Barbecue - Saturday 21 August
Report from Richard
Once again Eric and Esin got to 'Riverside' campsite on Saturday afternoon to set up the barbecue. In the morning Mark T and Richard went to Paglesham to get the trailer and one trolley out of the bed of nettles that had grown up around them. John and Jo arrived and soon after Dave Jennings of the DCA appeared with his Highlander dinghy. We decided that John, Jo and Doug would sail Merganser to Wallasea, while Richard and Mark drove the trailer to Essex Marina. We made our rendezvous at the marina's concrete slipway about 4-30 and got Merganser out onto the trolley and pulled that onto the trailer, ready to two it down to the South Coast later.
Saturday was a fine and pleasant afternoon, and soon all were drinking and eating contentedly. The DCA were had a rally listed for the Crouch that weekend and we had sent out a general invitation on the 'Openboat' email list for DCA members to call in at our barbecue, this gained us three guests, Dave Jennings, Ted Jones and Bill Sergeant.
Sailing Week on the South Coast 22 to 29 August
Report from Richard
On Sunday morning Eric and Essi cleared the barbecue debris and after breakfast Richard and Mark T. set off driving to the south coast with Merganser in tow and stoping Sunday night at Elscott Park campsite, Birdham, Sussex.
Monday: It was raining early on Monday morning but fortunately some sunshine came to our rescue and dried off the tents. A call on the mobile phone from John told us that he was nearby at Itchenor towing his boat.
There was a slightly complicated arrangement whereby he had let Josephine at Gosport to crew with Mark S. who was sailing his yacht round to Chichester Harbour. The plan was to rendezvous at West Itcheor in the afternoon.
We hadn't agreed where we would launch the dinghies, but after a short discussion we decided to drive to Dell Quay where it is possible to park cars and trailers by the roadside. We launched the boats from the shingle hard on a rising tide, however we soon found it hadn't quite risen far enough as there was very gloopy mud just below the advancing waters's edge. John was trying to pull his boat towards the new pontoon (recently installed next to the quay) and had great difficulty extricating his boots. The mud also smelled very ripe!
Eventually we had both boats tied up to the pontoon and decided a quick lunch was overdue as it was nearly 3pm. The pub had stopped serving lunches but our pathetic pleadings produced a ploughman's and soup. The wind was by now exceedingly brisk and blowing up the river from the south west, right in our faces., and I was not looking forward to my first sail of the season in these conditions. We were suddenly galvanised into action by a text message from Mark Smith saying he was already tied up on the visitor's moorings at Itchenor, we had imagined him still out on the briny.
Merganser had three reefs in the mainsail and with the working jib we found that it was a brisk but not too scary sail down river. Coming alongside 'Trilogy' (Mark S's yacht) was a bit tricky as it was near high water and the yachts were lying right accross the channel, but we managed it at the third attempt. Mark soon had the kettle on and we unwound over a welcome mug of tea. We all decided to sleep on board the yacht.
Tuesday: After a leasurely breakfast Mark S. decided he would take a walk down the shore path towards East Head and the rest of us headed that direction in the dinghies. The clouds were massing and the weather looked unpredictable. We followed John who sailed into Snowhill Creek inside the sandbank that makes East Head. We had a snack lunch while watching Mark S. make his way down the path opposite. Eventually he appeared over the dunes above us and took the picture shown below - what an ominous looking sky - no wonder we were in for a deluge.
Merganser leaving Snowhill Creek
We got away about 1-30pm and headed north up the channel to Emsworth. Rain soon started falling in one of the heaviest deluges I can remember under sail. Water was pouring down the mainsail and collecting in the folds of the reefs. Visibility was reduced to 50 metres or less and the surface of the water seemed to boil under the impact of the raindrops. Eventually we found the public pontoon near the millpond below the town hard, tied up and plodded ashore. The rain was easing but torrents of water poured down gutters into the street. I the main street we found Heidi's Pattiserie and went in for a hot drink and a pasty. As we stripped off our wet cloths, most of the other customers started leaving; the staff were very polite and made no comments about the puddles.
After buying supplies in town we sailed back to Itchenor in about an hour and a quarter and that evening we cooked on board Trilogy and broke into our supply of wine.
Wednesday: By prior arrangement Len arrived in the morning and sailed in Merganser while Mark S. sailed with John and Jo. This time we headed for the opposite side of the harbour entrance to East Head, landing on another beautiful sandy beach near the Hayling Island Sailing Club. It was windy again but warm and sunney, so it felt rather like arriving in the south of France. We made our way up to the impresive quarters of the Club and got some lunch and a cup of tea. Up on the raised deck we had a good view of the harbour entrance and discovered that what we had at first taken for seals, were in fact fishermen standing out in the water in thigh waders.
There was a lot of activity on and off the beach and a lot of young children taking part. We were amused to watch a string of Optimists being towed about by a rescue launch, apparantly is was too windy for them to go sailing.
After lunch we set off again up the Langstone channel, Merganser making a diversion into a creek off Thorney Island to view the seals on the mud banks. We landed at a slipway near Langstone bridge and took a short walk to view the village of Langstone. The sail back to Itchenor was quite rapid again and after that Len set off home. Again we visited the Ship for our evening meal, and later checked the weather forcast information, which sounded dire.
Thursday: On account of the forecast, and perhaps because we were rather exhausted after several energetic days, we decided to have a day off sailing and took the footpath from Itchenor to Dell Quay, via Chichester Marina, passing over the footpath at the lock gates. It was a bright sunney day, and thankfully dry. We paused for lunch at the pub at Dell Quay, which has a pleasant view overlooking the water.
After lunch we walked on to Fishbourne at the head of the creek and the site of the Roman harbour that served Fishbourne Palace, then returned to Itchenor where we hauled out the two dinghies and got them onto the road trailers.
Friday: We assessed the weather - rainy. Later in the day we were planning to crew for Mark S. on Trilogy to sail back to Gosport, leaving the weekend for our return to Essex. However we would have to wait until late in the afternoon for the tide to be high enough to sail Trilogy out over Chichester bar and in the meantime we decided to go for another walk. We started by calling the ferry man who was able to take us to the Bosham side of the creek and then we walked along the waterside to Bosham. Approching from the south we had a good view of this attractive village, whose church is portrayed in the Bayeaux Tapestry (not the current building of course).
We took a very pleasant lunch in the Mariner's Coffee House at Street End, which looks out over the water. Being a wet weekday it was not too crowded, usually the place is heaving. Later we went inside the church and looked at the craft market shops and had an ice cream. Returning to Trilogy at Itchenor motor sailed out over the bar then had a beat to windward to make the entrance of Portsmouth harbour. It was nearly dark as we motored into the small club owned marina where Trilogy is normally berthed.
Saturday: Mark S drove us from Trilogy back to our cars and boat trailers and from there Mark S left for home, we decided to meet up with a DCA rally scheduled for Oxy Lake near Lymington. We managed to park cars and trailers in the lane near Oxy Lake and walk down to the sea wall where four boats had already arrived, including Len in his dinghy 'Bluey', a sistership to 'Mehala' which was the first club boat owned by the HSC. We all assembled in the busy pub for food and chat then spent the night in tents by the sea wall. In the morning Mark T and Richard departed for Essex with Merganser in tow and John and Jo for Plymouth.
During the week prior to our AGM, we were saddened by news of the death of longstanding HSC member Harold Mann. I will not write too much here since I think there are others who knew Harold much better than myself and who could write with more detail and accuracy.
I believe that Harold was an active sailing member of the HSC long before I joined the club, but he kept in touch with the club during later years and the last HSC event he was able to attend was our 50th anniversary re-union in 2000. For a number of years Harold was editor of our club magazine 'Ahoy' and his articles about his sailing experiences, both amateur and professional, were in a league above the efforts of most of us amateur club magazine (and website) authors. SEE HERE FOR A COUPLE OF HAROLD'S ARTICLES
Harold was a qualified professional mariner and served on Thames sailing barges, so he would have seen the final decade or two of commercial cargo carrying under sail in the UK. Later he worked on the small motor ships which used to carry sewage sludge from London sewage works to be dumped in Black Deep out in the southern end of the North Sea, a hard year round job I would imagine. As well as being a professional mariner, Harold was involved in sail training activities, yacht charter holidays with friends and espeicially the maintainance and crewing of restored Thames sailing barges. His home was at Faversham in Kent, one of the main centres for Thames sailing barge restoration. I noted that the get together after his funeral was at a pub' in Faversham, no doubt a haunt of old shipmates.
Harold's interests were a good match for the HSC since he was a rambler as well as a sailor and a member of the Long Distance Walkers Association, he regularly walked the Ridgeway and other long distance walking routes.
In recent years Harold lived at a nursing home in Hastings and I visited him there a couple of times in the last two years. It was clear that he was not very well, unable to walk without help at the time of my first visit and totally wheel chair bound at the second. At that first visit he happened to be reading 'Ahoy' at the time of my unexpected visit and he was clearly pleased to see some pictures I had brought along of recent HSC activities. At the second visit he was unable to talk or concentrate much, however our memory of Harold will always be of a person who would sum up a situation and give us his opinion in very few words.
Annual General Meeting - 27 November 04
We met up at Mark T's house in Stevenage for a walk and pub lunch prior to the afternoon meeting. Our walk toured the underpasses and overpasses of the Stevenage pedestrian access system then ducked under the A1 motorway to KNEBWORTH PARK where we admired some very ornate carving in the church - see below.
From Knebworth Park we passed through some woodland and farmland to a pub for lunch then back to Mark's House passing by the Six Hills of Stevenage - see below
These six hills are a straight row of grass mounds, now surrounded by office blocks and busy roads. The picture shows just one of the mounds, all I could fit in the view finder. They are believed to be a Roman buriel site.
The treasurers report at our AGM indicated that the club made quite a large loss this year but we agreed to hold subscriptions at last years rates. It was generally agreed that the best way to improve the club's financial position would be to attract a larger membership.
We did welcome two new members this year. We also enjoyed a week sailing our dinghies in Chichester harbour using Mark S's yacht as an accommodation base and we also had a dinghy cruise from Paglesham to the Blackwater estuary.
There was some discussion regarding the cost of hiring the village hall for our fitting out and laying up suppers, but it was generally preferred to continue to use the hall rather than the alternative of the village pub where we could not have a talk or slide show after the meal, or a place to meet up and chat during the afternoon.