Archive for the ‘Crew and Friends’ Category

Brightlingsea isn’t in Norway

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014
Man and Dog on Smack CK105

Man and Dog on Smack CK105

Chatham Ropery 220 m long plus a bit. It is huge!

Chatham Ropery 220 m long plus a bit. It is huge!


24 inch cable. The biggest ever made at Chatham. I think it was for the Victory but may be wrong.

24 inch cable. The biggest ever made at Chatham. I think it was for the Victory but may be wrong.

A Fine Boatyard in Brightlingsea

A Fine Boatyard in Brightlingsea

3rd August 2014 Brightlingsea

Ugly Ship

Ugly Ship

Pretty Ship

Pretty Ship

Best laid plans and all that. Eventually I had to pull out of the sail to Lofoten in Norway because of the time I needed to devote to the Arthur Beale Project. Beale’s is hard work. With so much going on it involves working long hours for six days a week. To leave for a long sail just wasn’t going to work out. It was a great shame to have to abandon what could have been a great adventure but the Beales Project is actually great fun too albeit rather closely related to “work”. Never mind, Sumara needed a little sail to get some salt on her decks and I needed a bit of a breather so I took last week off to go for a sail with no plans at all. It was a modest affair but we managed to sail every day (if Pyefleet Creek to Brightlingsea counts). The usual routine of taking the tide down the Thames and up the Medway led us to Queenborough. The next day was filthy so we decided to visit the Ropery in Chatham. As we are clients of Chatham Ropery we were given a fantastic trip around this amazing building. I had been before but had forgotten just how the length of the building is so impressive. The Hearts of Oak exhibition is worth a trip too. Sailing in the Thames Estuary is quite taxing on the brain. There are impossible equations to work out – if we want the tide we must leave at high water and get in at low water but there isn’t enough water at low water so we can leave later but then it will be dark or leave earlier but there won’t be any wind and in any case who knows when we will arrive because if the wind shifts we will be headed but then we could lee bow the spring tide and maybe get a lift from it now my brain is very tired can we go to bed and just go sailing when we wake up? We arrived at Brightlingsea at the bottom of a spring tide and gently touched the mud trying to mooch up to read the tide gauge in the half dark. To be honest I don’t think I was on that 40 degree leading line so maybe we could have got in. However I always think it is poor form to shut a harbour by going aground in the entrance and we decided to drop the hook in Pyefleet and venture in with more water in the morning. We were kindly shown to a berth on the visitors pontoon by the Harbour Master and we sat in the sun in the cockpit watching life go by. A fine collapsable rowing boat with a couple and two children rowed across the harbour and I remembered how my friend Martin used to rave about his collapsable rowing boat. Then, just as two and two were adding up, (my brain was still tired after all that tide work) Martin stood up and waved! What a pleasant surprise, Martin and Katie with their much more grown up children Dylan and Tess were moored just opposite us. After a catch up, they decided to teach the children some sailing while we decided to go for a swim – my first sea swim of the year. We took the ferry ashore and the little pier was heaving with happy children pulling crab after crab out of the sea with screams of excitement. We had a nice chat with a boat yard owner working on a launch in a place of great character. We walked past the beach huts, the lido and the tidal pool and had a swim in lovely warm water between the groynes. In the evening we met up with Martin and Katie and children and had a tasty meal in the Yacht Club (although my friend Norman has just told me that we missed the best fish and chip shop in the world – next time!). The next day we sailed to Slaughter House Point to await a tide back up the Thames. South Dock shuts up shop at 5 pm on weekends so we needed to return a day early to make use of the bulk of the flood tide.

It was a good sailing week, but now some real hard work must start.

Torsten in Aberystwyth

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

How nice it was to bump into Torsten during our visit to the National Library of Wales! Torsten is, of course, one of the worlds experts regarding sea bed geology. There can hardly be a sand or mud bank along the east coast that Torsten doesn’t know intimately.

I remember sailing from Ramsgate to Dover in dense fog when the dedicated Torsten decided to spend six hours studying Brake Sand in preference to joining us for a beer in Dover.

Torsten Looking Very Smart!

“Land Ahoy”

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Position N56,41 x W006,41 Wind F4 Westerly rather unstable.

Now we are sailing downwind through the Sea of theHebrides with Coll on our starboard bow. We hit some rough seas as the depth dropped from 1000m to about 100m but it is more peaceful now except for the occasional viscous squall which drives through with heavy rain and violent winds. But they are quick to go. Gudrun and Ray have been great crew. Gudrun has only been sailing a few times with Peter Mercer on the East England coast and once with me on the Limfjord in Denmark and up to Skagen.This was her first
offshore passage so it was a pretty tough choice but she has been great, not a moan – even when hurled across the cabin, and no signs of seasickness. Ray has a strange sailing CV. His first long passage was after a handshake with me that we would sail the Atlantic. He did a short course on the Clyde then crossed the Biscay on Sumara and then the Atlantic to Barbados. He sailed back from Spitzbergen to the Faroes, Iceland to Scotland (2006), Scotland to Bergan and England  to Denmark. All on Sumara!

Ray is a hugely practical person with great knot skills and can stow things away like no one else.

We are hoping to arrive in Tobermory early this evening for a desperately needed shower and a beer. Opps here comes a squall best get on the helm!

Sent at 11.06GMT 14th August 2001

En Route to St Kilda

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Position N63,03.7 x W019,25.85
We completed our chores on Sunday morning and Gudrun and I climbed up Heimaklettur, a spectacular hill over looking the harbour and the south coast of Iceland. The weather was perfect and the whole island was smiling. After a swim and hot tub we returned to Sumara to clear customs. This was the first official Icelandic procedure that I managed to do correctly and I was rather proud of myself. The customs officer seemed amused at the size of our ship. We went for an evening meal of fish soup and a short walk to see the Norwegian Church before preparing to set off on our journey to St Kilda. At 2130 we left the mooring but I felt the gear lever was strange and we didn’t have much thrust so we returned to the mooring. The problem was that I had stowed away a fender badly and it blocked the lever. Relieved at discovering this we set off again but somehow the thrust didn’t seem right. I gave it a bit of welly and that seemed to resolve it. We left easrlier than planned so that we could enjoy the view while it was still light. After a few hours of light sailing we were forced to motor again and looking at the latest weather information it looks like light winds for the next couple of days then strong head winds for three days. Oh dear!
By the way Gudrun has her own blog on

Senta at 07.41GMT 8th August

A Meal with Charlotte’s Friends

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

A Meal out in Reykjavik

Thembi’s Charlotte had lived in Reykjavik for a while as an Artist in Residence. We had a tasty meal out with her friend, a silversmith, and her boyfriend. Gosh the food was tasty, can’t for the life of me remember what I was eating.

I’ve Learnt Something Not Many People Know

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Gudrun arrives with tasty treats for the crew

Dan doesn’t even like fish so rotten shark meat didn’t go down to well.

Earlier in the trip I tried to take a picture of all the crew looking miserable. Everyone looked very sad indeed, apart from Dan. You see Dan is always happy. His catch phrase, no matter what absolute chaos is happening around him, seems to be, “It’ll be fine”. Well I have discovered probably the only way to catch Dan without a smile is to feed him a bit of Icelandic Rotten Shark Meat. Within seconds the smile had gone and he hurtled out of Sumara’s cabin heading for the cockpit.
Yes, Gudrun has arrived bringing us some tasty local morsels to eat and how we all enjoyed the whale blubber, smoked whale meat and rotten shark. Thanks Gudrun.

Apparently these sharks have no kidneys and the meat is poisonous unless it is rotten. Some think its poisonous when its rotten too.

Girlie Talk

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

The antedote to Girlie Talk

I’ve got the solution to the girlie talk. Ear defenders and a copy of Earthmovers Monthly. Perfect. I think Charlotte has gone shopping for nail varnish remover again.

Today is the Official Birthday of Jacobus Halsall

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Position N66,26 x W023,10 Wind N F3
The Captain and Crew of the Good Ship  Sumara and the Good Ship Thembi and the Good Ship Aurora would like to take this opportunity to wish Jack Halsall a very Happy Birthday. As you are all aware Jack is the Expeditions Official Model Maker and without his splendid model of the Mighty Beerenberg we may well have climbed the wrong mountain. We are deeply indebted to Jack and his fine craftsmanship.

Sumara has just rounded Straumnes Light and entered Isafjardhardjup. Thembi passed the same point at about 1800 yesterday and they should have moored up late last night or early this morning. Aurora should be there too. We have about 25nm to go. It is very pleasant here, much warmer than any day since we left the Faeroes, and we have some spectacular scenery to watch as we glide up the fjord. We have seen our first boats and our firstpuffin since leaving Jan Mayen.

The ice is still blocking the coast of Greenland but it is clearing close to Nansen Fjord.
Hopefully the situation will improve by the time we get there.

Sent at 12.30GMT 16th July 2010