Only Blue Angel showed up to sail. David (safety boat) and Lev decided not to go for just one boat. We called SBSC, talked to Olly and offer our apologies. Next year.
The predicted Met forecast for Kew was light winds from the North East. A “B” course was programmed, however, the OD considered the possibility of a change to an “A” course due to the light wind making it difficult to clear the Pier, but after discussion with the helms and the site of ripples off the Pier, a “B” it was.
Six dinghies were prepared to endure the light and fickle conditions. The course was set by Tim Young and Dave Jones in the safety boat with the usual buoy positions, except for the downstream buoy being moved upstream to shorten the course.
Apart from Andy and Stephen in Comma who were having a problem making the start line against the tide by the Railway Bridge, all the other dinghies had good starts. Rob (Phoebe) rounded the Pier after 6 mins followed by Chris (Ho Ho Ho).
Lev (Blue Angel) and Alex (Phoenix) rounded the Pier after 17 mins. Tim Wellborn and his son Rob (Enterprise) and Andy and Stephen (Comma) were struggling with the very light and variable wind and the tide conditions. They tried inshore to avoid the tide but little wind, mid-stream to get the wind and sometimes getting a puff of wind to send them towards the Pier only to be washed back with the tide. Most frustrating for them. The others who had rounded the Pier were stalling by the rowing club and drifting. It was decided to shorten the course again by bringing the downstream buoy nearer the rowing club.
Chris (Ho Ho Ho) was sailing his enterprise solo and brilliantly. He completed his first lap after 32.25 mins. Lev, Rob and Alex followed with Tim and Andy still attempting to clear the Pier. It was debatable whether a second lap could be achieved with the one-hour race closing. However, the tide was easing. Amazingly all the dinghies began to make the tide and within a few minutes all had rounded the Pier, some for the first time. HOORAY.
Now all the dinghies were together, tacking past the rowing club and rounding the downstream buoy with little trouble. Positions were changing and Alex in Phoenix was breaking free. He rounded the final buoy ahead of the fleet and squeezed over the finishing line 5 seconds ahead of Lev. All the other dinghies were very close behind with only approx. 2 minutes between them at the line. Comma and Ixion completing 1 lap and the rest 2 laps.
Many thanks to Tim and Dave in the safety boat, sorry about the soaking Dave.
A lovely sail for our Sailing Club picnic at The London Apprentice, Isleworth
Race Report 27 may 2018
The only two sailors to turn up for this windless Isleworth race were so underwhelmed by the conditions that the whole thing was very nearly not bothered with.
Eventually Lev’s enthusiasm prevailed and two Enterprises were launched, Rob C collecting Lucy as crew on the way.
Through the bridge there was no question of sailing against the current so it was a hang-on start , managed by Michael Somerville from the safety boat , which was operated by Tim and Dave.
In the total absence of any wind to speak of, Rob and Lucy seemed to drift with the tide slightly faster than Lev – perhaps the extra weight of a 2 person crew made their boat catch the water better than Lev’s single handed displacement- but anyway by Syon they had a 50 yard lead.
Puffs of the lightest wind then materialised occasionally, and by skilful use of these Lev managed to make up all the ground he had lost . The two boats rounded the mark at Isleworth together. With a strong flood still running the two boats made for the still water near the quay where they waited for the turn- Rob anchored, and Lev somehow managing to keep sailing against the tide in zero wind and eventually ghosted decisively into the lead.
A dramatic snails pace battle then developed – initially in the tide dead spot along the quay and in front of the pink house using occasional puffs that came randomly from ahead, astern and abeam. As the tide eventually slackened enough for the boats to be able to use more of the river they started to make progress, sailing in the puffs and drifting in the calms as far as the Brentford dock housing, neck and neck, with the lead changing continually.
Here Rob made a lucky choice and took the Brentford bank where he found a tiny but useful breeze and a strengthening tide. Lev, on the Kew bank, had neither.
Rob’s luck held as he rounded the bend to Kew Bridge where the finish line swept up past him while he happened to be 50 yards ahead of Lev.
The total time taken to get to Isleworth and back was something like 2 hours. Is this a record?
SGSC AND BERLIN SKB AT SALCOMBE 2018 [See photos attached]
Sunshine glinted and sparkled off the multi-layered coats of varnish of Rob Adam’s immaculately restored boat ANCIENT CITY – recovered as a sunken wreck in the mud of the river Thames at Hammersmith and now gracing the waters at Salcombe.
SGSC and SKB sailors gathered by it on the Normandy Ferry pontoon, site of the American Army embarkation for D-Day, ready for an inward-bound invasion of the upper reaches of the Salcombe Estuary to Frogmore Creek – at the head of which lay the prospect of a good dinner for everyone at The Globe Inn.
Seconded into the fleet was Rob’s friend [………] whose similar open motor boat could also easily carry 10 people. As a blue-sky sunset dipped into the West behind Salcombe town with its crowds of Bretton-shirted and salmon-pink-trousered sailors, our very own double-breasted fleet chugged happily off into the estuary heading North up this long seawater estuary, formed in the Ice Age and known as an sea inlet ‘ria’ for its lack of freshwater river inflow – brilliantly lit on our way by the low-slanted glittering light on the water of the setting sun.
Threading our way through the resident and visiting yacht moorings, and then between the narrows of Snapes Point and Scoble Reef, suddenly the vista opened up to reveal the glory of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
ANOB’s are Britain’s best landscapes. There are 46 of them, designated by government and protected by law. Each one has its own special character. South Devon AONB covers 60 miles of coastline, estuaries and countryside between Plymouth and Torbay consisting of extensive coastal plateaux (areas of elevated, relatively level land) with great panoramic views along the coastline with dramatic cliffs interrupted by inlet combes [small valleys with steep dense woods in them], extending up to two kilometres inland.
Following the fairway buoys we passed by stands of these woodlands, packed with oak and willow trees growing right down to the seashore; remarkably also with the occasional tall English Elm – sole survivors of the ravaging of Dutch Elm Disease. There were no big plantations or commercial woods here; all were too small for use except perhaps for local farmers’ handsaw milling for fencing and firewood, and with no disruption allowed by any intrusive modern house-building in these very ancient woods. The steep sides mean they are virtually inaccessible; and so they remain as an important haven for wildlife. As if on cue to confirm this, and to note our presence passing by his territory, the hoot of an owl echoed across the still water.
The view opened up into the broad inner estuary. Suddenly the landscape looked different. Because the soils of the area are so fertile and the plateau land is so easy to run machinery across, these broad fields have been stripped of the high hedges that otherwise line the steep and twisting lanes of South Devon.
Hedges are one of the really special things about this area. There are still over 2,500 miles (4,000km) of them in the AONB. They give the land its patchwork pattern. Some of the hedges were landownership boundaries originating in the Bronze Age, around 4,000 years ago. Many more were built in the Middle Ages, over 500 years ago. The most recent were built when open areas of cliff top were divided up into field parcels in the 19th Century; and then acquired and inherited by family estate landowners. But then the EU Common Agriculture Policy [CAP] came along.
Big land ownership means big money in big subsidies for big farming production. And that meant ripping out all these uneconomic hedges and planting mono-culture commodity crops.
This impact could be obviously seen in the dark green/black tracks left by the tractors with 36’-wide boom-sprayers of fertilisers and weedkillers and insecticides being spread over fields of viridian-green crops. And these tractor tracks were running only up and down the fields; not across and back along the contour lines, which would be less efficient and more expensive. It means that whenever it rains the run-off is chemical pollution that runs straight down into the estuary, taking the top soil with it; with only the ancient hedges and the bank of trees on the waters’ edge to stop it.
80% of the wildlife of Britain has been lost in the last 30 years because of this. But it is now likely that post-Brexit, ex-CAP, a New Agriculture Bill based on the 25 Year Environment Plan will at last put a stop to this terrible loss and the government will pay farmers instead to protect and enhance the remaining biodiversity and thereby provide the sustainable ecosystem services on which the real economy of the area depends, such as tourists coming to see and enjoy the natural glories of nature in the AONB.
We turned up into Frogmore Creek. With the incoming tide we were accompanied by a golden brown froth on the waters’ surface, which could easily be mistaken for pollution; but it is, in fact, diatoms; phytoplankton which live in the water column and on the surface mud in estuaries. These tiny plants use sunlight and nutrients in the water and the mud to grow and to reproduce. On an incoming tide multitudes of these diatoms are lifted from the surface of the mud and form this golden brown frothy ‘scum’ on the surface of the water, providing a nutritious meal for grey mullet and crabs as they follow the water in and come out to feed – and for us to feed on them, if we wish!
We looked out for kingfishers, otters and little egrets along the shoreline while cormorants contoured up the creek beside us – and swifts overhead screamed and swirled and spun round and targeted aerial insects.
It was the Royal Wedding Day! And Frogmore House was the Grade 1 listed glamorous venue for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s post-wedding party!
Frogmore House has attracted Monarchs and Lords and Counts for the grandest of English-German royal parties since the reign of George III and his equally glamorous German wife, Queen Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz – who served as the first Queen of a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1818. But that Frogmore is set in the immaculate lawns of Windsor Great Park.
Our English-German post-wedding Frogmore party venue was at the tiny head of a watery cul-de-sac matted with wavy reeds and wading birds pecking away in the mudflats and amongst the seaweed on the encroaching tide.
And as if in our own Royal Party procession, after leaving our boats, and in a long and single crocodile line, we carefully crossed, one-by-one, with our wedding-trains lifted up, along a line of slippery stepping stones laid across the upper reaches of the salt marsh to find The Global Inn of Frogmore.
It’s a small and snug 18th century traditional Devon pub; with local limestone kiln-dried and whitewash-painted outside walls and, inside, low-slung roof beams and bare stone floors with nooks and crannies with benches and wood-burning fireplaces – and a perfectly-sized small party dining room at the back with two big refectory tables for us all to cram around.
Still stuffed with the enormous doorstep-sized crab sandwiches marvellously organised by Heather that we had all eaten at lunchtime on the sunny terrace of the Salcombe Yacht Club after the Royal Wedding, there was some thought about the great array of food on the menu: steaks and seafood, salmon and pigeon – and also the question of what to drink.
While pondering this and plumping – of course – for local Devon cider, Tim found there was a drawer under the table which opened up to reveal sheaths of hand-written poems! It seems as though a tradition had developed by parties previously gathered in this room to write and leave poems about the occasion. Some were really personal and intimate and [very] explicit, while others ranged from the philosophical about the rain and the weather, while the best were hilariously nautical and bawdy. Obviously, something had to be written by us!
The SGSC version was composed by Andy Ross:
“The Germans from Berlin are here
And they’re not just drinking the beer.
The sailors from the Stand
Have made their stand;
And Devon cider is something to cheer!”
And, in response, an SKB version was composed by Klaus:
The good times have passed so quickly,
We hope will not have to worry about a Visa,
When in two year’s time,
We will once again travel,
To enjoy over here,
Cider and Beer,
After much kerfuffle at the end of the meal over the apportionment of how the bill was split between the tables all was resolved and we emerged into a vast and starlit night. If only Brexit negotiations were so easy!
In fact, though, there is a strange money background to the story; which affected us. It’s indeed about the real bill. There are actually two currencies in the AONB.
There is the Pound Sterling. This is the currency of the robber barons of the area.
They are the owners of the great landed estates living off the CAP subsidies at the expense of local smallholding farmers; most of whom are close to poverty. And it is the currency of the speculators who invest in the range of huge and empty properties high on the hillsides of Salcombe: tombstones of international property portfolios owned by oligarchs; be they Arabs or Russians – international trophy properties increasingly now being traded into by the Chinese. And it is also the currency of all the pubs and shops in Salcombe who charge London prices to fleece the tourists in a seasonal earning spasm that sees the town’s population rise from a residential 1,700 to a transient 23,000 during the summer. Historically, it is just the same as the traditional Salcombe and East Portlemouth seafarers who kept a sharp eye out in bad weather in order to set false harbour lights and lure sailors, especially French, seeking refuge, to destruction on the rocks; to loot and pillage in the wreckage. Now global travellers and tourists are lured to spend by the lights in the Salcombe shops.
But local people cannot live on this unsustainably high cost of living. It’s far too expensive. And so there is an alternative currency in the AONB: the Totnes Pound.
It is a local currency. A local economy is normally like a leaky bucket. Wealth comes into the area and as soon as it is spent at a shop or in a business that has more financial connections outside the area than inside; that money disappears. However, the local Totnes Pound money doesn’t leak out of holes through to the multi-national banks. As a voucher system it bounces around and back inside the local economy, again and again. It keeps more money in local pockets at lower cost.
The local money is used for sustainable production and consumption closer to home. It pays attention to how products are locally made and traded and it reduces the waste streams that result from them. People and businesses using either the paper or the electronic or mobile Totnes Pound get a local discount on all transactions and earn loyalty points. They can all trade and communicate and advertise their products and their services to each other online. Its why there are no big supermarkets in the AONB. They are not allowed in. There is an hourly bus service to Kingsbridge and Totnes for that. And thereby local pubs can charge less to locals. But not to us.
So we set off back, sliding to seaward on the ebbing tide in a vastly dark night sky.
After such a baking hot day, and on a warm still night, the dank scent of seashore seaweed combined with the aroma of the flowering plants of the hillsides and hedgerows; primroses, violets, bluebells and pink campion, smells of blackthorn and wild rose wafted across the water. White phosphorescent sparkles arose in the bow waves and in the wake of Ancient City.
Totally dramatically as we turned the corner, Salcombe town suddenly appeared in a blaze of lights; as dazzling as a Royal firework display.
What a triumphant finale display on a truly Royal day!
On the last day a farewell party for everyone was generously hosted by Enoch who opened up his suite in the South Sands Hotel, with its balcony view of The Bar and the estuary. Plates of hot and delicious local delicacies emerged continuously; speciality Devon Hog sausage rolls, and slices of warm and trembling quiches and pies – and, of course, plenty of Devon cider. It was a delightful and sumptuous end to a wonderful weekend.
Great thanks are due to Heather and Rob for so expertly arranging, managing and conducting and guiding such a superb expedition for SGSC and SKB in and around Salcombe and its magnificent surroundings. It was a privilege to get to see the area – and in such friendly company.
© Andy Ross
Report from the water, by Alex:
5 boats started a C course with a light breeze from the west. Lev, solo in the Enterprise for the second time, led from the start, but John caught him soon after Brentford Marina. Alex and Lev then proceeded up to Isleworth together. Both misjudged the mark somewhat, allowing Ian to catch up and start the (long) journey back. Tim followed round the mark soon after. John moved to the Surrey bank around Syon House, which proved slower and Ian and Alex overtook, inching along the Middlesex bank, but mostly perfectly balanced against the incoming tide and a little warm in the sun. Eventually they returned to Brentford, where the winds improved and the tide slackened. Sticking to the Surrey bank now, the front three made a close finish, Alex and Ian over the line less than a second apart. Conditions had improved upstream and Lev and Tim had both crossed the line just 6 minutes later. Many thanks to David and David in the safety boat, and OOD Tim with assistance from Andy.
Report from the finish line by Andy:
On a leisurely Sunday afternoon stroll into Kew Gardens for lunch and to see the spectacularly reconstructed Temperate House [fully £41m-worth] Andy came across Tim, anxiously scanning the upstream horizon searching for sight of the returning boats. Already an hour and a half had elapsed – and Tim was on tenterhooks as he was due to be in High Wycombe for the spring corn grinding ceremony in the Penn Watermill that afternoon. And as time and tide wait for no man – and the last of the miller’s last year’s corn harvest rations were going to be distributed to the starving peasantry, hungry for their annual loaf of bread on a first-come-first-served basis, something had to be done.
A ransom was required and Tim emptied his pockets, but found only a whistle.
Ah well; that and a promise to save a slice of genuine artisan-produced, water-mill stone-ground, home-baked granary loaf – or stand-in as OOD on a later date, and he was free to go.
Three-quarters of an hour passed by, with only the occasional rowing eight going up river when suddenly round the bend appeared a great flotilla.
“Gloriana” was coming down the river! Heralded by a PLA motorboat. And a crowd of boats behind her! What was this about? And where were our boats?
As she drew level it was clear there were properly-dressed dignitaries on board. Gentlemen in frock coats and tricorn hats, and ladies in floral frocks and with amply-wide hats; all being heaved along by 16 red-coated, red-faced oarsmen. “Where have you come from?” met with no reply. “Where are you going?”, similarly silent. The two stern-faced coxswains were much more concerned to lower the Union Jack and City of London flag and drop the two masts before reaching Kew Bridge.
But the followers were more communicative. They had come from Hampton Court and were heading for Tower Bridge. And what a lot of them! (Tallow Chandlers, Master Glaziers, Ahoy, God the Only Founder, Catamoran, Barbers’ Cutter, Richmond BC, Thames River Soc., etc. etc.) The gentlemen of the City and Guilds Livery boats were especially pleased to wave back; their gold chains of office glinting in the sunshine; feather hats pluming in the breeze; what rich pageantry was on the river for the towpath peasants to behold! Yet all was apparently a rehearsal in honour of yet greater ceremonial pageantry to come; the royal wedding in Windsor in a week’s time. As Morecombe and Wise (or was it Cleese, Barker and Corbett – ed.) so wittily said:
“I look down on him; and he looks up to me; and I look up to him [and her]; and they [both] look down on us”.
This exchange of pleasantries had a sudden an unexpected effect. Sequentially, pre-occupied and distracted by the rude questions from the commoner on the riverbank, and keen to reply politely; boat after boat collided with the red can rowing boy – despite each of the downstream boats ahead of them calling back to warn them! Had they similarly collided with, and sunk, the SGSC fleet somewhere upstream?
It took another half-hour for SGSC to turn up. With a light westerly wind and a slow-turning tide they had obviously had a gruelling time of it in the upper reaches; and obviously not with the help of a glint of gold or with any splendid tunics being worn. However, young David Kolobov, accompanying David Jones in the Safety Boat, had in his pocket his special find on the foreshore that morning: a metal button badge with an inscription on it that appeared to read: ‘London and South Western Railway Company’ and on the reverse ‘Newcastle..?’ A find that the metal detectorists, also on the foreshore, had missed! We wait to hear what it reveals of its history when cleaned up and researched into. Now then, if SGSC sailors were properly dressed – and duly buttoned-up with official ceremonial tunics, and ostrich-plumed tricorn hats, they might have made a better show of it on the river; and made a better time. All boats crossed the line within four minutes of each other; some 2 hours and 40 minutes after the start.
Andy Ross, Acting OOD
Sunday 13 May 2018
Race report, 6 May 2018
At last – a perfect spring evening for a relaxing race. We were missing an OD, but Inna Kolobov gallantly volunteered to run the race, for the first time, while Lev Kolobov tried out an Enterprise for the first time. Not only that but he sailed it solo.
There wasn’t much wind – a gentle F2 from the SE – but enough to make a race of it for the 7 boats that launched. The consensus was to set a short course with the start at Zoffany House. Chris Jones in the safety boat missed the start searching for the key to the safety boat so the sailors decided to improvise. After the starting signal from Inna we passed the word around to turn in line with the first post on the mooring grid for the downstream mark and opposite a grey inflatable outside the Bell and Crown for the upstream mark. All went well, with John Bull taking the lead, beating down to the first mark, and running up to the upstream mark with a brief detour to check with the Browns in their Ent on precisely which mark to turn on. It didn’t hold him back much and he crossed the start line about 30 seconds ahead of the Browns. Ian Nethersell was about the same distance behind in third place with Nick about a minute behind him.
Fortunately, by the time that Lev in his Ent completed his first lap at the back of the fleet, Chris (aided by David Kolobov) had managed to release the safety boat and had laid a proper downstream mark about half way down the mooring grid. And he laid an upstream mark in ample time for John to come around on his second lap. Ian was second on the second lap still about 30 seconds behind John but there was plenty of position-swapping at the downstream end of the course. By the third lap Ian was in the lead ahead of John with Lev just over a minute behind and after much close-quarters tacking by the end of the fourth lap Ian and john crossed the finishing line with only two seconds between them. Third and fourth position were fought over by the Browns and Alex Pape who finished 4 seconds apart. Lev was a few seconds behind, obviously getting the feel of the boat, followed by Andy and Enoch and finally Nick. All meticulously recorded by Inna, to whom many thanks.
Next week it’s a C-course at 12:30.
Race report, 29 April 2018
B course, 13 50 start. OD Rob Collingwood, Rescue Boat James Armitage
Another ridiculously cold April day- Overcast and just about remaining dry. Hats and gloves weather at a 7 degrees which felt cooler in the good force 3 North westerly breeze. This made it a dead run down towards Chiswick bridge on the B course, with a brisk tack coming back, the apparent wind strength sharpened by a quite strong opposing tide.
Only two contestants: Tim and Lev; the battle of the Gulls.
On the first lap, Tim rounded the Chiswick Staithe buoy first, but Lev pulled ahead on the tack back- his tactic of frequent short tacking to stay in the strongest wind and tide paying off against Tim’s fewer but longer tacks into the easier conditions at the bank.
Both boats had a blustery sail back and Lev completed his first lap in 18 minutes against Tim’s 22. The Bulls Head buoy was set quite close in under the lee of the pub giving both boats the opportunity to grind to a halt in true Strand style even with this very adequate wind.
Then, just after completing his first lap with a small lead, Lev’s Gull got rolling in mid-river opposite the pier, and that was the end of his race. While Tim ploughed steadily on to complete a second lap in about another 19 minutes, Lev struggled with the slippery and buoyant hull of his boat which allowed him to right it about 4 times but each time re-capsized in protest at his efforts to climb back on board. Eventually Lev outwitted the uncooperative boat by climbing in over the stern . However as he was almost under the railway bridge by then, the rescue boat manned by James and David Kolobov, pulled him away from this hazard and Lev decided he should not continue, though whether a sideways tow towards the bank really constituted assistance might have been a fine point .
This left Tim the sole contestant and undisputed winner after making no mistakes in a textbook sail under testing conditions.