Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Thursday, 28 October 2021
Sunday, 17 October 2021
Saturday, 31 July 2021
The last two year's Swale Matches were cancelled due to stormy weather, but we had a fine westerly breeze, force 3-4 for today's race. It was nice to see the river full of traditional craft one again, although there seemed to be slightly fewer boats than usual, perhaps due to the pandemic. On Bonita we had 3 minus 1 crew members. Apart from myself, we had John, Allan and Toby. Toby is 4 and this was his first race under sail. He was very interested in everything that was happening and enjoyed pulling on ropes. He did however need someone older with him most of the time to make sure he didn't get hurt when the boat was heeling over or when we were tacking or gybing, so most of the time he fully occupies one adult. Toby did feel a bit queasy at one point, but this was easily cured with a chocolate biscuit.
The race is over about 20 miles and takes us out into the Thames estuary off the North Kent coast. We had a fine race, with the topsail up the whole time, and no water on deck. Unfortunately there was a bit of weed on the boat as I hadn't had time to scrub her off properly, but nevertheless we overtook a few boats in our class.
I was interested to see that Blue Mermaid was present, who I had not seen before. She is a new steel sailing barge, owned by the Sea Change Sailing Trust, and looks magnificent. She was commissioned in 2019, and is the first Thames sailing barge to be built since the 1930s, built on the lines of the original Blue Mermaid that was sunk by a mine in the 1940s.
Remarkably, when it came to the prizegiving we found we had come second in our class! We got the Whitstable Times Cup. Who knows how we might have done if I had been able to clean all the weed off the bottom? Bonita has won this cup in the Swale Race twice before - in 1986 and 2008. On all three occasions Allan has been part of her winning crew - although he was very young indeed in 1986. Clearly we do better when we are able to call on the services of a younger crew....
The picture shows Allan, Toby, Martha and Alice with Toby proudly holding our prize cup.
Friday, 25 June 2021
Saturday, 19 June 2021
Friday, 18 June 2021
Sunday, 13 June 2021
Saturday, 12 June 2021
Friday, 11 June 2021
Thursday, 10 June 2021
Tuesday, 8 June 2021
Monday, 7 June 2021
Saturday, 5 June 2021
Friday, 4 June 2021
Wednesday, 2 June 2021
Easterly winds are too good waste, and 58 hours and 352 miles after we set out from the Swale we are now in the picturesque little Cornish port of Fowey. The picture shows Bonita on one of the visitors' moorings.
Monday, 31 May 2021
Tempted by a few days of Easterly winds forecast, Justin and I cast off from Bonita's mooring on the Swale at 4am and sunset now finds us rolling along with all sail set off Beachy Head. Passing Dover we saw hardly any of the usual ferry traffic, presumably as a result of Covid.The photo shows our fine new topsail made by Wilkinson sails of Faversham.This topsail replaces a home made one that I had altered often but was never very satisfactory.
Wednesday, 14 April 2021
John helped me take Bonita out of Faversham creek and onto her mooring today. There were blue skies but a brisk easterly wind with plenty of wind chill factor made us think that perhaps we were beginning the season a little early. However the yard have started moving various sailing barges in and out of the floating docks, and though they are always very careful, I feel it is easier all round if Bonita is not in the way when these much larger boats are on the move.
The picture shows a glimpse of Bonita with her dinghy astern, winter covers off, spars in place and mainsail bent on, just waiting for the rising tide to float her off the mud. It turned out to be not quite that simple: a comforting cushion of soft mud had accumulated all around her during the winter months. Also with high pressure over the North Sea, the high tide did not seem quite as high as I was expecting. However with the engine pushing and four of us on ropes pulling we eventually managed to carve a groove in the mud and get her out into deeper water in the middle of the creek. After that we managed to motor out to her mooring on the Swale without disturbing the mud any more.
So what of the new season? After last year when with all the restrictions Bonita didnt even get out of the Swale, we are hoping for something a bit more active this summer. With all the anxieties about Brexit and Covid, foreign trips are probably not a good idea, but we do hope to get in some coastal sailing.
Saturday, 30 January 2021
Being unable to visit the boat, our garage at home is cluttered with various bits of boat gear in various stages of being dismantled and/or restored. Lets hope its not too long before they all go back on the boat where they belong.
I bought the cabin clock home as it has been behaving erratically and needs a bit of TLC. As with so many things to do with Bonita, it has a bit of history. It originally came with a boat my brother Tim bought in the early 1970s. She was the Huzure, a 31 foot Fred Shepherd designed bermudian cutter built in 1937. Tim bought her with his friend Justin to do a bit of blue water ocean sailing. Having set out from the river Swale Huzure's cruise sadly came to an unfortunate end in 1977 when she was wrecked on Lady Elliot Island at the southern end of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The cabin clock was among the items Tim salvaged from the wreck and it subsequently completed its circumnavigation in a packing case in the hold of a much larger ship.
|Huzure on the Swale in 1975|
This seemed a pessimistic approach to what is basically a fairly simple piece of mechanism. For a considerably smaller sum I bought a set of miniature jewellers screwdrivers and after a couple of hours work, adjustment and general cleaning the clock now seems to be running as it should. Of course ticking away on a stationary shelf in a warm dry house is rather different from being fastened to a bulkhead on the boat, but with luck this well travelled little clock will keep going for a few more years.