Sailing Club News – Friday 23-Oct-20

Warning from Bristol Water – they have detected a raised level of Blue/Green Algae in the lake. They advise taking extra care handwashing, showering (unfortunately not at the Club), and thoroughly cleaning your sailing kit.

Last week saw our first AGM carried out via the ether – Zoom! 49 members joined the gathering, in addition to the General Committee stalwarts. Rob Mitchell and Chris Sunderland guided us all through the process, although many of us are becoming familiar with this video medium as we battle the virus and seeing friends and family is not straightforward.

We welcomed Andrew Jones formally into the role of Vice Commodore; he had had his hair cut specially he said. Andy sent me this introduction:-
Hello! For those that don’t know me I’m Andrew Jones, your new Vice Commodore. You’ll normally find me wrestling with my RS100 around the racing course on a Sunday, but I do occasionally manage to sail on a Wednesday or Saturday too. I’m a sailing enthusiast, having sailed from a young age in a wide variety of boats, and bring that enthusiasm and experience to the role of Vice Commodore. As I write this it’s difficult to lay out a clear vision for the year ahead with C-19 continuing to dominate the headlines, forcing continual change and re-evaluation of our sailing activity. Regardless of this challenge, I will strive to build on the excellent work done by John, working with the other club officers, fleet captains and sailing reps to bring you a safe and enjoyable range of sailing activities. So, if we’ve not met, please do come up and say hi if you see me at the club, I’d be delighted to speak with you 🙂

Another but ‘not quite so new’ addition to the Committee is Sarah Harding who is taking over from Brian Derrick as Treasurer, reprieving a role she undertook once before several years ago.
On a very sad note, Helen Martin bowed out as Commodore. Helen has been on both of our Committees for many years as she completed her specified 3 years in each post. Speaking to her, I detect a strong sense of relief from the workload, which has been particularly hard since the pandemic struck. Only the second lady Commodore the Club has ever had, some well deserved praise was heaped upon her. Her enthusiasm, wisdom, and ‘not afraid to get her hands dirty’ approach will mean that not only is she known to almost all of our members, she will be sorely missed. During my years as Vice Commodore, I know that her unequivocal support has made my job much easier.

Return to Sailing Phase 3

We are now several weeks into Phase 3 of our improvised Return to Sailing programme. So far so good, and those that have been making the most of the opportunities to sail seem to be becoming accustomed to our Covid battling routines. I want to remind us all of some of the essential procedures we would like members to follow to keep us all safe:-

  • Please don’t come to the Club if you feel unwell, are running a temperature or experiencing any of the Virus’s symptoms, such as loss of sense of smell or taste.
  • When you arrive at the Club please seek out the OOD or one of the duty team to register your presence and find out if there are any restrictions on sailing that day.
  • If you can, please register your presence using the QR code which the OOD will show you.
  • We still have the three cubicle/accessible toilets available for use, one at the entrance to the ladies changing rooms, the upstairs accessible toilet and the disabled toilet at the opposite end of the undercover boat store from the up and over doors. Please make use of the hand sanitiser before and after you use the toilet and also use the sanitary wipes provided to clean surfaces you may have touched.
  • Come equipped to wear a face covering if you are going to venture inside the building.

Important change to booking arrangements please read:

Members may be aware that we recently removed the cap on the number of members sailing in each session. As highlighted at the AGM we had also allowed members that had not previously booked to sign in for sailing with the OOD on the day.

More and more members have been turning up without booking, or having booked only after the sailing list has been produced and communicated to the duty team. This has been increasingly difficult to manage as we must maintain accurate records to meet test and trace requirements. This also comes at a time when unfortunately C-19 issues seem to be once again closing in on us.

Consequently, with immediate effect members wishing to sail must pre-book before 6pm on the day before sailing. There will still be no cap on the maximum limit, so if you are unsure you should book to sail.


Under the direction of Mike Higgins, our cleaners are helping to keep us safe by cleaning all the areas inside the Clubhouse that we use after each session. They are about to enhance this process by the use of a ‘Fogger’ disinfectant machine. The spray this produces apparently gains access to even the most inaccessible places and kills the virus.

Update on the use of Changing Rooms

We regret that we are not going to be able to reopen our changing rooms for general use at this point. The General Committee reviewed the current guidance from the RYA on this subject and concluded that we cannot reach the required standard. The changing rooms will be available for emergency use only such as in the case of hypothermia.

The Galley

Rob intends to have the galley up and running at weekends.
Thanks to the relatively benign weather we have had recently, most of the food served has been to ‘take away’ and eaten outside.
However, a system is now in place for food to be eaten at laid out tables in the bar, following the one-way direction arrows on the floor. The tables and seats should not be moved, please, and each place has a red/green flip-over card to show that it has either been used or cleaned.
You will be asked to sign your name when you buy food, or you can use the QR code sign.

Racing – Chew Rose Bowl and RNLI Shields

Sunday 01-Nov-20 – there will be a single pursuit race that day for the beautiful Chew Rose Bowl trophy. There will be a briefing as usual at 10.30 with an anticipated start time of 11.00.

Sunday 08-Nov-20 – the racing will be for the RNLI Handicap Shields – a single race but with two starts, a ‘fast’ handicap and a ‘slow’ handicap. This is also Remembrance Sunday so the race start will follow shortly after a two minute silence at 11.00.

Powerboat Training – Jeff Stratford

In October we ran a trial PB2 with reduced numbers and in very different conditions; that went very well, so we added an extra course which concluded today and 6 students successfully gained their PB2 certificates. The success of these courses is due to the cooperation and enthusiasm of the students and our team of Powerboat Instructors Dave Hales, Ian Broad, Mike Kew and Steve Turner. A triumph in these difficult times.

Solo Fleet Demo Boat

If coronavirus has got you thinking about your sailing options, you may be interested to know that the Solo class demo boat is now at Chew for a few weeks.
The Solo is an extremely popular singlehanded dinghy with great racing both at Chew and on the class circuit. It is ideally suited to sailing at Chew offering close tactical racing, good light wind performance and a comfy sitting position! There are over 20 Solos at the club with a strong turnout every weekend, an annual open meeting and class training freely available. The club racing goes from strength to strength, demonstrated by Chew boats dominating the Western Area series last year and having the top female competitor at the Nationals for the last two years.

If you would like to try out this super little boat and see for yourself what the appeal is then please get in touch with class captain Toby Peacock  to book a go in the demo boat. Toby tell me that there has been lots of interest in this boat with the booking slots filling fast – don’t delay!

Another tale of brave Wayfarering…

A Voyage to Lundy 11-Sep-20 to 13-Sep-20 by Patrick Slade

A switch back ride over blue hills of water, skimming the waves on a close reach with the North Devon coast 10 miles behind and the Gower the same distance ahead; so this was what a Wayfarer Rally was all about. I had heard about groups of intrepid dinghy sailors gathering to make daring passages in the open sea; for the last couple of Septembers Jeremy Warren, veteran of many Wayfarer adventures, including a circumnavigation of the UK, had co-ordinated a group of boats sailing to Lundy from the North Devon coast, but I’d missed out on the chance to join in. This year I was lucky, Jeremy teamed me up with Mike Higgins whose regular crew was unfortunately unable to sail. It turned out that Mike sails at the same club that I had recently joined so we were able to meet and practice together. So there we were on a Friday afternoon, rigging up on the beach at Watermouth along with 6 other dinghies preparing for our evening briefing. It was clear straight away that there was a huge amount of skill and experience in our group and everyone had been watching the weather keenly over the previous few days. The aim was Lundy, however, with a westerly 4 to 5 forecast and a favourable tide only after 1500 it began to look challenging to reach Lundy’s eastern shore before sunset at 1930. The risk of arrival in the dark was unacceptable so a plan B was hatched. This was to sail north to Oxwich Bay in the Gower, a similar distance involving plenty of open sea sailing (and with the added international element!) A discussion ensued, skilfully lead by Jeremy who elicited everyone’s opinion and although he was at pains to point out that we were independent and could go to Lundy if we chose, we all agreed that it would be best to sail to the Welsh coast. He did raise the point that we were all male apart from Roo Allison sailing on the yacht ‘High Spirits’ and it would certainly be nice to include more women in this sort of activity.

Saturday started with an 8 am cooked breakfast in the beach café that kindly opened especially for us. Mike and I set off in his Hartley Wayfarer named ‘Ringle’ at 10 am, motoring out of the narrow entrance watching Bluebell ahead start to bounce up and down in the swell. What a delight to clear the rocks and start riding the waves! Ringle settled into surging smoothly forward like the thoroughbred that she is. We steered roughly 340 degrees which was a close reach and the Devon coast gradually slipped behind.

At this point I feel I should point out that our approach to sailing in the open sea was very far from gung-ho. Considerable experience and thought had been put into safety: all boats were required to have flares, GPS, VHF, hand-bearing compass, push-button mobile, outboard with fuel for 50 miles, safety harnesses and two reefing points on the mainsail as well as a reefing genoa. We were also following the UK Wayfarer Association Cruising Guidelines for Advanced Sea Passage and most boats had masthead buoyancy. Loads of warm clothes, fluids and snacks for comfort and each hour we radioed our position to Jeremy who was sailing on Andy Wills’ yacht ‘High Spirits’. Jeremy also kept up with the latest Met Office weather forecast and telephoned the Coastguard detailing our movements. This may sound like ‘belt and braces’ but it in no way detracted from the adventure. Interestingly, even though seven boats and a yacht left Watermouth within a few minutes of each other, so close is the horizon when in a small boat that even on clear day you can’t see a dinghy sailing if they are much more than a mile away, especially if there is any swell. Thus, Mike and I were very soon sailing in the open ocean on our own (well, the Bristol Channel!) and it is a special experience. No longer are you confined to the two dimensional surface of river or lake sailing but off-shore you soar up on the wave peaks and zoom down into the troughs and the water, the wind and the light are forever changing.

Mesmerizing as all this is we were of course concentrating on sailing Ringle at her best. Mike as skipper, was very democratic, sharing decisions and always ensuring that the sails were in best possible trim. We swapped helm every hour or so and it was a delight to sail his fantastic Hartley Wayfarer, beautifully balanced and handling like a sports car. The hours passed quickly, reaching across the blue water in the sunshine, savouring the feeling of being mid channel with the hills on each side distant outlines. By 2.30 pm we were trying to interpret the Welsh coast to identify Oxwich Bay. Our GPS way point there helped guide us and indicate how our course was deviating from the electronic route. The tide was mainly ebbing to the west throughout this passage but not at more than about 1.5 knots and we were able to bear away to regain our line, the boats converging on the bay as wind and tide subsided.

This huge sandy beach was busy with swimmers and paddle boarders so we decided to land our gear and then anchor with enough water to be afloat at low tide. Early departure at low tide the next morning would then be easy. Anchoring and then getting ashore is always a bit of a challenge but Andy generously ferried people with ‘High Spirits’ inflatable tender. We gathered in the garden of the Oxwich Bay Hotel, trouping past the beachwear clad punters in our dripping wetsuits and heavy weather gear, everyone maintaining good social distancing (or perhaps they were just rather horrified by us!) and Derk stood the first round of much needed beers. We then transferred to the campsite a kilometre up the lane. A few cooked there but most of us went to the chip shop and after another beer retired to bed. Some were in tents, others bivouacked and Dave and Dan slept on their boat, a Highlife 18, slightly bigger than a Wayfarer but nonetheless an impressive kip!

5.45 am up for a quick breakfast and pack up, down on the beach by 7.15. Overcast but with the promise of sunshine later, there was not much wind in the shelter of the bay but the forecast was SW 4 gusting 5 in the channel dying away later. We had a quick briefing then reloaded the gear and set off, Derk and Tim in Bluebell taking in a reef, an example which we followed that was to prove prudent.

In the bay we were sheltered by the headland and the fickle wind repeatedly changed direction but soon several strong gusts hit us as we beat out into the swell. Every sailor knows that feeling of being of being lifted high as the boat heels and the leeward gunwale starts to dig into the water, sparking an alarm that you are about to go swimming. But with Mike’s skilful handling, using the genoa to power us forward and gain control, Ringle surged forward, making good use of this rather rude morning awakening. No-one wanted to capsize, particularly at the start of a sea passage, but I am sure we would have sorted ourselves out. Perhaps more important was that we were being filmed by ‘High Spirits’ close by and our pride was as stake! Quite soon the wind steadied and we continued beating on the starboard tack, course 170. The wind continued at about force 4 from the south west and it remained overcast until we were in mid channel where we enjoyed sailing alongside Derk and Tim in Bluebell. When they tacked, and appeared to be going back towards Wales, we were a bit puzzled but later on as the skies cleared and the wind dropped their plan paid off, getting them up wind and tide so as to get in without using their engine (which was of dubious reliability at that point). We continued, enjoying the sunshine and discussing where on the coast ahead the entrance to Watermouth was. The peak of Hangman West and the houses of Ilfracombe were a good reference, but we also had a clear pattern of the field above the harbour as a guide (noted on the way out) and of course our GPS. We tacked once to get up tide, but eventually, two miles from the entrance to Watermouth, the wind died and we switched to motoring. As this point I did succumb to the boat’s motion in the swell and emptied the contents of my stomach over the side, taking great care not to soil the beautiful boat! Feeling a lot better, we identified the way in past the rocks and made landfall at 2.30 pm.

Always a relief to secure the boat and get out of wet gear, it was almost sad to leave the serenity of the open sea having glimpsed its majesty. But I knew I had memories that I will savour: companionship, adventure, a sense of achievement and the glory of the natural environment as well as great sailing! Thank you Mike and Jeremy and all participants for a truly special experience. I hope we can do it again and perhaps get to Lundy next year!

Hope to see many of you enjoying an Autumn sail – remember to set your clocks back on Saturday night or you may miss Sunday’s first race…!

John Smalley –

Andrew Jones – our new Vice Commodore

DF95’s this week

The battle to the first mark

The demonstrator Solo currently at Chew

Read about Partick’s Wayfarer adventure

More of the same

Those intrepid Wayventurers

Some photogenic clouds

The same day