I went down to the boat planning to do a bit of painting and varnishing, but it was such a lovely day with a warm moderate breeze, and wind over neap tide that I felt I had to go for a sail instead, Its important sometimes to remember what the boat is actually for. We sailed out into the Thames Estuary within sight of, but not actually to, Herne Bay pier. It was in these waters that the pioneer aviator, Amy Johnson was lost on a cold January night in 1941. Johnson was tremendously famous in the 1930s being the first to achieve several long distance solo flights. When the war came, women were not allowed to fight the enemy, but experienced pilots such as her were employed delivering planes from factories to front line airfields. Its never been certain what happened to Amy: she may have got lost and run out of fuel, but more likely it seems that she was shot down by 'friendly fire' after she was challenged and failed to give the correct password. Although she had film star status during her lifetime not everyone had such a high opinion of her. Her contemporary and fellow pilot, the redoubtable Marion Wilberforce ( who died of old age, well into her 90s) is said to have thought Amy was a poor flier, prone to panic.
This month the booking opened for people to 'show an interest' in the Old Gaffers Round Britain cruise next year. There has been a very encouraging response at this early stage. Some of the entrants are old friends who went round in 2013, but so far I think Bonita is the only old boat entered. Last time there were 4 or 5 over 100 years old so it would be nice if there were a few more this time. In any boat theres quite a lot of preparation needed for this sort of cruise as the wear and tear on the gear ( and the skipper) is the equivalent of several seasons normal sailing. Time spent inspecting everything that can reasonably be inspected on a boat is rarely time wasted. The picture shows the belt driving the engine cooling water pump- this was still working perfectly well until I decided it was time I checked it over.