Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Season Moves to a Close…

… and from our correspondent in Solan, Himachal Pradesh, India…

So the season is drawing to a close. We’re now in Bangor, Northern Ireland and looking at the options for winterizing Toodle-oo! – either here or perhaps we’ll move her back to Whitehaven in the UK. We have plane tickets already booked for our return to the US – so we can both earn honest crusts during the winter months. It’s all a bit scary, leaving the boat for 5-6 months while we are 3,000 miles away – normally I’m within 30 minutes and regularly pop down to the marina to make sure all is well. Oh well – I guess that’s what insurance is all for…

So, ‘in water’ or ‘on the hard’ storage? I’m favoring in water, Laurie is convinced she’ll sink! One thing she has learned from some helpful folk in the slip next door (while I’m away in India) is that they always leave heaters and dehumidifiers going during the winter storage time – helps to keep the boat from freezing and lowers the prospect of mold. Both are on order as we speak!

I get back from India on October 6th, Laurie leaves for the US on the 17th – so we’ve got 10 days for a possible late season sail if the weather permits – or otherwise a long drawn out cleaning/decommissioning program to get the boat ready for winter – I’m staying on until the 23rd to finish all winterizing.

So where are we off to next year? Plans are far from firm, but thoughts are to head north to Scotland for May and the first half of June – it’s imperative to get there before the midges arrive at the end of June and make life unbearable! Of course that unfortunately means that we’ll be there before the weather has really warmed up – but that’s the lesser evil when compared to midges! This’ll give us 6 weeks of cruising in the Scottish Hebrides – thinking Islay, Tiree, Uwist, St. Kilda, Lewis and Skye – followed by a transit of the Caledonian Canal (keeping an eye out for the Loch Ness Monster) and then crossing the North Sea to the Baltic. The Ocean Cruising Club is planning a cruise in the Baltic, right up to St. Petersburg which we’re thinking of participating in – it will be an excellent opportunity to visit some countries that neither of us have thought about visiting before: Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and Finland. At the close of the season I’m not sure where we’ll end up – I suspect either southern England or perhaps northern France… It’s really wonderful not having a plan that’s so rigid that it cannot be messed with as the time arrives!

I’ll surely be posting more details of our 2014 plans – so if you’re interested in joining us, keep tabs on this page and grab your spot – first come first served!


We are enjoying Northern Ireland – though wish the weather was better! We took a tour around Belfast and then a tour out to the Giant’s Causeway – both were interesting but a little disappointing.

The tour of Belfast highlights a city recovering from the turmoil of the ‘Troubles’ but I have to say that to us it appears, despite words to the contrary from the bus drivers,  as though the troubles are lurking close beneath the surface. As we went down the Falls Road and then The Shankhill Road, famous streets for sectarian violence, there were flags and murals on display – and being kept up to date – announcing the desire to break away from the UK – or to remain within it. I have to say that the Loyalists with all their Union Jacks and Red White and Blue emblazoned everywhere were far more in your face than the Republicans. Why on earth they can’t all just let it go is beyond me, but with fervent flag waving like this, I fear it would be very easy for a careless match to start the fight all over again. Meanwhile, Belfast is a thriving city and there does seem to be harmony within the general population. It’s clearly just a minority of ijits that have and always will carry on the stupidity. OK, political posturing over!

The trip to the Causeway was interesting with a fun driver giving us an amusing (if somewhat constant!) commentary on everything out the window as we travelled along the coastal road (the long way). We stopped at Carrickfergus to look at the castle – though Laurie and I checked out the marina instead! We stopped at the ‘Rope Bridge’ – a robust swing bridge so we didn’t even bother going over! Then we went to the Bushmills Whiskey site – and didn’t buy any Whiskey!

Finally we made it to the Giant’s Causeway. It’s an interesting place, but having already been to Fingal’s Cave in Scotland (Isle of Staffa), the Giant’s Causeway is certainly a disappointment in comparison. The rock formations – which are very interesting – are not as extensive or as well defined as those on Staffa. We had a good walk while there however – in spite of the bloody weather.

Yesterday afternoon we took a walk around and found some delightful entertainment – an award winning walled garden that was an absolute delight, a very nice park with hugely diverse tree species and then came upon a crown bowling green – open to the public. So we paid our equipment rental fees and had ourselves our first game of full size (as opposed to carpet) Bowls. What an excellent game! A close fought game was finally concluded at 21:15!

Today, if the rain gives over we’ll take a ride on the tandem to Strangford Lough (pr Lock!) so that we can at least say we’ve been to the place (Marine Sanctuary). On Friday I take off for 2 weeks to India to earn a crust while Laurie remains aboard to make sure all systems are kept up and in working order! Friend Sandra arrives next week for a visit…

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The Isle of Man

We sailed to the Isle of Man on Monday – leaving with almost no wind and being happy to eek out 3 knots. We ended the sail some 5 hours later with double reefed main and small jib in 25kts! We anchored off the small town of Laxey as close as we could the the shore to get shelter from the wind. This was our first experience of anchoring in a location with over 20ft tides – you really have to know what state the tide is at when you drop the hook and what’s it going to be at – deepest and shallowest through the night… We managed quite well sitting in about 4M at low water, 10M at high with 40M of chain out. Unfortunately, the wind was holding the boat at 90 degrees to the swell – so we rocked and rolled all night long!

We didn’t even get off the boat – upped anchor the following morning and headed for a sheltered harbor – Port St. Mary on the South Western tip of the island. Since we were already uncomfortable, we decided to depart early and deal with some negative current… (OK Stupid Move!!!)

What a trip! We started off with 35kts! (fortunately from behind us) and made our way down the coast with an adverse current – wind against current is not good – and it kicked up a violent chop. We had to give  the southern head, Deswick Point, a wide berth since the current there was 5kts against us!!! We therefore went 5 miles off shore to avoid the worst of it – still getting 2.5kts against us. The worst of it was then having to make the final stretch INTO the wind which was still blowing 30kts and still a violent chop. It took forever to cover the last 5 miles and we arrived weary but into a nice sheltered anchorage (with wind only blowing 25kts) and secured with some difficulty to a visitors mooring. 15 miles as the crow flies, 30 miles and 6 hours by Toodle-oo!

The following day when talking with the Harbor Master he commented that they had watched us arrive – they being a crowd at the local pub I gather – we must have made a sorry sight! Later that day we bumped into a couple of golfers – one of which said – oh – you were in that boat beating across the bay!!!! Everybody’s watching our antics it seems!

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The Isle of Man is really nice. Rolling hills, excellent walks, interesting transportation opportunities (steam train, electric tram, horsedrawn trams and cog railways) which can be sampled on a one day ticket – along with the bus.  We had a really nice walk down to the Calf of Man – the south west tip – where brave sailors can sail through a narrow cut and shave a good amount of time off their journey – but have to plan (better than us) to ensure current is going the right way – as standing waves are not uncommon there. When we arrived (on foot) the tide was almost slack, but there was still signs of standing waves!

In the early evening, back on the boat we watched the RNLI Lifeboat head out of the harbor at full tilt… Less than an hour later it arrived back with a 30ft sailboat in it’s care – they’d lost power in the calf and were slowly but surely being swept to the rocks! Interestingly in the UK the RNLI is funded by gifts/donations only and there is no charge made to those that are rescued. Moreover, you don’t already have to be in dire need (like in the water) for them to come out and get you. The US Coast Guard could certainly learn something here!

Unfortunately, our visit to the Isle of Man was cut miserably short due to the impending arrival of some severe weather that was forecast to stick around for several days – so we reluctantly made our way to Bangor in Northern Ireland where we’ll park the boat for a month while I fly off to India for a couple of weeks and while Laurie has her friend Sandra aboard…

Fortunately, the crossing to Ireland was not difficult – with light winds unfortunately pretty much on the nose – but we arrived in our slip some 11 hours later… Interestingly, the boat that had been rescued left at the same time as us, also headed for Northern Ireland – he didn’t use the same shortcut again!!!



Muker Show Day Rounds Out the Visit

Well, we’ve left Whitehaven and the family behind us – but it was a lot of fun spending a good deal of time with nearly all of my family over the past month. We had time to climb several of the mountains of the Lake District and Dales and finally managed to get Kate and Dustin onto the boat for a somewhat blowy and cold sail outside of Whitehaven.


Our visit culminated the most enjoyable Muker Show day I have ever experienced.The show sports judged displays of arts and crafts from local folk, flowers and vegetables, walking sticks, handwriting and of course sheep! Swaledale being at the center of breeding Swaledale sheep – the males (Tups) fetching huge amounts of money occasionally. Apparently the standard this year was very high…


There’s also sheep dog trials, but unfortunately that was a bit of a mess as the field in which they performed was not secured properly and nearly every shepherd lost sheep to a poorly constructed wire fence! Muker Silver Band (including brother Steve, his wife Sue, sister Kate and her husband Dustin) plays tunes throughout the day to accompany all the various activities.




The highlight of the day is the Fell Race. Competitors come from far and wide to participate in Muker’s fell race – which leaves the showground, heads across the river Swale (try not to fall in) and up Ivelet Side – a stupidly steep incline of about 45%, across the top of the hill and then back down and across the river to the finish. Daughter Abigail made her debut this year and I’m proud to say she finished – and not last in the 61 strong field. Way to go Abigail!

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The show winds up outside the Farmer’s Arms in the village (the pub my parents owned for quite a while) and the band plays a series of hymns and local songs – and the whole crowd participates. A wonderful finale to a wonderful day.



We departed Whitehaven, which turned out to be a very nice little town (unfortunately inundated with seagulls and way too much litter) – it is ready to be a busy tourist town, but somehow didn’t quite manage to capture the tourists. We headed next to the Isle of Man that sits in the middle of the Irish Sea…



Dinner Aboard

Last night we had niece Hannah, Mark, Nicky, Jenny, Molly, Abigail, myself and Laurie sat around the dinner table enjoying Laurie’s magnificent Lasagna with Salad, followed by home made apple (from Simon Mardel’s garden) crumble and ice cream. Talk about gourmet cooking! Way to go Laurie!


Great Gable

Today we were going to go sailing with niece Hannah’s lot today, but the weather was not particularly favorable for 3 kids aboard – with gusts to 35… so instead we opted for a walk – up Great Gable… England’s second highest mountain I believe.

We arrived at Wasdale Head and met Hannah, Nicky, Jenny and Molly there and set off on a blustery day. The mountain was in cloud – would it lift for our arrival?  Would it heck!

An enjoyable if taxing day – it’s a bit of an all UP followed by all DOWN walk – but the pints at the bottom tasted ever so good!


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