Fitting Out - 21st April

Report from Mark S.

Gerald, Mark T, Mark S arrived at Clem's house in Canewdon to find the boats had survived the winter well - except for Wo-Boat, see later.

We loaded Merganser onto her trailer and set off to Paglesham where we fitted her mast and sails. Clem then rowed Merganser to her mooring and the party retired to the Plough and Sail for a short lunch stop. Then Clem, Mark T and Gerald returned to Canewdon to do some more work on Meander and Susie. Meanwhile, I rowed out to Merganser, checked that she was still afloat and went for a short trial sail up river followed by a short walk down river.

Around 5, Geof and Bill turned up at Canewdon and we all inspected the result of Clem's hard work building his own wooden dinghy (Swallow Boats - Storm17) which now has a coat of paint and really looks like a boat. Later we drove to the Royal Oak in Stambridge for our Fitting Out Supper where most of us struggled to finish off their enormous steak puddings - and then struggled to find room for a dessert.

We made a list of work still needed on the boats most of which has now been done:- Wo-boat had developed a longish crack in her hull - might explain why she was leaking a bit last year - Clem has since fixed that. Merganser's rear hatch seal has seen better days - I've now got some new half-round rubber strip which should work better. Clem has also fixed a split in Meander's rudder - and also fixed a couple of flat tyres - thanks Clem.

So, Merganser is now available for day sailing. As soon as the weather improves a bit I'll try and get down to fix rear hatch. And Meander is looking OK for her planned trip to Wales for Seafair.

Diamond Jubilee Weekend - 3 to 5 June

Report from Mark S

The June mini-cruise ended up being shorter than expected in both time and cruising distance. Our initial plan had been to join the RSA on their trip to the Medway but both HSC and RSA plans were scuppered by the Havengore ligting bridge being out of action.

We (Mark T, Gerald and Mark S) arranged to meet Saturday AM for a trip to the Blackwater or Colne, but again our plans went astray as the 2AM forecast was for occasional F6/7 winds “later” so we postponed leaving till Sunday AM. As things turned out we should have left as planned as Saturday was sunny and the forecast strong winds (and heavy rain) did not arrive till after midnight.

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Merganser in the Crouch

On Sunday, Merganser left Paglesham around HW, but when we reached Shore Ends the breakers caused by wind (E4/5) against tide at the Crouch entrance made us rethink our plans. We went ashore in a small bay reasonably protected from wind and waves and walked up the track to Coney Hall followed by a long walk along Marsh Road into Burnham. Spirits improved a bit when we found that the Ship Inn was still serving roast sunday lunch and improved even more when we were given a card for the local taxi to get us back to our boat and tents.

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Camping by seawall

After a wet and windy night we packed camp and set off again towards the Crouch entrance. The wind had backed to NE and the tide was still flooding so no big waves and we got to Shore Ends fairly easily, but then we started to get the seas resulting from the overnight NE winds. The prospect of a long beat into these conditions did not really appeal to Merganser’s crew, so we decided once again to head towards Burnham. We tied up to the Royal Corinthian’s new, bigger pontoon where we stopped for lunch. We had a long chat with Adrian Fluker, previous Vice Commodore, who said that the HSC are always welcome. He also suggested we checked out some of the creeks on the Dengie Flats, a couple of which reach the sea wall at old barge docks. He lives in the area and believes bricks for his (17th C?) house were delivered by barge. Looking at the chart it seems like locating the right creek entrance might be a good navigational challenge – but a lot easier with a GPS.

Walking along the Burnham sea-front we took a look at the Jubilee celebrations – relay races and lots of strawberries - and then took Merganser upriver hoping – unsuccessfully - to get the promised salute from the Lord Lieutenant of Essex. On our way back to Paglesham we passed the large barge and conveyor system being used to offload Crossrail tunnel barges and we arrived back at Paglesham for dinner at the Plough and Sail.

Mudcatcher's Cup - Merganser Wins!

(I think the idea of this event was a race to retrieve balloons and floating beer bottles from the river? - Ed)

Merganser's crew:- Mark S, Julia & Ian. Chirp's crew:- Clem & Frank (who did well even without putting up a mainsail!) Gerald in Susie was launching the beer bottles and balloons.

Extract from RSA report: The Mudcatchers Cup was blessed with a beautiful day, Makedo, Stella Marie, Sarah Edith, Merganser and Clem's newly launched self built double ender set off on a short course to the downstream red fairway buoy and back to the Paglesham Village Trust Jetty, picking up a balloon and beer bottle on the way. Before the start there was no wind, and with the tide still flooding, concern that anyone would make it to the downstream mark. Once we all got under way a gentle Southerly made the course an easy sail. Gerald in Susie stood by with safety and beer bottle duties duly scattering balloons down the river. Merganser was first back, with beer, and wins the Mudcatchers Cup. The afternoon BBQ was well attended and rounded off a perfect day on the river.

Seafair - Millford Haven, Pembrokeshire - 23 to 30 June

Seven HSC members attended the Seafair event on the Cleddau estuary in Pembrokeshire. We took four boats and had a great time - I have added an account under the 'SAILING FESTIVALS' section of this website.

Dinghy Cruise from Lechlade to Schiermonnikoog

John and Jospehine travelled by sailing dinghy from Lechlade in Gloucestershire to Schiermonnikoog, an island in the north of the Netherlands. An account of their experiences can be found 'MEMBER'S CRUISE LOGS section of this website.

Ride on the new London cable car - 24 July

Report by Essin

We usually do a London meeting around May/June each year, this year it was Franks sugestion that we take a ride on the new cable car that has just started operation across the Thames downstream of Greenwich.

( For information the Cable Car will be known as the 'Emirates Air Line' and creates a new connection between north and south London as it travels between the new stations of Emirates Greenwich Peninsula and Emirates Royal Docks. With a journey time of just five minutes, up to 2,500 people will be able to use the Emirates Air Line per hour in each direction – equivalent to 30 buses, and it will carry around two million passengers each year.)

Despite this trip being announced at rather short notice, five of us, Geoff, Frank, Len, Mark S and Esin, agreed to meet up after Frank kindly drafted  a programme for the evening. Unfortunately Geoff never appeared at the meeting place outside the cable car station despite our having waited longer than planned. Later on we found out that Geoff was waiting for us, but not quite where we thought he would be! It would not be a surprise if Geoff obtains a mobile phone after this experience!  (I have some old ones he could have - Ed.)

After a short wait at Emirates station, we were allowed to board the cable car then we had an exciting but a very short ride over the Thames. Our journey was too short or felt too short as we were trying to see everything under/around us from every angle! 

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Len and Essin in the gondola - picture by Mark S

After a safe flight across the river, we walked to the nearby O2 (the millenium dome) then waited to get on the Thames Clipper catamaran ferry while Mark S went back to the cable car station to check if Geoff had somehow made it. Unfortunately there was no sight of Geoff and we got on board the boat. As we came towards Tower Bridge people started taking pictures of the bridge with hanging Olympic rings which looked like they were part of the structure. Our cruise offered many sights of London on both sides of the Thames, most notably the Shard, HMS Belfast, sailing youngsters with Wayfarers, monumental pictures of the Royal Family. We landed at the London Eye. 

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Mark S took this picture of Tower Bridge and the Olympic rings from on board the catamaran ferry

At this point, Len left to catch his train home and the rest of us headed for The Cut, the restaurant booked by Frank. It was, as Frank had described it, a reasonable Italian restaurant and we enjoyed our meal, drink and chat. Sometime before midnight we left for home. Overall it was a pleasant day/evening for a trip out in London with no rain and clear view from the cable car. Thanks to Frank again for all the planning and an enjoyable evening. We have thought the next meeting will be at Geoff's to make up for his absence from our gathering. He is keen for that!

Summer Cruise - 2 to 7 September

We were a bit late planning our summer cruise this year. We had 'pencilled in' the dates earlier in the year but it was only at the end of the DCA Cobnor week, less than a week before the HSC cruise was due to start, that a few HSC members got together to make some plans. We decided to make a break from our traditions in that rather than starting our cruise from Paglesham, this year we would take boats by road trailer to Devon so that we could explore Plymouth sound and its tributary rivers. Three of the HSC sailing membership now live in Devon, so it was actually less of a journey for some of us than Paglesham would have been. CLICK HERE FOR AN ACCOUNT OF THIS CRUISE

Laying up at Paglesham

Report from Mark S.

Nine HSC members helped with laying up our boats at the end of the 2012 season - quite a crowd

A cold, breezy and occasionally wet day made recovering three boats (Merganser,Susie,Chirp) an interesting exercise in rowing against wind and tide and also in dodging the showers - we were pleased to see the boatyard coffee shop open just when a particularly black cloud appeared over Paglesham. But soon we - Clem,Gerald,Mark*2,Julia&Ian - had all three boats on their trailers, and so we stopped for a quick lunch at the Plough and Sail. 

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Laying up Merganser

After lunch we towed the boats to Clem's ranch at Canewdon where Esin,Geof and Bill joined the party to finish laying up the boats. Moving the boats was made easy by Clem's tractor (see photo). When all boats had winter covers fitted we enjoyed tea and Esin's homemade cakes before driving to Great Stambridge for a short walk to Barton Hall Creek on the Roach (well we nearly got there!).

The day finished with an enjoyable meal at the Royal Oak .

AGM Weekend at Lee Valley YHA - 17 to 18 December

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Lee Valley YHA

This year we held our AGM at the splendid purpose built youth hostel located in the Lee Valley Park to the north east of London - a convenient location for our members in both Essex and London. The picture above shows the main building of the hostel, there are also several 'lodges' that provide additional bedrooms, each lodge having its own lounge/dining room. This would be a handy hostel for anyone wishing to stay within easy reach of London whilst not actually being within the urban area. The station a few hundred yards from the hostel provides a frequent train service to London - I can vouch for the frequency of the train service having arrived by car and having queued at the rail crossing barrier near the station while no less than six trains passed by before the barrier opened!

A few members arrived on the Saturday morning and took a short ramble before the others arrived, then we all lunched at a cafe near the hostel before starting our meeting. We had a straightforward AGM this year, there were no pressing issues to discuss. As last year, the club made a modest surplus so subscriptions can remain unchanged for another year.

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Stratton's Tower at Little Berkhamstead

On the Sunday of the weekend we had superb weather for the time of year, as you can see from these pictures. Six members gathered to start a ramble from the Hertfordshire village of Bayford, about a dozen miles north from Lee Valley YHA and well out into the Hertfordshire countryside. We walked west through Bayford Wood to Little Berkhamstead then Essendon, then another mile on to the Candlestick pub which stands in open countryside near the hamlet of West End. Passing through Little Berkhamstead, we could hardly miss Stratton's Tower. The HISTORY PAGE on the Little Berkhamstead village website tells us that this was probably built for no other reason than that John Stratton wanted a room with a view, and presumably he didn't mind stairs. That history page also mentions that Little Berkhamstead is the place where William the Conqueror accepted the surrender of the City of London after the Battle of Hastings.

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Autumn colours and lengthening shadows as we return to Bayford

We returned to Bayford by a different route to our outward route, but again passing through Little Berkhamstead. Arriving back at Bayford we were lucky that there was still ten minutes before a church sale and craft fair came to an end in the village hall, so we were able to enjoy tea and homemade cakes before going our separate ways.