Archive for Portscatho

Summer 2016

Posted in Cornwall, Fun, Photographs, Sailing, Walking with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2017 by maidofmettle

Since Maid is happily back in the water again and I’m about to go away for a few weeks I thought I’d better catch up quickly on last summer’s main holiday.

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Surprisingly for the second year in a row I launched very late but left Carbeile to find Nick (just ahead of the mast in the picture below) at anchor. Even more surprisingly it was his first day off the beach, though given he’d be crossing to the Caribbean a few months later launching late seemed much less important for him!

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I wasn’t going anywhere near that far or long, but I could almost kid myself sorting out the provisions in the sunshine.

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The evening was a pretty much perfect reintroduction to life afloat.

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It felt quite easy to slip into the mindset of a longer cruise, spending the next day at anchor doing various jobs and catching up a bit while waiting for the wind to swing round to suit a passage west the next day, after another beautiful sunset.

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The next day the forecast proved true and we had a beautiful sail out of Plymouth Sound and past Rame Head (on the right below, you can just see the small chapel on the top).

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We had some extra company on passage as well πŸ™‚

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We ended up in different places in the evening as I’d tacked inshore and pretty much got the anchor down before I realised Nick was carrying straight on, but we’d likely meet again in a few days. I’d been wanting to anchor off Caerhays and have a peek at the castle for years, but never had the right conditions for it.

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The next morning I got the dinghy out and pulled ashore – a nice easy landing!

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There was plenty of time for a look around while waiting for the tide to turn to head further along the coast. This is the view looking north across the bay with Caerhays Castle in the background.

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Later on it was a bit grey but still fine sailing conditions, nice and calm to sneak through the passage inside Gull Rock towards the anchorage at Portscatho.

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This place has provided many of the most beautiful dawns I’ve seen.

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This was clearly going to be a much brighter day…

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… great for seeing Portscatho at it’s best.

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I went for a sail in the afternoon – was initially thinking of heading round to the Percuil but the wind died away quite quickly.

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Happily there was just enough wind to glide back into Portscatho.

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The next morning proved rather less idyllic – there was brief a short steep swell that made being aboard decidedly uncomfortable, annoying as I’d been hoping to meet some friends ashore but had to stay aboard till it calmed later on. Happily there was at least the regatta racing to watch.

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Later on it had calmed down and I could head up through the regatta excitement in the town..

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to go and enjoy some games and fish & chips on a slightly quieter beach.

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Then back to the boat again and a sail round to Falmouth harbour

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including getting to wave at Kensa in Carrick Roads.

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The next day in St Mawes was a bit gloomy to start with…

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but happily cheered up in time to meet Ian, Ali and Penny (the look-out) for a kayaking/rowing expedition up the Percuil.

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We got far beyond where I’ve ever dared go with Maid and enjoyed exploring some distance upstream on the tide…

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before heading back downstream, saying hello to an old friend from the French canals on the wayΒ  – Planet looking splendid as ever.

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St Mawes looks quite nice in the evening too πŸ™‚

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The next day was a busy one – time to head east again! But first a dinghy expedition

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into sunny St Mawes

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Following that, anchor up under sail and a quick few tacks out past St Mawes Castle across the bottom of Falmouth Harbour

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and to Trefusis on the other side to row in and have a yarn with Nick while waiting for the tide to turn and his varnishing to dry.

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And then after lunch, time to up-anchor again and sail out past Fraggle Rock St Anthony’s Head.

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It was a splendid sail eastward, with Maid throwing out quite a bow wave at times.

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I could have easily gone further, but Portmellon offered both the chance to visit a new place and to meet up with Dave who was sailing the opposite direction from Plymouth. Having had the wind behind me I had a while to explore ashore first and admire the view of Maid out in the anchorage

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before meeting Dormouse on the way in.

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I had offered to make dinner ready for his arrival, but he texted to say he’d already caught more than enough fish, and I’m not one to turn fresh fish down πŸ™‚

The next day started off rather gloomy, a pleasant wind but many shades of grey as Dave headed south to round the Dodman

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and I ran on eastward towards Rame Head.

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The sun did eventually come out in late afternoon, but at that point the wind died, making it a pretty poor trade. The next couple of hours brought minimal progress, with just enough wind to point at Rame Head but not enough to make any ground toward it.

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Even getting the biggest sail I own out of the forepeak didn’t make much difference, until a very long hour or two later the wind finally filled back in.

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Finally we managed to put Rame Head behind us and round Penlee to head into Cawsand Bay.

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Of course later on there was a bit of a struggle to put the sail away again πŸ˜€

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The next day was a much shorter sail, though going through the swirling currents of the narrows is always exciting

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as is picking up a mooring under sail – I got it, but it took a couple of tries.

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And there we are- time to go back to work again!

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Of course now I actually publish this it’s time to go sailing again – much better πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer 2014 Part I – dolphins galore!

Posted in Cornwall, Photographs, Sailing, Walking with tags , , , , on August 11, 2016 by maidofmettle

(Yes, the date at the top is right – realised I had various drafts saved and have finally forced myself into getting up to date!)

It took a while to get Maid of Mettle into the water in 2014 – it turned out that moving house, being flooded with work and doing a fair amount of maintenance on Maid were even more of a hindrance than living in Grimsby.

Still, it seemed I wasn’t the only one a bit behind on things – there are normally four posts marking the channel across the ‘Bridge’ in Plymouth Sound (actually a shallow ridge between Drake’s Island and Mount Edgcumbe, further cluttered with old anti-submarine defences), but one seemed to be missing. It might not actually be a bad thing if it stayed that way – the bright yellow buoy in its place is easier to spot!

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Having got out of the strong tides in the Narrows and into a bit more wind I set sail and headed out round Penlee Point and Rame Head towards the anchorage off Looe. It was tempting to head off course when I spotted dolphins leaping inshore off Rame Head, but I prefer to let them come to me if they want to.

It was a beautiful sunny day for tacking towards Looe..

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and admiring the rest of the coastline – much of the area between Looe and Rame Head is very pretty, but with little shelter and being off the direct route between harbours and anchorages I don’t often see much of it.

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And here we are anchored off Looe – fairly full beach but deserted anchorage, easy to sail in and drop the anchor on sand. The north-westerly wind had required a fair amount of tacking to get here but having done that it was nice and sheltered..

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..and even calmer when the wind dropped later in the evening.

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The tide wasn’t due to be fair for a while the next morning but with beautiful conditions I decided to get going anyway – first running down past St Mary’s Island..

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and then tacking along the coast again. There was a fair amount of company, from this little coaster carrying a digger..

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..to some more dolphins!

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Tonight’s anchorage was a new one for me – Gorran Haven, just between the Dodman and Mevagissey. It was once a larger fishing port than Mevva but is now a lot quieter, though there are a number of small boats moored within the harbour wall and hauled up on the beach.

As I expected with a north-westerly wind it was nice and sheltered again. This time I did launch the dinghy and rowed ashore for a wander around the village.

I also started to figure out why I kept seeing dolphins – there were fish swarming so close in that people could just grab them out of the harbour!

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I decided to go for a walk out to the Dodman the next morning while waiting for the tide. The walk up from the harbour is pretty steep to start with!

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It got rather windier as I got round to the more exposed part of the headland – enough that the gulls were starting to find it heavy going at times in the gusts.

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At ground level this little fellow was probably less affected..

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The cross was instituted by a local rector – besides the spiritual aspect it serves as a very useful daymark for navigation. Many shipwrecks have been partly attributed to one headland being mistaken for another, especially in poor visibility.

This was of course a very prominent location – signalling stations have been located here in medieval times, as well as the Napoleonic War and both World Wars.

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There were plenty of boats coming the other way around the Dodman with the tide behind them. I was hoping the front would pass and give nice weather by the time I started heading the opposite direction.

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A bit more local history – you can also still see medieval strip field boundaries here.

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Going further back to the Iron Age the earth embankment on the right here, known as the Bulwark, was constructed to form a ‘cliff castle’ on the promontory – the other sides are naturally quite secure!

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(I just like this picture. There’s nothing like a good cow to improve a foreground.)

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The weather was indeed clearing as I walked through Penare back down to Gorran Haven, now showing definite signs of life.

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With a fair tide and sky it was time to head on, into the same chilly north-west windΒ  – again gliding gently out of Gorran Haven before tacking along the coast.

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The next big headland west of the Dodman is Nare Head (though it doesn’t stick out enough to get a line in ‘Spanish Ladies’), looking nice and dramatic here in the afternoon sun.

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A fine sail got even better when we were joined by a school of dolphins while sailing into Gerrans Bay. With Maid sailing beautifully they had a great time playing in the bow-wave..

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..occasionally doing laps of the boat..

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..and generally having a good time as far as I could tell, and I was delighted to share in it, both taking pictures and just leaning on the forestay and grinning wildly (no, I didn’t take a picture of that).

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Eventually they headed off to gobble some more fish and I dropped anchor off Portscatho – another relatively exposed coastal anchorage, but perfect in these conditions. It also happens to be the home of my friends Si and Cat, who I first met on Maid in the French canals a few years ago, and it’s nice to try and surprise them – this time I found Si outside the Plume straight away.

As an extra bonus he was planning on taking their fishing boat Kensa out the next day and there was space to me to join them. I was especially keen to go having followed their blog of her construction after we got back from our respective voyaging.

The next morning dawned golden, with Nare Head standing out against the Dodman in the background and Gull Rock offshore on the right.

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Here is Maid with the little harbour in the background – again a short wall sheltering an assortment of fishing boats and dayboats.

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..and here is Kensa..

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It was a very good day out on Kensa with Si and their friend Debs – chilly wind but plenty of sunshine and even more importantly plenty of mackerel. I had left my camera behind though, so we have a bit of a gap on images until later – this is the colourful view down across the beach from the top of the slip later on (probably after the post-fishing pint).

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I have very fond memories of drinking champagne stood knee-deep in the water celebrating Kensa’s launch the last time I was here, but the sou-westerly wind and swell at the time made the anchorage rather rolly when I eventually rowed back out to the boat. With the wind now seemingly set in the north-west spending a while here and exploring nearby anchorages seemed very appealing.

(yes, this kind of thing is part of the reason why I never actually get as far as the Scillies despite them being a nominal target for most of my holidays… They’ll still be there for a good while yet.)

August 2012 part 1

Posted in Cornwall, Sailing, Unfortunate events, Walking with tags , , , , on August 10, 2014 by maidofmettle

Right, there is going to have to be some hasty blogging this week to catch up to real- time when I go on holiday on Thursday. Do you think we can get through two years of sailing in four days?

Thinking about it, I had a rather tight target to meet when I started sailing in August 2012…

I went straight down from work on the Friday, getting to Maid at about 9pm, and first I needed to do a quick damage check – it appeared since I’d last been down another boat had rammed Maid in the middle of one side, bending two of the stanchions supporting the guard-wires and gouging the paint on the side of the cabin top.Β  That was clearly the limit of it though – looking up plate thicknesses Maid is not built anything like a tank but approaching some landing craft! Slightly concerned about what damage might have been done to the culprit..

With that sorted, I promptly headed off as I needed to sail westward and the wind was currently from the south, but due to swing round more inconveniently.

I was keen to get to Portscatho before the wind change made it awkward was to meet up with Si and Cat, a couple we met on their boat Planet in the French canals nearly 3 years previously. If they weren’t such lovely people I’d say obviously shared experiences like getting stuck in a broken-down lock together obviously make you stay in touch πŸ™‚

Taking a trip back even more years, here we are going through a lock:

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and here are Maid and Planet together one rather misty morning (I have distinct memories of wandering through a French village with 50 yard visibility looking for a bakery and mostly finding grumpy barking dogs).

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Anyhow, returning from even further in the past to 2012, since getting back to Cornwall at roughly the same time as me in 2011 they’d spent much of their time working away building their engineless wooden fishing boat Kensa to Si’s design (more here, and come to that Cat’s equally wonderfully written blog of their adventures onΒ Planet is well worth a look as well – here). She’s thought to be the first fishing boat built and launched in Portscatho for fifty years, and I was keen to get there and share in the excitement.

However, first I had to motor for quite a while to get out of Plymouth Sound late at night and in the dark- there seemed to be little wind and a big swell rolling in, and it was all rather tense – how big would the next swell be, would there be enough wind to sail outside, how hard would it be to get back in to shelter if there wasn’t?

In short, was this really a good idea?

Luckily the forecast held true and I was able to sail off towards Rame Head and then onwards.

I can’t say I had really missed sailing at night. It can be beautiful and peaceful, but mostly you just want to be asleep, not looking around every 15 minutes or half an hour. You can’t relax to the same degree sailing coastally as you can offshore, as you’re nearly always near a hazard of some sort, and the tides are often much stronger. Having to start tacking as the wind changed to blow against us in the night wasn’t ideal in some ways, though it was prove that starting early had definitely been advantage.

Morning found us between the Dodman and Nare Head – we seemed to cover a lot of ground in my final cat-nap and it was slightly alarming when I could first see! Not that I could see much, but enough to definitely not want to hit it.

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The weather gradually cleared from the east – this is the Dodman astern..

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..and this is the view once I’d anchored, unfolded the dinghy and gone ashore in Portscatho. Maid is in the background on the left, with Nare Head above the end of the breakwater, and Gull Rock merging into the Dodman on the horizon.

The big splash is a kid jumping in the harbour- guessing there’s nothing new in that except the wetsuits!

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This is my first peek of Kensa in the shed.

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If you’re looking at the that picture wondering how she ever got out of the shed, quite a lot of us helped, and it was quite a task! (though it didn’t quite match the boatyard owner needing to remove part of his shed to get my parent’s boat out once).

I also went for a bit of a walk along the coast on the Saturday- here’s the view towards Nare Head and the Dodman from above Porthcurnick beach..

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and here’s the view back to Maid and Portscatho from the beach.

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The Sunday dawned rather murkily, but by high tide in the early afternoon it was splendid – right on time!

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As you can see there was quite a crowd. It feels wonderfully decadent to stand around chatting ankle-deep in the sea drinking champagne.

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Before we’d drunk too much it was time to take the Kensa out to her mooring buoy – as well as taking photos my dinghy was quite handy for helping ferry her crew back in.

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Here are Maid and Kensa together.

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Then back to the beach for the continuation of the party, before heading to the Plume of Feathers, etc.

Come the next morning the swell in the fairly exposed anchorage off Portscatho was getting irritating, so I tacked out and headed for the Helford River.

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Cue some more walking – this is one of the beaches on the way into Helford Passage..

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this is the village itself..

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and this is a rather unexpected find of a splendid garden/art exhibition.

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The next day was a slightly brisker sail further down the east coast of the Lizard Peninsula to Coverack, a place I hadn’t been to before.

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I immediately liked it – here Maid is anchored in the background off the little harbour. It’s about the last place in the village to have evening sun as it drops below the Lizard so half the village seems to gather there in the evening, and the fish-and-chip shop in the converted lifeboat station is excellent.

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The next day was forecast to be calm and then quite strong onshore, so I decided I’d better do some motoring in the calm bit while the tide was favourable. I was hoping to pick up a bit of wind once I got a little way offshore but though it teased I had to do a fair bit of motoring to get back round to the Helford.

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There follows a rather unfortunate episode where my wallet ended up spending a tide or two in the mud alongside this slipway before I managed to find it again, though I did feel quite lucky I’d done so!

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Luckily I had enough time to hunt for it, and being anchored in the Helford is a lovely place to be in most conditions.

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After spending a couple of days there I then headed out..

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..past a colossal cruise ship anchored of the entrance to Falmouth..

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..and up Carrick Roads with various other Ocean Cruising Club boats (including the rather lovely Zahlia below) for a party on some pontoons on the river.

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Not before we’d had a bit of an adventure with the King Harry Chain Ferry, which looked to be waiting for more cars but then decided to start moving at a rather awkward moment, leading to some very swift manoevuring under sail and some cursing of the motor boat right in front of me which just jammed its engines straight into reverse πŸ˜€

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Still, we all made it, I had a very good time with lots of very nice and interesting people, as I have found so many club members to be, and entirely failed to take any pictures including any of them, so here’s a token one of Maid and some of the other boats.

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And that’s where we shall pause for a brief (this time, honest!) intermission πŸ™‚