We had a good Easter rambling weekend although with a party of six our numbers were a bit down on previous years. Our venue was the Lake District which used to be an annual favourite but which we have not visited for a number of years, the last time was an Easter at High Close YHA.
We set off on the Thursday before Easter and stopped at Lincoln Hostel, friendly warden and good food. Next morning we went to call on Geoff and Diana Lee, old members of our club, and their home from university family. We stayed for lunch and an afternoon walk, chatting about old times. Perhaps we might see some of the family down south sometime, maybe even at Paglesham. Their garden backs down onto the fast flowing River Wyre so they are canoeers rather than sailors.
After leaving the Lees we stayed the night at Linton Hostel near Grassington village in the Penines. We spent most of the next day at Malham in the Penine hills a little to the west of Grassington. In the morning we did a walk past Malham tarn, the picture below is of a stream in this area. This is limestone potholing country, see how the stream just appears straight out of a grassy bank.
A stream comes straight up from the ground
After lunch in the village we looked at Malham horsehoe. This is a near vertical limestone cliff down which there used to be a waterfall but the water now finds an underground passage to emmerge under a pool at the base of the cliff. I wondered if we waited long enough if we would see Joy Tasker surface in that pool. It was now getting a bit drizzly and we drove on to Grasmere, the hostel we had booked for three nights in the heart of the Lake district.
Our walk from Grasmere on Easter Monday was chosen to be our big one, up over Helvelyn. We drove to a car park by Thirlmere and left the car to be collected after the walk. The path up from this car park provides a short but steep route to the summit of Helvelyn. It was quite a climb for us southerners but at least it is a well kept path with stones placed to provide steps for most of the way. The weather was better than forcast, some showers drifted accross but we had a view from the summit where we ate our sandwiches, along with dozens of other colorfully dressed mountaineers. Near the summit there is a stone marking the landing spot of the first aircraft to be landed on a mountain, sometime in the twenties. We then continued on over Dolly Wagon Pike and down into Grasmere for cream tea.
The view on the way down from Helvelyn looking towards Ullswater
Geoff had to depart on the Tuesday but the rest of us had booked a further night at the hostel. I think most were worn out after Helvelyn so there was little objection to an easy day. A couple of people suggested a row on a lake so we investigated boat hire on Windemere. On considering the costs we felt a bit doughtful about paying to row in someone elses boat when our HSC boats are waiting to go afloat for the season so we went to visit the Windemere steam boat museum instead. This has several steam launches and there was also a special feature about Arther Ransome's childrens books set in the Lake District, I think that all our party had some familiarity with these books. After the museum a short stroll into Windemere for lunch then we spent the afternoon on a leisurely low level ramble from a car park near Ambleside past Rydel water and Grasmere and so back to the hostel.
Fitting out and auction sale - 6 May
Thanks are due to Eric Rolf, Grace Harland and others for a splendid fitting out barbeque cooked in the car park of the Mission Hall at Paglesham. Fortunately it was the end of a very hot day for the time of year and so it was pleasant to gather outside in the early evening. We went indoors to complete the meal and to hold a successful auction sale. Considering the relatively small number of potential customers, auctioneer Eric Rolf managed to sell quite a quantity of junk. Some people probably did go home with bargains, the auction included a number of woodworking tools from the club locker which were sold since most members working on our boats now bring their own tools. Most of the tools from the club locker were in good condition having been meticulously sharpened and greased for preservation.
The club's Johnson 4hp outboard motor which has not been used in recent years was donated to the Roach Sailing Association. I understand that John Langrick, RSA secretary, has now overhauled this engine and it will be available for use with the RSA tender.
Both the HSC Wayfarers were launched on 6th May. Pretty well all the woodwork in both boats has been repainted and/or revarnished. The walk in locker in the boat yard has had a good clearout and tidy up, to the benefit of our recent auction sale. A bad crack in the fibreglass thwart of one boat has been repaired and I hope it is now stronger than when new. A new centreboard has been made and is in storage as a spare for the time being. A new pair of Wayfarer oars has be purchased. All completed on schedule.
The Roach Sailing Association are providing a communal dinghy for use of RSA members at Paglesham. It is a fibreglass dinghy about 10 foot long which John Langrick and others have rebuilt with stout new gunwhales and thwarts etc. The rebuilding work looks good but is not quite finished yet. When it is ready for use it will be labelled 'RSA'. It is a bit bigger than most of the tenders and John suggested it could be useful if we need to take several people out to our boats in one trip. The HSC has donated the old Johnson outboard for use with this dinghy if it still works, it has not been tested recently.
New Members Day - 17 June
We had a very pleasant sail for our new members day, up the Roach to the Cherry Tree and back. Perfect weather and ideal tide. Only one prospective new member, I don't think the advertisement I sent to the Southend free press got printed.
Meeting With DCA - 24 June
Three HSC members joined in with a DCA rally held at Burnham Yacht Harbour. I took my own dinghy since I wanted to include some testing of a new device for elimination of heeling, rolling and leeway on sailing boats, but that is another matter. We spent the Saturday evening in the Crouch Yacht Club with about a dozen DCA members. On the Sunday some DCA boats sailed to or towards Paglesham and we landed from my boat at Quay Point on the shore of Foulness Island and walked along the lane to the Dragon and George Pub near the church. Although landing on Foulness Island is generally prohibited you are allowed to land at this one point from which there is a public right of way to the pub in the hamlet at the centre of the island. Although I have often sailed past Foulness, useually on route to Burnham, this was the first time I had been ashore on Foulness and I can recommmend a visit. The island is very flat with a quiet remote atmosphere, hardly anyone about but then it was a Sunday afternoon. MOD buildings are scattered accross the island and there are also farm houses and cottages and two hamlets. The pub provided us with a lunch and has a little exhibition of local history. We chatted to a couple of locals who were netting mullet on the muddy foreshore using a small rowing and sailing punt. They had long memories of the Island (drawing on their ancesters memory, this went back to 1860 when there were 600 inhabitants, no bridge to the mainland and a daily ferry service to Burnham). The MOD establishment on Foulness started at the beginning of the first world war. Just the week before John Maton had told me that the hulk of the Beagle, Darwin's research vessel, ended up on the river Roach and these local men were able to confirm that it was actually broken up at Paglesham. They did not think there was much chance of anything still remaining of it.
HSC Summer Cruise - 29 July to 5 August 2000
We had another excellent summer cruise, account CLICK HERE.
Get together with the Roach Sailing Association - 3 Sept
Our program for this weekend was to meet the RSA crews at Pyfleet Creek. Unfortunately the weather forcast for the Saturday was Northerly wind force 5 to 6 so the trip to Pyfleet seemed likely to prove a bit wet for our Wayfarers and we guessed that the RSA boats would also choose an alternative destination, probably Fambridge. Accordingly we postphoned our sailing until the Sunday and at about 11-00am the two HSC Wayfarers with total crew of five set off to see if they could intercept the RSA fleet on their return to Paglesham. This proved to be not too difficult, on rounding the bend into Troublesome Reach we spotted 'Swanti' and 'Stortebecker' rafted together at anchor on the West side of the river opposite Quay point on Foulness Island. We joined them for coffee on board while waiting for two further RSA boats to arrive making a party of about 20 crew members in total. We crossed the river in a fleet of dinghies and walked to the George and Dragon, arriving in time for a pint but just a bit too late for Sunday lunch. Then back to the boats and home to Paglesham, a short but pleasant sail.
Swanti and Stortebecker rafted together with HSC and RSA members on board
Laying up Supper - 28 October
Yet another pleasant cosy evening in the village hall at Paglesham, and with above average attendance. Our thanks to Josephine and Grace for a three course meal which had to be mostly prepared in advance since cooking equipment in the hall is limited to say the least, even although there is an impressive stock of cutlery and WI inscribed crockery. Following the meal Geoff showed us excellent slides of his Spanish adventure holiday in the mountains inland from Bilbao.
Earlier in the day we got the HSC boats ashore, cleaned up and moved to their winter storage where they are once again stored upside down. This is despite an email I saw from a Norwegian member of the Wayfarer Association who issued a dire warning that storing a Wayfarer upside down can cause condensation to freeze and damage the foam sandwich deck. He may well be right but I suspect that in the case of Meander (Merganser does not have a foam sandwich deck) it is too late to worry now and the alternative of storing right way up with a cover would probably have its own problems.
The week following our laying up weekend was the windiest and wettest since 1987 so I feel we got the boats on dry land only just in time. Indeed, on the Saturday morning the wind was already blowing up and making it virtually impossible to get the Wayfarers from their moorings to the hard under oars. I understand that our crew was grateful to John Langrick for a tow from his motor dinghy. Later in the day the rain came, the beginning of the downpours which brought floods accross the country but by that time we were all cosy in the village hall with the gas heaters turned up and oblivous to the elements outside.
AGM Weekend - Castle Headingham
As usual we did some rambling and pubbing over the AGM weekend, which for the second year running was at Castle Headingham YHA in Essex. On the Saturday morning we met for coffee in the busy coffee shop adjacent to the cycle shop in Castle Headingham. With excellent weather we then took a similar walk to one we did last year, lunching in a nice pub at Gestingthorpe. The picture below was actually taken on the prevous years walk in the locality of Castle Headingham and with rather grey weather.
The AGM was straightforward and non-contentious but despite this seemed to take longer than I would have thought necessary! The club remains in a good situation financially so there will be no subscription increases this year - we have been able to hold the subscription constant for quite a few years now. Our club constitution requires the 'officers' of the club to stand down and be replaced at three year maximum intervals, I think to avoid the 'management' becoming stale or cliquey. This year the Secretary and Treasurer were replaced - the details of the new comittee etc. will be in the AGM minutes included in the club newsletter.
The plan for the evening was to sit in the common room and look over old copies of Ahoy. This never happened since the hostel was quite crowded as we were sharing it with a party from the Cyclists Touring Club and we preferred to spend the evening in the pub. Nothing against cyclists mind you!. Our quiet nostalgia evening will have to wait awhile.
The nice weather did not last long, the next morning it was pouring down and some members went home, the others initially went to the East Anglian Railway museum at Wakes Coln, a village in the Coln Valley between Halstead and Colchester. We stood in the rain outside the museum but then made a democratic decision not to go inside but instead go to a café in Halstead and wait to see if the rain might stop. Democratic processes sometimes seem to produce strange results! Anyway the rain did leave off in the afternoon and we did a short walk from Halstead.