This is the second edition of our online magazine. Who would have thought that it would have survived so long?
This edition contains plenty of warm water sailing, just to make you envious; a cold and wet story, to make you think of your own sailing and several other interesting pieces. As before, we have started with a serious tone. I hope that you enjoy it.
All small photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
If you have anything that you think might amuse the others, don’t wait until we are assembling another issue, please let me know.
CRUISING THE AEGEAN SEA , OCTOBER 2014 – by Ray Clayton
A group of six of us got together and decided it would be good fun to charter a yacht for a week’s sail round the Greek and Turkish Islands in the Southern Aegean Sea in early October when the weather would still be on the warm side, but with discounted charter rates outside of high season. The yacht we chartered was a Beneteau Oceanis 475 fast ocean cruiser with plenty of room, fitted with an electric windlass , bow thruster and twin wheel steering, not to mention hot water showers and a swimming platform.
We flew from Stansted to Bodrum with EasyJet then took a taxi for a 45 minute journey to Palmarina at Yalikavak. This is a state of the art marina, recently completed with no expense spared and populated by several hundred mega yachts.
The plan was to sail south and east reaching our furthest point after 2 fairly long days of sailing and then using the remaining 4 days to retrace our route at a more leisurely pace and this is pretty much what happened.
On the first day we made an early start and motored out of the marina. Having only gone a few miles we picked up a breeze from the north, which at times was blowing at 20 – 25 knots. This gave us a glorious downwind sail for most of the day with a top speed of 9.8 knots.
The first night’s stop was in a small lagoon surrounded on 3 sides by mountains, at Knidos on the Datca peninsular, close to an important archaeological site where the statue of Aphrodite was discovered. Not a particularly sheltered spot at this time of the year, as there was a strong wind funnelling down through the mountains and causing the yacht to sheer at anchor, so we tied up to a jetty belonging to a waterside restaurant and went ashore to sample the local refreshments.
Knidos on the Datca Peninsula
On the second day we headed east looking for a place called Sailor’s Paradise which is not shown on any charts. We anchored with a line
taken ashore in a sheltered bay at Dirsek , a remote spot where all supplies to the one restaurant in the bay come by sea. A wonderful place to anchor with crystal clear waters and ideal for swimming and snorkelling.
On day 3 we sailed west and reached Ova Buku on the western end of the Knidos Peninsula, a sheltered cove with a small population one shop and a restaurant on the waterfront. The next day saw us sailing to Mersincik another sheltered anchorage surrounded by dramatic sheer cliff faces, and then the following day due north to Bitez situated a few miles west of Bodrum and a coastal resort popular in the summer with tourists. There is a large protected harbour in a natural lagoon and plenty of room to anchor in the bay with shops nearby to buy bread and stores. The last day saw us sailing back to Yalikavak beating into the prevailing wind from the north and another fine sail to end our cruise.
Sailing in these waters we were hardly ever out of sight of land due to the many islands both Turkish and Greek that we passed. The water is very deep often exceeding 100 metres close up to the shore and with few navigation marks , making the GPS chart plotter essential, however even in a stiff breeze the water remained flat with very little swell.
A Dark and Cheerless Night
It was a damp and cheerless night. And it was cold; by God was it cold, penetratingly cold.
It had been raining. He gazed out into the night, watching the lights as they passed by and slipped behind. Their reflection shimmered in the intervening stretches of water, jostling in an uncoordinated dance on the surface of its inky blackness. His eyes narrowed to slits under the peak of his uniform cap, against the stinging, biting wind – his face drained of colour. He shuddered, burying his chin even further into the collar of his uniform greatcoat for greater protection.
He rubbed his hands together – vigorously – the while stamping his feet; anything to stimulate circulation into his numbed and aching limbs. It had been a long day. How many round trips had he done, ferrying his passengers to and fro? He’d lost count. But this was the last trip, the final leg: soon he’d be relieved, be home, home to the warmth of his fire, to a steaming bowl of broth, to thawing out, to the slow painful return of blood circulating through veins of numbed fingers and toes. His spirits lifted at the thought of a nip or two from the bottle he always kept in the cupboard beside his armchair.
A lurch, sudden and unexpected, drew him back from his musing. Instinctively he reached for the handrail, steadying himself against the inevitable return lurch. How many times had he done that unconsciously? Countless times! No need to look for the rail; no need to divert his eyes. Years of experience told him exactly where to feel for support. The rail was cold to his touch, painfully so, even through his mitts, but through it vibrated the comforting throb of the diesel engine driving them onward, onward to journey’s end…and home.
Almost there now. He threw his arms around his torso, coaxing temporary warmth into his creeping flesh. For the last time, he stepped inside, temporarily dazzled by the light flooding down and bathing his seated passengers.
‘Any more fares, please? Hold very tight there’
He rang the bell.
Boats I have Owned
My first floating craft was a green Lilo airbed that I shared with my cousin whilst on holiday at our Grandmother’s beach hut at Dovercourt. We sat astride it and paddled with extended table tennis bats. In my early teens at school in Walthamstow, East London my whole summer holidays were spent at Dovercourt and I had a job working on the boating lake. We had 10 clinker built dinghies, 11 single canoes and 12 paddle boats. I loved every minute of it and this is where my interest in boats originated.
Having started work on the railways at 16 years old I soon saved up enough money to buy my first proper boat, an 8 ft pram dinghy, which I rowed about Leigh on Sea. I got fed up with rowing so cut a slot in the keel and constructed a centre board box, made a rudder, mast and adapted an old sail. It worked ok, was a bit slow but that was probably a good thing for a learner. I named it ‘Suzie Wong’ not realising that was the name of a Chinese prostitute in a 1957 novel.
Next was an 11ft Wensum class sailing dinghy called ‘Rangitari’. I was married by now and sailed out of West Mersea. It was like a smaller version of an Enterprise.
However, I had always admired two wooden cruisers at our club, namely ’Thunderer’ and ‘Island Maid’. In the late 1980’s I had the opportunity to buy the 27ft sloop ‘Island Maid’ and spent the next 15 years working on and enjoying this East Coast, Reg Freeman designed centre board craft. She was a big lump but easily sailed single handed. I still miss the power of the 42hp Perkins 4108 diesel engine.
However the time came to do more sailing than maintenance of a wooden boat so she was sold to a fisherman at Harwich. I have never seen her afloat again and often wonder if it is still in one piece.
In the early 1990’s a Mirror dinghy was obtained for my teenage sons to use but I think I got more use out of it as they were busy with ‘other stuff’.
For a few months I was without a boat and my wife Linda says I was like a bear with a sore head. However another bear came to the rescue, ‘Baloo’. I had already looked at two other Trident 24 craft and liked the class and layout of this Alan Hill design. I found ‘Baloo’ via the internet and she was lying in Mylor Creek, Falmouth. Having visited her by train I agreed to purchase and have her transported to Essex by road. I did have several offers by club members to sail her back to the Stour but I didn’t want to take a chance with a boat I did not know etc. Four people named David were involved, the seller, the purchaser and the yard owner at Devoran who craned her out and transported the boat to Mistley boat yard where David Foster lifted it off the trailer.
I am still enjoying sailing this vessel very much and hope to continue to do so for a long time.
My last purchase was an 11ft rowing dinghy called ‘Mary Dee’. It was owned by my neighbour Jon Wainwright and after he died I asked his wife Margaret if I could buy it. It is a very strong and stable craft and makes an excellent tender.
Now how did the Shipping Forecast come about ???
Are you sitting comfortably Shipmates and Lasses, and I will begin ..
Circa,1643,, a chap called Evangelista Torricelli ,yep a local lad ! Came up with the idea of what today we call barometers.
The mercury barometer measures atmospheric pressure. It consists of a tube of mercury, sealed at the top and open to the air below. Air pressing on the open end supports a column of mercury whose weight is equal to that of the air pressure.
The atmosphere which envelopes our globe is held around the earth by gravity. The pull of the gravity, which we feel and can measure as atmospheric pressure, de-creases with height. At the top of Mount Everest atmospheric pressure is about half that at sea level. This pressure gradient is by no means uniform. The atmosphere is warmed by the sun in the day and cools at night. Its temperature is changed as it passes across warmer or colder lands and seas. Warm air rises whilst cold air sinks , and these vertical motions can overwhelm the basic pressure gradient and change the pressure that we measure at ground level. A glance at the sky usually shows that the air is moving horizontally as well, with clouds marking the speed and direction of winds high above our heads. These winds bring air of different temperatures, sometimes in calm, sometimes in stormy conditions,affecting pressure.
So the mercury barometer enables us to make ‘absolute’ pressure measurements , to measure altitude and to forecast the weather . It is surely one of the most useful inventions that science has given to mankind.
Well are you still awake.?…enough I hear you cry!!!
Moving quickly on some 200 years or more, by the 1860s, weather reports within Europe and North America could be telegraphed to reach central offices within hours .By charting the weather across the country at any given time , it was possible to identify the large and small scale pressure changes associated with settled weather , rain, storms and gales.
Forecasting became a realistic proposition and the Barometer its principal tool.
Are we there yet Dad ??, no, just around the next bend !!
Vice Admiral Robert Fitzroy ,,
Born at Ampton Hall , Suffolk in 1805, he entered the navy as a cadet before his 13th birthday; later as Captain of the HMS Beagle , he undertook survey work with Charles Darwin (1809-82). On retiring from active service 1850 he turned his attentions to the science of meteorology and in 1854 was appointed Chief of the newly formed Meteorological Department of the Board of Trade.
He believed that many coastal fishing and cargo boats were lost each year when their captains put out to sea unaware of approaching storms. He designed a ‘fishery barometer’ which by 1858 he had arranged to be displayed at each port,however small, to warn sailors of coming bad weather. Their large clear scales bear Fitzroy’s’ Rules’ forecasting the wind and weather to be expected from the barometer’s tendency. Many of these barometers survive, still to be seen around the coasts of Britain in harbour master’s offices and such places.
Following this example the RNLI supplied each of its station with a similar barometer.
A terrible storm in 1859, which caused the loss of the Royal Charter inspired Fitzroy to develop charts to allow predictions to be made, which he called “forecasting the weather”, thus coining the term “weather forecast. fifteen land stations were established to use the new telegraph to transmit to him daily reports of weather at set times. The first daily weather forecasts were published in The Times in 1860. The 1859 storm resulted in the Crown distributing Storm Glasses then known as “Fitzroy’s” storm barometers,” to many small fishing communities around the British Isles.
In the following year, Fitzroy introduced a system of hoisting storm warning cones at the principal ports when a gale was expected. He ordered fleets to stay in port under these conditions. The Weather Book, which he published in 1863, was far in advance of the scientific opinion of the time.
Many fishing fleet owners objected to the posting of gale warnings, which required that fleets not leave the ports. Under this pressure, Fitzroy’s system was abandoned for a short time after his death. The fishing fleet owners reckoned without the pressure of the fishermen, for whom Fitzroy had been a hero, responsible for saving many lives. In 1874 the system was resumed in a simplified form.
In 1863 Fitzroy was promoted to Vice-Admiral due to seniority, but in the coming years internal and external troubles at the Meteorological Office, financial concerns as well as failing health, and his struggle with depression took their toll, On 30 April 1865, Vice-Admiral FitzRoy committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor. FitzRoy died having exhausted his entire fortune (£6,000, the equivalent of £400,000 today) on public expenditure. When this came to light, in order to prevent his wife and daughter living in destitution, his friend and colleague Bartholomew Sulivan began an Admiral FitzRoy Testimonial Fund, which succeeded in getting the government to pay back £3,000 of this sum (Darwin contributed a further £100).Queen Victoria gave the special favour of allowing his widow and daughter the use of grace and favour apartments at Hampton Court Palace , until her death.
FitzRoy is buried in the front church yard of All Saints Church in Upper Northwood, London. His memorial was restored by the Meteorological Office in 1981.
On 4 February 2002, when the Shipping Forecast sea area Finisterre was renamed to avoid confusion with the (smaller) French and Spanish forecast area of the same name , the new name chosen by the UK’s Meteorological Office was “FitzRoy”, in honour of their founder.
FitzRoy has been commemorated by the Fitzroy Building at the University of Plymouth , used by the School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Science.
Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy was commemorated on two stamps issued by the Royal Mail for the Falkland Islands and St Helena.
If any of you are still reading this !!
Next time you hear the shipping forecast spare a thought for good old Fitzroy .
Fair wind and safe sailing. Cheers
A Caribbean Cruise
We arrived at the pier in bustling Redbrook Bay a 10 am on a hot sunny Wednesday morning. The harbour was busy with ferries, one of which looked suspiciously like a landing craft, leaving regularly for the short journey from St Thomas to St John and other craft and yachts were bustling in and out of the fuel berth and pontoon.
On the jetty were a number of Island Packet sailing yachts rocking gently on their moorings. Ours was a 37 ft Bermudan cutter called “Latitudes” which was equipped with in-mast furling and a self acting staysail. Wolfe was in charge and suggested we stored our gear before he gave us the pre-sail briefing.
The boat was a delight; so large and roomy with vast storage compartments tucked away all over the place. The Galley had a decent stove, microwave, fridge and freezer and was fully equipped for a crew of 6. The solar panels, which gave us a maximum of 13A on a sunny day, help power the refrigeration system (made more efficient by using a keel cooled heat exchanger) and charge the 400 Ahr battery pack.
Wolfe spent a lot of time below decks explaining the workings of the luxurious, spacious, electric heads and impressing on us that the holding tank had to be empty on our return (no problem, just the flip of a switch when out at sea) if we wanted to avoid the $75 penalty. He reckoned the 250 gal water tank and 100 gal fuel tank would probably see us through our 6 day charter and took us through the multitude of switches and hull fittings.
Once in the cockpit we quickly mastered the engine and the bow thruster controls and were treated to a demonstration of sail setting and furling which seemed to involve a huge amount of neat rope coiling.
At last we were ready to go. Obviously we came over as untrustworthy as Wolfe insisted on manoeuvring Latitudes away from her berth and out into the fairway. He was then picked up by a colleague in an inflatable and their final act, as they watched us motor away, was to snap our photo. Maybe they wanted a last shot of their much loved yacht – just in case……..
The wind was a gentle F3 from the East (apparently its almost always from the East) so we quickly had the sails up and the kettle on and enjoyed a pleasant sail towards St John being troubled only by wash from the high-speed ferries and water taxis. Having passed a large turtle gliding gracefully along through the azure waters and avoiding the well marked reef; we sailed into Francis Bay to spend the night on one of the many $25 mooring buoys provided by the Virgin Islands National Park.
Next we swamped the dinghy. This occurred after we had motored ashore in our small RIB tender for a stroll to the local bar (of course it had closed down since the pilot was written – haven’t they all?). We found the RIB was so heavy that we could barely haul it out ot the water so we had to secure it to a handy tree (we later discovered that this is forbidden) An hour later, we returned, sober and unfed, to find it swamped, presumably by the wash of a high speed ferry. After some frantic bailing the water was gone and we were astonished when the engine, an old 2 cylinder Mariner 6 horse, fired up and motored us smoothly back to the yacht.
Day 2 After a leisurely breakfast we investigated the dinghy and discovered the double bottom was completely full of water which explained why it was so heavy. We spent an hour bailing it out and were pleased to note how much higher it floated in the water The diesel was fired up and we motor-sailed into the F6 past Tortola, capital of the British Virgin Isles, and round to Coral Bay located on the East of the island next to Hurricane Hole. Boats were packed tightly into this lovely little anchorage and it took us some time to set the hook in a safe spot. To port were the wrecks of several modern yacht, some still sporting masts and rigging, which had been cast up on the beach and wrecked during a hurricane. The holding was poor and we dragged much too close to another yacht during the night, even though there was little wind and no tide.
Day 3 It rained – quite a lot – but its warm rain, so it seems less unpleasant! Our next anchorage, after a couple more hours motorsailing, was in Saltpond Bay. Here we spent time strolling on the beach (where we enjoyed a great view of a humming bird) and yet more snorkelling, this time watched, rather too closely I thought, by a large barracuda, who seemed to enjoy swimming under and round our yacht.
Day 4 We had a great sail some 30 miles West to Hull Bay past glorious scenery for the novelty of anchoring in front of our friend’s apartment. After a great evening meal in the Hull Bay Hideaway, we spent a very uncomfortable night at the mercy of some Atlantic rollers which, though quite small, pitched us around and made sleeping difficult, though, luckily, not impossible.
Day 5 Saw us make an early start for Magens Bay (reputedly one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world) for a calm breakfast and after that, a couple of hours on the engine into a head wind, saw us back at St John where we met our wives for a day exploring the island by car. 60% of St John is a well managed national park given to the nation by Rockefella in 1957. Outside the park is Santa Cruz, the main town and a few other small settlements scattered around some of the sheltered bays but mostly the island is in its natural state. There are wild donkeys, introduced by the sugar producers of the 18th century, and we saw numerous iguanas and a few mongooses (mongeese???) roaming around the woods. After the tour we managed a brisk evening sail out towards Jost Van Dyke before finding a nice calm mooring in Hawknest Bay.
Day 6 We had to have the boat back by noon but managed some more snorkelling around a spectacular reef containing a multitude of colourful fish, before enjoying a brisk sail in a F5 (from the East of course) back towards Redbrook Bay where we furled the sails and neatly coiled all the halyards before motoring in to the fuel pontoon where we were met by a smiling Wolfe. We had used just 6 gals of diesel at a cost of $31 (about £20) which seemed very little for a 55hp on such a large yacht. Another issue of trust arose as Wolfe insisted on conning us back to the pier leaving us to handle the warps and make her fast.
It was a great trip on a lovely boat but, on the down side, I don’t think I will get Ellie back on Dolma until I have fitted a push button toilet!
And we finish on a serious note