Past Musings


Lados - The Wilderness Year(s) - well years I didn't write up activity by activity!


(News from The Lancaster Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society)

(No I didn’t know that there was another Lados out there – maybe we should co-produce plays & musicals at sea. All members will have to audition from now on. No more of this ‘we’ll take anyone’. You have to have a party piece to be a member of our club. CV’s to the commodore on a postage stamp. Only Equity Card holders need apply. You still require absolutely no sailing experience, as before.)


I have been remiss so I’m told. No new postings for the last 18 months. It is not that we have stopped sailing. The boat is still floating, no thanks to the stern gland, but all the trips seem to merge into one mega sail and I guess I just got bored. Ennui can be very debilitating when left to get on with its self.


Where did we go? Ask me one on sport. I know we tried to get to the Channel Islands and it took a very long time. We left Ocean Quay at midnight on Friday to go to Alderney, got a few fingers passed the Needles but decided to go back to Yarmouth where we spent most of Saturday, all of Sunday and Monday morning (in a pub). Monday afternoon we decamped to Poole still unable to go in the required direction. Spent the night in Poole and finally got going south-ish on Tuesday. Very quick trip. Probably the only nice day of the whole week as well. We arrived in Alderney to find that no one had left to go home because the weather had been so bad. We had to raft up to a brand new, never been used 50ft – who knows what - it was very pretty, no scuff marks, not sure about that after we left though because at 02:00 it was dark. I am sure that the skipper was ever so pleased to see the back of us. We had a lunch date in Guernsey. We had planned to be there on Sunday to watch the Lords’ Taverners play cricket on the pitch on the top of Herm but we missed it. Jeremy and I went to Herm for our lunch date but it rained so hard that all we could do was sit in a pub (what again?)with our next door neighbours from Kent. I got quite unwell later ( not from the lunch on Herm) and couldn’t swallow anything for the next 4 days. Most unpleasant. Not a trip to remember.


One weekend we saw what happens when the helmsman or the foredeck crew or the winch chappies or even the skipper doesn’t look behind every now and again. We were approaching Portsmouth trying to outrun a very black and getting blacker sky following us up the Solent from the west.We got the sails down and  started the motor. Everyone was saying that the people in the large boat on our port side should be thinking about taking in their cruising chute and their main. They didn’t and when the wind came it came instantly and there wasn’t a whole lot they could do about it. It pulled them around through 90 degrees and over they went. Luckily they came up pretty sharpish and no one went overboard. Lesson 2 from competent crew class – from time to time do look behind to see what’s coming. I did my knee in while getting off the boat. Along with the wind came copious amounts of hail and the pontoon was a tad slippery.


On a return trip to the Islands (that sounds like they should have been the Windward Islands but alas no it was the Channel ones again) I acquired an international hairdresser. Sounds good but I just had it all cut off because it kept blowing in my face all the time. I think that was the trip when Jeremy and I took a bus tour from St Peter Port to - uh - St. Peter Port. All the way around the island for £1.00. The weather was bad again. The Atlantic side is bleak but beautiful with too many rocks for surfing.


There were the usual Solent weekends spent between Cowes and Yarmouth, Wootton Creak and Portsmouth. There was the odd break down, the odd feeling that I should be somewhere warm, too much wind, not enough wind, wind from the wrong direction constantly, trips when we had to be at a pub to catch the rugby, not nearly enough sun and why do we never get to sail in shirt sleeves anymore? But as the folk from Fat Face are wont to say ‘Better a bad day on the water than a good day in the office’.


This year started out like last year ended. We had to cancel January. Lady E was getting a new dress. The consortium had decided in the ‘down time’ when it is too cold for the English seafaring nation to actually go to sea they would have the weather deck (heard that term on the news about Cutty Sark the other day ,a bit pretentious here‘cos there is only the one deck) redone and a few other things. The deck looks great and it appears to be a non slip surface.Unfortunately this work took nearly 4 months and someone forgot to sort out the electrics to the aft heads. That would be no loo then. It was a good thing that the commodore managed to stop the installation of two electric toilets. That could have made for uncomfortable sailing. The ‘C’ has also finally decided that all the water in the bilge is from the stern gland but that will be done in the next down time. So the clothing drill is still waterproof shoes.


In February Lados chartered a boat from a Ms Gale which is moored in the Hamble. We were reminded how nice it is to be that close to the Solent. Without the extra 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours going up and down Southampton Water you have the option to go a bit further afield. We thought that with the state of the tide and the wind (not a lot of that) we would be able to get to Poole for the rugby (again) at 16:00. But no chance! With just enough time to get back to Yarmouth we turned around  east of Hengisbury Head. We made Yarmouth in time for kick off at the Wheatsheaf Inn. David likes the ale there. On Sunday the wind was exactly like it was on Saturday – none. So we motored back to Wootton Creak for a drink in the club. We then motored back to the Hamble. All in all not a lot of sailing. In fact only about 10 mins as we went part way across Christchurch Bay the day before. I know people are nice about it and say things like ‘you have to be prepared for whatever weather you get when you go sailing’ but sailing is the point of it all and not to sail at all is dreary as well as noisy.


We got back on board Lady E for the March/Easter trip. There were only 3 of us, Jeremy,Chris and I. A little shorthanded but ok. After the winter refit the No: 3/4 had not made it back to the boat, the new runners on the main didn’t want to run past the first reefing point and as already mentioned the electrics were a bit iffy because the electrician had had a look and decided that he didn’t want the job. Ocean Quay has had a refit as well and LE has a new berth. Sideways on to the tide. Great if you come back in a rising tide but I imagine it could be a touch tricky if you are on a falling one. Richard had asked us to take LE to Cowes if we had time and run her through the carwash. We went up the Medina to the hoist and made an appointment for Sunday morning at 11:00. After that we caught a very fast tide down to Yarmouth. Yarmouth has had a refit as well. There is a new pontoon by the lifeboat berth. We got to use it because we had been rafted up 3 out with the inside boat being an empty gin palace with its deck awning zipped closed. We were unable to get off the deck of this thing the polite way by walking around the front because there was at least a six foot drop to the shifting pontoon below. We did unzip it to get to the aft deck which was at pontoon level but we still weren’t happy about it because not only did you have to abseil down the gin palace you also had to rock climb up the outside of it from the number 2 boat in the raft. I, of the still dodgy knee (see above), asked in the office if there was anywhere else we could go and the staff said that if we could get LE between the pile-moored boats in front of the dingy ramp and the end of the new pontoon we could use it. Advantage – much closer to town (that would be the pub then). On Sunday morning we left to go and have Em’s bum scraped. What a neat experience it was. We spent an hour and a bit communing with the seagulls at rooftop level. And we did discover just how much water LE needs to stay afloat. That would be 2.45 metres. Not the 1.9 or 2 that we had always thought. After the scrub up we went to Portsmouth for Sunday night. Had a nice sail eastbound with just half main the sail up. On Monday the weather god said ‘I think it will rain 40 days’ and 40 nights’ worth’, and it did. It was truly evil and the wind was about 25 knots coming straight at us so, you’ll never guess, we motored home. We got back at slack water so we didn’t have to test the falling tide/mooring thing and the wind blew us on to the new berth.

‘All’s well that ends well’

That bit is for the other LADOS.


Cowes Fireworks August 6-8 2010


Friday 6th August started out very nicely – in our garden and that is probably where we should have stayed. The closer we got to Southampton the worse the weather was. Bad weather and fireworks are usually not a good combination. When we arrived half the crew was already there. Graham, Will and Petra had found the key and let themselves in out of the rain. Emma and Sheila appeared at 17:00 and I thought that we should make an earlier start rather than wait until 18:00 so we left without my handbag which contained most of the family monetary resources and my hairbrush. Both those items could have proved useful in the next 2 days because Jeremy also left his wallet in the car and his comb has very few teeth left, a bit like his head has very few hairs left. I was berated for the next 36 hours.


I put dinner on as we went down Southampton Water so that once we got to Cowes I could produce it as if by magic. You know the sort of thing- wave a long stick over the table and 'poof' food appears. Unfortunately I have never perfected the second wave which makes it all clear away afterwards. That bit still has to be done by hand. My very own personal galley slave would be good. Every trip I try to rope someone into the position but no one wants it full time. I could withhold food until there is a volunteer -----


Of course there were no empty buoys in the roads so we dropped the anchor. We watched it for a bit and then went to have the magic meal. By the time dinner was finished we had drifted behind our closest neighbour. He wasn’t being all that neighbourly about it and told us in no uncertain terms that as he had paid £2000.00 for his mooring he didn’t want us around and I guess he called the anchor police because as we started to sort the situation the anchor police arrived. They didn’t stay. It was obvious to all but the Angry Aussie (who appeared to be attired in a Kevlar vest) on the ostentatious display of wealth that was 'Panther' that we were in fact raising our anchor to move. I should have insisted on seeing his SIA badge.


You know when you are waiting for something to happen like Christmas or your birthday it always seems to take forever. Well waiting for the fireworks was like that. We had arrived, dropped the anchor, eaten dinner, lifted the anchor – Will lifted the anchor ‘cos he be strong – moved the boat, dropped the anchor - Jeremy gets to drop it ‘cos he is not as strong as Will – cleared up down below and still there were no fireworks. It said in the Cowes paper that an unknown benefactor had, for the second year running, funded up the pyrotechnics to the tune of £50,000.00 a year. That is probably why the bullet proof vest wearing Acrid Antipodean had to pay so much for his mooring. When the show finally went on it was very good. It lasted for bout 20 minutes. All that work for 20 mins. After it was all over guess who didn’t even spend the night on the ridiculously expensive buoy. We were going to use it as it had been paid for but Emma and Sheila wanted to go somewhere where there weren’t any waves. Will got to do his thing with the anchor again and we motored up the Medina and found a vacant spot on a private pontoon nearly up at the Folly Inn. Very nice neighbour in front of us said that the owners had gone to the mainland –that would be England – for the night and probably would not be back till the morning. Our one free in ten!


As the IOC pontoon is out of commission for Cowes Week we couldn’t stop on the way by Saturday morning but in keeping with the club theory that we have to keep the crew busy  we went to Osborne Bay for breakfast. You’re right - Will got to play with the anchor again. He was most likely wishing that he had stayed home. We had the usual cooked brekkie, eggs bacon sausage toast. Oh galley slave where are you? Jeremy unearthed a foresail and after breakfast we sailed most of the way to Portsmouth and then turned around and went back down to Cowes. The Solent looked like the 'Place de l'Étoile'(where the Arc de Triomphe is) on a bad Friday night with everyone trying to leave Paris for the weekend and no one being able to get off the roundabout. There were boats everywhere.

The racing is over on Friday or so I was led to believe, but the organisers just keep firing the cannon and the racers keep right on racing. We had to heave to just east of the West Brambles cardinal to let a container ship go by. The wind had got up to a brisk 18 -20Ks and we probably should have put a reef in while we were sitting there doing nothing but we were only trying to get to the Beaulieu River because Jeremy wanted to spend Saturday night at Buckler’s Hard. Actually we thought about it after we started sailing again. We motored up the river to Buckler’s Hard and moored on the river pontoon just past the marina. The other reason for going there was so that after all his hard work with the anchor Will could have a beer. The dingy was extracted from the bottom of the locker and Will and Graham put it together on the pontoon. Then they blew it up. More work! The crew was being kept busy. Jeremy could not get the engine to start so he rowed the girls over to the showers and then he rowed back to get the rest of us and Will, bless him, managed to start the engine. We went to the pub. I don’t think Will ever did have the beer. He went straight onto the red wine. Some of us had far too much wine at the pub. Petra and I went back to the boat first so that I could put the food on with the magic wand again. (It’s OK she didn’t see it.) Will went back to get the others and managed to amuse some 10year olds by falling out of the dingy while trying to leap to the pontoon having stopped the engine too far away and not timing the whole operation very well. Wont let him drive the boat again. Anyway the kids asked him if he would do it again because it was so funny. Dinner was a 3 course affair, stuffed smoked salmon roll with french bread, beef stroganoff with noodles and asparagus and white chocolate cheese cake with fresh raspberry sauce. Quite a trial for the wand but it all appeared the right way up. After dinner, on too much wine, the discussion got a tad acrimonious. Don’t really know when it went pear shaped but it had something to do with illegal immigrants, asylum seekers, and economic migrants. Very strange, kitchen knives being waved about,(not by me I hasten to add) voices raised, bodily harm threatened, that sort of thing. I thought that the noise police might be called out by the neighbours. Graham seemed to be bemused by it all, Jeremy went to sleep – lucky him. I can’t figure out how he does that.


Next Morning –Sunday- we had breakfast on the move as there was no wind. Saturday too much Sunday none. One weekend we will be blessed with just the right amount of wind all the time and sun. Dream on.


I am sorry to say that we had to motor all day. We tried sailing when we got back to Southampton Water but it was no use. The Met Office had promised that after lunch there would be a south westerly 3-4. It did eventually happen sometime after we got back to Ocean Quay, as we were leaving in the car I think.



Sailing in February need not be a winter activity!


I must admit that when winter sailing is mentioned I would more times than not prefer to stay in front of the fire and watch others do it on the telly. Occasionally though sailing in February can be almost as good as the best days out in April.


On Friday the 8th Jeremy and I went down to Shamrock Quay to collect Lady E from Bare Marine where she had had her bottom wiped. Very pretty she was too. We arrived almost at the bottom of the tide and once we had found the keys we had to hurry to get back to Ocean Quay before the water ran out. Close call that. It was surprising how fast the tail end of the tide was still running and we moored in reverse as there were only the 2 of us and not wanting to rear end the posh boat in front it seemed the safest and most controlled way to do it.


Someone had very kindly left the dehumidifier on the chart table just to make sure we saw it and knew it had been leaking so that we would find the large lake inside the chart table. Clever move. It is a good thing that charts come in stout plastic envelopes. Unfortunately 3 small handbooks were not so lucky and have drowned and the box for the plotter will not see another Christmas.


On Saturday morning having been to the shops looking for a razor – don’t ask – we were met by David who had driven from Nottingham (far side) in 3 hours. He must have been the only car on the road. The others all appeared by 10 and we left for Poole. They were Adrian and Hannah and James and Brian. Susy was going to come but she had a pressing engagement in Morocco for the weekend and could not be in two places at once. I know which one I would have chosen.

A few weeks ago Jeremy and I ran away for the day and ended up in Hamble Point talking to a boat dealer and I happened to remark that in most marinas 75% of the boats never move. He said something that I don’t think I had ever focused on that went like this. “Most people don’t sail any more because with global warming the conditions are usually adverse. There is either no wind or you have a howling gale.” If you think about it he is probably right.


This weekend there was wind but not enough and not from the right direction, unlike the previous weekend when I really would not have wanted to be anywhere near a boat. We motored out to Calshot (coffee and donuts) and hoped that when we turned the corner there would be enough wind to sail westward. Got as far a Newtown Creek (game soup, cold meat and pie) and knew that if we were going to get to Poole before the end of the month we would have to put the engine on.

Because the tide was still with us and what wind there was was following, we managed to do 5-6 knots over the ground and got through Hurst. We tried the sails again for a while but it wasn’t much better. The saving thing about it was that with the wind behind and the sun shining it really was a lovely afternoon, and here is where I started it was not like sailing in February. Gloves were not needed!! (carrot cake, tea).

We were unable to get a berth at the marina in Poole and some were for doing the town wharf thing but others wanted a pontoon for easy access so a quick read of THE SAILORS' BIBLE led us to Saltern Marina. By the time we got there it was 17:00 and Poole harbour was about to dry out. This place has a very small entrance set at a strange angle so getting in was a chore. The boat in front went in then reversed out turned around and reversed back in. It was the only way he could get into his berth. We went in forward and then spent a happy few minutes going backward around the pontoons because there was not enough water for LE. In fact we had to drive through the sand to tie up.


All decamped as we sat on the bottom and went to the pub, well the bar in a hotel as there wasn’t a pub and to walk to Poole would have been ½ hour both ways. Too much wasted drinking time. It is a nice marina although a bit tight for space and there were no empty spots. BUT, and here’s the rub, it looks out to Sandbanks and with that place on your doorstep you just have to keep up with the Joneses or the Redknaps. Out of season for one night the charge for LE was £62.00. The bloke in the office was really nice and didn’t charge the £8.00 harbour dues. As the man cleaning the loos said the next morning “not many people come back and no one stays very long”.


We had dinner on board. Having paid the mooring fee we couldn’t afford not to. (Seafood pate, stuffed pork loin, new pots, mange tout and mushrooms, Annapolis apple cake with plum cream). We try to eat reasonable well. David however was disappointed with the food. There wasn’t enough apple cake for him to have a fourth helping.


Jeremy wanted to leave on Sunday by 08:00 so that we would catch the tidal gate at Hurst around noon. As we cast off, on time, we had not expected the weather gremlin to throw us a blanket of fog. By the time we got out of the bizarre entrance we could just see the front of the boat and a bit beyond. This is where it pays to have friends who do interesting things in their spare time. James who did one of the round the world races (all the way round not just bits of it) had his magic machine which he held up in front of David’s nose so that he could follow the line on it out of Poole Harbour. Jeremy sat at the GPS and confirmed every buoy that James and David had already found and we got out. That took an extraordinary amount of time. We did follow 2 fishing boats out past the chain ferry into the main channel. On mornings like that I would be a tad annoyed if I had paid millions of quid for the view from Sandbanks. Not long after getting out into open water the fog vanished as quickly as it has arrived and it was another beautiful sunny day, but because the wind was on the nose it was quite cold. (Bacon and egg sandwiches). We sailed nearly out to the fairway buoy and then back up towards Christchurch but at least we were sailing if not in the right direction to catch that all important tidal gate.


I thought that we would have another picnic lunch but instead made soup out of the remaining food because everyone was a bit chilly. The tide was so strong that by the time we were back in the Solent we were not making any progress and had to put the engine on. We stayed on the north side so as not to get the full impact of the tide but there was no time that we could hoist anything larger than a paper hanky to blow the skipper’s nose on. We had hoped that when

we got back to Southampton Water we would be able to sail but again the weather gremlin got the better of us and put the wind back in its box and went home with the sailing toys (lemon cake, tea).

We arrived back at Ocean Quay at 18:00 and everyone said that they had enjoyed the trip even if they had not had a lot of ‘sailing’. Some have even said that they will come again. Personally I think they are only coming for the food.