Monday, 8 August 2016

Return home

We had planned to cross over from Dunkerque last night, but were discouraged by a forecast of patchy fog. We both have unpleasant experiences of crossing shipping lanes in fog, and patchy fog can seem pretty bad if you are in the middle of a patch. So we left this morning at 7am instead. We had a SW wind force 5 gusting to 7 which seemed quite enough. For the first few miles we were in the Dunkerque approach channel tacking straight to windward. After that we had a fast but rather wet reach across the Channel. The day ended with a very slow journey along the north Kent coast heading into a stiff wind and a spring tide. We picked up our buoy on the Swale at about midnight.

So this brings Bonita's Baltic cruise to an end. It was a great experience despite many setbacks and we had more than our share of bad weather and head winds. There were lots of benefits of cruising in company and we enjoyed being with Calismarde and her crew.

Many thanks to all my long suffering work colleagues, family and friends who have made this adventure possible.

In this year of Brexit when we crossed many international borders visiting 7 countries people may be interested to know that no-one during the whole trip asked to see a passport, and no-one asked to see our ship's papers.

The star of the show of course is Bonita who like a proper lady is always elegant, glamorous and well behaved despite sometimes being rather roughly treated.

And the hero of the piece is surely William Crossfield (1847 - 1921), who designed and built Bonita. He described himself as a joiner, yacht and boatbuilder. He was a prolific builder and one of the most talented of his time. I like to think that having got a commission for a racing yacht from paper mill owner Edwin Grundy Wrigley, he put all his skill and effort into ensuring that she was a strong boat and that everything was of the highest standard. It is testament to his skill that 128 years later she still has all of her original planks and frames. 

Crossfields at Arnside, from L-R Fred, William snr., William jnr. and Frank
The photo on the right was taken circa 1910, it shows William Crossfield with his sons Fred, William jnr. and his nephew Frank in their boatyard at Arnside where Bonita was built.