Aboard Multiple Challenge, 1992.
Pamela and myself learned the ropes sailing traditional gaff-rigged yachts on the Norfolk Broads. In 1968 we purchased a YM Senior, a 16ft home-built Bermuda sloop sailing on the north-east coast around the Farne Islands out of Alnmouth. Later that year we moved to Norwich and Petrel was moored at Blakeney on the north Norfolk coast. In Norwich I met Kevin and we sailed across the North Sea in "Sara Dan" a Seamaster Sailor 23 Bermuda-rigged sloop from Great Yarmouth to the Hook of Holland and Ijmuiden on a number of occasions.
In 1972 we moved to Essex and "Petrel" was based in the Blackwater Estuary which we
first experience sailing from Maldon to Brightlingsea a few years before. Sailing south from Lowestoft
we called in at Aldeborough and Hamford Water, Walton-o-the-Naze (Arthur Ransome's "Secret Water"). The
Blackwater was entered on fresh spring flood and my first sight of her new home in Tollesbury was Pamela
standing on the prow of the barge "Memory" waving to me as John and myself sailed into Woodrolfe
Creek surrounded by flooded marshland.
(For an excellent description read this poem The Blackwater by Jenny Fair).
Later that year we joined Tollesbury Cruising Club, Pamela, myself and our three children enjoying the excellent
facilities offered by Mr & Mrs Goldie. Petrel's new home was on The Leavings, Frost & Drake's
moorings at the head of Woodrolfe Creek. Her centre-board was ideal for touch-and-go east-coast sailing.
Petrel's regular cruising ground was now the broad estuary within sight of West Mersea, Bradwell nuclear power-station
and the outline of the England's oldest church, the 1,350 year-old
St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell Juxta Mare. While working in London in 1972 I joined the...
Sailing in good company
In 1978, Pamela, the boys and I chartered another Seamaster Sailor 23 to sail around The Clyde from Gare Loch. Apart from huge basking sharks, jelly- fish 1m across and sailing over a Polaris submarine blowing ballast! the highlight of this trip was seeing, at very close quarters, the Royal Yacht "Britannia" making her way down the Clyde bound for the Hebrides brass and paintwork shining from stem to stern.
On Bank-Holiday Monday August 6th, 1979, aboard "Sahmaw II" a 41 ft Neptunian yawl, myself and four other crew members sailed from Jersey across the Biscay to Spain. In gale-force winds the gear box and prop shaft were damaged and the yacht had to divert to La Coruña, Galicia for repairs. After a few days respite we sailed down the Portuguese coast to our final destination, Gibraltar. We were safely in Coruña when on Monday, August 14th news came through about Fatal Fastnet. Over 300 yachts started the race, 69 yachts did not finish, 23 boats were lost or abandoned and there were 15 fatalities.
I retired from work in 1982 due to MS but that didn't stop me sailing aboard "The Lord Nelson" - a 491 ton 54.7m barquetine specially equipped for disabled sailors. My daughter Sarah, son-in-law Tim and myself among the crew sailed from Antwerp to Lowestoft. For myself the highlight of the trip was a full 4-hours "trick" alone at the helm steering this magnificent square-rigger through the maze of buoys marking the treacherous Buxey Sands off Great Yarmouth while the rest of the watch handled canvas ready to drop anchor off Lowestoft. (Click on the link on The Lord Nelson to watch the video, and experience a virtual tour of the vessel.)
© Jubilee Sailing Trust.
Later, in August 1992, I joined skipper Nick Booth and crew aboard "Multiple Challenge" a Sigma 38 in the Round Britain Yacht Race, sailing from Hartlepool to Cowes to raise sponsorship for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britaim. Unfortunately, following an accident in heavy seas in a Force 9 gale near the notorious Goodwin Sands I found myself taken off the yacht at Dover and transfered to Canterbury Hospital. Despite the foul weather "Multiple Challenge" finished 7th in class and 18th overall out of a fleet of 28 competitors raising over £20,000. (Help raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society sailing.)
In recent years I have "swallowed the anchor" for good. Well, almost! My sailing has been limited to the odd trip on one of those grand old ladies of the Blackwater - the Thames spritsail barge "Hydrogen" out of Maldon.