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Fight for Sight on ‘Theo’s Future’
Colonel Mike Brooke OBE

FEBRUARY 2014 MEETING                                       

Mike’s godson, Theo, was born a happy & healthy baby on New Year's Eve 2006 but at the age of six months was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition of the retina called Leber's Congenital Amaurosis (LCA). He is now blind, and there is no treatment or cure - as yet!   Mike sailed his 19 foot Cape Cutter named “Theo’s Future” over 1,700 nautical miles around Great Britain to raise money for the internationally renowned team at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, who together are pioneering research and treatment for LCA. The team has recently completed the world’s first ever trial using gene therapy to treat LCA but they are desperate for more funds to buy vital research equipment.

Mike told us about the preparation and his epic voyage & showed us many delightful pictures to illustrate the trip. Starting on July 5th from Mike’s home port of Bosham, there were 30 or so crew members who joined Mike at various stages including his wife and family. One of his daughters crewed around the Lizard and up to St. Ives.  Each place he moored or dried-out he would go ashore and try to get some donations for the cause from the local inhabitants.  At some places there was sufficient time to get an auction or raffle arranged with some of the gifts they’d received along the way.  Rick Stein’s restaurant in Padstow donated a secret element of hospitality which proved very popular.  In the Isle of Man, an ex-army man they met, Simon Tuck, even took over the fundraising whilst Mike and his crew went off in search of food and a bit of relaxation. When they returned Simon had collected a staggering £136 for the cause. The voyage took him briefly onto the east coast of Northern Ireland before returning to the lovely lochs of western Scotland and then into the Caledonian canal at Fort William.  They emerged into the North Sea at Inverness and sailed down to Gardenstown where they met up with Dr Kevin Robinson and his team who were working for the Cetacian Research and Rescue Unit (CRRU). Mike also campaigns for this group as well as the ‘Fight for Sight’ charity.
The journey then took them on down the East coast via Eyemouth, Lindisfarne, Hartlepool, Grimsby and East Anglia eventually rounding the Kent coast to make a first Channel stop at the rather inaccessible port of Rye.  After 86 days they completed the circumnavigation back at Bosham on September 29
th with a welcome party organised by Mike’s wife Pippa. They had covered 1720 nautical miles, visited 60 ports and raised a whopping £32,000 pounds.  This will be remembered as a brilliant evening at the MCA and Simon Temple, who bought Mike’s boat during 2013, proposed a ‘Vote of Thanks’ on behalf of members.

Corrosion, Fatigue & Cruising Greece
with Vyv Cox

Vyv is a Chartered Engineer & Metallurgist as well as being a regular contributor on technical matters to the yachting press. He gave us an update on corrosion, cracking, fatigue & all those other processes that could be working away – unseen, unheard and sometimes maybe undetectable – inexorably eating away at your boat's integrity.   Could your sea-cocks be dezincifying? Will your standing rigging stay up. On the subject of Corrosion, Vyv started by showing us a chart of the metals making up the hierarchy of the Galvanic Table.

APRIL 2014 MEETING                                       

He warned about attaching Stainless steel fittings to aluminium. Long term shore power connections can be problematic and he illustrated this with a graphic showing a mass-produced sailboat berthed next to a Hi-spec luxury yacht. Because the latter had duplex stainless steel propshaft and manganese bronze propeller needing virtually no sacrificial anode, the boats became a virtual ‘battery’ and the cheaper boat suffered the corrosion on behalf of both boats.   Another corrosion issue was ‘Crevice Corrosion’. This occurred in screw threads and small unseen gaps about the boat.Vyv showed excellent images to illustrate this effect which is particularly possible on keel bolts. One remedy is to fill all gaps with silicone sealant, wax-oil or grease during installation or service to prevent the ingress of water.
  Moving on to Seacocks, Vyv explained recent cases of de-zincification which had caused seacocks to break off with rather disastrous consequences.  An industry standard only specifies a 5 year life span for seacocks but several makers like Blakes sell much better products using a 60/40 copper/zinc alloy containing arsenic which are marked DZR(De-Zincification Resistant). Vyv reported that excellent plastic seacocks were being produced and these may become the ‘norm’ in future.
   Fatigue is an issue caused by cyclical stress, these can sometimes be avoided by allowing some movement in things like shrouds and stays but they shouldn’t be slack.  One should look out for cracking and broken strands and replace as soon as possible. Vyv Cox has a wealth of useful information on his website at http://coxengineering.sharepoint.com/Pages/default.aspx

Vyv has cruised much of Europe from the Baltic through Biscay to the Mediterranean and, in the second part of his talk, he spoke about his experiences cruising an anti clockwise passage through the Cycladese islands of the Greek Aegean from his base on the island of Leros.

This cruise took Vyv and his wife northwards in their Sadler 34 ‘Straitshooter’ along the Turkish coast early in the season when the winds are southerly and before the summer ‘Meltemi’ starts to blow from the north.  Their passage took them via Samos, Chios, Lesbos with its inland seas offering great shelter, and to Limnos with its war graves from the Gallipoli campaign of the Great War at Moudhros . They often use marinas built with EU money but since abandoned and which are now free, despite some of the nicer features have become non-functional although they find the small greek fishing harbours very welcoming and friendly too.  Having reached the most northerly point of their journey they turned south westerly passing Efstratios and Skiros. Vyv showed a short video of the ‘goose-winged’ sail through the straits of Kafireas between Evia and Andros where the currents can reach 7 knots in certain wind conditions.  They completed their trip via one of their favourite stops at Loutra on Kythnos with its thermal springs and excellent restaurants before proceeding home to Leros stopping overnight at the little one-house island of Livitha. This described an enthralling cruise illustrated with many excellent photos and video.  Stuart Thompson proposed a vote of thanks on behalf of the members present.

‘A Sea Painter’s World’

with Geoff Hunt

This was certainly one of the most outstanding speaker evenings the MCA has had in recent times. All worries about getting bogged down in artistic technique were quickly brushed aside with an enthralling talk accompanied by  magnificent images of Geoff’s work throughout his 40 years as a marine artist.  Images that exemplified the excitement of the great days of sail.    Geoff’s speciality, in fact, is painting the old square-sailed ships and particularly the ships and times of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson. Geoff and his wife, Trudy, had given up the rat-race and, despite Geoff suffering from perpetual sea-sickness, had journeyed down through France to the Med in their new Westerly Centaur; eventually calling at some of the places such as Elba and Corsica which Nelson had visited in his role as commander of the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet. As a starting point for much of these historical works, Geoff found it very useful to visit the National Archive and read the logs of the ships involved in the historical scene he was attempting to re-create.

Another important aspect of Geoff’s work was to illustrate book covers for the novels of C S Forester’s ‘Hornblower’ series and the books of Patrick O’Brian’s ‘Master and Commander’.  Book illustrations had posed their own constraints because of the requirement to leave space within the picture to accommodate the title and descriptive text both on the cover and any wrap-around to the back cover.  Geoff and his fellow book cover artists then suffered greatly with the introduction of new technology whereby publishing house art departments took it on themselves to start altering or even reversing pictures left to right to suit their needs but in doing so compromised  the authenticity, the artistic integrity and the morale rights of the creator.

Geoff recalled many of his travels in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, North America and particularly Chile where he was commissioned by a private client to illustrate a particular moment in Chilean Naval history when one of their admirals showed great gallantry but sadly and posthumously became one of Chile’s national heroes.

In very recent times Geoff has been involved with the Mary Rose Trust in trying to paint a more precise and historically accurate picture of how the Mary Rose looked in the days of Henry the VIIIth.  After a great deal of research, Geoff has created a painting of which a huge mural copy adorns the entrance hall of the new Mary Rose Museum at Portsmouth.  Geoff had some great stories and anecdotes to accompany his talk and by the end we all felt really privileged that he had taken the trouble to come up to Manchester and honour us with his presence. Niall Golding proposed a Vote of Thanks on behalf of the MCA members present.

OCTOBER 2014 MEETING                                       

Cruising to Arctic Norway

with Howard Steen

NOVEMBER 2014 MEETING                              The 1,428th Meeting                                 

This was one of the best attendances at the MCA in recent times and seems to prove the popularity of the ‘cruising in foreign waters’ travelogue format.  Howard is particularly keen on the Norwegian coasts having originally sailed in the Baltic from the northern coast of Germany.

His journeys took him up the west coast, into the Arctic Circle and to the Lofoten Islands with such unspoilt, uncrowded and desolate but still very beautiful landscapes. Then carrying on as far as Tromso to over-winter afloat before heading back southward during 2012.   Howard described the various seasons and showed some excellent pictures to illustrate his passion for the great outdoors with images of climbing, Hiking, Alpine & Cross-country skiing and excellent images of the ‘Aurora Borealis’ or ‘Northern Lights’. Howard showed us how he’d adapted his Vancouver 27 ‘Martha Maria’ to accommodate his skis and the boat was snuggly heated with a small log burner for those cold Scandinavian nights.

The stunning scenery of the Norwegian coast was a continual delight and Howard had made excellent sketches and watercolour paintings to compliment the photographs of his presentation. Many of the pictures and passage experiences featured our own MCA member and a good friend of Howard’s, Dr. Roger Chisholm.

One thing which was extremely positive to the audience was an explanation of the degree of shelter afforded by the many islands and archipelagos which make up the North Sea coast and that was paired with a vast array of beautiful and deserted anchorages which were available to the cruising yachtsman. Charts from the Norwegian Hydrographic Service were available to download free of charge and these always showed the preferred safe courses for navigating the narrow passages between islands and into the many fjords.  There is no free equivalent of our superb ‘RNLI’ in Norway so Howard stressed how important it was to join the NSSR, the Norwegian sea rescue service which cost the equivalent of £95 but gave you the peace of mind that you wouldn’t face a huge bill if you were caught out and had to be given assistance. Despite what was seemingly a desolate area, Howard found that internet and mobile telephone coverage was usually excellent and probably exceeded that which can be had in areas of the Scottish coast where he is currently cruising on ‘Martha Maria’.  A Question and Answer session followed and our MCA member Geoffrey Budenberg made a good case for considering Norway if one was planning a summertime bareboat charter.

Our Vice Commodore, Mike Ousbey, proposed a ‘Vote of Thanks’ on behalf of the members.

Confessions of a Cruising Instructor was a few light-hearted tales taken from 4 seasons’ experience with sailing schools on the Solent, running anything from Start Yachting courses to Day Skipper, although, in number, most have been with pretty novice sailors.
As every skipper will recognize, communication is so important on a boat, and how easy it is to be misunderstood. Paul’s journey from rookie instructor towards YMI reveals some lessons on this vital aspect of yachting.

Confessions of a Cruising instructor…    Paul Weinberg

Part 2

Where do surprises come from?…
..Behind you !

Tall Tales from ‘Tenacious’ in the Tall Ships Race 2013      Aarhus to Helsinki                         Dr Mike Leahy

Part 1

JANUARY 2014 MEETING                                       

Mike gave us an excellent account of his trip as ‘Watch-leader’ aboard the Jubilee Trust tall ship “Tenacious”, a sixty six metres long 3 masted barque which was launched in 2000. Mike’s wife Helen was also involved.

The Jubilee Trust was created in 1968 to bring together physically handicapped individuals and able bodied ‘buddies’ in order to widen the horizons of both through sailing.  Although there is a permanent crew, everything on ‘Tenacious’ is geared around making it easy for the volunteers to cope with sailing the boat themselves but under the watchful eyes of the professionals.  There is an elevator style lift on boat to carry wheelchairs to the upper deck and much of the deck equipment has been especially modified including a ‘Speaking Compass’ to help those with sight impairments.  A special workshop area down below serves to facilitate the necessary ‘on-passage’ repairs and they will even make the courtesy flags for an arrival in a new country.  Each watch nominates one member to Galley service whilst the rest are delegated to prepare and sail the boat.

This particular leg of the ‘Tall Ships Race’ started at Aarhus, a small port on Denmark’s east coast, and was to take the boat NE up the Baltic against the ubiquitous headwind towards the race finish at Helsinki. The tall ships fleet is divided in to 4 groupings which Mike explained.  It could sometimes take 40 minutes to tack ‘Tenacious’ and so it proved to be a difficult course for the larger ships with such a long beating upwind leg. Consequently, the eventual winner was one of the smaller boats.  Mike reported a strong sense of camaraderie amongst those taking part and mixed with some moments of great fun where passing ships would have mock battles with water bombs. On a sadder note, one ship was sunk and lost during the race.  ‘Tenacious’ finished 31st overall.

This was altogether a great character building voyage in some excellent weather conditions and it’s certain Mike & Helen will be looking forward to repeating its success.

This was as much about ‘what not to do’ scenarios as it could be; but with a huge slant towards humour and at the same time emphasising the positive aspect of trying to learn from one’s mistakes.  Paul showed us some interesting photos of grounded yachts, over-taking ferries etc., as well as pointing us to www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUi9xSIUnNk showing a recent incident of Col. Regs. flouting by an ex-navy officer who probably should have known better.  In the end it cost him £103,000 in fines and costs together with some pricey repairs to the boat.

Nowadays Paul works in conjunction with Sunsail in providing tuition in the UK, particularly for Corporate Days at the Solent facility, and also at their fleet charter businesses abroad where he acts as Course Instructor, Flotilla Leader or Accompanied Skipper for bareboat hire. Paul seems to have had a very enjoyable journey from a novice instructor towards Yachtmaster and fully intends to continue with a full Yachtmaster Commercial endorsement.

Tony and Louise didn’t mean to go to Russia when they set off  for the Baltic.  After a couple of years in the western Mediterranean (delightful, but too hot for Tony in the summer), they decided to transit the Gota canal and do some archipelago sailing in the Baltic.
Tony recalled the summer of 2011 spent in the Gota canal and the various lakes which the canal crossed. Sections of the canal produce their own hazards and the local sailors refer to it as the ‘Divorce Ditch’.  There seemed a plethora of interesting sights ranging from old American cars to splendid castles and Tony illustrated these with some excellent photographs.

‘Freyja of Mersey’ in the moat of Vadstena Castle

To Russia with Love
Tony & Louise Halliwell

MARCH 2014 MEETING                                       

After exiting the Gota and negotiating the many islands, they cruised across the Baltic on an overnight passage to the island of Gotland and a landfall at Visby. Tony explained how wonderful it was to sail the east Swedish archipelago and up to the start of the Gulf of Bothnia around Aland Island.  There were many islands and great little harbours providing good cover and some brilliant moorings.
They had enjoyed all that, with warm - but not too warm - summers, and were en-route for home, wintering ‘
Freyja of Mersey’ on the German island of Fehmarn, when they learnt that the Cruising Association was to run a rally to St Petersburg the following summer.  They decided they would go!  The second part of Tony & Louise’s journey led us up the Baltic and into the Gulf of Finland with a marvellous visit to Helsinki on their way east to an eventual entry into Russian waters.  The checking-in process was all handled with great efficiency by the CA Honorary Local Representative. Everyone on the trip enjoyed a great experience & Tony’s pictures proved that St. Petersburg looked a wonderful city with such diverse architecture old and new. Roger Cleland proposed a vote of thanks on behalf of members.

MAY 2014 MEETING                                       

Cruising Seminars & Hot Pot Supper

This saw the return of the ever-popular evening  with new cruising areas and new faces. There were  five discussion tables this year: the Western Isles with Roger Chisholm; Croatia with Rear-Commodore Nigel Partington; the Caribbean with Stuart Rowntree, The Baltic with Alan & Christine Williams and North Wales led by Roger Cleland & Mike Pickles.
As usual, a really well attended evening punctuated with the excellent Hough End Hot Pot Supper with Apple Pie!

In addition we were afforded the opportunity to see the MCA President, Dr Alistair Kennedy-Young  present the Alan Pitt Trophy to the 2013 recipient Dave Murray from the ‘Glaciere Academy’ of Liverpool.


SEPTEMBER MEETING                                     

Buying a Boat & moving it from Istria to Turkey

(Members’ Talks)

Roy Conchie told us about acquiring a boat after searching around Turkey, Hamble, Majorca and the Croatian coast. Then the boat’s subsequent re-location journey from Pula, in the Northern Adriatic, to Marmaris in Turkey via Dubrovnik, Italy and the Greek Islands. The good bits and the bad bits which described violent headwinds, engine overheating, robbery, flooding, knock-down and an unexpected crew change but some interesting places visited along the way finishing with a look around some cruising destinations on the south Turkish coast and the Greek Island of Symi.

DECEMBER 2014 MEETING                 The 1,429th Meeting                     

ORCA on Whales & Dolphins

Elfyn Pugh

This was a delightful talk explaining the work of ORCA, the Organisation Cetacea, dedicated to protecting whales and dolphins in UK and European waters. Elfyn Pugh travelled up from Mid-Wales to tell us how they were working in partnership with DFDS Ferries and Brittany Ferries to monitor and record sightings of Whales and Dolphins not only around the UK but on the North American Atlantic coast along with the Saga Cruise holiday ships. This was being achieved by both paid and volunteer observers travelling on these ships and virtually becoming one of the crew but with the main mandate to look for Whales and Dolphins.  Secondary to that the on-board ORCA representatives would engage with and lecture to passengers about what they were likely to see on their voyage.  This was a key element in trying to raise public awareness of the ORCA charity’s objectives.   Elfyn described the many and varied Whales & Dolphins around our shores and the rest of the world and the knowledge he imparted demonstrated to us his degree of passion for his work.  There was a particular emphasis on the changing eco-system due to global warming and the effects on the whole of the marine environment but especially the food chain beginning with the Arctic Krill.  Another danger stemmed from humanity itself with the ever present plethora of waste which we discharge into the world’s oceans.  Elfyn highlighted the problems with discarded fishing nets and ropes which become entangled with not just Cetacea but fish and sea birds too.  There was a great picture illustrating birds which were using such waste to form their nests but nature would be better served if these discards were elimated altogether.  At the end of his talk, Elfyn showed us some of the stunning images he’d taken on his worldwide travels watching and observing these wonderful creatures.  Retiring Hon. Secretary, Richard Gregory proposed a ‘Vote of Thanks’ on behalf of the members present.

The meetings of 2014…

The 1,427th Meeting

The 1,426th Meeting

The 1,425th Meeting

The 1,424th Meeting

The 1,423rd Meeting

The 1,422nd Meeting

The 1,421st Meeting