Sunday, 23 June 2019


Sadly Dave had to leave us at Ramsgate, but luckily D was able to join us for the final leg back to the Swale. The night spent in Ramsgate was useful not only for crew recuperation, but also the wind changed overnight and we woke to bright sunshine and and easterly breeze.

The picture shows the North Foreland under conditions which have been unusual so far this summer - blue seas and blue sky. After a pleasant trip along the north Kent coast with a fair wind we picked up our mooring on the Swale just before high water.

This ends this years big trip, though we hope to have time for some shorter excursions around the estuary. There are a few jobs to be done on Bonita, including some work repairing the long pole for holding out the big jib. This disintegrated as we were passing Dover harbour and one end was lost overboard. As we were in the track of the cross-channel ferries at the time, we did not think it was an appropriate moment for some man-overboard practice to try to retrieve the pole.
We very much enjoyed joining the Falmouth Classics and the Helford rally, and the welcome we got at both of these.The Falmouth Classics is one of the largest events of its type with over a hundred entrants and many interesting boats on the water. We know the Helford river well and for a long time have been looking forward to sailing Bonita there.

This years plans were dictated by the need to leave the boat on several occasions for work or family commitments, and for this purpose, apart from the high marina fees, cruising along the south coast is ideal. 

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Helford to Ramsgate

With the redoubtable Dave Patuck as crew we set sail from Helford on Wednesday morning and sailed the entire length of the English Channel, arriving at Ramsgate on Friday afternoon.

We had a fair wind throughout - W or SW, varying in strength from nothing to force 7, so that South of the Isle of Wight we took down the mainsail and ran under mizzen and headsails for a few hours.  We had spring tides, which is a mixed blessing.  It's very encouraging when the tide is with you (look how fast we are going, we will be there in no time) but a bit depressing when its against you (I can't believe how slow we are going - we'll never get there).  No doubt it all averages out in the end.

We saw lots of dolphins and I was interested to see them swimming alongside the boat in the darkness at night.  I had assumed that dolphins slept at night, or at least took it easy as presumably they can't see to hunt fish.  However they still are happy to welcome passing yachts.

After this marathon journey Dave and I felt very much in need of a shower, a square meal ( provided by the excellent Royal Temple Yacht Club) and a good night's sleep.

Bonita however seems unaffected by this excitement. Her entire journey up-channel (showing her very variable Speed Over the Ground as tides change) is visible on this YouTube video.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

The Helford Old Gaffers Race

Today we took part in the Helford Old Gaffers Race.  This consists of 3 circuits of a course in the entrance to the river.  We had D and Roly as crew - Roly has a small gaffer that he trails around from his base in the Midlands.  We had a light Easterly wind and were able to set both topsail and light jib on the down wind legs.  Bonita however would have liked a bit more wind.  Inevitably we didn't do quite as well as some more modern Gaffers with local knowledge, but we did get a prize for being both the oldest boat and the one that had come the furthest.  After the race D and I went ashore to visit Trebah gardens once again; D is a life member so we thought we should get the benefit from this.

The day ended with a jolly dinner and prize giving in the Port Navas yacht club.

Our tour of West Country old Gaffers events is now coming to a close so we are hoping for fair winds for the trip home...


We left Falmouth and sailed the few miles to the lovely Helford river.  We are here today for an Old Gaffers rally, but we know the Helford well from many land- based visits with the family and dinghy sailing.  This however is our first visit in Bonita, and almost certainly her first time here.  It seems very odd to be seeing this familiar landscape from Bonita's deck.

We went ashore and visited the gardens at Trebah.  Rather incongruously they have installed an armoured car on the beach in recognition of fact that many American troops embarked from here before D-day 75 years ago.

About 15 gaff rigged boats have assembled for the rally - Bonita is the only entrant from the east coast.  In the evening we all went up the river for a barbecue at Tremaine Quay.  The picture shows some of the revellers and the boats anchored in the river.  Apparently the quay was built for a visit by Queen Victoria.  Unfortunately it was never used as her visit was cancelled.  However it is now a popular spot for picnics, camping and water sports.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Falmouth Classics Day 3

Yesterday evening Jacob had to leave to go the work but fortunately D came down on the train for a few days' sailing.  Today was the final day of the Falmouth Classics with a parade of sail in the harbour.  The theory of a parade of sail is that for the benefit of the spectators each boat should progress in an orderly fashion under sail, keeping a set distance from the boats ahead and behind.  In practice there was a fresh breeze and everyone had difficulty keeping their speed down.  On Bonita we just had jib, foresail and mizzen up and were still going too fast.  However the Parade must have provided quite a spectacle even if the boats might have seemed a bit jumbled up.

                                           The Parade of Sail
The rally ended with a prize giving in the Maritime Museum and has definitely been most enjoyable and a great success: we were glad we came.
The second picture shows the 50ft electric launch Constance, originally Victorian but recently extensively restored and kept on the Helford river.

The third picture is of one of the most interesting exhibits in the Falmouth Maritime museum: the 1905 Quay Punt 'Curlew'.  After a working life in the Falmouth docks she became famous as her owners Tim and Pauline Carr travelled widely in her and for many years she was based in the icy Antarctic waters of South Georgia.  She is now owned by the museum and is kept in fine sailing condition.

The picture below is of an exhibit in the museum that is perhaps appropriate for today - the little boat 'Father's Day'. This miniature boat is only 5ft 6in long and holds the record for being the smallest boat to cross the Atlantic. How you could store enough food for 3 months at sea, and why anyone would wish to inflict such discomfort on themselves can only be left to speculation.
                                                 Father's Day

Although the rally is now over, D and I spent a jolly evening in a pub with 10 other Gaffers. In the next room was a party of shanty singers in Falmouth for the festival. We were interested to see that after a busy day of singing they unwind and relax - with more singing.