The meetings of 2018…

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MAY 2018 MEETING                                The 1,461st meeting                               

“Farewell to the Irish Sea”
- for Now!

A talk by David Golding

“Farewell to the Irish Sea” by our own MCA member, David Golding, proved to be one of the best talks this year even though he was only allocated a shortened session in order to accommodate our annual May Hot Pot supper which followed (all agreed that the food was absolutely delicious).
David began by introducing us to his second boat, a Rustler 31, a 1980 deep keel yacht with 6.5 ton displacement in which he planned to leave his home port of Holyhead and to sail round to Portsmouth where he has a new home port in order to attend the International Boat Building College – the start of a new career.
The planned route was to sail initially to Milford Haven but his departure was delayed by bad weather and he anchored first of all at Dale – a more picturesque spot than Milford Haven even though when lit up at night, it revealed a spectacular horizon. He took us through the benefit of fitting a servo pendulum self-steering system including a diagram and explained his system for catching a nap using an egg timer to sustain his single-handed watch keeping. As a frequent sufferer of sea sickness he advocated using “Scopoderm” patches until he got his sea legs.
The next stop was Padstow – again a change of plan – after the long crossing of the Bristol Channel, accompanied for long sections by dolphins.

Here he discovered the delights of a bustling seaside port where alongside the harbour wall he was besieged by eager youngsters crabbing and experienced being in Rick Stein’s empire.    
Rounding Land’s End proved to be something of an anti-climax until his AIS system showed him to be in the midst of the West travelling Fastnet Race fleet, and another change of plan, this time choosing to overnight in Mousehole. His next stop was Falmouth with its great maritime heritage on offer but he realised that as he went East he was constantly ending up in the throes of south coast regatta weeks, so with another change of plan to avoid Dartmouth, he anchored in Dittisham.  Accompanied by his son, he then attempted the rounding of Portland Bill but got his calculations badly wrong by 4 hours and ended up sluicing round it sideways. Further stops were at Portland Harbour, Weymouth Marina, two days in Lulworth Cove with its fascinating geology, Swanage and Studland Bay.
As he entered the Solent on the last leg, he ticked off all the boats, lights and navigational features that he had studied for his Yachtmaster’s ticket before arriving at Haslar Marina in Portsmouth.
Questions followed mainly about his college course, the age profile of fellow students and the skills involved in different elements of the curriculum. Stuart Thompson gave the Vote of Thanks on behalf of those present.

Roger Cleland

SEPTEMBER 2018 MEETING                                   

The ARC+ and a ‘Twizzler’
(Atlantic Rally for Cruisers via the Cape Verdes)

Paul Weinberg

“ARC and ARC+” by our own member, Paul Weinberg, was an informative insight into participating in the Rally (not a race!) organised by the World Cruising Club crossing the Atlantic from the Canaries to St. Lucia. For Paul, it proved to be the epitome of good cruising on board a Hallberg Rassy 40. “Enigma” was a solidly built, comfortable boat, not as speedy as some in their class, but with its novelty headsail – a Twizzler or Simba comprising effectively a double genoa ballooned out like a spinnaker downwind but which doubled up on itself in a more conventional headsail when close hauled.

As most of the trip was off the wind, the mainsail was hardly called upon, self steering under the Twizzler was very much the order of the day leaving plenty of time to eat sleep and drink. The talk was interspersed with two short videos – one of the activities in the Canaries and the other showed the relatively calm sea state, marine life  and a promotional film by sailmaker, Elvstrom, on the merits of the “Blue Water Runner”.

We were introduced to the crew, Diane as owner, Alan, Viv and Paul who between them  shared all the on-board tasks on a carefully planned rota basis covering everything right down to regularly checking the bilges.  Paul outlined the kit needed for such a venture – generator, water making kit, satellite phone, various items of  safety equipment plus Paul’s own sextant.

Arrival in St. Lucia gave rise to hearty celebrations particularly as they came 2nd in their class, some fishy tales from other boats, mid Atlantic transfer of fuel in exchange for masthead repairs and the camaraderie of all fellow participants.
There were many questions on all different aspects of the trip after which Dave Hardy gave an excellent vote of thanks.

Roger Cleland

 The 1,462nd meeting                               

Dr. Deborah Maw

OCTOBER 2018 MEETING                                   

An expedition
around Great Britain

 The 1,463rd meeting                               

Deborah Maw began her talk on “Exxpedition Britain” by introducing herself and explaining her scientific and artistic background. She is a bio chemist who has combined her interest and talent in art as a means of communication with the general public by creating artistic pictures using discarded plastics.
The trip was made by an all female crew of differing sailing/scientific backgrounds (or neither in some cases) on board the former “British Steel” ketch of 72’, but only three of them completed the whole circuit. Setting off from Plymouth where Richard Thompson had first used the term micro plastics, they stopped at the major capital cities of Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh and London bur also stopped in Arran and Stornaway before returning to Plymouth. At each port of call, they held litter picking sessions, meetings and lectures/workshops to highlight just how much plastic was ending up in our rivers and oceans and how the whole food chain was affected. Water samples were taken regularly en-route including using their mantra trawl and the contents were scrupulously analysed and logged. Perhaps the most alarming revelation was just how small the nurdles of plastic were and the extent to which they had settled in the sediment of the seabed at all depths and virtually everywhere.
Deborah’s research also involved canoeing in the Liverpool area both on canals and rivers. Her somewhat gloomy summary was that modern materials are so well established that the best we can do is restrict current and future unnecessary use of plastics, and she offered a number of preventative measures which might help.
There was quite a lively discussion over the future effects of pollution and possible bio-degradable alternatives which we may substitute in the future.
Mike Leahy gave an excellent Vote of Thanks and it linked nicely with his appeal to members to endorse a plastics pledge.

Roger Cleland

NOVEMBER 2018 MEETING                                   

 The 1,464th meeting                               

Queen Elizabeth Class
Aircraft Carriers:
Flagships for the Future!

A presentation by Mark Dannatt

“Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers – Flagship for the Future” was a most interesting and informative talk by Mark Dannatt, formerly chief engineer on the “Ark Royal” and now head of acquisition for the Queen Elizabeth Class project.  The whole talk was interspersed with beautifully shot video footage and expertly delivered narrative.  Mark started with some historical background about British aircraft carriers – the first being “HMS Argos” in 1918, though a bi-plane had been flown from a ship in 1912, to the Royal Navy having 57 by the end of WW2 but now going to rely on just two with a contract being signed in 2008 for initial delivery a decade later.

“HMS Queen Elizabeth” is 280 m long and 70 m wide, 65,000 tons with a crew of 680 but the capacity to accommodate 1,600 including air crew.  She has been built by a variety of British firms, principally BAE, Thales, Babcock and the MOD, around the country (in 6 shipyards and with 75% from UK suppliers) who each contributed to various sections of the ship.  These were transported to Rosyth for final assembly by barge and huge low loader transporters – a triumph for the British shipbuilding industry and an example of close co-operation in the Alliance formed specially for the project.

The brief was basically to squeeze an airfield and all its facilities onto a 65,000 ton ship which unusually had twin island control towers – forward for the ship: rear for aircraft control, electrical propulsion, plus it needed to be bigger than the French carrier “Charles de Gaulle”.

From the 1998 Strategic Defence Review three designs were considered basically around whether to have vertical take-off capability or a catapult system. The first steel was cut in 2009 and the in service dates for the two ships were 2020 and 2022 after some 4266 deliveries of 23 million items. The audience was left open-mouthed at the sheer scale of such an operation with the huge motorised trolleys, immense barges and the close tightness of the dry dock.

Videos showed parts being assembled, massive cranes linking sections together, the ship being turned around by tugs and shunted alongside its berth, sea trials around the Moray Firth and the ironing out of problems with propeller vibration and the odd stress crack. The ship was commissioned on 7th December 2017 and is currently in trials off the east coast of the USA.
There were lots of questions and Geoff Meggitt gave an excellent Vote of Thanks.

Roger Cleland

Michael is Head of Archaeology at the ELS Centre for Applied Archaeology within the University of Salford and he was recently seen on the Channel 4 programme ‘Great Canal Journeys’ appearing alongside Prunella Scales and Timothy West.

Bridgewater Canal

Dr. Michael Nevell, CIfA, FSA.

Archaeology of the

DECEMBER 2018 MEETING                                   

 The 1,465th meeting                               

“Recent Archaeology Work on the Bridgewater Canal” by Dr. Mike Nevell was an interesting insight into what for many members is a feature of our own backyards and yet whose historical significance is often either not known or overlooked.
The Bridgewater Canal was the world’s first industrial canal and became the foundation for future such waterways in Britain, which now 250 years later has been transformed and upgraded into a leisure facility enjoyed by thousands who like to be on or near the water. In 1759, the Duke of Bridgewater conceived the idea of speeding up and increasing the transportation of coal from his mines in Worsley to Manchester where previously lines of pack horses took a day to carry loads and in winter took several days – his barges could carry 20-30 tons at a time. Such was its success that by 1830 there were 4000 miles of canals in Britain having taken the Bridgewater as the template.
Having hired John Brindley for his expertise in water management, the work began in 1759 and the canal from Worsley to Castlefield was opened in 1761. Using a one way system, barges actually went into the mines to be loaded up and then horse drawn to the centre of Manchester. Grain was also carried from the Duke’s agricultural estate and at Castlefield wharf, evidence has been found of limestone, timber, potatoes and groceries being shipped by barge. Once the wharfside warehouses became the template for future similar buildings.This success lasted till after the end of World War 2.
Recent work on Worsley Delph, which has now been transformed into a tourist destination, has revealed new tunnels and sluice gates and odd artefacts from old barges. Today the canal is owned by Peel holdings and is very much a living canal.
There were many questions and the Commodore gave a vote of thanks and presented an MCA commemorative glass.

Roger Cleland

Dylan realised that a journey around the world was going to be too expensive….in time & money. But a journey around the UK’s 20,000 mile long outrageously crinkly coastline could be done ‘One piece at a time’ – like the Johnny Cash song !  

JANUARY 2018 MEETING                                The 1,457th meeting                               

Keep turning Left!

with Dylan Winter

“Keep Turning Left” by Dylan Winter was unusual on several counts. He came recommended for his ability to inform and entertain which he accomplished very successfully with a mixture of films and stills of high quality. He began by taking us through a brief history of the different boats that he had owned or sailed with edible prizes for those who guessed correctly.
A cameraman by profession, he whetted our appetites with brief extracts of the “Hamble Scramble” to sailing in Scotland with an alluring range of scenery and wildlife, before starting his odyssey of sailing round Britain in an anti clockwise direction starting at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight.
He chose a Mirror Offshore largely because it was small enough to creek hug single-handed but also because he considered it a boat that was least likely to be stolen wherever he left it and was not very expensive to buy or run.
By the end of the first year he had progressed around the south east corner of England and was exploring the east coast up and down the mud creeks of East Anglia by year two. Once again there were film extracts (his films are available on his website and youtube), capturing the starkness of the scenery and some of the thousands of migrating birds, the icy conditions of winter and his primitive heating arrangements. On the Norfolk Broads we saw the start of the “Three Rivers Race” and an inevitable collision in such confined waters.
Inspired by the duck punts that he encountered, he decided to make his own version between Christmas and New Year in his garage using plywood and the stitch and glue method and an old Optimist rig. Having explored the salt marshes and north Norfolk, he moved through the Wash and up the Humber.

At this stage in his story he changes boats – upgrading to a Westerly Centaur, but true to his earlier criteria, it was an old boat whose dead engine he replaced with an outboard in a well – largely because other members of his family wanted to join him on various stages of his next leg to Edinburgh. But that’s another story… After questions the Commodore gave a Vote of Thanks and presented Dylan with an MCA tumbler as a memento of his visit.

Roger Cleland

“You don’t ‘sail’ in the Mediterranean, it’s overcrowded and expensive”.
  So Julian & Vanessa were told and it’s reasonably true!
They achieved their retirement dream and went down the French inland waterways to the Mediterranean where they spent six years.

FEBRUARY 2018 MEETING                                The 1,458th meeting                               

Julian & Vanessa Dussek

 The Ups and Downs
of Mediterranean Cruising

     “The Ups and Downs of Mediterranean Cruising” by husband and wife, Julian & Vanessa Dussek, was not a catalogue of moments of joy and deep despair (although a damaged hull whilst in Riposto boatyard, which was astonishingly denied, must have been pretty traumatic), but rather an interesting travelogue of cruising from France to Greece, round the western Italian coast and then back up the Adriatic to Trieste – a journey spread over a number of years. Sailing their Southerly 115 ‘Pluto’  which they described as being very comfortable but, with a lifting keel , a little barge-like going to windward. Nevertheless ‘Pluto’ served them well. They set off from Port St. Louis in France and into the Mediterranean after a delay because of the Mistral and edged their way up from Marseille to the Italian border, experiencing marinas which were invariably overcrowded and overpriced, including Cannes during the International Film Festival where super yachts dwarfed their boat. The next leg from Genoa to Riposto in Sicily was only outlined briefly but the highlight was seeing Mount Etna at night with ribbons of red lava running down the hillside. From Riposto they crossed the southern Adriatic to Corfu and into the popular charter boat seas via Petriti, Lakka on Paxos, Levkas and its canal to Kioni, Fiscardo, Ithaka and Sami. They went inland to see the site of Olympia and its ancient temple, some 20 kms from Katakolon – a favourite cruise ship port of call, then on to Methoni with its beautifully lit castle and Kalamata, the olive oil centre of Greece with its unusually well stocked market. Travelling northwards, Julian & Vanessa had an interesting cruise along the coast of Albania and then into Montenegro, with deep inlets which reminded them of Norwegian fijords before getting into the more popular tourist routes of Croatia seeing Korcula, Hvar, Trogir, the Kornati islands and Mali Losinj where Vanessa described some of her father’s wartime exploits. The journey northwards took them to Pula and its magnificent Roman amphitheatre, Rosinj, Porec and Umag with, where appropriate, views of historic remains and shore based facilities. Venice was approached with caution, though a “must see” port, before ending the journey in the beautiful town of Trieste. From there the boat was transported by road back to Valence on the River Rhone before embarking on the canal journey to Calais where it awaits the next adventure. There were a few questions before the Commodore gave a Vote of Thanks and presented them with an MCA  tumbler.

Roger Cleland

MARCH 2018 MEETING                                The 1,459th meeting                               

“Festina – Lente”

Nick Pochin

Nick Pochin, the owner and skipper of ‘Festina Lente’, a Discovery 55, circumnavigated the World in 2005/7 and wrote his first book "Poles Get Closer" about his life aboard and the 34,000 n miles he travelled.

“Festina – Lente” was a detailed presentation by Nick of one of his long distance voyages undertaken in 2009. By way of introduction he described briefly a circumnavigation of the world during 2005-07 and gave details of his boat, a Discovery 55 which was cutter rigged.    Nick’s port of departure was Holyhead and he made his way down to the Cape Verde Islands, crossing the Bay of Biscay (which lived up to its reputation for rough seas), past Cape Finistere to Logos for a crew change and then on to Funchal, Madeira in time to see a gathering of tall ships. The next leg of 1400 nmiles took them across the south Atlantic towards Brazil, via the Fernando Islands, arriving at  Sao Paulo where they encountered many different landscapes and wildlife before a stopover at Mar del Plata (Argentina’s premier beach resort) for a trip inland.

Stanley on the Falkland Islands brought back many strong memories of the conflict there, but seeing minky whales and emperor penguins offset this. Choosing a weather window they negotiated the Beagle channel but an engine problem almost resulted in a collision with a tanker. As with many others, Cape Horn offered calm seas with only 3 knots of wind and after having their passports stamped accordingly they headed west into the Pacific before cutting back to Valparaiso to avoid very strong winds and carry out some essential repairs. Taking a trip to Santiago afforded them the sights of dramatic almost Alpine like scenery. Onwards and up the Chile coast to Peru and another trip inland this time to see Machu Pichu with the Aztec ruins and more beautiful wildlife.
The Galapagos Islands were the next port of call and the inevitable encounter with their giant tortoises, then onwards to Acapulco which was shut down due to an epidemic but where they were allowed to berth. They followed the North American coast up to San Diego and then San Francisco which, because of the fog, hid its spectacular bridge and made Alcatraz seem even more cut-off. The next stop was Vancouver where they took the inshore passage to Glacier Bay and saw some of the best wildlife of the whole trip (bears and salmon) against a backdrop of mountains and waterfalls.
The journey back south was described all too briefly as we seemed to rush from seeing the Grand Canyon, down to El Salvador, Costa Rica and the intimidating Panama Canal passage. They left Panama heading across the Caribbean Sea to the ABC Islands for more repairs before sailing north to Antigua, the Bahamas, Bermuda and then the long stretch across to the Azores, Madeira and Logos in Portugal.
Questions followed about the boat, the cost per day, the ideal number of crew and favourite places visited. Geoff Meggitt gave the Vote of Thanks and Nick received an MCA tumbler as a memento.

Roger Cleland

Jeremy made a very welcome return to the MCA  and delighted us with his entertaining & well researched presentation.

APRIL 2018 MEETING                                The 1,460th meeting                               

Waves, Wheels & Sparks

-  Sailing into the Electrical Age!!

an illustrated talk by
Jeremy Batch

“Waves, Wheels and Sparks” – Sailing into the Electrical Age was a very thorough and comprehensive sequel to his previous talk on early navigation. Like all good education, his curriculum was wide reaching and varied from physics (not too technical), history, maths and geography to the German language. Jeremy began with a group of paratroopers waiting to be taken from the French coast in 1942 with their “prize” of captured radar equipment, the Wurzburg system, but being delayed by their rescuers being “lost” in a nearby valley.   Even in modern times, being lost can afflict a van driver in central London, unable to find the Cruising Association’s building at 1 Northey Street.  We were reminded that navigation had its origins in navis ( a ship) and agere (to direct) and Elizabethan scientist Gilbert’s discovery that electricus attracted objects, leading later, in the 1800s, to the realisation that electrical currents could create forces which went around in circles.
Achievements from the likes of Volta, Ampere and Davy paved the way for Faraday’s discovery of the dynamo and the first working electric motor. Electricity found its first commercial application in the electric telegraph -- first used on the London and Blackwall Railway and later in the first powered controlled flight which required the magneto.
Military applications inevitably followed so that in 1935 Watson Watt and Wilkins devised a system  for monitoring the direction and location of aircraft in the filter and operations rooms of wartime Britain using Germany's Lorenz system, with electric motor-driven deflectors installed at Heston airfield.
Germany’s solution using the Lorenz system of the 1930s was developed into the Knickebein system, with cross beams indicating areas in England to be bombed by German planes.
Returning to the Wurzburg raid and the successful capture of the German equipment, the valves of which had to be rebuilt due to damage in transit back to England, we moved forward to the D – Day landings and the navigation of specific channels cleared of mines for the run-in to the Normandy beaches, once again using electrical beams navigation.
Jeremy concluded with a brief history of space exploration from Sputnik’s launch through to Navsat and the first satellite navigation system , then to various Apollo missions where the accuracy of landing was pinpointed down to 350 yards.
Questions and answers followed, the Commodore gave a Vote of Thanks and presented Jeremy with an MCA tumbler as a memento.

Roger Cleland

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