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105 Years - Established 1913

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David was the first speaker I remember who had researched his own identity.  He wasn’t the DS who had designed yachts and he wasn’t the DS who had been a footballer for a local Manchester team in the 1960s. Members knew about the designer chap but who could this soccer hero be? Clearly they were either rugby enthusiasts or City fans. Anyway, David was neither. But what he was was an excellent speaker on a very delicate subject: the excellence of the South coast of England as a cruising ground.
He started from his home port on the east coast and took us all the way to the Scillies stopping off at most places on the way. Ramsgate wasn’t great but after that Dover was busy and interesting, Eastbourne convenient, Brighton rather ugly and dull, Chichester charming, Portsmouth lively, Hamble full, Beaulieu beautiful but expensive, and Cowes was Cowes. Yarmouth was spoiled and Newtown Creek surprisingly remote. In fact, to pause for a moment, the Solent was overall quite delightful.
Weymouth was welcoming, Portland marina was alarming, Brixham beautiful and Torquay a disappointment. Salcombe was super provided you went far enough up, Fowey was good if you didn’t go ashore, the Yealm river was enchanting even if you did and Plymouth had nowhere to anchor. Falmouth was fabulous and St Mawes moreish. The Helford River was heavenly but Penzance was tidally inconvenient if you were going further. The Scillies were charming but it was a long way between anchorages if the wind changed.
He didn’t miss out many places. Rye is a drying wilderness of mudberths, Newhaven is grim, Littlehampton is OK if you don’t have a mast and Christchurch is amenable if you don’t have a boat. It was a shame he skipped Lymington if only to square up with a ferry in the river.
So, a comprehensive tour of this far-off cruising area with big ships everywhere trying to run you down, racing skippers screaming at you, tides ripping through the Solent and the ever-present thought that, at some point, you’re going have to take the inshore passage round Portland Bill and inside the Portland Race. With as nice a set of slides as we’ve seen, it made for an entertaining as well as informative evening on alien shores.
I was startled when Old Angus appeared suddenly from the shadows in the car park. The talk had taken him back to a time after the war and just before he met Elspeth when he had cruised the South Coast, alone, with little more than a few Utility haggis, one or two bottles and his trusty off-shore kilt. The residual barbed wire and mines were hazards made up for by the welcome his sudden appearance from the sea, in his salt-encrusted kilt, drew from the local girls when he put into the ports on the way.
“Ay!” he said with an unexpected flush of passion. “That kilt served me well. Very well!” It was a side of him I had not seen before.

NOVEMBER MEETING                                       (The 1,336th meeting)

Dave Murray - The Glaciere Project

You would be forgiven for thinking this evening was going to be about mints!  Certainly, it started After Eight, but it wasn’t about Glacier Mints. Neither was it about Murray Mints and it definitely wasn’t about Everton Mints!   Dave Murray started off by giving us an in-depth tale of his own upbringing in the Liverpool of the 1960’s and 70’s. A tale of ducking and diving, wheeling and dealing. A background which set the scene for the aspirations which eventually lead to what the Glaciere Project is today.

Having got the ‘bug’ for sailing, Dave had bought a 25ft sloop which he sailed on Windermere at weekends but he felt like a prisoner on an enclosed lake and got the wanderlust to cruise further afield on open water.  He had been successful on the social scene of Liverpool by running discotheques and then furthered his entrepreneurial skills by branching out into the motor trade with a business that replaced worn tyres and exhausts.  In an attempt to expand nationally, he had approached Tom Farmer of Kwik-Fit in an attempt to acquire his chain but the process reversed with Dave eventually selling out to Kwik-Fit instead.
   This provided the impetus to get away from it all and buy a boat!    On a trip to the Earls Court Boat Show, Dave and his wife signed up for a Moody 425 which, after delivery, was to take them across the Atlantic to the British Virgin Islands. Any ideas for a full circumnavigation were put on hold at this point as the islands seemed to provided the ideal lifestyle that all of us dream about but rarely attain.  The Murrays made many good friends in the BVIs and this led to them hosting skippered charter cruises for wealthy clients from both Europe and America.

In one such group of clients was the son of a wealthy American who thought nothing of buying a crate of Champagne just for the fun of spraying his fellow travellers. Dave saw this type of brattish behaviour as a complete opposite to his own character development back in Liverpool and decided to re-write his mission statement and put his efforts and funds into helping the socially disadvantaged back in his home town.

Returning to Liverpool, Dave became involved with the refurbishment and management of Liverpool marina and then developed a business dredging the many silted docks and waterways. In 2003, he had noticed a sunken vessel which had sunk 9 years earlier in the Collingwood Dock and approached John Whittaker of Peel Holdings to negotiate acquiring it as a community led project for recovery and restoration. Dave provided a £40,000 bond to ensure the success of lifting the wreck but all went well and eventually, ownership was formalised with the payment of £1.  Dave put up a further £340,000 to help finance the restoration but other fund raising was so successful that most of this remains available as working capital today.

And so was born the Glaciere Project. The Glaciere was a Baltic Trader built in 1899 and was originally used under it’s former name ‘Troy of Tromso’ to move quarried stone.  Restoration of the vessel provided a brilliant focal point for disadvantaged local individuals to get involved, learn new skills as shipwrights, joiners, fitters etc. and promote their ambitions to return to the workplace. Many from Liverpool’s YMCA helped out.  The Glaciere Project supports an important ethos of ‘No swearing’ and saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ at all times.  Attendees are rewarded with a Glaciere Certificate which acknowledges their conformity and for many this will be the first certificate of their lives but hopefully not the last.  The project now provides related training in First-Aid, CPR, Powerboat and Safety Boat training, PADI Diving courses and RYA Day Skipper, Competant Crew etc.. The Glaciere was eventually re-launched and can be found in Liverpool’s Albert Dock, looking resplendent and in absolutely Mint condition.

DECEMBER MEETING                                   

The meetings of 2013…

Professor Eric Grove            
The Royal Navy, Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow…

It wasn’t all plain sailing as the ‘lease/lend’ US ships needed spares and repairs for which the UK struggled to find the dollars to fund them for a continuing roll in support of the US fleets still engaged against Japan in the Pacific.  Despite Churchill favouring air power but considering the post war contribution the UK had committed to NATO alliance, the Navy found great support from the well connected Admiral Louis Mountbatten throughout the 1950’s.  However, a strategic defence review in the 60’s led by Labour’s Dennis Healy saw the whole defence coverage east of Suez withdrawn and many bases closed for good.

A recovery occurred in Naval prowess and morale with the need to house the UK nuclear deterrent in the form of  Polaris submarine born missiles.  In addition the Navy’s air support element received a boost with the adoption of the Sea Harrier Jump Jet and the proliferation of  helicopter deployments from small carriers such as HMS Illustrious.

Mrs Thatcher probably had the largest adverse effect on Naval strength through her Defence Minister John Knott and numbers were cut during the early 1990’s to approximately 55,000 and by 1997 had reduced further to 45,000.  After the millenium the concentration of efforts in land-locked theatres of operation such as Iraq and Afghanistan shifted the emphasis towards funding the Army’s requirements and for a while the Navy will have to exist without any aircraft carriers at all.

One over-riding impression came out of Professor Grove’s talk; without showing any political bias he displayed a magnificent commitment to his love of the Royal Navy and most of all a brilliant level of support for the defence of the UK’s interests and its role as a continuing key player in tomorrow’s modern world.   

Professor Grove was probably one of the most distinguished speakers we’ve had at the MCA for many years with credentials which alone could fill a book.  He started with his ‘yesterday’ pitched appropriately at our inception year of 1913 and quickly moved on to the effects of American involvement in supporting the British Navy after Pearl Harbour and even drew our attention to the strategic effects of Amercan interventions even before the official involvement following that Japanese attack.

Terry McGaul - ‘In Winifred's Wake - A Norwegian Adventure’

TMcGaulNorway1Z.JPG TMcGaulNorway2Z.JPG

SEPTEMBER MEETING - Members Talks  (The 1,334th meeting)

This summer Terry and his wife Nola set out for Norway in their cruiser ‘Cinnabar’ having been inspired by the cruises of Winifred Brown, MCA’s first lady member & daughter of our first Commodore, Sawley Brown.  Terry had bought a copy of Winifred’s book ‘Duffers of the Deep’ to research her travels.  

Terry highlighted some motivational similarities in that Winifred, like Terry, kept her first boat ‘Perula’ on a swinging mooring near the Gazelle Hotel on the Menai Strait.  Winifred had bought ‘Perula’, which was a converted fishing boat, in the mid 1930’s and they spent their first season getting accustomed to the boat and even learning to sail at the same time.  Terry and his wife Nola had sailed up to the Orkneys during an earlier trip and, unlike Winifred who had taken the easy route to the North Sea through the Caledonian Canal, they had sailed the risky route round the top via Cape Wrath.   Terry shows us some excellent photographs of this earlier part and then explained the trials and tribulations of leaving his boat in guardinage at Lerwick over the winter. After a brief shakedown daysail from Lerwick they set off in early June on the 200 Nmile trip over to Bergen in Norway.

Bergen was a beautiful town with lots of interest and plenty to see. But the experience with the harbour master didn’t match the warm friendliness of the locals and Terry felt they’d been ‘ripped off’ on the berthing charges.   This wasn’t to be repeated anywhere as they journeyed north along the coast stopping at various little harbours along the way.   At Aalesund they remembered a challenge from our Commodore, Geoff Meggitt, to seek out a Royal Mersey YC burgee left at the Aalesund Yacht Club by Winifred Brown. a gesture mentioned in her book.  Terry & Nola found the clubhouse but they didn’t take up Geoff’s challenge and seeing the picture of the location with hundreds of steps we could see why! They eventually reached a point where they would break out of the cruising area of Cinnabar’s insurance but they managed to get a couple of degrees north added after a brief and very co-operative exchange of emails. Something that certainly couldn’t have been done in Winifred’s time.

All in all, Terry reported a wonderful trip with lots of great photographs which proved how un-crowded Norway is for cruising.  Everything was at very reasonable prices except for eating-out which was about double the UK equivalent.

Terry and Nola decided to leave Cinnabar in Norway and found an excellent yard which charged only £600 for 9 months out of the water! What a bargain!

Although Winifred sailed up to the Arctic Circle on her trip, Terry and Nola didn’t quite get that far but there’s always next year and who knows we might get the rest of the story next year too!

Stuart Thompson -

Cruising Mallaig, St Kilda & the Knoydart Peninsula aboard the ‘Eda Frandsen’

The owner, a restaurant proprietor from the Knoydart peninsular, took eight paying passengers. He and his crew of four, provided excellent food and drink and included the services of Skye, a walking guide, to show the most interesting aspects of the islands and mainland anchorages where they stopped en route.  Stuart’s fellow passengers were former colleagues from Manchester University and others joining them were a retired RAF officer, a Barrister from London and a Swiss photographer.

After a short passage to the small islands of Mingulay and Berneray at the south end of Barra there were dinghy outings to see the various caves and bird colonies. Stuart’s pictures seemed to show a light snow covering on the cliffs but evidently this was the effect of years of droppings from the enormous populations of sea birds.  Rather than anchor for the night, the skipper decided to continue on towards St Kilda to avoid less favourable conditions the following day.  Choosing a sheltered anchorage on the North west side at Glen Bay for the first night stop and moving round to the main Village Bay the following day.

Stuart explained a bit of the background story to St Kilda which had been finally de-populated in the 1930’s with the residents dissipating to the mainland and other islands off the Scottish coast.  The islanders had been finding it difficult to be self sufficient and they had the largest infant mortality rate for anywhere in the UK.

In recent times the island has been used by the Ministry of Defence for Radar surveillance and the human residents are workers who run and maintain the power plants, referring to themselves as the KGB (the Kilda Generating Board). The islands are also home to millions of sea birds, mainly puffins, and attract ‘twitchers’ from all over the world.   The party went ashore to explore the hills and what remained of the main village, stopping off at the small bar operated for the benefit of the MoD workers.

The next part of the passage took them north east to Taransay a small island off the west coast of South Harris that had been used in the reality TV series ‘Castaways’. Taransay has magnificent beaches but is now virtually uninhabited.  There are one or two refuge huts which occasional visitors can use.  A truly beautiful place to visit!

Eda Frandsen then cut back to round the top of Skye and under the Skye bridge to a mainland drop off from where the group hiked over the Knoydart and back to their starting point at Mallaig.  All in all a great little cruise with superb food, drink and excellent company. Details of the Eda Frandsen cruises can be seen at http://eda-frandsen.co.uk

Stuart described a journey from Mallaig to the St Kilda Island group on the Eda Frandsen, a restored classic Danish sailing trawler, she was built in 1938, starting life fishing for lobsters. However she had been rebuilt and refitted as a charter vessel between 1991-96 to combine her natural seaworthiness and reliability with the romance and traditions of the classic wooden boats.

Roger Cleland, author of our centennial history, took us through the process of how he transformed the minutes of over 1000 MCA meetings from 20 minute books into the Centenary history.  Hampered by the temporary closure of the Manchester Public Reference Library, Roger travelled far and wide to ferret out further snippets and facts for the book. Roger gave us an insight into which features stood out for him. It’s an excellent book, so grab a copy before they all go!

“One Hundred Years of the Manchester Cruising Association” was published early January 2013 and one copy is available free to all members.  The book is on open sale at £5 each.
Email  Geoff Meggitt, for more details


Former Commodore Alan Street chats to author Roger Cleland prior to the March meeting.

See the Book bigger!

‘One Hundred Years
in 100 minutes’

Our Immediate Past Commodore, Geoff Meggitt, has just finishing writing a book about Winifred Brown, daughter of our first Commodore and the first lady member of the MCA. Winifred was a renowned aviator of the 1920s and 30s and won the coveted King’s Cup Air Race.
She sailed her converted fishing boat ‘Perula’ to Norway & Spitsbergen just before World War Two. Added to that she also played Ladies Hockey for England and was part of a team that scored a memorable ‘Whitewash’ Australian tour. Geoff acknowleged the tremendous help he received in researching the book from Winifred’s son, the actor Tony Adams(of ‘Crossroads’ fame).

WINIFRED BROWN: Britain's Adventure Girl No. 1

Serena Cant  - ‘Shipwrecks and Slave Trade’  

OCTOBER MEETING                                      (The 1,335th meeting)

More than 37,000 sunken ships have been recorded in England's territorial sea, a legacy of more than 6,000 years of maritime trade, exploration and warfare. At present, just 48 enjoy the protection of the law in England - a tiny proportion of the 6500 or so which can be clearly seen and identified and  that, in turn, face the pressures of the natural elements and commercial exploitation of the seabed. Their survival depends on sound management and the shared commitment of all the users of the seabed.   With these astounding statistics, Serena imparted the overwhelming impression of her total commitment to her job as ‘Wreck Researcher’ with English Heritage.

Even locally in the Mersey Estuary and its approaches as many as 170 wreck sites still exist despite the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board’s policy of dynamiting as many as possible to eliminate the danger of ships foundering on wrecks and proliferating the ‘Wreck on Wreck’ scenario of which there are many around our coast.   ‘Wreck on Wreck’ produces extra problems for the divers and archaeologists who work in conjunction with the English Heritage programme.  This is particularly relevant when using what remains of the ship’s cargo to assess the reason for its voyage as well as determining it’s home port and intended destination.    

Not all ships carried product and Serena detailed some of the vessels that plied their triangular routes as part of the traffic in human cargo between the coast of Africa and the plantations of the Americas.   Other ships had been wrecked on delivery voyages from the English shipyards to their destinations in the New World.  Notably a ‘kit-form’ boat built for use on Lake Titicaca in Peru.  With the intention of dis-assembly at the head of the Amazon and subsequent re-assembly on the 12,000ft high lake, the vessel was totally unsuitable for ocean passage and attracted an incredibly high insurance premium to reflect this.  She only got as far as the Scilly Isles!

Memorials to the crews of the Southport lifeboat Eliza Fernley and Lytham St. Anne's lifeboat Laura Janet, who died in the Mexico disaster of 1886.

On the cliff-free Lancashire coast dangers lurked in the form of sand banks and in 1886 the German barque ‘Mexico’ grounded off Southport in a horrendous SSW gale.  Highlighting the negative effects of marine disasters on coastal communities, Serena told of the keen response to the Mexico’s plight when the local RNLI launched the Southport lifeboat ‘Eliza Fernley’ and the Lytham lifeboat ‘Laura Janet’ both of which were to capsize.  In all 27 of the 29 lifeboat men lost their lives.  The 12 member crew of the ‘Mexico’ were subsequently rescued by Lytham’s second lifeboat the ‘Charles Biggs’ which was on its maiden rescue deployment.  Memorials in each township perpetuate the memory of that awful night.  The ‘Mexico’ was eventually re-floated & repaired but sank off Scotland 4 years later.

With the newly found leisure time enjoyed by the ‘working classes’ in Victorian times, seaside holidays became the norm and with it the ubiquitous ‘Boat Trip’.  Serena described the fate of one such trip aboard the ‘Matchless’, a modified fishing boat, which overturned in a freak squall on a trip from Morecambe to Grange-over-Sands. The captain survived but 25 holidaymakers lost their lives and it was a devastating social tragedy back in the mill towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Serena was an enthralling speaker and a large turn-out of members were keen to second a vote of thanks proposed by our Hon. Sec. Richard Gregory.

Graham Wood on
Yacht Charter Requirements
the Ins and Outs of Chartering at Home & Abroad

Graham shared his vast knowledge of the Charter Operators’ requirements for both Inland and Sea Charters at home and abroad.  Especially dealing with the qualifications one should have for a ‘Bareboat’ charter.
How to obtain qualifications.. What is an “ICC”? ( International marine driving license), Legal boats or not?, Supplier reliability and trust; Variation in costs; What size of boat can be handled by “Holiday Skippers”?

As usual Graham didn’t disappoint, bringing up many interesting facts and with a great deal of audience participation thrown in for good measure!  The ICC is now widely accepted as the norm throughout Europe even being a requirement for ‘owner’ skippers too! (Except UK where boaters need no statuary qualifications or insurance apart from the VHF SR certificate.)  However, as Graham pointed out, the difficulty in obtaining an ICC varied greatly and examining standards were pretty poor in some places and, in the Med especially, left the requirement to upgrade for tidal waters at a later date.

One anomaly Graham pointed out was that The ICC is originally a UN initiative intended for Inland Waterways and that interpretation by the issuing national bodies varies widely and additional CEVNI requirements have been added to the mix in some countries for operating on inland waterways.

The deposit arrangements required by some charter companies were worth checking before signing up as many required a large sum in cash which was returned at the end of the hire period but this was rather inconvenient if you were leaving the country that same day so you suffered 2 exchange rate commissions.
A credit or debit card authorisation being much simpler.  Graham reported that at least one large operator was now charging a very small security deposit but which was non-refundable.  This was effectively an insurance premium and shared between a group would appear to be a favoured option.

For larger boats, some charter companies required that a least one crew member apart from the nominated ‘skipper’ were certified as competant crew.  If this wasn’t the case, a short assessment would be made in return for a fee.  

Overall a very interesting meeting with something of interest for everybody and punctuated by a wonderful free Hot-Pot Supper.  Graham Wood offers all aspects of training for ICC, Competant Crew, Day Skipper & Short Range VHF through his company Cheshire Training & Leisure at http://www.cheshiretraining.com


A deceptive title in a way.  One could be forgiven for thinking they started this particular passage at the ‘witching hour’ but it turned out to be the name of the boat on which they were to have their first experience of being ‘Delivery Crew’.  Devi & Geoff had previously done their ‘Day Skipper’ training and duly certified were keen to try out all they’d learnt and pay for the priviledge..
After a travelling down to Suffolk and a brief period of getting to know the boat they set of from Levington with 3 other crew members on a trip that would hopefully take advantage of the Easter full moon despite being a bit on the cool side.  Passage took them across the Thames Estuary with its inevitable changeable underwater landscape which they quickly found to be the case as the dated charts didn’t correctly show the prevailing sandbanks.
A smooth passage ensued via Ramsgate, Brighton, Eastbourne, the Solent and beyond.

March is well known for easterlies and they were to take advantage for a great ‘goose-wing’ leg much of the way down the English Channel to Falmouth.
       As part of skipper Chris’s plan, they were to head up the River Fal to ‘The Pandora Inn’ at Restronguet for a lean-to dry-out so that new through-hull plumbing could be fitted.
Things didn’t go that smoothly and the pontoon anchoring was too loose for the required 5 to 10 degree lean mentioned in the text books.   It ended up at 45 degrees and the crew weren’t that inclined to try sleeping aboard at that angle.  Devi was dispatched to grab the sleeping bags and they managed to get some shelter in the Inn after weighing up all other options.  The tide turned and ‘Midnight Getaway’ refloated after prising the gunwales  from beneath the pontoon planking to reveal little damage. Needless to say, the plumbing didn’t get done!  Plan B!

They left the shelter of the Fal and headed west again but having to tack against a SW head wind.   Geoff was delighted to report he’d been given the task of helming her round the Lizard and then in to a bettter wind direction for the trip up the Bristol Channel eventually reaching Milford Haven which Geoff recalled was one of the best places they’d been on the trip until then, despite an engine problem passing round St. Ann’s Head.
On the penultimate leg they crossed over to Howth near Dublin and enjoyed a trip into the Irish capital while Skipper Chris took advantage of a cheap €25 lift-out and the plumbing finally got done.  The final stage took them north of the Isle of Man and into their destination port of Whitehaven.  A wonderful trip overall but Devi & Geoff finally told us that Skipper Chris had been diagnosed with cancer and died the following year.
They went on to dedicate their talk to the memory of Chris.

Midnight Getaway


With Devi & Geoff Dobson

The Stott family Halberg Rassy 43 ‘Yarona’

In 2009 Kath set off from Lancashire with her husband Barrie on Yarona their Halberg Rassy 43, with a vague plan to spend a few summers in the Med.  After a wonderfully benign passage across the Bay of Biscay they hastily pressed on past Portugal to reach their mediterranean goal but there seemed to be some regret that they may have missed some wonderful cruising in the Rias on the way.  After brief visits to the Balearic islands they pressed on via Corsica and Sardinia.
Yarona was hauled out for the winter in Italy in the Fiumara Grande, near Rome and in 2011 they spent 3 months exploring Corsica and the Italian Islands of Elba, Sardinia, Sicily and, by co-incidence, Giglio the site of the 2012 cruise ship disaster.   Kath demonstrated that cruising like this can be done without destroying the cruising budget and that coming across the occasional Italian male with an attitude problem is a small price to pay in order to enjoy the many delights of the Italian food and scenery, not to mention the excellent sailing.  


La Dolce Vita: Cruising the islands of the Central Mediterranean with Kath Stott.

It was interesting to hear their experience in evaluating the weather patterns for the area and in particular the dominant effect of build-up eminating from the Gulf of Lyon.
Kath and Barrie are currently in the Ionian but have set their hearts on eventually turning Westwards for a crossing to the Caribbean in 2014. We look forward to hearing about that trip too! Many Thanks Kath!

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