Archive for September, 2013

Cholsey Classics 2013

Monday, September 9th, 2013
Alex takes aim

Alex takes aim

Selma wins a Massive Cup!

Selma wins a Massive Cup!

Jack takes a Dive!

Jack takes a Dive!

Hamish Wins a Duck

Hamish Wins a Duck

Megan wins a Trophy

Megan wins a Trophy

Jack is very worried as his mother falls in the Thames

Jack is very worried as his mother falls in the Thames

Rowing begins to get ugly

Rowing begins to get ugly

The Rowing Race degenerates

The Rowing Race degenerates

Ella and Anna keep warm

Ella and Anna keep warm

Alex goes for the final kill

Alex goes for the final kill

7th September 2013

Cholsey

Tim chases Alex before Alex decides to attack the Wallingford Rowers

Tim chases Alex before Alex decides to attack the Wallingford Rowers

The invite arrived on my mobile but this year the document was so lavish that my phone rejected it. The Cholsey Classics invite is notorious for arriving late so “pre-invites” are despatched to warn of the impending arrival of the real thing. One year I think the invite might be published after the event. I eventually found a computer powerful enough to download it and enjoyed reading the book like publication.
The Classics start on Friday evening but I have never quite been able to make it until the Saturday morning. My liver specialist will be grateful for this because the Friday session involves Nina’s cocktails and I’m not convinced my body could endure two nights of the Halsalls’ generosity.
Grit and I turned up at 1000 on Saturday morning with the little dinghy in tow. It was good to meet up with everyone and in particular those who I haven’t seen for a while. The Friday night meal had only just finished so after reviving coffee we headed off to the Thames to set up base camp and launch the racing machines.
Yunis has always been in charge of the racing with hands-on judging but, although looking in fine fettle, he has decided to relinquish the duty on the grounds of not being able to run fast enough to get to the finish line before the boats do. Grit has taken on the duty on umpiring. Her knowledge of the yacht racing rules is unbelievable.
The sailing racing took on a new twist with three heats but no final thus enabling the judges to choose a winner.

The picnic was laid out under the gazebi (which we decided must be the plural of gazebo) and so we got stuck into some serious eating before the rowing races started. Ella is a bit of a star rower and rows for Wallingford Rowing Club. Whether she will still be allowed back after Alex decided to attack one of their sculls is up for debate. Sean is also a top rower so we were going to be in for some exciting races. Sadly the rowing gradually degenerated and families battled each other with thrashing oars. Luckily our new umpire is a little short sighted and was totally unaware of the mayhem. The final race consisted of runners and swimmers racing against the rowing boats to win the Mara cup.

We managed the whole event without a drop of rain but as soon as we returned to Cholsey for the prize giving it began to pour down. It rained so hard that it forced its way right through the gazebo.

Prize giving as always starts with a spectacular assortment of tasty tapas titbits conjured up by Rosie, followed by lashings of barbequed meat (this time from Alex and Sam’s farm) and puddings and cheese. All, of course, served with appropriate drinks. The actual Prize Ceremony is a very formal affair opened by Mr John H introducing Yunus who was to give a succinct account of the days races in less than an hour. New medals were awarded for Friends of the Cholsey Classics and Old Friends of the Cholsey Classics or FOCCers and Old FOCCers as they are known. Grit helped Yunus with the awards and pointed out how much everyone was enjoying Yunus’ speech and although everyone hoped it could go on a bit longer it was her unfortunate task to suggest it drew to an end before daybreak.

In the early hours everyone retired to beds and scattered tents. Another successful Classics was over.

 

Paul relaxes before thrashing us in the rowing race

Paul relaxes before thrashing us in the rowing race

 

Sailing from Dover to Ramsgate

Sunday, September 1st, 2013
Approaching Red Sand Towers

Approaching Red Sand Towers

Ramsgate Inner Harbour Entrance

Ramsgate Inner Harbour Entrance

Smeaton's Light Ramsgate

Smeaton’s Light Ramsgate

Ramsgate Harbour Wind Farm Service Boats

Ramsgate Harbour Wind Farm Service Boats

Coastguard Pub, St Margeret's Bay

Coastguard Pub, St Margerets Bay

Red Sand Towers

Red Sand Towers

24th August 2013

We had enjoyed our evening meal at The Zetland Arms in Walmer  The Zetland Arms was named after a wrecked ship but when we browsed through the various maps in the Ramsgate Maritime Museum knowing only this wreck by name we were unable to find it. More research is need here.

We were lucky in that the tide wouldn’t run North until lunchtime so we had time to organise the boat. There wasn’t much wind but with a spring tide who needs wind? Everything was shipshape ready for a bridge swing from Wellington Dock at about 1200. Dover had been quite expensive but they offer cheaper deals if you book by the month. The staff were very helpful and friendly and the boat is super safe in Dover (unlike Ramsgate).

We radioed up Dover to get permission to leave Eastern with all the ferries. It is one of the busiest ports in the world but there is no problem getting a space between the ships. The harbour welcomes yachts nowadays. I remember entering using morse from an Aldis light in the seventies. They hated yachts then but that was before they built the Channel Tunnel . Now yachts are an important part of the town’s economy.

We hoisted the sails and accelerated to about 1 kn. Just enough for steerage but with the tide we were zooming along at 4 kn. It is pleasant enough sailing slowly when you only have 15 nm to go but great care needs to be taken to ensure you don’t get swept onto the buoys. We went up the Gull Stream and soon arrived at the entrance channel to Ramsgate and found ourselves motoring hard to avoid being swept past. We entered the outer harbour and headed for the rusty drain pipe on the wall. The entrance silts up on the eastern pier head so it is important to hug the western wall. There were plenty of free berths in the visitors area of the harbour despite a large part of the harbour now being used by the Wind Farm Service Boats. Ramsgate lost its ferry service a few years back so this new work is welcome to them. There are hopes of re-instating a ferry service one day but I have got to buy a nice ship first.

I like Ramsgate. Lots of people don’t but I do! It is a real port, it has decent a swimming beach, a very friendly Yacht Club (unlike some) a selection of good restaurants, a little Maritime Museum and good access to the continent. Smeaton died in Ramsgate working on the impressive construction. It is not a great place to leave a boat unattended as the outer harbour can get boisterous in certain wind conditions and the inner harbour is now full with local boats.

We paid our £23.00 for the night and brewed up some pasta on board as we studied the slightly dubious weather for tomorrows sail.

We decided not to sail. The strong northerly would have proved a struggle to get around North Foreland. It was a Bank Holiday Weekend so we spent the Sunday savouring Ramsgate’s delights and set off at 0300 in the morning to catch the powerful tide to improve our boards as we headed North to round North Foreland. By the time dawn arrived North Foreland light was abeam and we were able to ease the sheets to head for the Princes Channel. The sun came out and with the wind abaft the beam it was a delightful run up the estuary past the old gun towers and the Montgomery Wreck into the Medway. We locked into Gillingham Marina just before high water on Bank Holiday Monday. A very pleasant sail.