New Trailers have arrived !! - 16 March

Richard and Eric collected a new Wayfarer road trailer and two launching trollies from Hayling Trailers. They look fine and are currently in my garden ready to go to Paglesham. At long last we are road worthy as well as sea worthy.

Easter weekend at Minehead

Minehead Youth Hostel is hidden away in woodland a mile or so to the south of the Devon seaside resort of Minehead. It is a slightly older style hostel, no computers, or even tv. Guests washed up after meals, just like the old days of hostelling, but I believe that was a temporary situation caused by a broken thermostat in the dishwashing machine. We shared the hostel with a large and vivacious party from the Burnley mountaineering club.

Our Easter Saturday walk was to Porlock, returning by bus.



Cottage at Selworthy

We lunched at a tea shop at Selworthy which is a pretty and very touristy hamlet consisting of a dozen or so cottages around a green, all the cottages thatched and painted in real chocolate box style

From Selworthy we climbed up through the woods, past a monument and up onto the moorland of Selworthy beacon. Then down to Porlock where we had tea while waiting for the bus back to Minehead.


Two of our party on the decent from Selworthy beacon down to Porlock bay

Our Sunday walk was to the villages of Wooton Courtney and Timberscombe where we lunched at the Lion Inn, then on to the historic Dunster


Crossing the bridge over the River Avill into the village of Timberscombe

and here we cross back again into Dunster


It was a bright spring weekend and the west country gardens were lush and blooming.


The view down Dunster main street with the circular medevial cloth market building in the middle distance and the castle, now National Trust property behind

Minehead harbour, at high tide

Before setting off home on the Monday morning a few of us took a look at the old part of Minehead, the opposite end of the town to the large Butlins holiday camp.

Fitting out - 13 April

Our boats are now on moorings but could probably still do with a bit of maintainance work which perhaps might have been easier had we managed to get some more round tuits befor launching for the season.

On arriving at Paglesham for the first time this year we could not miss some significant changes at the boatyard. There is a clean and tidy new toilet block which I understand may eventually have a shower. The jetty is being rebuilt and extended with pontoons. There is a new carpark separate to the on shore boat storage and new hardstanding replacing muddy ruts throughout most of the boatyard. There are a great many motor boats on display for sale, including brand new ones, motor boat sales now seem to be a large part of the yard business. Many of the rotting old hulks have been cleared away or else they must be hidden somewhere. Vic's cafe has had a facelift and provided us with welcome refreshments during the day. The yard is rapidly becoming more marina like and whilst traditional style boatyards have a certain charm the practical benefits of the improvements would be hard to deny. Many of us who have been sailing on the Essex coast for years have become accustomed to a lack of shoreside facilities but how do prospective new HSC members who come sailing with us for the first time feel about paddling in the mud to board our tender then not having anywhere to clean up when they get back on dry land. I am sure that the improved facilities will help us to offer a more welcoming experience to first time sailors and that should be good for the HSC.

An idea discussed at some length by our committee and now implemented by Eric is the provision of an emergency kit aboard each of our boats. Each boat now carries a waterproof screw top plastic container within which is a first aid kit, a waterproof torch, a multitool gadget and a few basic rigging spares such as clevis pin and locking ring. Hopefully it should rarely be necessary to open these containers (although the torch batteries will need occasional replacement) and so we may well decide to keep the lids sealed with tape. But in emergency one could be very glad to have these kits intact and in good condition so if you do need to use them you should make sure that any consumables are replaced and the containers repacked and retaped as soon as possible after the event.

St Peter's hall was in use for a village charity event so for our fitting out supper this year we went to the Punch bowl at Paglesham Church End. We had a good meal but attempting to hold a committee meeting in a busy pub on Saturday night was not really feasible.

Evening Meeting in London: 21 May

Report from Richard:

Eight members assembled at Mansion House Underground station for one of our rare London events. As there had been a heavy rain shower we postponed our walk across the Millennium Footbridge and went to a local Italian restaurant where we had a pleasant evening. We talked a bit about the forthcoming sailing weekend and discussed some of the summer cruise proposals: a little inconclusively I'm afraid.

After the meal, Len made an early departure, but the rest of us walked across the bridge in light rain. It was difficult in the dark to spot the damping devices that have put an end to the wobbles. We then strolled up the South Bank towards the Festival Hall and crossed the new Hungerford Footbridge: the upstream side is now open and looks quite impressive, illuminated by downlighters from the pylon supports. Rainwater was cascading down the steps, a bit like a garden water feature!

Dinghy Cruising Association Falmouth Meet - 15 to 22 June

Report from Richard

St Just-in-Roseland is a village on the Roseland peninsula, looking over Carrick Roads and the Fal estuary, with its many creeks and little natural harbours. With glorious wooded scenery, it is a very attractive area for sailing small boats. For this reason Mark and I decided to join the DCA North West group’s annual "holiday" meet, by towing Meander down to Cornwall.

The North West group members made us very welcome from the first. We were offered a cup of tea on arrival at the campsite on the Saturday night, before setting up our tents. There was plenty of advice and assistance on hand about local sailing facilities, and when our reefing cleat fell off [corrosion around the screw holes] one of our neighbours kindly drilled out new holes and provided a replacement screw. On the Tuesday evening an "American Supper" was arranged at the campsite when everyone brought some food along to contribute to a buffet. On the Thursday evening a meal was booked at the Watch House restaurant in St Mawes, which attracted about thirty people.

Sunday was a misty, cloudy day. We trailed the boat down to Pasco’s Yard and launched it before high water. St Just Creek is deceptively sheltered and by the time we were tacking out through the moorings we realised we had seriously underestimated the wind strength, and my helming technique was still rusty from the winter lay-off. Discretion was called for, so we dumped the main sail and ran back to the beach under jib to put a couple of reefs in. We then sailed over to explore Mylor Creek, before returning to base in the afternoon, leaving Meander on its trolley on the hard standing at the top of the beach.

Monday morning brought a bad forecast so we went to see the Eden Project; in fact the sun came out by midday and it was very pleasant, though a bit breezy. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were suitable for sailing, but Friday brought strong winds, poor visibility and rain in the afternoon.

Tuesday: there seemed to be a consensus to sail up with the tide [HW1300?] and explore the Tresillian river, so we followed in Meander. We didn’t catch sight of the other craft until we reached Malpas, and by that stage it was HW, but there was not a lot of depth in the muddier upper reaches, so the fleet turned back, mostly using their engines to avoid beating in the fluky winds. Consequently, we found ourselves alone off Malpas and picked up a mooring to have our lunch.  Sailing back though the narrow wooded sections brought us to Smuggler’s Cottage, where we re-joined the fleet on the private pontoon and went ashore for a cream tea. We relaxed in some hot sunshine, renewing acquaintance with George Saffrey, the owner of a Cruz, who some of us met on last year’s Blackwater Meet.

Wednesday: the wind had moderated, so a trip to Helford River was proposed; we started a bit late and sailed out to sea one hour on starboard tack, then tacked onto port in the hope of laying a course to the Helford entrance. We eventually got as far as Durgan and picked up a mooring at 4pm for a very late lunch. On our return the wind died off Pendennis Castle, and we rowed and sailed the last few miles in sight of ‘Jady Lane’ and the Ness Yawl ‘Lowly Worm’. In the creek we spoke to Aidan de la Mare, the owner of the former boat, as he rigged his tent for the night.

Thursday: Brian, the North West group secretary, had proposed to take the tide up to Truro, so most of the DCA fleet followed suit. Meander ran out of wind near King Harry Ferry so we had to do some rowing to get past Malpas into the Truro river. We managed to tack up the channel around HW and landed at the pontoon within sight of Truro cathedral, and took some photographs as proof. Somebody managed to walk as far as Tesco’s! We cheated and got a tow back to Smuggler’s Cottage where Brian proposed another cream tea stop, just to keep us going until we got to the restaurant for our evening meal. We had another tow from ‘Jay’ through the narrow channel, and then picked up a nice breeze for a fast sail back to St Just.

Because of the forecast, on Friday we took the trailer down to the yard in the morning and brought Meander back to the campsite before the rain set in. In the afternoon we took the passenger ferry for a bumpy ride across the harbour to visit Falmouth.

On Saturday we set off to tow Meander back, and pitched our tents on a lovely evening at Wallasea. After returning the boat to its mooring Sunday morning we treated ourselves to one of Vic’s breakfasts.

Sailing weekend and barbecue - 27/28 July

Report from Richard

Geoff and Diana Lee, former stalwart members of the '70s, came down to Essex for a sailing weekend in the club boats, bringing their daughter Jenny and boyfriend Tom. They camped at Wallasea and were joined by many other club members for a reunion and barbecue on Saturday evening. It was good to see them, and we were pleased that two club helms had taken out membership again. Perhaps we will see them again next year - if they can stand the pace!

Summer Cruise - 11 to 17 August

We had an excellent summer cruise this year - See HSC SUMMER CRUISE - 2002

Holiday in France

John and Josephine sailed by dinghy from Portland down to southern Brittany and part of the way back, completing the trip by car ferry - See BRITTANY CRUISE - 2002

DCA Blackwater cruise 31 August to  September

Report from Richard

Mark Smith, Mark Tingley, Richard and Len embarked on this weekend cruise organised by the DCA East Coast section. Len decided to bring his 14' Leader, 'Rebel', and on Saturday Mark T. crewed for him, while Richard and Mark S. took Merganser. We departed Paglesham around 10.40 with a brisk north west wind. It was easy sailing until we reached the Ray Sand buoy, and a hard beat to windward from there to Sales Point before we could turn into the Blackwater. Len decided to go into Bradwell for a breather and to stretch his legs, while Merganser continued upriver to the east point of Osea Island where there is a substantial shingle ridge. Here we landed for a brew up and comfort stop around 4pm. Goldhanger Creek is on the north bank of the river about a mile and a half away, and we landed here at 5.45 just after Rebel's crew. We were met by the organiser, John Adye, but it transpired that no other DCA boats were coming. We set up camp near the sailing club compound and went to the convenient pub in the village for a meal, where we also met DCA member Ted Jones, who had come by road.

The night was disturbed by loud music from a nearby disco, the last thing you would expect in this backwater. We were stirring early on Sunday morning to get away at high water, as the creek dries out completely. We swapped crews, so I was able to experience the Leader at first hand, and I was impressed with its fast performance. The winds were light NW, and we held our lead over Merganser all the way to the Roach. I was less impressed with the currency of Len's chart: cover price 12/6d!

Len wanted to visit the pub on Foulness, so we landed at the steps in the Roach and walked the mile or so there for lunch. On return to Paglesham, Mark gave Len his practical helmsmanship test, and then carried out a flotation test on Merganser.

 Barbecue and camping at Wallasea  28/29 September

Report from Richard

A fine weekend saw Mark Smith bring Meander round to the marina at Wallasea, and a good gathering for the evening barbecue at the camp site. Steve punctured his inflatable getting ashore, so later that night he used Meander to get back aboard his boat which was on a mooring, Next morning he met Richard, Doug and Herman at the slipway, and they sailed Meander back.

Laying up supper - 26 October

We made a break from tradition this year in that rather than inverting our boats to keep the rain out over the winter we put them into winter storage right way up on their launching trollies with covers to keep out the rain. The website editor did have some slight doubt about this, I hope that in due course such dought will prove to be unfounded. One advantage of the new arrangement is that it will make it easier for members to do maintanance work inside the boats during the winter - now there's a thought.

Our laying up supper was again held in St Peter's hall and members spent much of the evening pouring over each others photograph collections from holiday locations as diverse as China, Peru, Brittany and of course Essex. After the supper Geoff gave a slide show on his holiday this year in Moroco.

AGM Weekend - Tanners Hatch - 31 Nov to 1 Dec

Our AGM weekend was well attended this year, despite the wet weather. Eric, our treasurer, reported that the club had done well financially and a modest surplus has been added to our fund for future replacement of boats and equipment. However, Eric did say that this success was down to a combination of exceptional circumstances which would probably not recur next year. For example, this summer a couple of our longstanding members who now live in Yorkshire brought their family down to Essex for a sailing holiday which boosted the clubs income from sailing fees. It was Eric's view that the club will almost certainly make a loss next year and so there was some discussion as to whether our subscriptions should be raised. Eventually it was decided to make a small increase in the temporary membership subscription from £12 per day to £15 per day but all other subscription rates remain unchanged for one more year at least. I think that £15 for a day out sailing is still very competitive with commercial boat hire.

Some of our party at Tanners Hatch hostel

On the Saturday morning prior to the AGM we took a walk to Denbigh wine centre then back to Tanners Hatch YHA. Denbigh wine centre is the largest vineyard in the UK, the vines cover a broard swath of the North Downs hillside to the north of Dorking. The wine centre is housed in a modern building with an art gallery, gift shop and large cafeteria/coffee bar, a real tourist trap with a car park which was well filled even at this time of year.

Returning through the drizzle to the Youth Hostel we were treated to a delicious buffet lunch by Claire, the YHA warden. After that came the AGM meeting itself then yet more food, our evening meal being a gigantic stew by Herman followed by bread and butter pudding by Eric. Sorry if I always seem to be writing about food when I report on these weekends.

On the Sunday we first drove to Shalford which is just south of Guildford then Len lead us on a walk westwards to Compton where we viewed the Watts art gallery, the Watts memorial chapel and visited the Egon Ronay approved Watts Tea Shop - yes, more food. I shall not add more about the Watts art gallery and associated places of interest since there is a comprehensive web site about it here: WATTS GALLERY. On returning to Shalford Len and Valerie invited us to their home for tea and cakes, rounding off our weekend in front of a blazing log fire.