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Reading Offshore

Sailing Club

For all boating enthusiasts
Newsletter August 2018

 
Commodore's Corner
Commodore’s Corner
 
September marks the beginning of meteorological Autumn, but fortunately nobody told the weather, so Summer seems to be continuing at the moment.  For those of you who are able, this is an opportunity to extend the sailing season a little longer and with school holidays coming to an end the water might be a little less crowded.
 
The Lymington rally on August Bank Holiday Saturday was enjoyed by about a dozen members, though by only one boat. For one new member though it marked her first sail on anything bigger than a dinghy and seemed to make a big impression. Read all about it elsewhere in this newsletter.
 
The coming of Autumn also marks the beginning of the shore-based training season and once again our tame (well, semi-domesticated anyway) Training Principal is planning a RYA Day Skipper course. Contact Phil if you are interested or know of anyone outside the Club who might wish to attend at very attractive rates.
 
Looking forward, we resume our speaker programme on 3 September with Paul Waterman of Henley Whalers. In October we will be hearing about the derivation of many everyday sayings that have nautical origins as well as some knotting skills from David Monk, a member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers.  The October meeting will also be an opportunity to buy your Christmas cards and other items when the local branch of the RNLI set up their traditional stand.  Next year’s programme is steadily coming together with talks on weather and ship handling simulation among the subjects. We shall also be having an update on the RYA’s activities on our behalf – including the consequences of B****t for cruising yachtsmen. Shall we be facing a return to the loathsome bureaucracy of the 1960’s, or even worse, the once mooted e-borders scheme.?  We are also hoping for a presentation by a Sky producer on the making of a programme about the Volvo Ocean Race and involvement in research on waste in the Oceans. Watch this space for more details in due course.
 
May I take this opportunity to remind you that our Club, as it approaches its fiftieth anniversary, relies entirely on us, its members, to keep going.  This means we are reliant on volunteers to share the tasks needed to keep our programme of events rolling as well as the simple everyday administrative tasks.  In November we hold our Annual General Meeting and shall be looking for fresh blood for the Committee (no not transfusions – though sometimes it feels as if some of us might benefit). Come on don’t be shy, why not volunteer to lend a helping hand – we know that there are great talents awaiting expression.  Lack of sailing experience or boat ownership is not an impediment – in fact yours are the views and ideas we need to continue into the future.

 

Roger Shaw
 
Members will be sorry to hear that Roger Shaw died recently.
 
Roger, a former Commodore of Henley Offshore Group, had visited ROSC as a speaker and many of us enjoyed his most recent talk.  He also attended many of our meetings over the years.  The Commodore has written to Roger’s widow on behalf of ROSC.

John

 
Forth coming events
September 3rd
“Henley Whalers” go “Raiding”

UK and Europe
 

Henley Whalers” is a group of “Sail-and-Oar” enthusiasts.
Molly” is a replica New Bedford whaleboat completed in 2003.  Despite her foam sandwich hull, and carbon spars and oars, the old whale-boatmen would recognise the concept, the lines, and the capability in the areas they valued: speed and windward ability under sail; speed and manoeuvrability under oar.
She earns awards and accolades wherever she goes.
Raids” usually involve shallow-draft boats sailing-in-company, exploring a coastline or inland waterway.
They have lured Henley Whalers to The Solent, Falmouth, Suffolk, Loch Ness and The Great Glen, The Clyde, Cardiff and Milford Haven; and more distant waters in Ireland, Brittany, Netherlands, Italy and Sweden.

Paul Waterman  will preface his presentation with a brief history of whaleboats.
Descriptions, pictures and videos of Henley Whalers’ many “Raiding” activities will follow.

1930 for 2000hrs Monday 3rd September 2018 at UTMYC, Sonning
 
October 1st

‘CODSWALLOP !'
David Monk on knots and the origins of nautical sayings

A light hearted quiz tracing the origins of some well known expressions back to their nautical roots
 
David is a retired mechanical engineer who spent most of his working life crashing motorcars scientifically and as an Engineering Officer in the Royal Air Force.
He spends a lot of his retirement painting pastels but is also as a member of the Surrey Branch of the International Guild of Knot Tyers.
He helped develop the "Surrey Six" series of knots which work just as well in synthetic as traditional rope.
One of his knotting interests is looking for expressions which originally came from the sea but we still use in everyday speech.  When he started he thought he might find about 200 expressions - to date he has found about 2300! David will bring along his folder showing all 2300 if anyone is interested.
As well as being able to pick his brain about nautical expressions, we will also have the opportunity to quiz him over his knowledge of knots; a double bonus!
Reports
Lymington Rally Photos
My first voyage in a yacht             
by Susannah....  new member and first time sailor


It was the idea of joining yacht crews to sail around different parts of the world that first inspired me to take up sailing. But where should I start?  ...........    I joined Reading Sailing Club. 
 
On hearing that I would like to try to sail the high seas, Mike Caton put me in touch with Linda  and John at Reading Offshore Sailing Club. At the  Offshore club's barbecue in June, Linda and John introduced me to Phil and was delighted to be given a chance by him to go on a yacht for the first time and as a complete novice.  I had taken the RYA Day Skipper course, but had not been able to make the most of it because it was too intense, held over just three-and-a-half weekends. 
 
The following arenotes from my memorable first weekend of sailing, passed by Phil before going to print, and whose comments I have left in. (PS - this morning Phil emailed me the Beaufort wind scale, to reinforce his repeated message that it is geometric, and that an increase of F1 is to be taken seriously).
 
My first big surprise was the calm temperament of the helm, Phil, and of the crew, his cousin Bob, when the yacht suddenly heeled at more than 45 degrees. (Don’t think I’d have been so calm if it had been more than 45 degrees - Phil ) This did not interrupt their catching up on events since their last sail. I on the contrary, was hanging on to the side of the boat and offering to move to the uppermost side to try to balance it into a flatter position.  Gradually, I got used to the concept - no heel, no speed, and could be seen grinning whilst sliding from one side of the kitchen to the other below deck. 
 
As we came in at Lymington, however, things got a bit more hairy, a cloud rained only on us and there were strong gusts from different directions. The helm appeared a bit worried (you try berthing in Lymington in F7 and lousy visibility through a cloudburst without hitting anything - Phil ) and I stopped talking about how the sea looked lovely in different types of light.
 
“Sailing is not ‘lovely’,” Phil said, as he steered through the gusts, “it’s a….” I think he said “a responsibility”. (The crew, both of them, were sheltering under the sprayhood – it was me getting soaked – Phil )  Bob suddenly had a heck of a lot to do - winching, reefing, adding and reducing strain - and was very effective.  I dared not offer to do any of that, but I did take the wheel for a while under supervision. The tricky aspect of this was the rudder’s sensitivity and, of course, being able to predict what will happen next. I learned that a sharp heel to the right engenders a swift turn to the left and requires the wheel to be turned to the right; which felt counter-intuitive.   
 
Phil’s main concern on the Friday and Saturday was whether we could return as scheduled on the Sunday: some of the forecasts predicted F9 winds. He briefed me on the pitfalls of venturing out in a F9.  (To be fair I’d only expected a F8 maximum, but the starting platform recorded gusts of 45knots - Phil )
 
Earlier in the day, Phil had said: “Only fools and captains stand in front of the dials. So I moved. When I took the helm later, it was Phil who was blocking my view of these very dials. I said, “Did you know that only fools and captains…” (Touche – Phil ) But I was only demonstrating that his lesson had sunk in, and that, at the helm, I was aware that I should keep an eye on the wind speed, boat speed and depth dials.
 
I think he felt OK about it.
 
It was a great trip and my only regret was that it ended with me using the wrong button to switch off the engine. (Gear lever neutral button – never occurred to me before that there are actually 2 red buttons – Phil ) And that was because I had focused mainly on the handling of the reefs and sheets throughout. Phil was reasonably (sadly only reasonably - Phil ) calm in the circumstances.
 
Evening restaurant rally
 
There was a good turnout at Lymington Sailing Club on Saturday evening. It was a rally of people of a similar spirit. I enjoyed the continuing enthusiasm of members who had given up their yachts. 
At our end of the table, discussions ranged from sailing to vegetarianism to people’s accents (I was taken for a German). John Haines deftly linked the opening of his speech to the speech just given to another yacht club at the neighbouring table. But John raised the point that not only was this the last rally of the season, with so many of the committee standing down it could even be the very last rally ever.  So if you value what the club does and want it to continue, please step up and volunteer.
 
The Dutch Blog          by John & Margaret

CROSSING THE NORTH SEA
 
John and I have now crossed the southern North Sea – in both directions – three times in order to reach the lovely cruising grounds of the Netherlands. 
 
In the past we used to cross the English Channel – typically from the Solent to Cherbourg - with a passage that usually encompassed one tidal cycle, crossing the tidal stream and shipping lanes at right angles, and with no hidden hazards.
 
Now our longer crossing (approx. 110 miles from the River Orwell to Vlissingen) at a speed of about 6 knots lasts 18+ hours – one and a half tidal cycles - and involves navigating shallows and sandbanks off both the British and European coastlines, numerous windfarms, again on both sides of the North Sea, crossing three sets of busy shipping lanes and a ‘virtual shipping roundabout’ off the East Coast – the Sunk gyratory system.  The track of a typical passage (see below) reflects this obstacle course.
 
The tide is king and, in this case, the strong tides that stream in and out of the Westerschelde always dictate our timing.  After 14-15 hours at sea we are no mood to fight a fierce tide as we track along the Belgian coast from Oostende Bank, past Zeebrugge and on into the estuary, running parallel to the coast on one side and one the continent’s busiest shipping lanes on the other. We always aim to arrive into the Westerschelde approaches at the beginning of a flood tide. On all three outward passages this has dictated a night crossing, leaving the River Orwell late afternoon and arriving in Vlissingen mid-morning.  This has worked so well in the last two years that we have carried on through the sea lock and up through the 5 bridges of the Walcheren canal to Middelburg as our first port of call.  A night crossing in mid -June involves only 4-5 hours of darkness.
 
The return passage has usually involved a dawn start, arriving back onto our berth in Suffolk Yacht Harbour as the sun sets.    
 
With the obstacle course of sandbanks, shipping lanes and wind farms we have not found it possible to calculate the tidal offsets and ‘swing with the tide’ as we would do in the English Channel but have to follow courses which avoid all these hazards. 
 
The Noord Hinder shipping lanes are something to behold.  They are very wide lanes and commercial vessels take advantage of their width – and beyond. The staggered tracks of different vessels can make crossing in a small yacht a difficult exercise – thank goodness for AIS!  Additionally, ships are joining the lanes from all sorts of directions – a reflection of the many big ports on both coastlines.  This year we observed a sail training vessel under full sail on passage from north to south along the inner edge of the shipping lane, and it was gratifying to hear all the large commercial vessels in the vicinity calling her up to make sure of her intentions – they are not all on auto-pilot!
 
The upside of the North Sea obstacles is that there is always a landmark in view or something interesting to watch.  On a clear day, from the separation zone of the Noord Hinder (i.e. bang in the middle!) I could see winds farms on either side of the North Sea. There is always construction and maintenance activity in the wind farms, creating some very interesting views in the middle of nowhere.  At night, the huge anchorages seaward of the Westerschelde look like small towns. Each time we’ve approached the Suffolk coast there have been radio warning of controlled explosions as the long remaining ordnance off Orford Ness is dealt with – but the bangs never amount to much!
 
Some East Coast sailors pop across to Oostende much as Solent sailors undertake a passage to Weymouth.  That is not for us – once a year is quite enough – but the navigational challenges of the North Sea are well worth exploring.
Ships on stilts build the wind farms –                                 Osprey’s North Sea passages captured on AIS
   something to watch on passage!  
Miscellaneous things
Damian & Joyce are back from their Summer in Maine and spread the word of ROSC
 
This summer, Joyce and I set out on our cruise from Mount Desert Island in Maine, intending to travel as far as Cuttyhunk Island (Massachussetts). However, we found so many wonderful places to visit in mid-coast Maine, we instead spent 5 weeks exploring the Casco Bay region.
 
One of our stops was Harraseeket Yacht Club in South Freeport, Maine, where we were given use of a mooring by a fellow Sabre yacht owner - the "payment" requested by the club was a burgee from the club of the visiting yacht, to go in their clubhouse. Attached are photos of the Harraseeket Yacht Club, our boat Freefall on the mooring, and me handing over the ROC burgee.
 
See you Monday evening!                 Damian
RYA DAY SKIPPER THEORY

We intend to run an RYA Day skipper course this autumn with the following dates:

September   22nd
October        6th  and  20th
November    3rd  and 18th (Sunday)
December    1st  and (15th if needed)
                                                  
 
Location is in the Pearson Hall, Pearson Road, Sonning and classes will run from 0900-1700, with breaks included.
 
Cost will depend on numbers attending but a ball park figure will be around £160 – this will include all materials from RYA, navigation plotting instruments, membership of ROSC and hall/room hire.  This is a bargain price compared with other sea schools but we simply try to break even and don’t want a profit.
 
If members know of anyone who may be interested please let them know of the course as we are dependent on enough students to cover the cost of the hall.
Inevitably someone (or some two) will be unable to make all the dates and we can cater for this if necessary with some home study and detention extra lessons to make sure all is covered.
 
As most will know Day Skipper is the first step to taking charge of a yacht on passage between familiar ports and is a useful grounding for those who have at least some familiarity with boats.
 
Click here for The Reading Offshore Web Site where all the club news, information & updates can be found
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We have regular meetings the first Monday of the month at the Upper Thames Motor & Yacht Club (UTMYC) in Sonning. If you would like more information on any aspect head to our website or if you would like to discuss any point with a committee member about our sailing club or visiting us on a Monday to say hello, click here to email Linda, our publicity officer, who will be happy to answer any questions.
ROSC was established in 1971and continues with regular meetings. You don't have to own a boat as many rallies are available by land, meals in a local hostillery are arranged with pre-meal drinks often on one of the attending boats.
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