First sail of the season - 17 May

The weather was lovely this weekend - Mark S. reports: Frank and me in Merganser and Gerald and Clem in Susie had a gentle drift up the Roach to inspect the fancy new buoyage (the new buoys are lit to make night sailing easier!). Had a picnic in the sun on the hard patch up by the old mill and then drifted back again. We then re-fixed the rowlock (socket) on Wo-Boat so she's available again. 

first sail

The hard patch near the head of the Roach estuary


Egret Cup - 1 June

I hear that our club boat Merganser took line honours in the Egret Cup race organised by the RSA (again!). Unfortunately the placing after handicap was only 5th out of 12 starters. Gerald also took part with his Drascombe 'Susi' and finished in eleventh place, he reported quite a tough sail, almost loosing a crew member overboard at one point.

egret 01

Julia, helming our club boat 'Merganser', leads the motley fleet away from the start line at Paglesham


Seafair - 7 to 14 June

Richard and Mark S. took Richard's Tideway dinghy to participate in the 'Sail and Oar' fleet at the Seafair sailing festival in Pembrokeshire.  As last time, a camping field was set up at Lawrenny on the Cleddau river and the Lawrenny Yacht Station provided a slipway, moorings and a landing pontoon. 

seafair campsite

Part of the campsite at Lawrenny

seafair lawreny

 Sail and oar boats alongside the pontoon at Lawrenny

seafair pembroke

Sail and oar boats making their way up to Cresswell Quay

seafair cresswell quay
Sail and oar boats at Cresswell Quay, up the creek from Lawrenny


La ronde des Iles

John and Josephine participated in this dinghy cruise in company held in southern Brittany. An account is here: La ronde des Iles - 2014


Summer BBQ - 21 June

bbq 01

The HSC summer BBQ was held at Clem's place and the website editor hears that it was fully successful - many thanks to Clem.


HSC Cruise - 6 to 11 July

Mark S reports brief details of a trip north with Gerald in our club boat Merganser, it sounds to have been a fully succesful cruise:

Sunday: Paglesham to Walton Stone via Raysand channel

Monday: Walton Stone to Waldringfield - Deben

Tuesday: Waldringfield to Woodbridge - Deben

Wednesday: - Left boat in Woodbridge tidemill marina for forecast gales

Thursday: - Woodbridge to Felixstowe Ferry - Deben

Friday: - Felixstowe Ferry to Paglesham via Swin Spitway

Here are a few pictures taken by Mark on this cruise:

july cruise 01

Woodbridge waterfront - the tide mill to the right of the picture

july cruise 02

july cruise falkenham saltmarsh 03

The above two pictures show dammed creeks in the saltmarshes along the River Deben.  This is part of the Falkenham salt marsh tidal management scheme - more information here 

 july cruise 04

Walton Stone

july cruise 05

Merganser beached



Mudcatchers Cup - 12 July

The Mudcatchers Cup, organised by the Roach Sailing Association, is an innovative sailing race with rules that seem to be different each year. This year the HSC was represented by Clem and Gerald - this is the report from the RSA.

The Mudcatchers Cup, in which boats may be propelled by sail, oar or seaboot,  started with a drop of Pimms on the PVT jetty. White shirts and boaters or flat caps were worn (Black tie was optional). There being no wind, all 5 boats elected to row. Each crew had to find 4 different shells along the course. Crab shells were allowed, and Clem even submitted an egg shell.

The first leg of the course, to the No 4 buoy, required reverse propulsion (the buoy to be rounded to starboard, backwards). TT Contessa got an early lead while others were wading for shells, and kept ahead all the way. Susie and then Winks were next round the mark, each with two sets of oars, followed by TT Pakjhawa and ELG. It was an easy pull then, to the Black Edge buoy, but a long hard row over the tide back to the finish. ELG was going like a train and just pipped Susie to 3rd place. Winks was a very close second, and TT Contessa wins the Mudcatchers Cup!

After the race we had a relaxing barbecue on the saltings, and more Pimms.


Maintenance work on Merganser - 31 July

Mark Smith reports that he and Gerald have been doing some maintenance work on our club owned Wayfarer dinghy 'Merganser'. Support of rear bench seats improved (much needed), one of the bouyancy bags replaced, toe strap attachment repaired and barnicles scraped off bottom. Considering the age of this boat and that it has been heavily used and never stored under a roof it seems to be in pretty good order. 


Cruise to the Frisian Islands - 14 to 22 September

The first foreign dinghy cruise by the HSC worked out very well. We sailed from Harlingen on the Frisian coast of the Netherlands to the island of Vlieland, an open water passage of at least 20 miles, then on to the island of Terschelling and back to Harlingen.  A fuller report here

Clem wins the Lifeboat Cup! - 14 September

Clem reports:

In a gusty north-easterly, for boats set off for Potton Bridge (and back), Chirp leading the way with Makedo, stella Marie and Winks bringing up the rear. It was a fast run through the Violet, then mostly close-hauled to the bridge where the front three were still hard on each other’s heels.  After another run back to the Violet it was close hauled back to the finish, with some boats needing a few tacks back in the Roach.  On corrected time, Winks gets 3rd place, Makedo 2nd, and Chirp wins the Lifeboat cup! 

'Don’t let them out of the Roach!'  - 20 September -  Ian and Julia's account of a day sail from Paglesham

As we left the yard we told Clem, “We’ll just be going up with the tide and back with the tide, nothing more adventurous”. With the wind blowing WSW force 4-5 with stronger gusts, we followed Mark’s reefing instructions and set off up the river with one reef in the main and the medium sized jib. After a lunch stop on the windward shore by Bartonhall Creek we decided we’d had enough hard sailing and we’d let the wind and tide take us home under jib alone. Julia’s video clip of those happy moments is titled “Hubris”*. How did we end up getting blown into a small inlet on the lee shore (opposite Black Edge Point, we think)? What was Ian trying to do when he fell in (blowing up another £20 self-inflating cartridge)? Unable to push off against the wind, we took the sails down and towed the boat round the point of the inlet – Julia wading through or jumping over all the little creeks and inlets with a long rope while Ian fended off from protruding banks and lumps of rusting metal with an oar. 

Once round the point, Ian managed to row us out into the main river, but we could see the tide was taking us down past the mooring faster than Ian could row across. So we tied onto a moored yacht, hoisted sails and tacked back up to the mooring. And missed it. And tacked again. And missed it again. And again. Turning into the wind too soon, we were going too fast. Too late and we couldn’t make against the tide. After getting too close to the jetty we tacked right across the river. I think the plan was to get back until we were well upstream of the mooring, then take the sails down and row onto it. So how did we end up on the mud on the wrong side of the river 100 yards downstream of the jetty??? Down with the mainsail, both out on the mud pushing and pulling and rocking and levering the boat. A fast appearing ridge of mud between us and the water showed us we’d managed to go aground in a slight dip! It took every ounce of strength (and the prospect of being stuck out there in wet clothes til midnight) to get us over that ridge.

We did it! We let ourselves drift down past the moored boats before we hoisted the mainsail again and set off tacking back against wind and tide, slowly making it up river passing one moored boat on each tack. The next challenge was to push Merganser back onto the mud where Woboat was sitting high and dry, and to drag Woboat onto the hard. We then spent an hour trying to clean the mud off Merganser until exhaustion and dying light told us that this would have to do (happily it rained last night, but please check mainsheet blocks and anything that might be clogged up before you go out). 

When Mark put us through our paces for the HSC helm test he judged us competent enough to potter about in the Roach. How right he was! The Roach presents us with so many challenges we don’t think we’ll ever venture any further on our own. But at least we didn’t get rescued this time!

This proves that at least some HSC members retain a sense of humour in those awkward sailing situations that we all encounter at times! I think it also shows that an estuary such as the Roach is a very safe place to gain experience with dinghy sailing - mud is soft, unlike like the rocks you find in many sailing areas - Ed.


Oyster Cup - 28 September

Mark S. reports on the final race of the year organised by the Roach Sailing Association

 Frank and I had a good sail in Merganser on Sunday apart from difficulties getting back to our buoy after we took the mainsail down - mistake! Susie was also enjoying the conditions and must have been close to getting a place. Gerald might have done even better if he had taken a watch and a lap-counter!  (the course was three laps - Gerald did at least four - Ed.)  

 I've swapped the working jib with the one of Merganser. Genoa has a small tear but hopefully that will be OK for a bit. The time spent removing barnacles before the race was well worth the effort. After the race we had a short sail up Barling Creek at high tide - lots of Little Egrets.

 Editors note: From the official result sheet, the race was won by 'Makedo' but our club owned boat 'Merganser' was first over the line and second on handicap - a good result. Merganser is just too fast to win!   HSC member Clem also took part sailing some very small boat, not sure what type, but he retired having taken 1hr 18mins for just the first of the three laps - didnt want to miss the pub!  Altogether there were ten boats at the start - this race series is getting popular.




AGM Weekend - 22/23 November


We had originally intended our AGM weeked to be based at the Lee Valley YHA but we failed to book early enough (again!). However, one of our members now lives in the Lee Valley area and was able to host our weekend - so thanks are due to Mark S for his hospitality and for leading our rambles.


We started the weekend with a short Saturday morning walk from Stanstead Abbotts to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Rye Meads nature reserve then back for lunch at a pub by the river in Stanstead Abbotts. This nature reserve is part of the Lee Valley Regional Park, an area of woodland and disused gravel pits following the valley of the River Lee and extending from the Hertfordshire fown of Ware south into the suburbs of north east London. Much of this area is now nature reserve, with ponds and marshland as well as the River Lee itself providing aquatic habitats.


14-11-22 rye gatehouse


Rye Gate house


On the way to Rye Meads we passed the Rye House Gatehouse. This is just a part of what was originally a fortified residence that dates from 1443 so I think it counts as medieval. I read that it was one of the first brick buildings in the country, at least since the Roman period. The brickwork of the gatehouse is still in good condition with fancy patterns in different colour bricks and twisty brick chimneys.


We had no major issues to discuss at our AGM. The summer of 2014 provided some pleasant sailing weather so our club owned boat 'Merganser' was reasonably well used. The resulting sailing fees meant that the club made a modest financial surplus which we added to our fund for eventual boat replacement. Mark T. takes over from Richard F. as our chairman, but Mark T. himself will have to stand down from this post at our 2015 AGM, as required by our constitution that allows a member only up to three years at a time as an officer of the club. Julia C. helpfully agreed to replace Mark T. as Secretary and Mark S. remains Treasurer for one further year. We agreed an outline program for our country walking events including a return to the Lake District for Easter weekend in 2015.


My principle memory of our Sunday ramble was that it was very wet! It started to rain just before we set off and did not stop until just after we returned. Most of our route was within the Lee Valley Regional Park and took us from Sanstead Abbotts to Ware (plenty of stale jokes along the lines of where's Ware) initially following the New River then footpaths to the west of the River Lee Navigation. Lunch was in a cafe at Ware then we returned along the tow-path on the eastern side of the navigation. The New River is an artificial waterway opened in 1613 to supply London with drinking water from the River Lee and springs in Hertfordshire. This reminded me that when the HSC were in Devon earlier this year we looked at Drake's Leat, an even earlier artificial waterway completed in 1591 to supply water from Dartmoor to Plymouth.


14-11-23 r lea 02


Siphon? on the R. Lee Navigation


I am a bit puzzled by this structure seen at a weir on the River Lee. From an internet search I think it could be a river siphon. A river siphon relies on sub atmospheric pressure to carry water above the intake level before it drops down to below the intake level. In some cases vacuum pumps are installed to remove air to prime the siphon, but I read that some designs are self priming.  Siphons are sometimes installed on rivers to carry the water over an underground obstruction such as a road tunnel, but in this case what would the obstruction be and how come most of the water flows past the siphon rather than through it? Perhaps someone reading this knows the answer?.  You can see that it was a wet day from the rain drops splashing into the river.


14-11-23 ware


Town centre at Ware


Here is our party looking round the town centre at Ware, the cafe we found for lunch is to the left of the estate agent across the road.