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The meetings of 2016…

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FEBRUARY 2016 MEETING                                The 1,440th meeting                               

The Story of Navigation

by Jeremy Batch

An incredible compilation
of facts

Jeremy’s talk outlined developments in 2 areas of Navigation throughout history. Firstly, the theories and observations which replaced outmoded folklore and intuitions.   By establishing the segmenting of the circle of vista, the Babylonians, using sections based on their block of 60 units, chose to divided the circle by an even 6 blocks giving rise to a total of 360 divisions or degrees which is still the standard used today.  Notation of the Cardinals came in conjunction with their observation of the Pole star being a fixed body and so their circle became divided into four segments of 90 degrees.

In Europe the Vikings for their part had developed a similar idea of 4 cardinals but had subdivided each 90 degree segment 3 further times to create a 32 segment circle of vista; a division and standard which is still used today but which doesn’t correlate with the division using 360 degrees..  The Chinese for their part were dividing the circle into 24 parts, a system which certainly would have given a good basis had they been using the 24 hour clock.   These were early examples of fixed standards in Navigation and when added to more recent developments such as the 24 hour clock, the Prime Meridian or Greenwich Meridian(decided upon by a convention in Washington in 1884) and Universal Standard Time.

Jeremy detailed the work of various individuals; Herodotus, Pythagarus, Euclid, Ptolemy and Hipparchus of Rhodes who were versed in such attributes as Mathematics, Geometry and Geography. They established such concepts as the circumference of the earth and the division of the globe into latitude and longitude.

     On the equipment side of Navigation, we were shown how early sundials took the Euclid’s principle of shadow direction and length to ascertain time, date and solar declination. Gnomonic lines showed defined patterns and the device took many forms. Later a device called a Kamal took the principles further and into the realm of portability, being able to find the declination of the sun, pole star and planets using a plumb line and perpendicular to establish the base horizon. This was used by Arab sailors and others around the Indian Ocean from the 9th Century AD up until the 15th Century AD. In Europe, a quadrant or clinometer superseded but all were hard to use on a boat in rough weather.   Development lead on to the Astrolade with some  versions providing diversity using a changeable disc system.   In the 16th century the ‘Cross-Staff’ emerged as a tool for ascertaining angles and was reputed to have been used by Ferdinand Magellen and his Portugese cohorts.  This cross-staff had a sliding element for fixing elevation readings from a scale marked on the central shaft.  In 1595 John Davis refined this with the Davis Quadrant or ‘Back-Staff’ used in reverse so as not to have the sun ‘blind’ the operator.  Other developments focused on quantifying other relevant factors such as boat speed and timing.  Henry 8th’s navy used a kit which was effectively a float on the end of a string which had spaced-out knots and a sand-glass timer. This gave them an indication of boat speed and historically gave us the term ‘Knot’ for one nautical mile per hour.  On the timing side, during the 18th century, John Harrison invented and produced a marine chronometer.

A plethora of other developments ensued particularly after World War 2 when the Kempner giro-compass was improved, commercially promoted by Sperry along with Inertia Measuring Units. Satellites produced and delivered the deployment of Navigation systems based on a reversed aspect of the Dopler Shift principle.

Dr John Ponsonby proposed a Vote of Thanks to Jeremy on behalf of the MCA members present.

                                                                       Roy Conchie

A Transit of Albania
with Christopher Smith

January 2016 MEETING                                The 1,439th meeting                               

Two of the best known Mediterranean cruising grounds, Ionian and Croatia, are separated by 150 miles of Albania. So Christopher would like to know why he met only six other cruising yachts during his two weeks in Albanian waters. Is it the mines (6,000 destroyed in 2013), the lack of yacht-friendly harbours or just the reputation?

   Christopher started by briefly outlining the extent of his travels in his 34 foot Jeanneau Espace 1000 in and around the Black Sea and the Adriatic Coast since his retirement five years earlier and outlined what attributes he considered essential for cruising in those waters – a full bimini; white decks; a long gangplank to cope with the particularly high walls of Albanian harbours; a readily available stern anchor; small tender; solar panels; a fridge and as swimming platform for ease of access back on board. He invited the audience to add to his list from their own experiences. Using the pilot guides, 777 (an Italian pilot of harbours and some doubtful anchorages); the Imray Adriatic Pilot and Cruising’s Captain’s Mate, he set off for Albania from Corfu mindful of the dire warnings of the coast being heavily mined despite official denials to the contrary. They did encounter evidence of mines and other defensive military hardware but sticking to buoyed channels produced nothing untoward.

ALBANIA – Hit or Miss was a comprehensive visual presentation by Christopher Smith with the occasional revelations from his partner and fellow sailor, Cocky Taaman.

From Christopher’s slides we immediately saw the contrast from the over-crowded marinas of Corfu and Croatia to deserted harbours in Albania as his journey progressed northwards up the coast. Paperwork formalities of entry and exit papers from different harbours were somewhat haphazard and could even be expedited with help of a beer or two.

The buildings lining the harbours also revealed the typical high rise flats that are so common in communist countries though behind this façade lay even less inspiring properties. From Sarande, Vlore (the main port), Durres up to Shengjin, the journey passed through a number of deserted and attractive anchorages and on a cold winter’s Manchester evening the stark contrast of blue skies and azure seas gave us glimpses of the attraction of warm water swimming. The two towns that stood out were Durres with its remains of a Roman amphitheatre and Shengjin rapidly trying to be a holiday town and to exploit its long beach. Beyond Shengjin, Montenegro and the gulf of Kotor proved so different.  Questions were asked on the people and the service they received, language difficulties, currency, wind strengths and charts and tellingly the fact that Christopher and Cocky cruised back to Greece by-passing Albania on their return journey.
Our MCA President, Dr Stuart Thompson, proposed a ‘Vote of Thanks’ on behalf of the members present.
                                                                                              Roger Cleland

with Linda Crew-Gee

MARCH 2016 MEETING                                The 1,441st meeting                               

A Girls’ Guide to
the Southern Ocean…

It was, if anything, a motivational talk to show how a diminutive lady, inexperienced in sailing matters, could overcome her fears and uncertainties including that of dying to achieve that ambition and find an ‘inner peace’. She signed up with a Dutch company that organised charter trips using three classic tall ships for a voyage from Auckland, New Zealand, to the Falkland Islands via Cape Horn. Her ship was the ‘Tecla’, a 99 year old cutter-rigged ketch which at 24m84 waterline length was the smallest of the three. Originally built as a herring fleet fishing boat, she was crewed by four professional sailors and 9 ‘trainees’ ( five males and two females) who manned the boat literally with 2 professionals and 3 trainees on watch at any one time. Mixing slides with film footage we were shown around the boat and almost felt the conditions of the seas she encountered on a voyage that lasted 31 days and covered 5000 miles as they passed through 11 time zones. As you might expect, conditions were rough to very rough with an average wind speed of 25 knots made worse by there being no shelter on deck, hand steering at all times and the sheer weight and unmanageability of the heavy sails when changes were necessary. They were allowed to learn by their mistakes, were not shouted at, and quickly fell into a routine of ‘eat, go on watch, sleep’ as complete exhaustion took its toll. They survived various storms both in the Pacific Ocean and after rounding Cape Horn – the earlier one even causing damage to the boat and after passing through Drake’s Passage they were forced to heave to for 36 hours before making landfall in Port Stanley. What had the voyage taught her? “To be” (as opposed to do) in tune with nature; to fel at one with elements of nature; to enjoy the vast expanse of nothingness; to overcome personal fears in order to achieve a life-long dream but which on returning to terra firma leaves a hankering for more sea adventures.Questions followed about cost, navigation and wildlife. Alan Street proposed the Vote of Thanks for the MCA.
                                                                          Roger Cleland.

Linda realised a dream when she joined Tecla’, a traditional Dutch tall ship, for a voyage from Auckland across the Southern Ocean via Cape Horn to the Falkland Islands.

Wild weather, hard physical work & odd mishaps notwithstanding, the voyage fulfilled her friend’s parting blessing:-
“May the ocean be beautiful, awesome and kind.”
Girl’s Guide to the Southern Ocean was not a talk in the scouting tradition but an account of the fulfilment of a lifetime’s ambition which stemmed from a childhood experience of rough seas among the Croatian islands of the Adriatic

Roger Cleland

The requirements for a good anchorage - wind direction, swells and currents, seabed, selection from the chart where the pilot is inadequate or conditions change. Anchor designs, past & current, how they behave on the seabed, what catenary does and doesn't do, kedges, snubbers & chain.

Anchorages & Anchors

Cruising Greece
with a camera.

APRIL 2016 MEETING                                The 1,442nd meeting                               

An Evening with Vyv Cox

“Anchorages and anchorsby Vyv Cox who kindly stood in at short notice to plug an unexpected and unavoidable gap in our programme proved once again how a talk can be authoritative, detailed and interesting without blinding the audience with science. Vyv took us through the various aspects of anchoring from selecting the right spot, the choice of anchors available, their likely performance on differing seabeds, the role of the kedge anchor and the effect of the chain on the anchor’s efficiency.

The talk was illustrated by charts of anchorages, diagrammatic likely changes with different wind directions, photographs of pitfalls to avoid and idyllic places both at home and in Greece plus underwater photos of anchors at work and the effects of the possible movement of the chain when the wind changed direction.

His analysis of the properties of various types of anchor whether originals or copies was thorough & balanced and the graph illustrating holding power was particularly convincing. He explained how important it is to set the anchor firmly by exerting considerable loads on it under engine power at about 2500rpm rather than just dumping it and hoping for the best. Vyv ended the first part of the talk by illustrating the use of the kedge anchor set in various positions and that of a snubber on the chain to add elasticity to any movement on the boat caused by waves or swell. Questions were asked about swivels, the use of rope versus chain, trip lines and the deployment of a small float to indicate the anchor’s position.

The second part of Vyv’s talk – “Cruising Greece with a camera” traced the Cox’s extensive cruising around Greece following their move from Italy in 2007 to the Ionian Sea to be followed in subsequent years to the Aegean, Corinth Canal, Sporades, Cyclades and Dodecanese. Many of the places visited were linked to anchorages previously mentioned but there were also beautiful shots of wild flowers and spectacular views from their forays ashore. Vice Commodore Mike Ousbey gave the Vote of Thanks.

Cape Cutter 19 Association Rally - Simon Temple

Simon has been a member of MCA since 2004 but only bought his first boat 3 years ago. He sails mostly on Windermere in Cumbria.

“Revisiting the Dubh’s Ridge”
a documentary film by
Roger Chisholm & Howard Steen

Roger Chisholm introduced a film “Revisiting the Dubh’s Ridge” which he and his life-long friend and fellow climber, Howard Steen, had made as an entry for the Kendal Mountain Film Festival later this year. Using some outstanding photography, including underwater shots, the film recounted their sailing together in 2014 from Tobermory, past Ardnamurchan Point and the Isles of Eigg and Rum then on to Loch Scavaig on Skye, with the aim of revisiting the scene of an earlier climb on The Dubhs Ridge above Loch Coruisk.

SEPTEMBER 2016 MEETING                                The 1,444th meeting                               

Members’ Talks

September’s meeting was shared by two of our own members
Simon Temple and Roger Chisholm.

Somewhat in the spirit of the 1964 film, “The Yellow Rolls Royce”, Simon recalled his participation in the Cape Cutter 19 Rally 2016 held in Chichester Harbour and which was another episode in the life of his boat, “Sea Badger 2”, ( Mike Brooke had previously given a talk to the MCA in February 2014 about the boat’s round Britain journey in aid of Mike’s charity).

Familiar to some through MCA’s past visits to Honnor Marine who bought the moulds in 2004, Simon outlined the background brief for its design by Dudley Dix and its construction, namely to be a traditional gaff cutter rigged trailer-sailer able to fit into a 20’ shipping container. He showed us the interior layout with its “cosy”, compact living accommodation which he shared with his daughter as his crew and the deck features including lifting bow sprit.  From among over a hundred examples built, this rally was attended by 17 boats representing the four hull colours and both tan and cream sails. Mike Brooke’s small cruiser acted as safety cover. The programme for the week involved sailing initially in Chichester Harbour near Dell Quay then on to Emsworth S.C.. Tuesday was lost to foul weather but on the Wednesday they crossed to Bembridge on the Isle of Wight and moved to Wooton Creek the next day to enjoy the splendid hospitality of the Royal Victoria Y. C.. They returned to Chichester Marina on the Friday before Simon trailed the boat back home to Windermere. Next year’s plan is for the rally to be held in the Netherlands.

This was no ordinary travelogue but a nostalgic personal journey encapsulating Roger’s early diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis with footage of earlier climbing exploits, ski mountaineering and trekking in Europe and the Himalayas and linked his enthusiasm for sailing (including converting Howard to the sport) as a means of maintaining a spirit of adventure despite his gradual loss of mobility. Dreams of visiting the Lofoten Islands were achieved but he was still drawn back to a return to the Cuillin Mountains on Skye and the imposing whaleback ridge of the Dubhs Ridge leading to the summit of Sgurr Dubh Mor. Linking up with the crew of a Rival yacht, a plan was made to haul the yacht tender overland (Shackleton style) to Loch Coruisk so that Roger could row to the foot of the climb and there meet up with Howard. There was a moving moment when they finally did meet up with the dream accomplished. As the English mountaineer, F.S.Smythe wrote in 1935, “on a mountain.. a man taps unsuspected reservoirs of spiritual force in his friends and in himself” – so this proved to be, an inspiring example of the indomitable human spirit.
                                                                                                    Roger Cleland

OCTOBER 2016 MEETING                                The 1,445th meeting                               

Liverpool to the Lofoten Islands

a talk by Dave & Jeanette Hardy

This had prompted them to return to see the Svartisen Glacier and some of the mountains that they had seen in Judy Lomax’s pilot book and an old 1900 mountaineering book. Armed with 50 charts, the journey north from Liverpool was as direct as they could make it, by-passing the Isle of Man, through the Crinan Canal, Sound of Mull, and up the west coast of Scotland and over to Orkney. Briefly storm bound in Lerwick they then crossed through the Norwegian oil fields to Bergen.  

   As the distance involved suggests, an interesting and detailed account of their 2013 voyage. Mixing slides, some movie footage, background music and a double act presentation, they whetted our appetites with an introduction of their 2011 trip to Norway.

The further north they went meant an ever increasing dramatic landscape – each island became a mountain in itself as they sailed up the Norwegian coast to Alesund and then Molde, where their Liverpudlian connection was welcomed by the fanatical Liverpool F.C. supporters of the town.

On to Rorvik and the decision at Hustadvike to take the outer channel north despite the pilot’s dire warning of it being more hazardous. At Bode they encountered horrible wet weather which was in sharp contrast to the largely good settled weather for most of the trip. By now the mountains were increasingly spectacular, sharp peaks and knife edge ridges rising out of the sea, almost Disneyesque, attracting Dave to do a hill walk and affording him an impressive downward view of their boat, “Free Spirit” (an MG335) at anchor.

Questions followed on fixing the autohelm, the merits of leaving the boat in the water during the winter, the balance between sailing and motoring and the costs of chartering.
Stuart Thompson gave the Vote of Thanks on behalf of members.
                                                                                          Roger Cleland

 By chance they met up with fellow MCA members, Nola and Terry McGaul, on more than one occasion, made friends with Norwegian sailors and local residents who seemed always ready for a party. From the Lofoten Islands and a stop-over at Reine, they sailed south taking in Stroma Island, the Troll fijord, Horden Island with its wartime Shetland Bus connection, Mount Slogan behind Alesund and to Harvanger Fijord where they left the boat to over-winter.  

NOVEMBER 2016 MEETING                                The 1,446th meeting                               

Cruising the
Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland

with Daria and Alex Blackwell

    Cruising the Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland was a joint presentation by Daria and Alex Blackwell which gave a comprehensive and professional coverage of many of the significant marinas, harbours, anchorages and facilities to be found around the West Coast of Ireland. They have put together in pilot book format details of suitability of shelter, shore facilities, local history and shore based activities which they have gleaned from years of extensive sailing on the less familiar and more exposed West Coast of Ireland. This is a place like no other – beautiful, rugged, unspoilt, conscious of developing tourist attractions, but exposed and wild with the constant threat of
ng SW winds.

By way of introduction, Daria outlined a series of helpful tips to be considered before embarking on cruising these waters from navigation (15 tides and old charts – even the “new” charts are not based on new surveys), weather forecasts based on headlands, marine services and the availability of fuel (both scarce), shopping for provisions (limited), the points of contact for possible crew changes (about 7) to the joys of the wildlife, history, culture and friendliness of the people.

County Mayo – the Blackwells home area and Clew Bay (regarded by many as the best place to live in Ireland) is the home of Mayo SC which is protected by 365 islands at Westport.

Continuing northwards to County Donegal and the most under-developed area of Ireland yet, boasting the tallest sea cliffs, secret meccas for surfers and climbers and an Irish language school on Arranmore Island before ending in Lough Swilly as the last stop before Northern Ireland.

Questions followed on the provision of lifeboat stations, the Atlantic swell and the increasing number of British boats to the area.

Alan Street gave the vote of thanks on behalf of MCA members.
                                                                                                      Roger Cleland

For more information or to contact the Blackwells, visit: www.whiteseahorse.ie/Cruising

Starting at Cork and the busy port of Crosshaven we were directed round the South western inlets of Kinsale, Glandore harbour, Sherkin Island, Bantry Bay, the spectacular beauty of Adrigole, Glegarriff and the home of the Irish Cruising Club to the vibrancy of Dingle. There were so many interesting hide-aways that it is impossible to record them all but moving up the coast to the Shannon estuary and its dolphins, the lost world of the Aran Islands and Roundstone in County Galway heralded the real wild west.

DECEMBER 2016 MEETING                                The 1,447th meeting                               

Hardanger to Helsinki

with former MCA Commodore - Terry McGaul

Hardanger to Helsinki by Terry McGaul was an interesting & varied account of the extensive 1000 nautical mile cruise in a Vancouver 34 by our own MCA members, Terry and wife, Nola, aka “the cook”, during the two summers of 2015/16. Describing themselves not as intrepid sailors but rather as people touring by boat, we initially followed their journey down the Western Norwegian coast before cutting across the canals and lakes of Southern Sweden.

There were many highs (meeting up with the Hardys, visiting Pulpit Rock and a granite sculpture park) but lows too (broken glasses from a fall, early heavy rain and mechanical problems). After leaving the east coast of Norway which they described as expensive, posh but not as nice as the West coast,  they visited deserted (for mid summer) Gothenburg but by tram before entering the system of canals and on to Trolhatten with its industrial architecture and the lakes of Vanern and Vattern. Here they encountered some very large ships in procession all negotiating the rather narrow channel. Having survived some huge locks and a lecture in lock etiquette by a somewhat frosty lock keeper, they were reassured by the sights of IKEA, AstraZeneca and numerous reminders of ABBA mania.

The Gota canal (Telford constructed like the Caledonian) with its numerous locks took them to Stockholm where they over-wintered at an impressive marina boasting super-quick hauling out and launching times.

The re-launch however was delayed because the boat was not ready – the snow cover protection had not worked and the holding tank was left for Terry to install. The Baltic was noticeable for its cloudy water due to pine pollen and the large number of ferries, but the archipelago and the large number of windmills were impressive. Helsinki Sailing Club  and its attractive waterfront were offset by the rather inward-looking Finnish people they encountered and whilst they enjoyed the Pommern ship museum, cycling and walking trips were often plagued by midges; saunas were no substitute for showers too.

                                                                                              Roger Cleland.

MAY 2016 MEETING                                The 1,443rd meeting                               

Man Overboard!! - a synopsis

Man over board by Nigel Partington was a synopsis of a seminar that he had attended at the Cruising Association in 2015. The premise was; “could an 8st woman get a 20st man out of the water in the event of a man overboard?”.
 He warned of how easy it was to drown, how necessary it was to establish a drill and to have equipment to hand and to practice  various manoeuvres to stop the boat. He presented a short video to illustrate some of the points. Various questions followed and suggestions were made from the floor.

An excellent Hot-Pot Supper followed and a Raffle organised by Roger Cleland topped off an evening enjoyed and greatly appreciated by all.

Nigel directed members to look at various clips on YouTube which showed how to ‘Heave to’ various boats and another useful video from a Chichester Cruiser Racing Club exercise with members testing different methods of getting a man-overboard back on to the deck.
 This can be seen at   https://youtu.be/obOqYGa0xDM