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The meetings of 2015…

NOVEMBER 2015 MEETING                                The 1,437th meeting                               

SuperYachts

Henk took us through a brief sketch of his own boat building background from Holland to New Zealand to Cornwall and through the growth of the Pendennis yard by way of a number of projects which were either breakthroughs or trendsetters for future growth.

Taking over Peter de Savary’s failed America’s Cup facilities for ‘Blue Arrow’, their first project was a 120 foot boat, ‘Taramber’ which could be accommodated with the space available and afterwards with access to a deep harbour and the open sea. The three masted schooner ‘Adix’, formerly owned by the Australian Castlemain brewery, was another early project involving the cutting off of the transom and then lengthening the boat. It is a boat that has been back to the yard on a frequent basis, very much in keeping with the changed and improved facilities over the years.

Project Steel saw the conversion of an old American tug by increasing its length and redesigning its superstructure and interior. This was another breakthrough involving heavy engineering to meet the standard of an 1A Ice class boat but which subsequently got hit twice while at anchor on the newly elongated section!

Pendennis has not always had an easy ride and in 1992 ‘Adela’, a two masted schooner was very badly damaged in a yard fire resulting in a complete rebuild in a record 6 months by what Henk called Cornish Magic. Other projects all featured around either lengthening the hull or structural work and the restoration of a sound older hull with ultra modern interiors custom made to the owners specifications such as on ‘Malahne’ and ‘Mirabelle 5’ or ‘M5’. Some diversification has taken place namely the aluminium Lords Cricket Ground media centre and the construction of replacement chain or cable ferries or floating roads.

In conjunction with ever developing facilities in the yard with newer, bigger sheds and cranes, dry docks and a sheltered basin, there has been since 1998 a vibrant 4 year apprenticeship scheme massively over-subscribed at 300 for 12 places per year to swell the workforce to over 300 permanent employees.

Henk ended with a short video and answered questions on the effect of the recession, stresses on extending yacht length, diesel/electric propulsion. As he often said, “It’s all great fun” building things that “nobody needs but lots of people want”.

Roger Cleland

This was a very different but just as interesting talk by Henk Wiekens, joint managing director of Pendennis Shipyard, Falmouth, to the one given by Tristan Rowe in October 2012.

Henk Wiekens
of
Pendennis
Shipyard

DECEMBER 2015 MEETING                                The 1,438th meeting                               

‘Beachcombing - a collage’

Lieutenant Colonel Ewen Southby-Tailyour, OBE

Yachtsman of the Year - 1982

 BEACHCOMBING – the Amateur Jottings of an Itinerant Yachtsman was the somewhat misleading title that Lt.Colonel Ewan Southby-Tailyour OBE gave to his talk. Here was an ex-military man who had spent nearly all his life at sea – as a boy learning seamanship under the tough tuition of his uncle Patrick on “Olga”, sailing & rowing at St. Mawes or in a Firefly or Star Class, and later, as a man, in 1960 joining the Royal Marines. In fact gaining three green berets by serving time on a French warship and as “Commander” of the Oman navy.
The beachcombing bit was in fact in the nature of his work undertaking the reconnaissance of any & every beach he came across in terms of a possible amphibious landing with tanks, heavy-wheeled vehicles or small Gemini boats.


Assessing the nature of the slope and firmness of the beach; how easy it would be to defend or evacuate; whether a bridgehead could be established. Taking him all round the world, he produced thousands of sketches with relevant soundings – all carefully annotated in notebooks, some of which became of vital importance when they were needed in the Falklands war in 1982. He amused the audience with his experiences with the French Foreign Legion blowing up a bridge at night for it to be re-built by the engineers the next day; being stuck in a dry dock in Bombay and teasing us with what might or might not have happened; wearing shoulder flashes in Oman which might have read as “prostitutes”; in Norway mischievously altering the blackboard that suggested that a squadron of landing craft should be commanded by a major (his rank at the time) rather than a captain.

His tours of duty took him to Northern Ireland where from HMS Fearless he landed heavy vehicles to knock down barricades, Then to the Falklands, the Red Sea, Malta & Sardinia in the Mediterranean, Northern Norway and under-cover in trawlers to reconnoitre beaches unbeknown to Russian observers.
He described exercises on re-taking a hijacked oil rig and a cruise ship.


Starting
the
 Jester
Challenge

His sailing experience covered a huge range of boats from a junk, a Golden Hind replica, a 50sq. footer, even a dhow and boats he owned like his four versions of “Black Velvet”.
 He had taken part in several double-handed Round Britain Races though he often preferred single-handed sailing and in conjunction with Blondie Hassler set up the OSTAR Jester Challenge which is a transatlantic single-handed event involving no money and no rules.


   Retirement from the Royal Marines at the age of 50 saw him join the Foreign and

Commonwealth Office but his own sailing took him up the Gironde Estuary following Blondie Hassler’s wartime canoe mission, surveying in NE Iceland with his son, Hamish, on canals in England & France and back to his fourth “Black Velvet” – a 30 foot Cornish Crabber. He was awarded “Yachtsman of the Year” in 1982.
                                                                                                        Roger Cleland


Polar Exploration throughout History
Katie Murray

Polar Exploration throughout History was presented by Katie Murray from St. Andrews University in a most consummate manner. Cleverly interspersing the use of video on the gradual charting of the North West Passage, allied to charts and maps from different periods of history spanning 350 years and a flawless commentary without notes, she guided us through five key explorers’ attempts to discover a sea route from the Atlantic to the Pacific. From an early misconception that there would be an easy northern passage equivalent to the Straits of Magellan,(since it was thought that the world was symmetrical), it was increasingly obvious that no such quick route was available. In fact Cabot and then, in Elizabethan times, Frobisher set off on expeditions with both naval and commercial backers and reaching down the Davis Strait ( incidentally place names and stretches of water were frequently given to sponsors, fellow explorers or Inuit descriptive names) to Baffin Island. On the second expedition they thought they had found gold bearing rocks but a third expedition of gold rush proportions yielded 1300 tons of worthless false gold and still no passage through. In 1818 John Ross understood that there was not a viable passage but in the interests of national prestige he reached Lancaster Sound which Parry’s expedition of a decade later proved to be a dead-end after all, though he spent four winters before being rescued by whalers further up the coast from where they had abandoned their ships. In 1845 the best known arctic explorer, John Franklin, was to disappear despite searches orchestrated by his wife and the Admiralty. Piece-meal discoveries were made over time as to what happened to the two abandoned ships–the latest being the discovery of the Erebus’s hulk in 15 feet of water. One good outcome was that searches produced a more comprehensive Artic Chart. John Rae’s expertise, learned from the Inuits, led him to bring back artefacts from Franklin Sound in 1854. Finally it was Roald Amundsen who completed the North West Passage following years of preparation and a committed small crew who spent two winters doing magnetic work before achieving their goal.  Katie took questions on the contribution of whalers, who the navy didn’t like; global warming and the varied ice melt patterns; survival prospects with provisions being stretched from 4 - 7 years; lead soldering of tinned foods which led to poor decision making or even death; the motivation for polar explorers who sought promotion, glory and financial gain and an inexplicable polar addiction.  
A vote of thanks was given by Richard Gregory on behalf of the members.                                                                                    Roger Cleland.

OCTOBER 2015 MEETING                                The 1,436th meeting                               

The Hebrides, Orkney & Shetland Islands
with Roger Chisholm

Liberty’  in Loch Scavaig

SEPTEMBER 2015 MEETING                                The 1,435th meeting                               

MENAI STRAITS TO SHETLAND AND HALF-WAY BACK
Ro
ger Chisholm gave an interesting presentation of his early summer trip in 2013 with two friends in their Rival 36, Liberty”. Taking advantage of some extra bought holiday, they were able to venture further north than their usual west of Scotland sailing grounds, although their start from Port Dinorwic was delayed by bad weather. Their first stop-over was Port St. Mary and then up the North Channel, through the Sound of Jura, Loch Craignish for a stop in Ardfern. Unfortunately it was while negotiating the Sound of Luing that the forestay snapped, but relying on the cutter rig and some improvisation with the spinnaker halliard they were able to motor into Oban marina. A five day wait allowed them to hire mountain bikes for a bit of shore-based exploring and for Pete to sort out the electrics. They then sailed inside Eigg, through the Sound of Sleat, under the relatively new Skye road bridge, up the Inner Sound to south Rona.
Takin
g advantage of Bob Bradfield’s more detailed charts, they were able to find a good anchorage for a day before continuing further north to the Summer Isles and an anchorage in Tanera Beg. That night was dramatically interrupted by Pete’s sudden illness and a night-time dash to Ullapool to a waiting ambulance.

Still hugging the coast they called in Lochinver – an old fishing port turned yachting centre –then on past the Old Man of Stoer to Loch Inchard where they encountered a large white ensigned yacht spectacularly losing its rudder. Once round Cape Wrath and a stop in the Kyle of Tongue, they sailed north to Orkney. Time ashore was spent in Stromness – a busy fishing and ferry port with historic links to the Hudson Bay Company, then to Scapa Flow’s museum with all its war time connections, and finally a taxi ride to Kirkwall and an opportunity to see the stoneage network of dwellings. Onwards and upwards they sailed to Shetland, visiting the Shetland Bus monument at Scalloway, the oil processing plant at Sullom Voe before meeting up with an old friend, Howard, in Lerwick.

The third phase of their adventure was to sail south to Wick and then the Moray Firth before entering the Caledonian Canal at Inverness and Loch Ness. Roger’s excellent photography brought out the contrasts between the rocky cliffs of the north west coast, the relatively flat land of Orkney and the calm serenity of the Caledonian Canal. Once through Neptune’s staircase of locks and into Loch Linnhe, they sailed clockwise round Mull, inside the Sound of Ioana, the Treshnish Islands and their “tame” Puffins before leaving the boat at Loch Creran where it was hauled out. Altogether a very interesting seven weeks where even two weeks of it spent ashore due to bad weather were filled with history and interesting different geography.
                                                                                                          Roger Cleland

In 2006 Julian and Vanessa Dussek took their boat through France to the Mediterranean and in 2011 decided to return and explore the hinterland of Europe via the canals and rivers.
“Coast to Coast through France”  began with an introduction to their boat, “Pluto” -  a Southerly 115 with a lifting keel -  and an interesting tour of the boat’s interior layout. Alternating in their presentation delivery, they spoke of their dream of traversing France by its sheltered waterways although the reality was one of contrasts between picturesque rural canals and the vastness of the Rhone river running at 5 to 6 knots, all interspersed by 220 locks.

Aided by “Voies Navigables de France”, they outlined four different routes  - Calais; the Somme; the Seine and the Canal du Midi from the Gironde. Factors to consider included draught constraints with some canals silting up, floods,and droughts and the unpredictability of French strikes.

They set off down the river Aa where they encountered for the first time a really steep-sided, menacing lock, followed by a dark tunnel on the Canal du Nord. Passing through Paris afforded them some of the well known tourist sights normally only seen from the “bateaux mouches”. Beyond Paris, they passed through the idyllic, slow moving countryside which prompted a response of “it’s what it’s all about”. Small, rural locks, often manned by students, gave way to automated ones and the wine producing countryside of Sancerre, Santenay, Macon and Tournon didn’t disappoint their love of the country. Although the food was wonderful it was not always easy to obtain, nor was fuel or even water. Had the recession taken its toll here too, they wondered. As they entered the mighty Rhone even the weather revealed some frightening storms and surging waters. Passing through Avignon, Arles, St. Gilles, they finally reached Aigues-Mortes in time for the typically laid-back Festival of the Bulls. The boat over-wintered in Port Napoleon.

Julian briefly touched on their sea sailing in subsequent years around the coast of Italy, southern Greece, Albania and Croatia, and finally the overland transportation round northern Italy to Valence on the Rhone before heading back north along the Canal de Bourgogne – a quieter and more remote route due to the huge number of locks. At Migennes, they met Englishman, Simon Evans, whose boatyard proved to be the fount of all kinds of “junk”, old lifeboats and a big crane.

Questions followed on fendering techniques, repairs to his damaged boat in Sicily, the transportation of the mast by road and the perils and delights of big locks.                                                                                      Roger Cleland


March 2015 MEETING                                The 1,432nd meeting                               

Coast to Coast through France

with Julian & Vanessa Dussek

A presentation by Trevor Sapey & the Mary Rose Trust

A Tudor Sailor’s Life (& Death)
on the ‘Mary Rose’

April 2015 MEETING                                The 1,433rd meeting                               

  To add authenticity to his talk, Trevor Sapey had donned the dress of a middle class seaman – his long expensive shirt tucked into his knee length breeches and covered with a loosely laced jacket with loosely sewn sleeves, apparently to show off the quality of his shirt, his knee-length stockings and leather shoes. On his head he wore a coif (designed to keep the nits within) and a soft felt cap whose design we’ve grown accustomed to from the “Wolf Hall” TV series. Hanging from his belt was a menacing looking “bollock knife” and a leather purse containing a seaman’s essentials – a spoon, nit comb, some coins.

  He outlined the background history to Henry VIII’s Navy Royal which started out with only 5 ships but which was built up to 57 at ruinous cost. The Mary Rose, at 45m long, had seen service for 34 years and had, at the time of her sinking, recently received a refit including heavier guns and on the day of her disaster a compliment of 715 men which was nearly double her normal crew of 415.

  The French had come to avenge an earlier battle with a view to invasion with a very large fleet which encountered the out-numbered English as they met in Southampton Water just off Portsmouth. Just how the Mary Rose sank in just 20 minutes is not clear. Speculation ranges over four possibilities 1) the French claimed to have blown the Mary Rose out of the water 2) the refit had been a bad design particularly with the heavier guns 3) the gun ports were open with only 18” of freeboard allowing the lower decks to be flooded all too easily 4) orders were misunderstood because some of the crew were Spanish or Flemish.

  The salvage operation was prompted by local fishermen complaining about their nets getting caught up and in 1971 the Mary Rose was found, covered in mud and soft sand which had in fact preserved her. In 1979  the Mary Rose Trust was formed to co-ordinate the raising of what remained of the vessel. Illustrated by colour photographs, we were shown the difficulty of operating in poor visibility and fast moving currents. The site was divided up by grids to establish the exact location of any artefacts which the 600 divers found over the years. We followed the lifting into its cradle and transportation to No.3 Dry Dock where she was housed, keeled at an angle. From1982-92 she was sprayed continuously to wash out the sand, mud and worms and to prevent her from drying out. Wax was then sprayed onto the timbers from 1994-2013 and she is now in the process of drying out.

  Having distributed various artefacts which Trevor had brought with him,  he proceeded to identify them and their usage – pulleys, walnut balls for hoisting sails against the mast, the doctor’s chest with herbs and creams, knives and a saw, musical instruments (pipes and drums), navigation equipment (dividers, chart rolls and a gimballed compass), shoes, the covers of religious books, nit combs, a backgammon set and a long bow of Spanish yew and arrows.  

   From a human perspective 179 complete skeletons have been found and reconstructed figures and faces have been made, including that of the ship’s dog in skeletal form.

  The new museum is now open and plans are in place for a future glass-fronted viewing area of the ship including a glass lift.

  Trevor ended by answering questions on further artefacts, other shipwrecks, how the name Mary Rose came about and the daily life and food intake of the sailors. A Vote of Thanks to Trevor was expressed on behalf of the members and visitors by Dr. Mike Leahy.


MAY 2015 MEETING                                The 1,434th meeting                               

MCA President, Alan Street introduced
              
“Wallace Clark ... the Seafarer  .. and the Wild Goose”

Martin Steer -  ‘Knowing and understanding the Fire Extinguishers
                                              on your boat’


These were two brief presentations by members interspersed by an excellent Hotpot Supper which was enjoyed by some 30 members. Alan Street introduced a video on Wallace Clark –an Irish sailor and author whom he had known through his daughter and Wallace’s son, Miles. The video, narrated by Wallace’s younger son, Bruce, highlighted in particular the circumnavigation of Europe in the family’s beloved Maurice Griffiths designed 10 ton Bermudan yawl, “Grey Goose”, which he sailed past the North Cape of Norway, through the Black Sea, through the Mediterranean and back to Northern Ireland. He also talked about the construction of a full size replica of a Birlinn – a 16th century Hebridean War Galley – which Wallace skippered from County Clare to Stornaway. His father had previously been involved in the construction of a 12 oarsman leather sheeted Curragh which he sailed to Iona in memory of St. Columba’s journey and in the construction of Tim Severin’s Curragh which reached America in 1977. Wallace’s reminiscences are captured in his book, “The Call of the Running Tide”, which he was writing at the time of his death and which was subsequently finished by Bruce. The second presentation was by Martin Steer who took us through the harrowing & catastrophic results of fire on boats, the speed and spread of the damage and the difficulties in tackling such a blaze. He talked through and illustrated the various types of fire extinguishers available, their characteristics, what their labelling meant, how to check them and when to replace them. He recommended that each boat should carry three sited in the forpeak, near the engine and in the cockpit, but stressed their accessibility and safe storage. He also outlined the use and effectiveness of fire blankets not just in smothering fires but as a shield and possible makeshift stretcher. Sadly it was brief as time was short, but very informative and no doubt will act as a wake-up call for us to check our equipment.

Roger Cleland

February 2015 MEETING                                The 1,431st meeting                               

The Clipper ‘Round the World
Yacht Race’

David Cusworth

David Cusworth is Crew Recruitment and Development Director of Clipper Ventures, the company headed up by Sir Robin Knox-Johnson.in a talk about the 2013-14 World Clipper Race, In a talk entitled “The Race of Your Life” he gave a very interesting and detailed analysis of the anatomy of the crew, its selection and attributes of the race itself. Interspersed with action packed video footage of surfing down huge waves added to the sense of excitement and potential danger that the crews faced 24/7 for weeks on end as well as conveying the real sense of a keenly competed race and yet fun at the same time.

He began by outlining the original concept that Sir Robin Knox-Johnston had of an Everest type global ocean sailing event for amateur sailors in one design boats creating as level a playing field as possible between crews. Statistics on the make-up of the crews revealed ages from 18-70; 55%-45% men to women; 40+ nationalities; 40% novice sailors; 230+ participant professions; and mixture of single leg sailors and complete round the worlders. Over the ten years there had been subsequently 70 weddings and inevitably a number of divorces!

Quite a lot of time was spent on crew selection (for which Dave was an interviewer) in which a number of attributes were sought – leadership; worker; listener; team player; supporter; tolerance; empathy; honesty; integrity – so that each crew member was in a position to turn their hand to any of the numerous jobs required – bowman; helm; grinder; chef; meteorologist; plumber; engineer; sail repairer; navigator; trimmer etc..

Crew allocation for the twelve Clippers was a delicate balance of matching size, background, age, mix of races, and single/every leg sailors, and perhaps surprisingly early strong contenders sometimes proved not to be as good as less experienced and more reticent ones.

Crew training was over a four week period, very practically orientated and comprising crew skills, offshore sailing, spinnaker and racing, team tactics and fleet racing. It had to be completed before the race started irrespective of which/how many legs were to be undertaken. The focus was on safety, skill and team building so that conditions where one could expect to be exhausted, confused and uncomfortable could be overcome.

Dave answered questions on the finances involved, boat construction, sponsorship, choice and selection of skippers and urged the audience to look forward to the start of the 2015 race which begins in August from London.
Roy Conchie proposed a vote of thanks on behalf of the members.    
                                                                                                Roger Cleland   

Dave Cusworth, in a talk about the 2013-14 World Clipper Race, entitled “The Race of Your Life” gave a very interesting and detailed analysis of the anatomy of the crew, its selection and attributes of the race itself. Interspersed with action packed video footage of surfing down huge waves added to the sense of excitement and potential danger that the crews faced 24/7 for weeks on end as well as conveying the real sense of a keenly competed race and yet fun at the same time.

He began by outlining the original concept that Sir Robin Knox-Johnston had of an Everest type global ocean sailing event for amateur sailors in one design boats creating as level a playing field as possible between crews. Statistics on the make-up of the crews revealed ages from 18-70; 55%-45% men to women; 40+ nationalities; 40% novice sailors; 230+ participant professions; and mixture of single leg sailors and complete round the worlders. Over the ten years there had been subsequently 70 weddings and inevitably a number of divorces!

Quite a lot of time was spent on crew selection (for which Dave was an interviewer) in which a number of attributes were sought – leadership; worker; listener; team player; supporter; tolerance; empathy; honesty; integrity – so that each crew member was in a position to turn their hand to any of the numerous jobs required – bowman; helm; grinder; chef; meteorologist; plumber; engineer; sail repairer; navigator; trimmer.

Crew allocation for the twelve Clippers was a delicate balance of matching size, background, age, mix of races, and single/every leg sailors, and perhaps surprisingly early strong contenders sometimes proved not to be as good as less experienced and more reticent ones.

Crew training was over a four week period, very practically orientated and comprising crew skills, offshore sailing, spinnaker and racing, team tactics and fleet racing. It had to be completed before the race started irrespective of which/how many legs were to be undertaken. The focus was on safety, skill and team building so that conditions where one could expect to be exhausted, confused and uncomfortable could be overcome.

Dave answered questions on the finances involved, boat construction, sponsorship, choice and selection of skippers and urged the audience to look forward to the start of the 2015 race in August.



Bob Shepton, a mere 79, has been a full-time youth leader in the East-end of London and chaplain to two schools. On retirement, he circumnavigated the world with school leavers via Antarctica and Cape Horn from 1993-1995 and has made 14 Atlantic crossings so far. In recent years he has been leading his own Tilman type expeditions to Greenland and arctic Canada, sailing and climbing from the boat. Recipient of the CCA Blue Water Medal, the RCC Tilman Medal (twice) and Goldsmith Medal for Exploration, the OCC Barton Cup and Vasey Vase, also the prestigious mountaineering award of the Piolet d’Or.  
Bob gave a long, well-illustrated account of his double voyage through the North West Passage in his Westerly 33, “Dodo’s Delight”. Setting off from Barcaldine on the west coast of Scotland with a crew of South African climbers whom he described as “Nerdy”          (because of their love of computers), he sailed to the west coast of Greenland eventually arriving at Assiaat. The climbers, eager to start, “warmed up”, naked, on an iceberg before more serious first ascents of the Red Wall – a sheer rock face – but their primary objective was to climb the Impossible Wall up a verticle crack. The boat was moored up against the rock face as it was too deep to anchor but once the climb was underway, he sailed round to a flatter side of the mountain in order to pick them up. Further climbs were made on Polar Molar before picking their way through to Beachy Island. There were numerous stopovers to refuel and stock up on food in Cambridge Bay, Tuktayaktuk and finally at Nome on the Alaskan coast where the boat was taken out for the winter.

His reverse North West Passage from west to east with a different mixed British crew was undertaken the following year – the coldest for 96 years. Again there were frequent stopovers to either shelter from fierce winds blowing over very shallow seas or to refuel. Picking his way through pack ice he observed that from a distance there appeared to be no way through, whereas on closer inspection there were often gaps in the ice if only by pushing ice flows away with a long Inuit style pole. Snow and ice forming on the guardrails and rigging were often a problem as were the frequent delays in waiting for favourable winds. A rare sighting of a cruise ship in Cambridge Bay and two unlikely vessels (a 21 foot open dinghy and an Irish ocean rowing boat) attempting but later abandoning the North West Passage added to the pleasure of meeting up with fellow sailors whom they encountered from time to time. Eventually they sailed or motor-sailed back through Prince Regent Inlet, Lancaster Sound, Baffin Bay, Eclipse Bay to Pont Inlet, Clyde River and finally to Assiaat.

Bob’s exploits were recognized by being awarded Yachtsman of the Year 2013.
Vice Commodore, Roy Conchie, proposed a vote of thanks on behalf of the members, guests and visitors.

Roger Cleland

Between Rocks & Cool Places

JANUARY 2015 MEETING                                The 1,430th meeting                               

with Bob Shepton

Happiness all around for the MCA July
‘Boathouse’ Dinner at Sale Water Park

The commodore Mike Ousbey, President, Alan Street, past Commodores and members gather for a mid-summer get-together.