane
My wife Catherine and I arrived at the Palmar Boatyard in La Paz, Mexico in late April 2016 and tied up beside the hoist for a lift-out next morning. While out we had the bottom faired and painted, and exchanged our fixed prop for our feathering Kiwi 169
The bottom faired and the Kiwi prop installed prop in preparation for the 2500 mile passage to Hawaii. I noticed some play in the cutless bearing, and the folks at Palmar installed a new one very efficiently with the propshaft still in place. It’s a good boatyard, and we relaunched three days later as scheduled. I had the standing rigging checked and tuned, again to be well-prepared for the three week passage to Hawaii. La Paz is very popular with the cruising community and has many resources to support them. English is very prevalent and it’s easy to see why so many cruisers ‘swallow the anchor’ and make it their permanent home. We were now ready to move around the tip of the Baja Peninsula to San José del Cabo, where we planned our provisioning and crew change for the Hawaii trip. We made overnight anchor stops at Los Muertos and Los Frailes along the way. We found a good slip at the San José del Cabo marina and were joined by John Duggan and Al Kitchen, both of whom had flown to Mexico for the voyage to Hawaii. Catherine treated the boys to a fine meal at the Tequila Restaurant and wished us all a Daragh Nagle, John Duggan and Al Kitchen raise a toast to fair winds and following seas
Buen Viaje as she sensibly headed for the airport to Westjet her way back to our home in Victoria, BC. First job for the new crew was to provision for the 21 (or more?) day trip to Hilo, Hawaii. It took two trips to the supermarket plus side trips to stock up on water. Coleridge’s Rime was pasted on the water record-keeping book as a grim reminder of what running out looked like. Amazingly, we found places to store all the food, with the aft cabin doubling as a bodega for the baskets of fruit and vegetables. We departed heavily laden for a mini shakedown cruise to Cabo San Lucas – and of course the final night out on land for a long time to come. We had an excellent meal at the Brazilian restaurant La Maderia, along with enough wine to sooth any lingering doubts about the voyage at hand. John Duggan takes up the narrative here, having generously taken on the additional role of ship’s scribe for the voyage: Mexico to Hawaii Chantey V was safely moored in the secure, hurricane-proof marina, its big and solid pontoons a reproach to the pathetic lollipop sticks that we so often suffer in Europe. We enjoyed a pleasant if hectic few days, sorting out pre-departure bits and pieces and getting our mind around the challenge of victualling and stowage for a three-week passage. The many excellent restaurants in the area were a welcome distraction but, after a final steak dinner in the bustling tourism and game fishing town of Cabo San Lucas, we set off on Saturday 30 April into a surprisingly chilly northwesterly force 4–5. Progress was slow for the first few days and no-one was feeling particularly chirpy in the lumpy conditions, with the prospect of some 2500 miles still to go. Nonetheless, all meals were prepared, served and eaten – in my own case thanks to my favourite motion-sickness medication, despite its usual side-effects of dry mouth, cold and drowsiness. The current, which had been setting us south and even a little east, started to become more co-operative, as did the wind, which settled into something more or less out of the north. Other members of the dramatis personae – Otto the Autopilot, Helga the Hydrovane and Waldo the (Walder) boom brake – were unaffected by the conditions, and all were to give sterling service in the coming weeks. Other valuable onboard technology included the ham radio, which repaid Daragh’s attentions with regular and useful weather forecasts, and the InReach DeLorme (now Garmin) tracker, a great low-cost
Departing Cabo San Lucas
Daragh jury-rigs the substitute baby stay. Photo John Duggan solution to the challenge of keeping the folks at home informed of progress, while also allowing short messages to be sent and received by satellite. One piece of kit which had been jettisoned since my previous voyage was the watermaker, which was no longer rewarding the expense and effort lavished on it. So strict water rationing was enforced throughout the voyage – 2 litres per person per day for personal consumption and hygiene, plus 4 litres for cooking and general use. It doesn’t sound like much but, with extensive use of sea water for washing, boiling spuds etc, we got by surprisingly well, although this opinion may not have been shared by anyone meeting us before we hit the showers in Hawaii! On Thursday 5th we passed our first virtual milestone as the GPS counted us down past 2000 miles to go, and the first chinks stared to appear in the skipper’s hitherto ironbound rule about liquor on board, a celebratory tot following the solitary glass of wine with dinner. To be fair, this austere regime also provided for a beer or cocktail during Captain’s Hour at 1600, accompanied by whatever snacks resulted from inspiration in the galley. Despite the challenging limits on ’fridge, freezer and general stowage, we enjoyed a great variety of meals and nibbles, taking advantage of the excellent tomatoes, avocados, limes, chillies etc available in Mexico with very little repetition throughout the three weeks of the voyage. Fresh bread became a regular on the menu, the experience only spoiled by the foul product sold as mantequilla (butter) in Mexico, as in parts of Spain, comprising a foundation of butter supplemented with ingredients which have no place in the human food chain. Disgusting beyond description. Stowage of fresh food was an issue but, with careful modification of a hanging locker, the borrowing of a latticed plastic storage box for fresh fruit and vegetables, and ingenious packing of fresh meat, it all fitted away somehow. 173
Emergency! On Friday the wind started to pick up again from the north. We put two reefs in the main and some rolls in the genoa to make life easier for Helga, who was saving a valuable two amps compared with the autopilot, while steering well in the messy 2m sea. The wind died down overnight but the seas were still all over the place and in the light of day we discovered the lower shrouds slack and the babystay hanging on by only a few strands. The mast was wobbling distressingly so we rolled up the genoa while working out a plan. Daragh was hauled aloft to put a strop around the roots of the lower spreaders, from which an old main halyard was led to a block at the stemhead and back to a genoa winch. This got the mast back in column, but the babystay was in sad condition with signs of corrosion around the upper swage. The rigging is only five years old but, to be fair, has seen many thousands of miles in that time, and it seems that the shorter stays are the most likely to let go, as they have less capacity to absorb shock than the longer ones. Much communication followed over the coming days to ensure a replacement stay would be waiting for us in Hawaii. The rigging drama was followed by a failure of the boom vang – a reminder of the need for constant checking of everything on a long voyage – but this was quickly dealt with. The skipper’s sales brochure had portrayed uninterrupted weeks of sunshine, following seas and steady trade winds, but the reality was rather different. Overcast skies were the rule rather than the exception, the wind frequently went around to the north and even with a bit of west, while big weather systems away to the north sent vigorous swells to mix with our trade wind wave pattern. We were glad to have the protection of the fully-enclosed centre cockpit when being swept by 30 knot squalls laden with rain. When we arrived in Hawaii we met two sailors who had been travelling pretty much in parallel with us during our voyage and whose autopilot had failed after three days. Steering by hand for three weeks in an unprotected cockpit, their relationship had become, let us say, strained and, once again, we gave thanks for the assistance of Helga and Otto, both of whom proved their worth in making our voyage relatively painless. John and Daragh – downwind at last. Photo Al Kitchen 174
Chantey V stern-tied in Radio Bay, Hawaii When the sun did appear, however, we had some glorious days of sailing, and at night we had spectacular views of the Milky Way, Saturn and Mars, with the Southern Cross wheeling majestically over the southern horizon. We had all this very much to ourselves and saw astonishingly little sign of life on the voyage – a few dolphins, some pretty white birds which followed us for a week, and some suicidal flying fish thudding into the hull at night. We saw a solitary vessel, a container ship en route to Taiwan, whose captain exchanged pleasantries with us and gave us a useful weather forecast. Despite limited freezer space we had enough fresh meat to last the voyage. It was fortunate we were not dependent on fishing for our survival – days of trailing lures of various shapes and sizes resulted in a solitary mahi mahi, which did provide delicious ceviche during Captain’s Hour and tasty fried fillets for dinner. I was secretly pleased that we didn’t catch more, as my conviction that we should be able to confront the reality of catching and killing our food does not stand up very well in practice to the reality of extinguishing the life of a beautiful creature. Managing battery power became an obsession, especially after discovering a dead cell in one of the batteries which drastically reduced our storage capacity. Despite attempts to desulphate it, we never got back to full capacity so the engine got more of a workout than we’d anticipated. Fortunately the wind kept up to a respectable velocity and we found ourselves running either with main and cruising chute or with poled out genoa and storm jib. The latter doesn’t sound like much, but it actually pushed us along at close to hull speed with a well-balanced helm. Our last full day was one of the best, with bright sunshine, easy seas and a fine 18 knot breeze. Overnight, though, the weather closed in and we got our first sight of Hawaii when only some 5 miles out. We were under some pressure to get a move on, as we had learned that US Customs at Hilo closes at 1400 on Saturdays and we didn’t fancy spending the weekend stranded on a mooring. 175
Approaching the Captain Cook monument in Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii All worked out for the best, however, as we squeaked in before the deadline and helpful Agent Foss from Homeland Security picked us up in his paddy wagon, saving us a long trek around the container terminal to get to the Customs Office. Formalities were completed fairly easily, and we were soon free to enjoy a long-anticipated shower and sample the very good choice of restaurants in the faded tropical charm of Hilo. The Hawaiian Islands Some 21 days after departure from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico we found ourselves tied stern-to in Radio Bay, Hilo, where I bade a reluctant farewell to John and Al and prepared for the return of Catherine with my daughter Kim. Radio Bay is a rather rough and ready container port, but it gave us our first access to these amazing volcanic islands. This was followed by an interesting two months cruising through the islands, including a three week stay on Oahu. Formidable surf at the entrance to Lahaina Harbor on Maui. Photo Catherine Oâ€™Neill
Turtles basking on a Maui beach
The Ala Wai Marina, near Honolulu, is enormous and proved to be a good place to catch up on some boat maintenance. Art Nelson stitched up the sails, Rich McCreedy tuned the rigging, and local cruisers Dave and Sarah fixed a pesky window leak over our navigation station. Surfing is big on Oahu and I learned to ride the waves with a lesson at one of the many beach surfboard-rental outfits. A tour of the island led us past the incredible scenery of the west shore – all soaring, lush mountain peaks and wild blue-green waters with crashing surf beaches. The north shore brought us to the elegant Turtle Bay Resort for luncheon and more dramatic scenery. The week flew by and before long we were saying ‘Mahalo’ at the airport and planning for the next crew change and the long journey home. Chantey V was in top shape, but Hurricanes Celia and Darby reminded us who’s boss when it comes to departure dates. The North Pacific High as we prepare to leave for Victoria, BC – Tropical Storms Celia and Darby delay our departure 177
Gerry Morrison and Paul Jenkins hand-steer as we leave Kauai Hawaii to Canada Royal Victoria Yacht Club and Turkey Head Sailing Association sailors Gerry Morrison and Paul Jenkins flew in to Honolulu to join Chantey V for the voyage to Kauai and onwards to Victoria, BC. We again bid adieu to Catherine, who still preferred to go to weather by jet! We allowed a few days to take in the sights, provision for the three weeks or more at sea and get familiar with the boat. The weather picture was looking uncertain with a succession of tropical lows coming from Mexico every week. Hurricane season already Hurricane Darby, now diminished to tropical storm status, did in fact pass close to Waikiki so we delayed departure to Kauai for two days. This allowed for a little more socialising at the Hawaii and Waikiki Yacht Clubs, and a visit to the Sunday music session on the beach at Dukeâ€™s. A fierce squall hit while we were there and flooded the stage, which had to be abandoned. We sought refuge in the grandeur of the nearby Moana Surfrider Hotel and waited for the torrential downpour to end. The water was up to the doors on cars on the taxi ride home. Next morning we were thrilled to see Royal Victoria YC Vic-Maui race competitor Westerly on the Hawaii Yacht Club docks. We dinghied over for a visit and Lance and Clay gave us a tour and related the highlights of their record-breaking race. We finished the provisioning with the fruit and veg run and were under way for Kauai by noon. After a brief stop for fuel at the Ko Olina marina we continued overnight to Hanalei Bay on the north coast of Kauai. By following closely behind tropical storm Darby we initially got a rare south wind, which reverted to the usual easterly trade winds by next morning to carry us the rest of the way. 178
Hanalei Bay is as beautiful as advertised and we anchored in the crystal clear water. This was ideal for our next task, which was to dive and clean the hull in readiness for the long passage home. Next we dinghied ashore and found dinner at the Calypso Grill in this delightful little town. We went ashore again next morning with plans to rent a car for the day, but alas none was available so we resorted to touring the east coast down to Lihue by bus, which turned out to be just as good and a lot cheaper! We discovered another Duke’s Bar on the water in Lihue, and the Happy Hour was up to their usual high standard, complete with a live band. It was a full day and the light was fading as we launched back into the surf from the beach. Next stop ... Victoria! We settled into our three-on, six-off watch rotation in strong trade winds and rough seas. By nightfall we had three reefs in the main and half the genoa rolled in, and were still exceeding 8 knots at times. It was pretty uncomfortable, though, so we eased west to improve the ride and be kinder to the boat – we had a long way to go. Three days out our batteries needed recharging so we ran the engine for one watch, and this slowed us a good deal as we couldn’t run it at an extreme heel angle, so had to bear off. Gerry and Paul are both excellent sailors with lots of racing experience and kept the sails trimmed optimally at all times. Initially hand steering was in vogue, but after a couple of days we deployed Helga the Hydrovane, who did the job well in the strong winds. Otto the Raymarine autopilot did an even better job when the going got really rough in big quartering seas, never missing a beat. Cooking was difficult with the heeling and constant lurching, but hunger is a great motivator in the galley, and when the conditions improved five days out the cuisine improved accordingly. Seven days out we were approaching the North Pacific High, and pondered our tactics to get around it. We got great shore support from Bluewater Cruising Association members Connie Morahan and Al Kitchen, who kept a watchful eye on us the entire trip. We also had success downloading weather and GRIB files from ham Helga the Hydrovane did a great job throughout
radio station KL7EDK in Fairbanks, Alaska, as well as NOAA radiofaxes from Point Reyes, California on our SSB radio. At this point we noticed some stitching failures on the leech of the genoa – the sun had been getting through the UV cover and had damaged the thread – so, having dropped the sail, the sewing bee was on. Gerry sewed it up handily and two hours later it was up and pulling again. That pesky high The wind continued to ease, and day eight saw us flying our spinnaker. We gradually curved east-northeast around the high, trying to stay in the wind. Once we got too close, so had to run the engine to hunt for wind, which gave the batteries a muchneeded boost. We downloaded the latest weather daily and the high kept moving east with us and blocking our path. Going north over the top would add hundreds of miles without any guarantee of conditions being better when we got there, not to mention the potential encounter with a nasty low sweeping down from Alaska. Getting over the high... Instead we decided to be patient and stay on our planned route, preserving our four remaining days’ worth of fuel for crossing the centre of the high when we finally reached it. But it persisted in tracking eastward, and finally formed a ridge almost touching Vancouver Island. By now many of the returning Vic-Maui race boats were getting close to us, but we did not sight any. We tried our luck fishing in the calm periods but without success – we were probably too far north for tuna, and 7 knots is trolling too fast for salmon. One morning Paul heard a bolt fall from the boom vang and saved it from going over the side – the need for daily rig inspection on long passages was confirmed once again. Finally the wind dropped completely and we motored for two days across the centre of the high. The final week had us changing sails and trim regularly, setting up our storm jib in anticipation of gale force winds off the British Columbia coast. Twelve hours later we were again shortening sail down to three reefs, along with the storm jib, but this proved too slow so up went the genoa again. The gale took a day to transit, followed by the wind dying abruptly over the Swiftsure Bank and we were motoring again. Next 180
Our storm jib gets put to work wing-on-wing morning found us in thick fog at the entrance to the Juan de Fuca Strait, fighting a 2 knot adverse current, but by 1100 the tide had changed and soon we were motorsailing fast to get to Race Passage before it turned again. Flags flying as we motor towards the Royal Victoria Yacht Club. Photo Teresa Stevens
We were delighted to encounter the spectacle of the RVYC Wednesday night racing fleet as we sailed into Cadboro Bay, Victoria, where our families and friends were waiting to greet us. We had covered the 2800 miles from Hawaii in 20Â˝ days, which was better than our most optimistic estimate. This concluded our five-year Chantey V Pan American cruise. Overall it was a wonderful experience â€“ and the best part was the realisation that our home in Victoria, BC is the best place in all of the Americas! 181
Solution to the crossword compiled by Domini, which appears on pages 72 and 73.
OBITUARIES & APPRECIATIONS Lancelot ‘Bill’ Wise, Founder Member Lancelot Evelyn Dacres Wise, known to most OCC members as Bill, was born in 1922, the son of a cavalry officer. Though keen to emulate his father’s military career Bill was not so fond of horses, so joined the Navy at the age of 13, going to Dartmouth College to complete his education. Early in his time at Dartmouth the cadets were taken out sailing in the college yacht Amaryllis, and on encountering bad weather were sent down below for the night. When the duty officer came round to check on the mess deck he found that almost everyone was being violently sick, except for Bill, who was sitting up in his bunk reading Mulhauser’s account of Amaryllis’ voyage around the world. Bill graduated from Dartmouth in 1939. Within days war was declared and three months later he was off to sea. He saw numerous actions during the war, but never spoke much about them, preferring to say that he didn’t actually see the action as he was shut away somewhere below decks running the increasingly complex systems of a naval warship. One engagement he did talk about recently was the Yangtze Incident, which happened in 1949, just after the end of the war. He was posted to HMS London, an old ship on which he had previously served during the war, and which was en route to Shanghai with some senior flag officers aboard to celebrate St George’s Day, fully Bill in full Naval uniform rigged with light bulbs strung from stem to stern for ‘Illuminate Ship’. Before reaching Shanghai they received a signal from the stranded HMS Amethyst, and proceeded up the Yangtze to assist, but met with considerable resistance which resulted in 13 men dead. A report he wrote of the incident is wonderfully dry, but does include a reference to the unusual procedure of using the ‘Illuminate Ship’ lights for emergency lighting during the engagements. Post-war, Bill did a tour of duty on submarines and witnessed the atomic tests 183
at Bikini island in the 1950s. The safety instructions were, apparently, to turn your back to the explosion until the blast had passed! Even so, he never suffered any obvious side effects. In this post-war period he managed to get some sailing in with the navy while posted to HMS Collingwood, a shore establishment in Fareham. He became particularly involved with the exGerman 100 Square Metre ‘windfall’ yacht Wal, which he and a few other officers took charge of and ran as a club boat for the RNSA. He was proud of the fact she was one of the best maintained windfall yachts in the Navy. In 1952 he responded to an Admiralty call for volunteers to take part in the Bermuda and Transatlantic Races. Much to his surprise he received a letter from Errol Bruce inviting him to join the crew of naval Bill in sailing gear ... officers, which comprised Errol Bruce, Ian Quarrie, David Coaker and my father. The Navy, considering this international sport, allowed the crew three months’ leave to participate. Their yacht, Samuel Pepys, was an RNSA 24, 24ft on the waterline, about 30ft overall and a mere 7ft 6in beam – by today’s standards barely big enough for coastal racing. Even in those days she was the smallest entry in the race, which they went on to win. (See In at the Deep End, Flying Fish 2014/1). Two years later he was invited by Humphrey Barton to become one of the founder members of a club he was forming for people who enjoyed long distance sailing – The Ocean Cruising Club. He happily obliged and remained an active member all his life, still attending events until very recently. He did a further transatlantic race in 1958 and several other ocean races, in both windfall yachts owned by the navy and privately-owned yachts. Bill met his wife to be, Jan, at Buckler’s Hard on the Beaulieu River, when she was sailing with John Illingworth and he had been invited on board for lunch. They were married in St Anne’s Church, Portsmouth Dockyard in 1960. Shortly after that they were posted to South Africa, where I was born. Returning to the UK at the end of 1963 Bill was posted to Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland, where my brother Edward made his appearance. After a couple of years at Rosyth, Bill was posted to back to HMS Collingwood to take up a teaching role in electrical engineering. Bill retired from the navy in the late 1960s and moved to Essex, where he joined the Royal Burnham Yacht Club. Our sister Georgie was born in 1968. He joined the IT industry, in which he worked until retirement, and moved to Ironbridge in Shropshire in the 1990s to work for ICL in Telford on a large inland revenue computer system. On final retirement he became an active member of the Ironbridge civic and local history societies, and an active participant in the Mary Rose Society giving lectures on the subject around the country. 184
Along with his brother Derek, Bill took a keen interest in family history and enjoyed keeping up with the large extended family around the world. He was also a supporter of various steam train and transport trusts and charities, and was a proud shareholder in the Ffestiniog Railway. In 2006 he moved down to the Hamble and in many ways discovered a new lease of life. He joined the Royal Southern Yacht Club, where Georgie and her husband Simon were already ... and as many members will remember him members, and he quickly made new friends. He enjoyed sailing into his 90s, and was a prized crew on the ‘Ancient Mariners Race’, where the handicap of each yacht is determined by the combined age of the crew. Bill was always a very generous and caring man. A few years ago his brother Derek became ill and Bill spent the best part of 18 months driving back and forth to his house in Sussex each week to look after him. It was typical of his sense of duty to friends and family and something that underpinned most of his life. In July last year he took the decision to move into Netley Court, a local care home. He was very happy there and well looked after. He suffered a stroke in mid January and died peacefully within a week on 22 January 2017 at the age of 94. Andy Wise
Colin Jarman, Membership Secretary 1999-2004 Newsletter Editor 2004-2016 I first met Colin in September 1972, when I joined Yachting Monthly magazine as secretary. He’d joined just a fortnight earlier, as Features Editor. The editorial office was small and cramped, but the atmosphere was friendly and we talked of little except boats. During my three years with the magazine Colin occasionally took time out to crew on delivery trips, and joined the OCC in 1974 after sailing from Plymouth to Gibraltar aboard a Nicholson 48. In 1976 Colin married Mary and four years later Annie was born – the same year Colin left Yachting Monthly to go freelance. With the arrival of Barry in 1983 the family was complete. For a while Colin teamed up with photographer Jonathan Eastland on the latter’s Ajax yachting news agency, then later set up his own company, Eyeline, a syndicated feature service used by sailing magazines worldwide. He also worked as a freelance photographer specialising in sporting events but turning his camera to all subjects as the opportunity arose – even sheepdog trials! Colin wrote Coastal Cruising, the first of his dozen or so books, while still with Yachting Monthly. Then in 1984 he demonstrated his knowledge of knots and ropework with 185
Colin aboard May Morning
Knots in Use, followed a year later by Modern Rope Seamanship, co-authored with Bill Beavis. A chance meeting with fellow photojournalist Philip Dunn led to the 1997 founding of the magazine Sailing Today – for which Colin wrote his popular Riding Light column for 15 years – and later they launched the UK’s first internet sailing magazine. In 1999 the OCC advertised for a Membership Secretary and Colin applied. It was clear that his talents and creativity were wasted on spreadsheets and chasing subscriptions, however, and in 2004 he took over as editor of the Newsletter, producing more than 50 issues over 12½ years. Born and brought up on England’s east coast, the youngest of four children introduced to boats by their father, the jest was that there was more mud than blood in Colin’s veins (for non-UK members I should explain that this is a mainly shallow area, known for its mud and sand banks but sharing the UK’s typically strong tides). He kept a succession of coastal cruisers near his home at West Mersea, the last being May Morning, a junk-rigged Kingfisher 20+. It was inevitable that Colin would want to share his knowledge and love of the locality with others, and in 2005 – the same year he and Mary returned to live near his beloved River Blackwater – the first edition of East Coast Pilot appeared. Within ten years it had gone through three more editions, with authorship shared between Colin, Garth Cooper and Dick Holness. In 2011 Colin was diagnosed with cancer, and underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy. We all May Morning on the River Blackwater 186
kept our fingers crossed that it would be successful, and for several years it seemed that it had been. Then in early 2014 the cancer returned, and the battle began all over again. Even so, and despite increasingly poor health and the side-effects of repeated medication, Colin invariably got the Newsletter to our printers on schedule, and it was his preference that as few people as possible should be aware of his health problems. It was typical of his professionalism that in May last year he asked the Flag Officers and Committee to look for a new editor while he still had the energy to train and mentor his successor. The OCC was fortunate that Jeremy Firth applied for the post, and he and Colin became good friends during the extended induction period. Colin lost his final battle on 7 November 2016, aged only 66. It was a privilege to have worked with him for the past 12 years, and both I and the OCC as a whole still miss him greatly. Although quiet and reserved, Colin had great wisdom backed by a wry sense of humour and deep understanding of human nature. He seldom came forward with advice unless pressed for it, but when he did it was always spot on. Anne Hammick, with input from Garth Cooper Colinâ€™s wife Mary adds: Whilst being sadly missed by yachting colleagues, followers of East Coast Pilot and friends, it is as a family that we are trying to come to terms with the loss of a constant, loving companion, a devoted father who was ever-present with time to listen, love, laugh and advise, and latterly, a doting grandfather who drew great comfort from seeing Esme grow strong, healthy and happy in the security of loving parents. He will not be forgotten â€“ there are constant reminders. Seeing the boats out on the Blackwater, I am sure he is out there sailing with them, swearing under his breath as he gets headed once again! Mary Jarman 187
João Carlos Fraga, Honorary Member João Carlos was born on 23 June 1946 on the Azorean island of Faial, and spent most of his life there. In 1957, when he was 11, his school was evacuated to the nearby island of Pico when an undersea volcano became active off the western tip of Faial, eventually creating a cone nearly 150m high. For months steam, ash and pumice fragments were hurled hundreds of metres into the air, a sight João Carlos never forgot. His dream of ocean sailing was sparked the following year, when a French yacht visited Horta for a few days, and the young João Carlos was invited on board. He made the decision ‘to learn how to sail, and later to cross at least the Atlantic on a small yacht’. But then surfing became his passion, after he introduced the sport to Faial in 1964 with a wooden surfboard said to weigh 20kgs – not until the next decade would GRP boards and wetsuits make their appearance. His travels in search of the ‘perfect wave’ took him to the USA as well as mainland Portugal, and he also developed a fascination with visiting other islands, including the Falklands. It was not until the resurgence of interest in Polynesian-inspired multihulls in the 1970s that he turned back to sailing, including windsurfing. In 1975 he crewed on a MOCRA race which ended in Horta, and in the summer of 1979 was invited for a short sail in an engineless 27ft Wharram catamaran called Vireo. By the time they reach Pico it was decided – he would rejoin her two owners in La Palma for the transatlantic passage. They left on 4 December, and made landfall Barbados 23 days later. Despite what must have been very cramped accommodation, and a daily water ration of only 1½ litres, they clearly enjoyed the passage, and in a newspaper interview given on his return to Faial, João Carlos reported that they’d had ‘good weather during the whole crossing, with three days with no wind and a few mild storms’. They rounded off the voyage with a cruise through the southern Caribbean. On his return to Faial, João Carlos – who spoke excellent English as well as several other languages – renewed his interest in the increasing number of foreign yachts João Carlos with his windsurfer at Porto Pim in 1976, with Pico in the distance
passing through, and as a member of the Clube Naval de Horta played a major part in welcoming the 1981 OCC Pursuit Race to the harbour. He joined our Club the following year, assisting then Port Officer ‘Peter’ Azevedo as unofficial ambassador to all the OCC (and many non-OCC) yachts which passed through. Employed by the Azorean airline SATA (now Azores Airlines), he advised the local tourism João Carlos a year or two ago authority on the needs of visiting yachtsmen – having observed the Caribbean’s growing yacht tourist industry – and also the state-owned Portas das Açores when work began on the archipelago’s first marina a few years later. In 1995 João Carlos attempted to resign from the OCC on the basis that he was unlikely to do any more long voyages, but the Committee of the day knew his worth and immediately elected him to Honorary Membership. Following the death of Peter Azevedo in 2005, João Carlos was invited to become Port Officer, but declined in favour of Peter’s son José Henrique. He suffered poor health in his later years, which necessitated frequent visits to specialists in São Miguel and mainland Portugal, but while in Horta continued to visit as many OCC yachts as he could until shortly before his death in January this year. Anne Hammick, with assistance from Fernando Borges de Sena, Duncan Sweet and others João Carlos’s friend and fellow OCC member Fernando Borges de Sena writes: João Carlos Fraga was for me a lifelong inspiration, since the 1960s and his wooden surfboards in Porto Pim Bay, which I sometimes helped carry to the beach from his home in Rua Nova. I took my first steps in sailing with his brother António (Nené) – João Carlos at that time was a grown up, as we were five years apart. After the death of my father in 1978 I left college and went to work for a pharmaceutical business, which allowed me regular visits to Faial. It was then that sailing and boats brought me closer to João Carlos, because we had common interests and the difference in age had vanished. I remember him planning his winter holidays in the Falklands. ‘Who goes there on holiday?’ I would ask myself, full of curiosity and a little envy. The article he wrote for the local newspaper on his return became an instant success with mainland newspapers when the Argentinians invaded in 1982, as nobody in Portugal knew anything about the place. In 1982 I was visiting Horta when I met Bruno Peyron, then little189
known, who had just arrived from Florida in his catamaran Ocean Speed, aka JAZ. He asked me to sail with him back to his home town, so instead of returning to Lisbon I sailed to Pornichet (La Baule). This passage qualified me to join the OCC, for which João Carlos proposed me, and I am still a proud member today. It was also in 1982 that I emigrated to the UK, but we always kept in contact, giving news to each other of nautical occurrences, and did not miss an opportunity to have lunch together on my sadly fewer visits to Horta. I feel deeply his disappearance from this world of the living, but I have the consolation that people like João Carlos Fraga will never be forgotten by his friends, and they are many. Fernando Borges de Sena
Colonel Henry Hugh Smith, LVO Henry Hugh Smith, late of The Blues and Royals, died peacefully on 1 December, aged 79. His Army career included a tour as Equerry to Prince Philip, the Command of his Regiment, and a very enjoyable time as Defence Attaché in Nairobi. He lost his right arm as a result of being wounded in a firefight in Northern Ireland, where he was out with a patrol as a visiting staff officer to see ‘what was going on’. His next appointment was as Equerry to Prince Philip where he had to cope with state banquets with his only his left hand. Henry aboard Drum Horse
He owned a number of boats, the last two being named appropriately Drum Horse and based in the Caribbean. He completed three transatlantic passages and cruised the Caribbean, Cuba and the East Coast of America extensively. It was Henry’s own joke that he was the original ‘singlehanded’ sailor. In 2010, when he was national chairman of BLESMA (the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association), he was navigator among a crew of 14 fellow amputees in the Caribbean 600 race. He told of two occasions when dining in a restaurant with the whole crew of amputees when, on asking for the bill, he was told that someone else in the restaurant had already With a nautically-shod local in the Caribbean settled it for them. Henry made friends with local people wherever he went. It was not uncommon, as he came into a harbour in one of the Caribbean islands which he had visited the previous year, for a great shout of ‘Hello Henry’ to echo across the harbour from some welcoming local boat boy. He was an enthusiastic member of the Ocean Cruising Club, a long-time member of the Royal Yacht Squadron, and a loyal supporter of the Household Division Yacht Club where he encouraged young officers to go sailing. He was always charming and welcoming to younger generations and, whilst very correct, was never pompous about it. He was always interested in their views, if not a little surprised at some of them. His empathy with the young extended to his policy, when he had a teenager on board as crew, of also including someone in their mid 20s to act as go-between to the crusty old Colonel – probably the least crusty ‘crusty old colonel’ they would ever come across. He let slip one day that his nickname as a young officer had been ‘Higgins’, and was greatly amused when the youngster on board shouted from his berth each morning, “where’s my tea, Higgins?” They in turn were entranced by his ability as a raconteur, and his descriptions of events in terms that others might have thought to flirt with the boundaries of political correctness. Despite the loss of his arm giving him increasing problems in recent years, he only sold his last Drum Horse in 2016. George Curtis 191
Roy Heyselaar Ron Heyselaar died aboard Lily on 9 December 2016, passing away in his sleep at the age of 58. His wife Ineke and he were taking a short break from their travels to be in the Netherlands with their family for Christmas. Ron always had water in his blood. He was a fanatic rower for the Haarlemse Tregvogels and even qualified for the Ron and Ineke (with Boris the cat) Olympic Games, but ended up not going, choosing instead to focus on his education. He kept up with his other water-related hobbies though, going surfing and windsurfing whenever possible, even in the cold Dutch waters. Sailing came a bit later. When the family moved to Abu Dhabi in 2001 he joined the Abu Dhabi Sailing Club, where he and Ineke started learning to sail in two-person Kestrels. He quickly moved on to something speedier, honing his skills on a Laser. His love and addiction to anything wind and water meant that we spent weekends travelling around the UAE and Oman competing in national and regional regattas. While Commodore of the sailing club he even organised the first International Laser Regatta. Of course he was always looking for something faster, and claimed one of the club’s first RS400s, even taking part in the EuroCup in France one ‘summer’ (we competed in full wet-suits and thick booties). Around this time, Ron started looking at bigger sailing boats. One summer we went to Greece to charter a small Bavaria. We started in Greece because it was one of the few places in the world where you could charter a yacht without having any sort of qualification besides a credit card – not a big issue because navigation techniques are not that necessary (we thought) if you can see your destination on the horizon before you even raise the anchor. Of course Ineke can attest to the couple of times we had an inappropriate amount of sail up while passing a headland – sailing dinghies in confined waters teaches you very little about reefing! But we had fun and went back for several summers in a row before Ron finally decided to do his RYA Day Skipper training and we moved on to sailing from England to anywhere we could within our four-week holiday. Even before we started sailing in England, the idea of sailing around the world started to brew in Ron’s imagination. Sailing in or across narrow seas is one thing, but what about oceans? I remember years ago Pap was already scheming about sailing across an ocean, and would I maybe come with him? (Mum at that point had little faith in his ocean sailing ability – she was still a bit traumatised from Greece). But life got in the way and the scheming died down – or so I thought. I’m not sure when they first pitched the idea to us, but it became common knowledge that Pap and Mum would take early retirement and sail around the world. The dream finally became a reality late 2013, when they purchased Lily, an Amel 54, in Gallipoli, Italy. My boyfriend and I were with them for the maiden voyage to 192
Sicily and back, cruising past Mount Etna, the first of many volcanoes they would sail past. On Valentine’s Day a few months later they set out for real, cruising around the Mediterranean, enjoying the food and the weather, while slowly making their way to their first ocean. They had signed up to do the ARC, to the relief of my sister and me, and crossed their first ocean with a rally. By this point they had racked up a respectable amount of RYA training certificates, but still... We checked their progress multiple times per day. It was the start of their great voyage. Once in the Caribbean they plotted courses to visit as many islands as they could (see A Visit to the North Coast of Cuba, Flying Fish 2015/2) and during the summer migrated up the American East Coast, returning as summer retreated (see From the Caribbean to Halifax Inspecting eggs in Cuba in 2015 and Back, Flying Fish 2016/2). Last summer they signed up to the ARC-TIC to cross – you guessed it – the Arctic Ocean, starting in Nova Scotia and taking the scenic route with stops in Greenland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands. Then they slowly made their way to the Netherlands in October 2016, to take a break, give Lily some TLC, and spend Christmas with their family. Although passing at the age of 58 is too soon for anyone, especially someone with such a presence as Ron, we are happy that he made his risky decision to retire early and complete his dream of finally sailing across that ocean, multiple times. He died exactly as he always said he wanted to – in his yacht, next to his wife. Reading back I hope I have conveyed how exciting and ambitious a life Ron had. Although we miss him terribly, we know he will live on in the minds of all those who knew him. Evelien Heyselaar
All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. TE Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom 193
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Flying Fish is the official journal of the Ocean Cruising Club. (c) 2017 by Ocean Cruising Club Limited. www.oceancruisingclub.org