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News and Stories from 2007


Flotilla Holiday in Holland, 9th - 16th September 2007

In one of Holland's HUGE locks

Eleven members of Northampton Sailability and their families joined six members of Brussels International Sailing Club for a week’s cruising among the large islands and inland waters of south Holland.

The flotilla was led by Jenny Jeffs of Sailability and John Norman of BISC sailing in John’s boat “Kir” with Roy Child as helm.

Also from BISC was Roel Moens who acted as our Dutch-speaking pilot. By radioing ahead to lockkeepers and harbourmasters he was able to smooth our passage and ensure we had good moorings for the night. Roel was sailing his own boat “Sea Biscuit” with Richard Strange as crew.

Three more yachts were chartered locally to complete the flotilla. These were skippered by David Horder and Phil Kenny of Sailability and Mark Stevenson, a serving British Army officer working in Brussels.

The crews all lived aboard for the week, sailing each day and spending each night in a different harbour. These were all situated in small towns adjacent to the open water, many of which were protected from flooding by earthworks and lock gates.

The whole area suffered bad flooding in 1953 since when huge barrages have been built to keep the sea out. The result is a vast complex of inland waterways which is a yachting paradise.

Our week was not without incident. On the first day John’s yacht found the bottom and in the process of being towed off the towrope became wrapped round the propeller shaft. The skipper had to take a cold dip to sort out the mess (while the helm tactfully went for a shower).


Skill and judgement? or luck?

Later in the week there was drama when in order to avoid having to wait for a lifting bridge to open it was decided we would sail underneath the bridge. This decision was not taken lightly, much discussion on the radios took place eg. ‘The air gap on your boat is 13 metres’ …..’I looked on the net & it said it's 11½ metres’ …..’The hire company say it’s 13 metres’…..’You go through & we’ll follow you over – er under – over’. The tallest mast (Johns boat at 12½ metres) had less than a metre’s clearance under the bridge and for those on board it was a heart-stopping moment (from the cockpit it looked more like half a foot!). Had the mast hit the bridge it would have brought down the rigging and done serious damage to the boat.

A major feature of these waterways is the huge locks that control the levels in the various lakes. We didn’t know in advance whether we were going to up or down in a lock. On one occasion one of our yachts was nearly suspended from the side of the lock by its mooring lines when the water started to go down. Only a warning shout from a neighbouring Dutch crew alerted us to the danger and swift releasing of the lines averted catastrophe. This was a classic case of keeping a sharp knife handy very good advice – we now have two mooring lines, one two foot long!

Navigation is quite unique to Holland due to the flatness of the land. Apart from the huge bridges & locks the only visible landmarks are the myriad of wind farms & the odd spire, most habitation being below the level of the earthworks. A good job then that the area is well marked with buoyage which are numbered & lettered according to the area. A popular pastime was ‘spot the buoy’ but with no guarantee you’d see the number – funny how a buoy would rotate as you went past keeping the number hidden! The buoyed channels are mostly quite wide so tacking along the channels was fairly relaxed until you met any barges (which are quite large & came in groups) then a game of cat & mouse ensued dodging between them.

The Dutch people we met in shops and restaurants – and bars! – were happy to help us Brits with our complete lack of the local language. All in all it was a most successful and enjoyable week and an experience to be recommended to any enthusiastic sailor.


2007 Sailability Summer Challenge: Final Results

This year’s Summer Challenge has been the best so far. In spite of operations and other things stopping or limiting some people’s involvement fourteen racers took to the water at one time or another. This is the highest number so far. Racing was often close and the final outcome not certain until the very end.

Roy won by a country mile but the other podium places were hotly contested with Mick finally taking second place and Rachael third. Barbara and Rod gave them a good run for their money and Stella would have been up there too if she had been able to complete just one more race.

Northampton Sailability Chief Sailing Instructor Jenny Jeffs said “Thank you to Allan for doing such a great job in organising the racing season and to ALL Friday helpers for supporting this important development of sailing opportunities. It is hard work but much appreciated and enjoyed by participants”

A big thanks to Allan and his helpers for all their hard work in organising this popular event. - Ed

Access National Championships 2007.

Roy celebrates his win!

This year's National Championships were held at Rutland Sailing Club alongside the Challenger Championships all being part of the RYA Sailability Multi Class Regatta. A 90 minute multi class pursuit involving Access, Scud, Challenger, Areimis & Squib boats was the last event on the Sunday, this would also count in theNationals results.

It all started on the 20th July a normal Friday sailing day at Northampton Sailability. Rather than attend the practice day at Rutland I had decided to get the boat ready (the Access 303) & have a sail there. This would involve fitting the single seat I had got from Ron Sawford & getting used to the set up. Well the weather had other ideas, Friday had the worst weather I’d seen at Pitsford for a long time with a howling gale & torrential rain. Sailability sailing was cancelled & the tea & coffee stocks took a hammering. Brian Thake, Chris Weston & I fitted the seat (with much ‘helpful’ advice from others) in the boat then put it on the road trailer ready to take to Rutland.

Chris towed the boat to Rutland for me & I went in my car as I was going on to Norfolk after the event. On arrival at Rutland we found the weather just as bad & the practice day had been cancelled. We dropped the boat off in the boat park near the pontoon used by Rutland Sailability (which was being lashed by 3ft waves) in pouring rain. We hurriedly retired to the canteen for a well deserved tea & cakes after which Chris left (many thanks Chris) & I went to find my bed for the night. That evening a welcome dinner & speeches plus the event itinery was presented by Richard Johnson the event organizer.

Next day (Saturday) the weather was much improved with light winds & blue skies although fairly cold. The boats were launched & I sailed out to the start line, the boat feeling quite lively compared to having two up. I got a good start sailing off on a starboard tack at the port end of the line(there was quite a large offset to port). The majority of the fleet went off to starboard & this soon told at the windward mark as I was third out of twelve. Being single handed I had the advantage over the double handers in the light wind, by the next mark I was ahead of the fleet & stayed there till the finish, leading by a whole leg. The next two races, with the wind increasing & having to ease the sails more, I managed two seconds, one of which was so close to a dead heat for first, to end up overnight leader of the 303 fleet. That evening we were treated to dinner & cabaret courtesy of RYA Sailability also with presentations to each fleets overnight leaders (I received a hat & a pennant).

Sunday was again a nice day & the first race I managed another first place although with the wind speed up on Saturday’s the finish was very close (also a lot more water in the boat!). The Multi-class Pursuit began, after a fair bit of waiting for the other races to finish, with the 303 fleet doing a ‘W’ course. As my first sight of the course was on the chalk board on the back of the committee boat (which I couldn’t see very well) so it was a case of follow your leader for the first lap. After that it was quite a free for all with four of us swapping places all the time, the double handers gaining more on the reaches & beats, the single handers gaining on the runs. Coming up to the 90 minute finish time I was about two boat lengths behind the third boat at the windward mark. Rounding the mark going up the run I could see the committee boat half way up the leg to finish the race! Although I was gaining on the third placed boat there was just not enough distance left to get past so I finished fourth.

After getting the boats ashore, packed up & the getting changed ,it was time for tea & cakes then the presentations of prizes. Chris arrived just in time to see the fun & then me presented with the Access 303 National Champions cup WEYHEY!!!

Roy Child (Access 303 National Champion)

Congratulations to Roy, a well deserved achievement! - Ed

Eddystone Charity Sailing Pursuit, Saturday 14th July 2007

The Eddystone Lighthouse
Our Target!

We are delighted to announce that Wendy and Robert Arden have entered their yacht Carrig Hannah in the annual Eddystone Charity Sailing Pursuit which will take place on Saturday 14 July 2007. Wendy is Commodore of Northampton Offshore Cruising Association. Their chosen charity is Northampton Sailability and two of our members, Roy Child and Allan Henson, will be crew members. It is an offshore event for individual yachts and 3-boat teams. It welcomes those who race and those who have never raced encompassing all types of yachts, 20 footers, ocean cruisers, out and out racers and everything inbetween. Anyone can enter provided they can safely sail offshore.

The course is simple, starting at the RWYC line in the Cattewater (Plymouth Harbour), out to the Hand Deeps buoy (approx 3 miles west of the Eddystone) and back to the RWYC line. Covering approximately. 26 miles it is, not surprisingly, sometimes referred to as sailing’s equivalent of a marathon.

Organised by the Royal Western Yacht Club, there is prize money of £13,500. £10,000 of sponsorship for individual boats is provided by the Eleanor Creeke Charitable Settlement and £3,500 for the team event by J.M. Finn & Co. Ltd. Charity Asset Management. Cash prizes are awarded down to 50th place. Every £25 of sponsorship lifts a boat one rung up the prize ladder (maximum lift 20 rungs) and in the case of a tie the sponsor decides. There is also a prize of £500 for the most sponsorship.

The Eleanor Creeke Charitable Settlement was set up when she died in 1995. Its aim is to help charities which “benefit the human condition” thus all prize money won goes to a boat’s nominated charity.

You can help make this event a success for Carrig Hannah and Northampton Sailability by sponsoring one of her crew, Wendy, Graham, Sally, Roy or Allan.

For further information on the event go to: www.rwyc.org/rwdb/article/view.asp?id=215&sm=SpecR

Update from Allan Henson

If you haven't already heard we came eleventh and won £215.00. We also won a further £250.00 for the boat / crew which travelled the furthest to get to the event.

Skipper Wendy has the certificates which she intends to take to NOSCA. For all practical purposes this was a NOSCA event albeit Northampton Sailability are the beneficiaries as everyone involved in getting the boat from Southampton to Plymouth and then crewing for the event was a NOSCA member except Roy and he soon will be.

As for the sponsorship, we were just a pound or two short of £1100 in known pledges. There is a hint that there may be a small amount I haven't been told about yet. In spite of the great response from all the people Roy and I phoned at the last minute we didn't win the £500 for the boat with the most sponsorship.

ED: Congratulations to Wendy, Graham, Sally, Roy and Allan for a splendid achievement, and for raising much-needed funds for Northampton Sailability


Trip to Plymouth in Carrig Hannah. Report by Roy Child

Wendy and Allan relaxing as Roy helms on a beat

This trip was all about getting Carrig Hannah, a 40.5ft Legend yacht from Southampton to Plymouth for the Eddystone Lighthouse Charity Pursuit on the 14th of July. The yacht belongs to Wendy & Robert Ardern who entered the pursuit under the Northampton Offshore Cruising Association banner, kindly naming Northampton Sailability as beneficiaries of the sponsorship raised.

On the 8th July Myself, Allan Henson & Maurice Chittock (both NOSCA members) met Wendy & Robert at the Ocean Village, Southampton after a rail trip from Northampton (my first time on a train for about 20 yrs!). Arriving about 5pm we had a chat over a quick cuppa then stowed our gear before departing on a short trip to Lymington to enable us to catch the favorable tide past the Needles early the next morning (6am start oooh strewth!). The weather was quite bright as we left Ocean Village but half way down Southampton Water dark clouds appeared threatening to give us a dosing of ‘fair English weather’. Undeterred we buttoned up our oilies, hoisted the sails reaching all the way to Calshot. Turning West down the Solent the wind against us but with the tide (wind over tide - nice, we had this all the way to Plymouth!) we beat all the way to Lymington.

Next day dawned bright & sunny (more than I was!) with just four of us aboard as Robert had to work, we motored out of Lymington with a light breeze & flat water. Not too bad, doing about four knots over ground with the tide we headed for Weymouth. Clearing the Needles the wind increased with the cloud, the sea became choppier, we put a reef in the main to keep things comfortable but still fun. Things got livelier as we passed St Albans Head with the wind increasing to about a 5, good sailing & we hadn’t got wet yet! We could just see Portland on the horizon & were making about 5 knots, tea & sandwiches for lunch. I went below & heard a call on the radio –‘ range patrol calling the white yacht with the white sails, you are in restricted area’. Of course I wondered who the yacht was who was in the wrong place! I had a quick look at the chart anyway looking for the restricted area – I found it – the Lulworth firing range! I called Wendy down & told her of the call & she checked the position. It was us! Oops we had just clipped the southern corner of the area – we tacked away offering profuse apologies to the patrol. Would have been interesting dodging the explosives – holes in sails, pirates of the Caribbean style!

Approaching Weymouth we hove-to just off Weymouth beach to lower the sails, big black clouds were gathering from the West. Just as we entered Weymouth harbour the heavens opened giving us all a right soaking as we tied up at the Custom House quay looking like drowned rats! That evening after a drink in the Royal Dorset Yacht Club we found a nice sea-food restaurant & had a hearty meal. The weather forecast for the next day spoke of storm force winds & rain so a 4.30am cast off to catch the tide round Portland Bill for the long leg to Brixham was planned (groan!).

Next morning I was excused the early start – I could have a lie in! Ha! Ha! I wished I hadn’t – we motored out of Weymouth & set course to go through the race at Portland Bill , the sea got rougher & rougher with me being thrown about like a ping-pong ball on the bunk! The next hour I spent struggling to put on my oilies without breaking my neck – eventually crawling on deck feeling decidedly green. After a bit of force-fed fresh air I felt a lot better & Wendy asked me to take the helm. She had decided that the race was too rough & we had altered course to go round the Shambles Bank. Wind speed was clocked at 25 knots at times but the sea became steeper & steeper. Two reefs in the main & the storm jib set we were making 6 - 7 knots on a wild roller coaster ride. A few times we crested a large wave to find a big hole in front of us – with the next wave fast approaching! Crashing into the trough while frantically trying to keep the bow pointing up into the next wave – quite exhilarating! To our starboard side we could see the Shambles – a mass of white water, not the place to be! Clearing the Shambles we tacked towards Brixham, the sea state moderating the further we traveled into Lyme Bay. About half way to Brixham we sighted some porpoises (or dolphins) some way off jumping the waves, people rushing to get cameras to record the event (still don’t know if we succeeded). Occasionally running into rain showers, looking forward we could see Start Point appearing on the horizon while astern the forbidding lump of Portland Bill with the flat expanse of Chesil Beach could be seen. To Starboard the coastline of Lyme Bay seemed to unfold like a picture book. Eventually Brixham, with Berry Head dominating the approach, came into view & we entered the harbour in bright sunshine, all very colourful & picturesque. Radioing the marina we were treated to a berth right next to the main access ramp & the showers etc (much appreciated after a 13 hour trip). That evening a walk around the harbour & a meal in the Brixham Yacht Club with its fantastic view over the harbour towards Torquay was much enjoyed by all of us.

Next morning leaving Brixham about 8am we headed for Start Point in bright sunshine & a force 3 – 4 wind. Wonderful sailing conditions apart from the hundreds of lobster pots seemingly dotted at random across our course. I was nominated as chief pot watcher as I was the person with the keenest eyesight – most of the marker buoys are bright pink but a fair few are covered in green slime, very hard to spot! Rounding Start Point we followed the coast past Prawle Point & Salcombe then on towards Plymouth later on sighting the Eddystone Lighthouse to port. The wind held pretty much all the way & entering Plymouth Sound under full sail a wonderful end to a long trip with the sky clouding up only as we dropped the sails.


Eddystone Charity Pursuit Report by Allan Henson

Roy leads the fleet into Plymouth Sound

After three long and tiring days delivering Carrig Hannah from Southampton to Plymouth and a couple more preparing her for the event, Saturday 14 July dawned promising the best weather of the week. Carrig Hannah is a Legend 40.5 and was made available by Wendy and Robert Ardern. Wendy is Commodore of Northampton Off Shore Cruising Association and skippered the boat for the event supported by a crew which comprised NOSCA members, Gill, Graham, Sally, Robert’s brother Warren and Northampton Sailability members Roy Child and Allan Henson (also a member of NOSCA).

Carrig Hannah was amongst the first boats to start so it was up early for everyone to get to the line in good time. The sail out to the Hand Deeps buoy presented an interesting challenge as Carrig Hannah sails best upwind with 16 to 18 knots of wind but the wind indicator hovered around 13 to 15. Thus the crew had to work hard out to maximise boat speed but never the less rounded the mark in fifth place. The return leg was a dead run, not Carrig Hannah’s favourite point of sailing but again the crew maintained their concentration and hence boat speed. It wasn’t long before the real racers who had started later rounded the mark and, with spinnakers flying, began overtaking. Never the less, spirits remained high as no more non-spinnaker boats threatened to overtake. As the afternoon progressed the wind dropped and the spinnaker boats started to lose their advantage and very few overtook in the last couple of hours.

Allan, Wendy, Gill, Warren, Sally, Graham and Roy
at the Prize Giving

Carrig Hannah’s final position in the pursuit was 23rd. out of 68, completing the course in seven hours, thirty seven minutes and forty five seconds. However this is a unique event, similar to a biathlon. In this case the second discipline was the fundraising element and Carrig Hannah was the boat with the second highest sponsorship, narrowly missing out on £500 of prize money for the boat with the most. However, this raised Carrig Hannah’s overall position to eleventh thus winning her a prize of £215 for Northampton Sailability. She was also awarded the travellers prize of £250 for the boat which had travelled the furthest to take part in the event.

Nearly £1100 has been pledged to Carrig Hannah’s crew and the work of collecting all the money is well in hand. Northampton Sailability is very grateful to all those who paid up front and thanks in advance all those who have yet to deliver on their pledges.

Northampton Sailability Chairman, Harry Cockburn said “I would like to thank Wendy and Robert for making Carrig Hannah available for this event as well as all those NOSCA and Northampton Sailability members who helped to make this such a sailing and financial success. I know everyone involved in getting the boat down to Plymouth and sailing in the event enjoyed it but it was also very hard work and that too is very much appreciated.”

For the detailed results and other information go the following page on the Royal Western Yacht Club website .


Escape to the Broads, July 2007 - Report by Jane Elliott

Creaming along on the Bass Boat

A group from Sailability fled the July rain in Northamptonshire for the drier climes of the Norfolk Broads to enjoy a week’s sailing with the Nancy Oldfield Trust.

After settling into the comfortable, fully-accessible bungalow in Neatished on Friday night, we spent the weekend sailing on Barton Broad under the supervision of staff member Ted, who was to endure us all week, supported by volunteer Richard on Sunday. Members of the party sampled sailing in the 20ft Falmouth Bass Boat, the Trust’s new Randmeer, a Dutch design, and a traditional Yare and Bure One Design, known locally as a ‘white boat’.

On Sunday evening Roy joined the party, fresh from his triumph in the Access Nationals on Rutland Water and wielding his trophy.

Monday saw the group taking a trip across Barton Broad and down the River Ant to Ludham Bridge in the Bass Boat. After enjoying a picnic lunch here they called at Toad Hole Cottage, a tiny traditional marshman’s house by the river bank at How Hill, on their way back.

Another volunteer, Rodney, joined Ted on Tuesday, enabling us to have a go in the Yeoman, a modern keelboat class designed for the Broads. Mick found its deep hull very comfortable and enjoyed a good sail. In the evening we headed for the coast at Sheringham were we devoured a fish and chip supper and sampled the local brews. Sadly Chris didn’t arrive in time to join the expedition, but was waiting for us on our return.


Mick at the helm of the Yeoman

Wednesday saw another lively day’s sailing on the Broad, with Chris taking charge of the Bass Boat before lunch and the white boat after. The fresh breeze caused Mick to slide onto the bottom boards of the Bass Boat in the morning, but he was swiftly recovered. He tried the same trick in the Yeoman in the afternoon, but Jane and volunteer Mike managed to catch him in the nick of time. Mary and Mick, Kitty and Becky had to leave on Wednesday, leaving a smaller group for Thursday’s adventure sailing with Ted on Willow Wren, Nancy Oldfield’s river cruiser, from Ludham Bridge to Potter Heigham for more fish and chips. The wind freshened during lunch, making for a lively beat home.


Approaching Hunslett Mill

The wind was still with us for our final day. After Stella and Eric’s departure the remainder of the party enjoyed a short blustery sail around Barton Broad in the Bass Boat before slipping up the Ant under sail to Sutton where we moored for lunch. We then motored gently back, via the photogenic sight of Hunsett mill, to bid farewell to Nancy Oldfield and tackle our respective journeys home.

As ever our grateful thanks go to the staff and volunteers of the Nancy Oldfield Trust for all their hard work in giving us such superb sailing and enriching the experience with their knowledge of Norfolk history and wildlife. We have already made a provisional booking for the week of 19-25 July 2008!


Martin 16 Championship 2007 – Bassenthwaite

We arrived at Bassenthwaite Sailing Club on Saturday 30th June with the wind blowing about 10 mph from the south. The boats were all on the water and the course set when we could see a mist coming up the lake making it difficult to see the windward mark. The mist was a rainstorm which took the wind strength up to force 5 gusting 6. At the first mark Tony and Rosemary Flinn led followed closely by the rest of the fleet. Eddie and George put up their spinnakers as did Rod and Chris, the only boats in the fleet to do so. After very exciting high speed dashes, both boats broached and took on a lot of water. The leading boats pulled away goose winged to a shortened course flag and the finish. Tony and Rosemary Flinn were first, followed by Judi Figgures with Marion Edwards and Chris Atkin and crew. There were a number of retirements.

The second race was to a shorter weather mark, still in a lot of wind. The spinnakers all stayed in the boats and goose wing was the order of the race. Chris Atkins was first, followed by Judi Figgures with Marion and Chris Dabbs with Helen Bayes. The boats returned to shore for lunch, with sailors very, very wet.

The two races on Saturday afternoon were in a steady force 4 and some spinnakers were flown. Excellent racing was had with all boats on the line at the starts. It was favoured to go to the left side of the beat and tack on the windshifts. The winner of race 3 was Judi with Marion followed by Chris Atkin with crew and Rod Martin and Chris Wright.

We were entertained at Bassenthwaite Sailing Club on Saturday night with a Christmas Dinner and all the trimmings including a Christmas Tree and silly hats. This was followed by a quiz with no sailing questions.

Sunday morning it was still raining but the wind was down to force 3. It was elected to sail 3 races back to back then lunch.

Race 5. All the fleet were again on the line at the start with Rod and Chris at the starboard end, tacking on the windshifts, were at the first mark in the lead, but could not fly the spinnaker due to a jambed halyard. They goose winged down the run and held the lead round the first lap, but on the second run were overtaken by Judi with Marion and Chris Atkin with John Figurey to the finish.

Race 6. The boats were all on the line again but a sudden wind shift to left gave the port end boats a huge advantage which David Durston with George Barker took full advantage. They lead at the first mark followed by Judi with Marion and Chris with John. That was the finishing order.

Race 7 started in a lighter wind. Rod with Chris were first at the first mark, followed by the Flinns who managed to overtake on the last down wind leg to win the last race. Rod with Chris were second and David with George were third.

There was a delay before the Prize Giving due to a Protest from Judi on David with George which Judi won and that altered the Final Results.


Northampton Sailing Club Eight Hour Race – 23 June 2007

Northampton Sailability entered this event for the first time this year with two teams each sailing Access dinghies. Roy Child was captain of team one and Eddie Pickering team two. Teams were allowed to change crews at a given point on every lap so everyone got to sail a few laps and when not sailing enjoy the socialising on the veranda.

Everyone had a great time and with team one coming sixth and team two seventh out of nine, not a bad performance for our first attempt.


Northampton Offshore Cruising Association at Northampton Sailability

Bernadette sails off into
the uncharted waters of Pitsford!

Northampton Sailability was pleased to host NOSCA’s annual barbecue and dinghy sailing evening at Northampton Sailing Club early in June. NOSCA members had the opportunity to try a range of our dinghies as well as enjoying the barbecue organised by Eb and Dorothy Brown.

NOSCA Commodore, Wendy Ardern, said, “I would like to thank Northampton Sailability for hosting our annual event. As big boat sailors it is great to have an opportunity to sail in totally different sorts of boat. I’m sure the our relationship with Northampton Sailability is of immense benefit to both our organisations.”

Northampton Sailability Chairman, Harry Cockburn, said “We are pleased to have a number of NOSCA members amongst our volunteer helpers. I hope the relationship between our two organisations will continue to develop”.

Bernadette re-lives her 505 days
as she takes the helm of the Sport 16


The Access 303 flat out

Phil Kenny, Sailability Training Centre Principal,
supervises the launch of the Martin 16

What have Phil Kenny and Annie Perkis spotted in the water?


Roy Child enjoying a well-earned rest
after all his hard work rigging and sailing

Clive, Wendy and Phil share a joke