Showing posts from 2015

Summary of 2015

21 Dec 2015 Elsa is staying in the water this winter. I must have done a good job on the antifouling back in the spring as she seems to be quite clean underneath. I'm glad to be staying afloat as the November crane-out has been postponed several times due to high winds this autumn and as I write this, we're expecting to crane out in January. I've taken the sails off and stored them loosely rolled up inside the cabin. I took the rudder off as well as I was worried about it getting knocked during the crane-out movements. If the weather brightens up and we lose all these high winds I can quickly re-rig and go sailing! Going part time earlier this year has given me more time for sailing and I've done a few Thursday outings with various friends, as well as the usual weekend races. And one long cruise to Brighton including my first night afloat. Looking back at 2015, the log shows 21 outings and 184 NM travelled. That's a lot more than 2014!

Tea out at sea

18 Oct 2015 The last cruiser race of the year, and we had a good turnout of 7 boats. The weather was fair and the winds were light and from the East. I had two of the teenagers with me, Shaun and Dominik, and we set out to form up for the 2pm start. The first leg of the course was into the wind as usual and unfortunately into the tide as well. We were too far downwind to hit the start line on time and struggled to make our way towards it against the current in the light winds. We tacked back and forth for about 45 minutes and we were not the only ones in the predicament. A couple of the faster boats managed to get away and off towards the first mark but we could see them going sideways as fast as they were going forward. In the end the race descended into a bit of a shambles – half the fleet never started, one crossed the line then kept drifting back over it again, only one boat actually completed the course. We were waiting to see who would call up to announce their retirement, ke

Safety boat training

12 Oct 2015 Last weekend I did the safety boat training course. Fortunately the weather was dry, a nice breeze, and the sea temperature at this time of year is not too bad..... Starting with classroom theory on Saturday morning, six of us, we then went onto the river in the RIBs to practise our boat handling skills. Driving around buoys forwards, backwards and blindfolded with another person giving directions. In the afternoon a couple of volunteer members went to sea in club dinghies and very kindly capsized and fell in several times so we could practise rescuing them. They came off worse than us but they seemed to go home afterwards in good spirits! We also practised setting up a string of dinghies ready to be towed. Back in the classroom again on Sunday morning then out to sea to practice laying and recovering the sea marks. The cruisers were out there forming up for their race (sadly I was not taking part) so we helped by setting up their finish line. After lunch, we took tim

Up the river

27 Sept 2015 (Elsa does not figure in today's story, it's just an account of a fun day on the river) Today was the annual river race up to the Black Rabbit pub. Only four dinghy crews turned out at 1000 on Sunday despite the lovely sunny weather and good breeze. Three safety boats were fully crewed so the race team outnumbered the participants. The dinghies launched into the river but with masts down ready for the bridges. The commodore and the bosun had a motor on their Wayfarer and set off under their own power. The lead RIB was carrying the flags and various items of racing equipment and set off up the river, the other RIBs took the dinghies under tow and set off after them. We had a lovely drive up the river with the incoming tide under us, winding our way up to Arundel. There's two road bridges to pass under and once above them, we beached the fleet onto the river bank and set up for the race. The lead RIB went ahead all the way to the Black Rabbit to se

Barts Bash 2015

20 Sept 2015 Sunday gave us a promising weather forecast and it looked like all the hard work done by Dani and others to prepare for the event was going to pay off. Three clubs had joined forces to get nearly 50 boats of all sizes out to race and to raise money for charity. Arun Yacht Club put 6 cruisers to sea including Elsa as well as a good sized group of dinghies. Georgia and I set off just before 2pm and we found a good F3 SWly and nice sunshine, a warm day for September. With full sail and engine off we had half an hour before our race start was due. Georgia decided we should have some party music so she got Radio 1 going in the cockpit to brighten the mood still further. Open Dinghy Club  from East Preston had launched off Angmering beach mostly in catamarans, e.g. Hobies and Darts etc. AYAC  had come out from Littlehampton beach with a large fleet of mostly young people in various dinghies including 420s, RS200s etc. All three clubs had safety boats out

Brighton and Back

16 Aug 2015 This weekend was my first cruise away. A race both ways, Littlehampton to Brighton on Saturday then back again on Sunday. Skippers note their own start and finish though the race officer did specify a Saturday start time of 1000 or later. He'd laid a mark out near the club's easternmost cruiser mark, Steel Can, and the finish point as a buoy outside Brighton Marina. Keen to take advantage of the incoming tidal stream which would help me towards Brighton, I'd planned an early getaway and moved Elsa out of her berth the day before and out into the river on the AYC hammerhead so I didn't need to wait for the tide to float me off. Stuart joined me and we left the river 0915 on Saturday morning with the keel up, creeping out over the shallows at the river entrance. Hoisting sail outside, we were off and crossing the start line mere seconds after the 1000 earliest permitted start. Looking behind us the bigger boats with deeper keels were at least half an hour

Cruiser race 2nd Aug

2nd Aug 2015 A busy day in the river on Sunday as it was the annual Littlehampton Waterfront Festival. We had jetskis, blokes on water-powered jet hoverboots, lifeboatmen floating past for rescue demonstrations, and a big ship was due to enter at high tide. In the midst of all that, four cruisers managed to put to sea about 1200 for the race. Stuart was with me and the forecast was F4-5 from the East so we set the main with a reef as we motored out past the holidaymakers lining the riverbanks. No time or space for our usual leisurely ramble up and down the river sorting ourselves out. A bit like the race a few weekends ago, the race officer set a course designed to keep us all well away from the river entrance so we'd avoid the ship coming in. The first leg was a long beat into the SE wind out to the weather station and though the two faster boats drew quickly ahead, we were neck and neck with Free n Easy as we crossed tacks on our way out. It took ages to reach the thing thoug

Annual regatta

24 July 2015 AYC had its annual regatta this weekend with racing over 3 days. The forecast wasn't good, variable and strong winds and rain expected. However, Georgia, Dominik and I turned up for the briefing at 2.45pm Friday. I've always wanted to do dinghy-style racing with the cruisers and this was the day. Five boats went out for the 4pm start, mostly the usual Arun club racers but with one visiting yacht Crazy Horse. The club president was away for the weekend but he'd loaned his cruiser to Turner. A line start off the committee boat with marks laid out, 90 minute expected duration. As we went out to sea there was very little wind and we all flapped about waiting for the start sequence, Tom the race officer was doing his best to set the course marks such that we had a windward  - leeward sausage course but the wind kept changing direction. After the 5-4-1-0 start sequence of flags and hoots we'd got a fairly good start about the middle of the field. We nearly

A downwind start

5 July 2015   Four boats turned out for the cruiser race on Sunday, including Orca the cat which we don't often see racing. Early rain had cleared up and the forecast was for brighter weather, wind gentle but increasing later. I had Stuart and Dominik with me, after a quick lunch we set off at 1245 for the 1330 start.   We knew from the harbourmaster that there was a big ship due to enter the river at high tide, 1430, so the race officer elected to set us a course well east of the river so we'd be out of the way. With a southwesterly wind this meant a downwind running start across a line between two buoys, instead of the usual gate start into the wind. A dinghy-style start sequence over the radio - five minutes, four, one, go. For the first time this year we got the start just right, timing our arrival at the line on a starboard broad reach, the first boat over the line at about 7 seconds after zero. Looking back at the other three behind us was a great moment! Dominik h

Owers Race 2015

13 June 2015 Watching the forecast over the last few days I'd decided that this wasn't the day to take Elsa to the Owers Buoy. I know I said that last year but with a F5-6 breeze expected, I wasn't keen. So when Ron emailed me to say he needed a crew to work alongside himself and Dani I quickly volunteered. Cabre is a Hunter Horizon 23, only a foot bigger than mine but a bigger boat all round in terms of volume and equipment and stability, twin keels, and a self-tacking jib at the front which is relatively smaller than Elsa's genoa. The day was bright and the wind was indeed around F5 from the SW and a fair swell was running. The trick with the Owers Race is that each skipper decides for himself when to set off, the intention being to go round Owers just as the tide turns. Owers is just over 10 miles away and today's course was set as simply Owers and back, no need to wander around outside Pagham like we all did last year! We left the berth about 1015 to go ou

Cruiser race 7th June

7th June 2015 A sunny Sunday with light winds forecast, Stuart and Dominik and I left the berth around 1.15 for the 2pm start. A fair group of boats turned out, about 7 in total, including some new competitors. Once we got out to sea we found a bit more wind than expected, a good F2 from the SW, a nice flat sea with warm sunshine. We were quite pleased with the start but we do need to work on it as we seem to lose a minute or so as we're not being aggressive enough when we cross behind the lead pathfinder boat at the gate start. Never mind, we were well away beating to the first mark to the south. The usual suspects were fastest but we found ourselves fairly close to a couple of others in the midfield. Dominik was on the helm most of the way with Stuart on the foredeck and I was trying to manage the genoa and main sheets. Dominik isn't shy and cheerfully called starboard on the commodore's yacht forcing him into an early tack as we approached the mark! We were around ah

Cruiser race 17 May

17 May 2015 An early start today, meeting Stuart, Georgia and Dominik at the boat at 0900. A good forecast for moderate westerly winds and we were pleased to find 6 boats getting ready to go to sea for the race.Quite a bit of sunshine and a nice bit of wind F2 to F3 from the southwest. We dropped the sprayhood into sport mode and had some really close racing with about 4 of us within shouting distance most of the way round. We fell behind slightly on the beat to the first mark but once around that we had a fine reach out to the second then a broad reach to the third and Elsa went well, we pulled ahead of a couple of them. We were around the course in 1hr 11mins and were about 4th over the line. We were preparing to sail back in when someone realised a big ship was coming out of the harbour so we had to wait off to one side until it was clear. Dominik had been on the helm for the last leg of the race so he sailed us back, we had a fine view of the fleet behind us as we

Bunting and frolics

9 May 2015 Today was the club Open Day and I’d volunteered to take people out for boat rides. My friend Dani was with me and she’d brought bunting which we managed to hang over the spreaders. Sorting all that out in the wind and rain in the morning left us a bit bedraggled but by the time the event got going, the sun had come out and the enthusiasm had recovered itself. The lifeboat guys brought Blue Peter 1 over to join us which added a dash of glamour and orangeness! Blowing quite a stiff westerly we’d already decided just to go motoring up and down the river and not venture outside the harbour. David was more keen than us and took several groups out to sea in Dedicated Dancer and they all had a great time but came back wet! During the afternoon we ended up going out and back about five times with three to six people aboard each time, including some young families with small children which was great fun. Even with sails down, we were heeling in the breeze