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News Reports and Stories from 2009

Waitrose Cheque
Sailabilty receives cheque for £250 from Waitrose

We were part of the Waitrose "Community Matters" initiative in September and Barbara Hogg and Helen Bayes went to the reception to collect the cheque.

We are going to use the money to purchase more buoyancy aids and other equipment to benefit our members.

Passage to Nieuport on UKSA yacht "Freedom", August 21st - 30th 2009

For this adventurous training cruise the United Kingdom Sailing Association generously provided 'Freedom', a 42' Sweden yacht built in 2005 and luxuriously equipped with GPS chart plotter and radar.

In 9 days we sailed from Cowes, via Portsmouth, Brighton, Eastbourne, Dover, Calais, Dunkirk, Nieuwport (Belgium) and back the same route. This included 24hours in Dover during a F9 gale, 326 miles and 22 night hours.

The crew was:


Friday.We boarded Freedom on Friday afternoon, and because she was deep in low-tide mud, we had time to become familiar with this fine 4 year old yacht and enjoy an excellent supper prepared by Karen and Richard.

Saturday. We left Cowes and spent time in Portsmouth practising boat handling, picking up buoys and berthing on pontoons.
The tide was then favourable for sailing to Brighton although the wind was light and from the wrong direction, entailing a lot of motoring. Terry was skipper after Portsmouth and did well getting us to Brighton. It was tough having his first time in the 'hot seat' at night.

Sunday. Roger took over as skipper with a SW wind for the sail to Eastbourne, a pleasant trip past the Seven Sisters cliffs of Sussex and Beachy Head.

Monday. Terry was skipper for the next leg of the cruise to Dover, again with favourable wind and tide, although the increasing SW wind behind gave an exciting ride into Dover harbour.
The Channel crossing was an interesting experience, and skipper Roger kept the crew on deck alert as we crossed the busy shipping. His highlight was a large container ship on a collision course, and as danger loomed a torch was shone on the mainsail. There was considerable relief when the ship made a distinct change of course and passed astern of us.

Topless Buoy

Tuesday. Pausing on a buoy in Calais outer harbour for breakfast, Terry became skipper again and was challenged by John to find The Lady of Dunkerque, a special buoy topped by a full size topless lady in bright colours. She was found and caused some ribaldry while being digitally recorded from close alongside.

Wednesday. Karen achieved another tick in the competent crew boxes with a fine demo of inflating and launching the rubber dinghy, followed by rowing guinea pig Terry around the marina.
Roger took over as skipper for the next leg to Nieuwport in Belgium.

Thursday Sadly it was time to head home down the French coast to Calais with Terry in charge. We had no time to stop but pressed on across the channel in daylight with F7/8 SW winds and strong tides to Dover.

Friday. Force 9 SW winds kept us in Dover all day, but we had a magnificent demonstration of seamanship as all ferries around Dover were halted while a cruise ship was turned around close to us by two tugs, and eased out of the eastern harbour entrance.


Saturday. Pressure was now on because Freedom was due in Cowes by Sunday afternoon. Roger took command for an 11 hour stint to Eastbourne.

Sunday. Left Eastbourne at 0300hrs with Terry doing another night passage. David enjoyed helming against a F 6/7 headwind motor sailing at 8 knots over the ground with Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters to starboard. It was a beautiful starry night and he was literally steering by a handy star on the mast. Karen with her superb eyesight watched for pots and buoys while Terry kept track on the chart. The Duty Officer at UKSA was surprised and relieved when we sailed in on time, as he had been aware of the wild weather out there.

John de-briefed the crew, and issued certificates to Karen (Competent crew), Roger and Terry (Day Skippers), who were congratulated by all for their long-suffering and endurance.

We all enjoyed the experience and were grateful to UKSA and to John for his instruction and safe control of the trip.

David Horder

See more pictures from this trip in the Passage to Nieuwport Gallery

RYA Sailability Multi Class Regatta 2009 at Rutland

Roy gains third in Access 303 class

On Sat 14th and Sun 16th of September Chris Weston and myself went to Rutland SC to take part in the RYA Sailability Multi Class Regatta. We took our newest Access 303 (1642) so as to ensure we sailed within the new regulations. Arriving in plenty of time we unloaded the boat from the trailer and rigged it but had a considerable wait to launch it as the slip was pretty busy – there was a fair crowd of sailors trying to do the same thing. I went off to sign in and get kitted up while Chris got the boat in. There was a bit of a queue for the signing in and I just made the start of the briefing. As there were eight classes and seventy two boats involved it was a lengthy process. There were to be four class races on the Sat, one on the Sun followed by the multi class pursuit race.

Eventually we were out on the water going for the start line in nice sunny but quite blustery conditions. After a long wait we were off and we were in the lead. Then rounding the leeward mark, still in the lead and going well, the race abandoned flag went up – the windward mark had been blown off station. It took a while for the race to restart and meanwhile the wind was strengthening all the time. Off we went again but not such a good start this time and eventually finished 2nd – half full of water! By this time the wind was blowing about a 6 and there were some pretty big waves ready to swamp you if you weren’t careful. A lot of sailors were cold and wet and some retired. Due to the late start and the conditions it was decided to break for lunch and see if the weather improved. Unfortunately the forecast gave increasing wind so eventually racing was abandoned for the day. A very nice evening followed with dinner and entertainment.

Sunday’s weather was still blustery and sunny with wind 4 –5 and choppy waves. Just one class race was run - much the same as the Sat but we could only make 7th place. We had to get the boat pumped out before we could sail back for a break before the Multi Class pursuit race.

Unfortunately due to misunderstanding the race instructions (start line twice as far away than we thought) we were 8 mins late starting. What the hell – we decided to go for it anyway, after all it’s what we were there for! The race involved the boats starting in order of PY number – slowest first. That meant the 303’s were 2nd away so there were a lot of boats behind us – albeit faster. After two hours racing your position is taken from the last committeee boat (sited at each mark ) you passed. At he last mark we rounded there were five boats – an Artimis ,a Squib, two Challengers and us – guess who was in the middle (nearly had a Challenger sitting on our foredeck!). We managed 37th overall and 3rd in class so we thought we hadn’t done too bad after all and it was all great fun.

Roy Child

See Full Results of Pursuit Race

Visit to the Netherlands with Northampton Sailability

Report by Don Amer

The visit took place over a long weekend of Sept.4- 7. The object of the trip was to sail on the inland waters of the Oosterschelde and the Veersemeer.

We made our way to Dover, ferry to Dunkirk, then up to the marina at Oranjeplat near Middleburg. We then met up with 3 boats from the Belgian International Sailing Club (BISC).

Jenny Jeffs and John Norman sailed with Roel Moens from BISC as lead boat. The other sailability members were in 2 hired “ Spirit” boats, which are about 1980 vintage, 28 foot long and comfortably accommodate 4:

White Spirit with Alan Henson (Skipper) Roy Child, Michelle Blunsdon and Sarah Wrench

Spirit with Richard Strange (Skipper), Don Amer, Anthony Osborne and Malcom Ablett

As we settled in on Friday night 2 heavy showers descended, that was all the rain we had.

Next morning we had a briefing then set off east along the Veersemeer which is non tidal. It was a comfortable sail downwind with just the jib up with the wind about 3 to 4.We stopped for lunch at Wolphaartsdyke marina then on to the lock and through into the Oosterschelde which is tidal.

In the 1950’s a storm surge killed a lot of people in this area so over the following 10 years a barrage was constructed to control the water. We carried on to the east to arrive at Verseke where the harbour master managed to fit us in, all 5 rafted up together.

A very nice meal finished the day. The area is apparently famed for its mussels which are served with as many chips and salad as you can eat. John claimed the record for the night!

The following day the flotilla set off for Zieriksee. This was a comfortable beat in a force 3. Sailing in this area is challenging for the skippers as some big barges are around and the channels are quite narrow and shallow in places. The musssel beds also have to be avoided so some tacking took place. John, on Roel’s boat, warned us on the radio if we looked like going aground.

We had to negotiate the bridge over the Schelde which is about 3 miles long. We had a mast height of about 13+ metres which I think gave us about 1 metre to spare at high tide but it was still a bit scary going under. Then we turned right into the canal to Ziericksee. We had a 2 hour stop here in this lovely clean town with beautiful restored buildings. This seemed to be the norm in Holland. After lunch we set off back under the bridge down wind on jib only back to the lock and into the Veersemeer.

We sailed on past our starting point to the town of Veere which had been an important port in the middle ages until Napoleon took over. The outlet to the sea has been closed off and it was just another lovely town in a beautiful setting. The yacht club provided us with another great meal and drinks. Roel told us that you could go all the way to Amsterdam with the mast up. He said that boats have priority over cars except in Amsterdam where you have to go through at certain times.

In the morning we sailed a couple of miles back to base, loaded the cars up and made our way home after a great weekend.

Thanks are due to John Norman and Roel for organizing everything.

Summer Challenge 2009: Final Results
Roy wins summer challenge

Ian Castle presents Roy with the Harry Cockburn trophy

Congratulations to Roy for winning the Summer Challenge series (again!).

Barbara comes second

Barbara receives the runners-up award

And Well Done to Barbara for pushing him very hard to gain a worthy second.Many thanks to Dave Mabbutt and his helpers for running another great series.

Northampton Sailability in Norfolk at the Nancy Oldfield Trust, July 2009 - Report by Ann Payne

The annual Northampton Sailability trip to the Nancy Oldfield Trust in Norfolk proved to be even more popular this summer with a full house.

Some of us stayed for a few days while others were able to stay for the whole period. Good accommodation was provided at the bungalow and we were able to spend every day sailing on Barton Broad and the rivers which enter and leave the broad.

With a good selection of boats to choose from, Randmeer, Yoeman, Falmouth Bass Boats and of course canoeing, our days were full of varied activity.

The Nancy Oldfield Trust staff go to tremendous lengths to ensure our group is able to carry out our chosen activities, and the staff are supported by daily volunteers who are also qualified instructors.

When the wind is right there is nothing better than beating up and down the broad, accompanied by yachts hired from such boat yards as Hunter and Eastwood Welpton, trying to avoid the many motor cruisers.

We visited the Broads Museum at Stalham were the Norfolk Wherry “Maud” was tied up and saw several steam boats in action. We also canoed to the Marsh Man’s cottage at How Hill and walked along the board walk on Barton Broad one evening.

On another evening we drove to Potter Higham for a fish and chip supper, which we ate in the evening sun by the old bridge, watching the activities on the river.

Many thanks to Emma Dakin for organising the trip and for making sure everyone enjoyed the experience.

We have made a booking for next year, so if you would like to join us be sure to get your name on the list when the time comes !

See lots more pictures in the Nancy Oldfield Gallery

Northampton Sailability Croatia ‘Flotilla’ 2009. - Report by Roy Child

This May saw twelve of our members embark on a sailing holiday to Croatia. Kindly organised by John Norman, this was to be an experiment to sail our own ‘flotilla’. Instead of booking a package flotilla holiday as in the past it was felt we have enough expertise amoung us to ‘go it alone’. So we pushed the boat out (sorry!) and bare boat chartered two Bavaria 44’s. This gave us the freedom to set our own itinery but also have backup if required.

The Croatia Airline flight to Split was very comfortable and we arrived in time to get to the marina at Kastella , find the boats, dump our kit and find a bar for a quick drink before an evening meal – fitting in getting to know our way round the boats. John was skipper of Tonka with Jenny, Gill, Emma, Roger and Wilf. Grant was skipper of Krik 1 with Brenda, Richard, Roy, Rod and Richard.

That first night the weather got a bit windy with the boats rocking and snatching on the mooring lines all night. Next morning was no better with force 6 winds out at sea so our intended departure to Milna, a short hop away, was delayed till after lunch giving us a chance to shop for provisions and have a wander round.

With the wind moderated to F4 –5 and with one reef in the main our little flotilla made its maiden voyage. Arriving around 5.30pm, after a bit of practice in boat handling, the only space left was next to the church where the boats rafted together for the night.

We soon found out why the space was free – flipping church bells clanged out every hour till midnight and then woke us all at 6am! Also we couldn’t have been further away from the ablution block if we’d tried which was the other side of the bay, up an outside flight of stairs to the 3rd floor! Never mind – it’s a very picturesque place to wander round and the food was good.

This set the theme for the week with good sailing and pleasant evenings, our little flotilla some of the time sailing together or other times independently, very relaxing and enjoyable.

Sometimes sailing between islands meant a bit of a race ensued, often losing contact by taking different courses. Places we visited were Rogoznica (or Rogers knickers as Emma called it – what she was doing there we didn’t ask!), Drvenik, Kremik, Vodice, Maslinica and Trogir travelling around 180 miles. A few times we anchored in quiet bays for lunch, messing about in the dinghies and climbing the mast.

We found lots of great eating places and some in out of the way places with a wonderful atmosphere. The sea food especially was delicious and they didn’t stint on the helpings.

Altogether a very good week with good weather, good food and good company – we even saw some dolphins but they didn’t say a lot!

See more pictures in the Flotilla Gallery

Many thanks to John Norman and Jenny for organising another great trip!

Access Class Nationals at Northampton Sailability
Access Nationals 2009

Sailors with a wide range of disabilities took part in the 2009 Access Class National Championships at Northampton SC on 11/12 July. 37 competitors enjoyed competitive racing in four fleets organised by a large team of expert volunteer helpers and safety crews from Northampton Sailability.

There was no wind on Saturday morning so the Class Association took the opportunity of holding its AGM earlier than planned.

In the afternoon two races were held but most sailors found the light conditions frustrating and the gloomy sky did little to lift their spirits. However an enjoyable Championship Dinner in the evening was attended by over 50 people.

On Sunday warm sunshine and a brisk SW F2/3 wind enabled the full programme of six races to be completed. Safety boats were kept busy baling out a number of near swampings but everyone enjoyed competitive racing at this splendid venue in the heart of the East Midlands.

The most successful club was Frensham Pond Sailability with one National Champion and two runners up.

A training day on the Friday attracted 25 sailors and was led by RYA Sailability Racing Coach Matt Grier assisted by former RYA Sailability coach George Barker.


Access 2.3:

Access 303 One Person:

Access 303 Two Person:


New Longboat "Harry Cockburn" Naming Day, 18th April 2009

Our new Longboat has been named and is now in service.

Mary Cockburn reports:

Saturday 18th April 2009 was a very proud day for me and our two sons, Nathan and Matthew. Northampton Sailability were able to purchase a Drascombe Longboat costing £15000 with the help of local charities, Rotary, and generous friends and family who gave money in memory of Harry.

We were delighted when it was agreed that the boat would be called ‘Harry Cockburn’ a fitting tribute to Harry, Northampton Sailability was something he was very proud to be part of and enjoyed making sailing days special for its members.

It was a pleasure to be able to name the boat and of course spray it with champagne, it was launched but didn’t sail at the time as it was very windy.

A funny twist to this and I am sure all of you who knew Harry will appreciate it – I was in Tescos looking at Champagne and of course it is expensive ranging from £18-£30 especially as it wasn’t for drinking. As I was about to pick a bottle up I could hear this voice saying ‘how much’, so I promptly put it back and bought a £12 bottle from Asda!


Spring Training Weekend 18th - 19th April 2009

Enthusiasm abounds!

The two essential ingredients of a successful training event are enthusiastic, hardworking instructors and enthusiastic, hardworking students. We had both in good measure for our training weekend on 18/19 April. As well as carrying out formal RYA training, some of our members took part in a number of other informal activities not leading to a qualification.

Chris and Allan present certificates

Thirteen RYA sailing certificates were presented by our chairman, Chris Weston, at the close of the weekend. Our successful students are now able to help even more. This is not only of great benefit to our organisation but will enhance the pleasure they get from being a member.

New Racing Managers Appointed

Following the appointment of Allan Henson as Principal of our RTC, Roy Child and Dave Mabbutt have taken over as our racing managers. Roy was Access dinghy national champion in 2007 and Dave has many years of racing experience behind him at Northampton Sailing Club having campaigned in a Solo for a long time and a GP14 before that.

Allan said, “It’s great to see such enthusiastic racing sailors take over this role. Not only will this give me more time to me to adapt to my new role, Roy and Dave will bring exciting new ideas to our racing activities.”

Brian Thake awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship

At a recent Charter Lunch of The Rotary Club of Northampton West, Brian Thake was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship by the District Governor, Ian Vernon.

This is the highest award that a Rotary Club can make to a Rotarian or any other person and is awarded only for exceptional contribution to Rotary (in the case of Rotarians) and others (in respect of their exceptional work in the community in some way or another), in this case Brian’s involvement with Sailability.

Congratulations to Brian on this well deserved award.

Geoff does Sailability Down Under

During my recent visit to my brother Bram, whom I haven't seen for 28 years, I had the opportunity to help out at the Sailability group which operate from his Yacht Club in Goolwa.

Goolwa Regatta Yacht Club - website

Goolwa is situated in South Australia about 40 miles south of Adelaide and is near the mouth of an estuary fed by the Murray and Darling rivers. In the 1920s a barrier was built to make the estuary non-tidal and it became a freshwater area to provide drinking and irrigation water to the local area.

Dried out jetties at Milang

Unfortunately a few years of very low rainfall have caused the water level to drop considerably. The situation has been worsened by other communities up-stream on both rivers increasing their extraction rates thus reducing the flow significantly.

The effect of this can be seen most dramatically at the nearby town of Milang, where boats were moored at these jetties just three years ago!

Boats stranded on Goolwa Yacht Club Jetty

Goolwa Yacht Club and their Sailability group have suffered as well, but at the moment sailing is possible, if difficult. The berths have been dredged out once, but the water level continues to drop, and now several berths are empty.

New Jetty constructed for low water level use

Geoff gives a joy ride

The Sailability group meets once a month on a Saturday. They have four Access 303s and two Access Libertys. My visit coincided with the December meet and I volunteered to do some 303 trips, as they had an unusually big turn-out of members and needed plenty of experienced volunteers. Bram, who had never been to a Sailability day before, was "volunteered" to provide safety cover using the Club's RIB. It was quite windy, and, surprisingly, not very warm - just like being back home really!.

Bram on Duty

The ever dropping water level meant that the main hazard was running aground, and most did! Bram was kept quite busy.

One of the members I took out, Steve, was a very experienced sailor and before his accident had been, among other things, a Yachtmaster and sail training master on a Tall Ship for Outward Bound Australia. He was very thrilled at getting out on the water again after going through some negative experiences with sailing, and his partner Robin told me she was so pleased that I had given him a good sail and renewed his enthusiasm for getting out on the water.

The Harry Cockburn Memorial trophy

The Harry Cockburn Trophy

This is the new trophy for the Summer Challenge that has been run each season for the past three years. The trophy is in memory of our late chairman Harry Cockburn who sadly died in April 2008 from cancer. It is fitting that such a beautiful trophy has been commissioned in his name due to Harry’s unstinting work for us and also for other charities.

The Summer Challenge competition is a based on a series of races on Friday afternoons from May to August at Northampton Sailability. Training is given for newcomers and this has resulted in increasing numbers of sailors taking part. The first winner of the Harry Cockburn Trophy was Roy Child, former National Champion in the Access 303 class and a regular sailor at events throughout the country.

With the added impetus of this beautiful new trophy it is expected the Summer Challenge will be even more popular in 2009.