Sunday 19 November 2023

Crossfields Conference 2023

 D and I went (by train) to Arnside for the third conference on the boats built by the Crossfield family of boat builders and other nobbies, inshore boats local to the challenging waters of the coast of NW England. We stayed at the cosy Fighting Cocks pub and hotel.  As always the conference was excellently organised by Alasdair Simpson. On Friday a small group of us went to David Moss' boatyard to see the fine work being done to restore the Severn, a Crossfield Rivers class boat. She has a remarkable history, which includes capsizing and sinking during a race on the Mersey in 1914. Due to the diversion of the first world war she was not raised for 13 years, when it was found that the hull was still in good condition and she was put back into service. She is now owned by Arnside Sailing Club and is getting a major rebuild. Once done she should again be good once again for many decades of sailing.

As on previous occasions the conference was a mix of history, tales of sailing and practical details of individual boats. I was particularly interested in Michael Leahys talk on the Laura, a very fast nobby built in 1908. She has a fasinating history, although disentangling fact from fiction can be difficult.  I gave a talk on Bonitas participation in this years OGA Round Britain cruise. It was good to see Dave Walters again - he is a professional musician and took part in the 2013 Round Britain Cruise. He was talking about the nobby Pastime which he used to own. Sadly after he had sold her she was lost in a storm in the Irish Sea. Fortunately her crew of four were saved in a heroic rescue by the lifeboat. In the evening Dave entertained us in a jolly evening at the Arnside Sailing Club. 

The picture shows Dave in full flow. 

Wednesday 1 November 2023

Laid up for the winter

 With the shorter wetter days, and Storm Ciaran expected to bring strong winds to the south of England, I thought maybe it was time Bonita came up Faversham creek to her cosy mud berth in the boatyard. So yesterday with help from Allan and his friend Andrew we has a pleasant trip in fine weather. With Allan at the helm we cleverly avoided going aground, although at times the echo sounder showed zero distance between keel and mud. By the end of the day we had got the sails, spars and assorted other gear ashore, I flushed out the engine cooling system with fresh water and antifreeze, changed the oil and got the winter covers on. The picture shows us tied up alongside the sailing barge Mirosa, with Allan and Andrew hard at work.

And so in a few hours Bonita is transformed from being afloat and ready to sail the seas to being safely tucked up away ( I hope) from the worst of the winter weather.

What projects this winter? There has been a fair bit of minor wear and tear on the gear this year and I have taken a carload of stuff home for general repair, painting and varnishing. Otherwise I'm not expecting any major work......

Monday 11 September 2023

Home ports

 With Susan J, and now Minstrel returning to their berths on the south coast, all the Round Britain boats are now back home. Paradoxically, the best of this summers weather seems to have come in the last couple of weeks, although without much wind. We may have a few day or weekend sails in what remains of the season but nothing I hope too adventurous.

We have had a marvellous time going round Britain with the Gaffers, and have been made very welcome all around the coast. Where possible on this trip I have tried to visit harbours that we havnt been into before, and with Bonitas limited manoeverability under motor this is often a stimulating experience. I am grateful for my many long suffering crew - 12 this year- who have helped make these visits less dramatic than they might have been and made the whole voyage possible.

In several places, not just in south coast ports, there were piles of these leaflets in the clubhouse or harbour office.  I wasnt sure if I should be pleased they had used a picture of a gaffer to enhance the visual effect, or maybe there is an implication that traditional rig might in some way be more suspect. The combination of a 'sugar scoop' reverse sloping transom with gaff rig is definitely unorthodox.      We saw lots of Border Force patrol boats on our travels but none of them showed any interest in an elderly gaffer slowly making her way round the coast

Monday 21 August 2023

Strong wind videos

 Attached are a couple of videos Tim took on the downwind run from Inverness to Rattray Head. I wasnt able to attach them to the blog while on the cruise due to either problems with the mobile phone, or poor internet access.

Trying to take videos in heavy weather can be difficult due to the risk of getting the phone wet. In the first video, taken astern, we are running with mainsail furled under just mizzen and headsails.

In the second video, taken looking ahead, we have a much reefed mainsail. Wind strength about F7.

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Back on the Swale

We had a marvellous time at the OGA60 Jubilee party, and the East Coast summer cruise is continuing down to Chatham over the next few days. Its clear the OGA is in robust good health on the East Coast. However after more than 3 months away D and I thought it time to go home to catch up with the real world. So we left Levington at around 6.30am.
We had a westerly wind about force 4. In the Wallet, off Clacton we passed Geoff and Jane in Calismarde. They are having a few days holiday in the Essex and Suffolk rivers. This is Geoffs picture of Bonita homeward bound.
And this is Calismarde heading out on holiday.
We made good progress and arrived at our mooring on the Swale at about 4.20, high water. Our mooring buoy was covered with weed after being unused in the water for so long.
And so ends Bonitas second circumnavigation of the UK. We have had our share of difficult weather, but we very much enjoyed going round with the Old Gaffers, got to know some very remarkable sailors and visited many places we might otherwise never have seen.
The boat has stood up to the wear and tear fairly well. There are a couple of new(ish) deck leaks revealed by the torrential rain, and a full list of jobs to be done in the winter. It's easy to feel a bit of a sense of anticlimax finishing a cruise such as this, and often one of the better days of a sailing holiday is the day you go back home to a bath and a warm dry bed. However we have plenty to do both ashore and afloat, and next year to plan for.