Friday, 27 May 2016

A Better Look

Apologies for another picture of me, but I just like it. A lovely composition by Lorraine Grant of Solent galley Bembridge heading back down the Hamble in the rain last Saturday. Note perfect timing.
Apologies also for the late publication of the previous post - I really must return to blogging on my proper PC in my garden office instead of my iPad on my living room sofa, comfy though that might be. The Blogger app is crap, and it often says it has published a post when it secretly hasn't. 

Racing - Not a Good Look

To the Hamble on Saturday to race in the Hamble River Raid, one of my favouritest events. 
The top end of the course is a hairpin bend round a big red marker post, where stroke side holds water and bow side rows like hell. 
Lorraine Grant caught the moment Bembridge made the turn from the luxury pontoon of the Jolly Sailor.
But it was worth it - we held on to the trophy for fastest Solent galley.
And our juniors did amazingly well again - Claudia and Annika retained Bernie's Bollard for the fastest boat in the 'Classics and Spirit of Tradition' class (formerly known as Odds'n'Sods. It was particularly encouraging that we had another junior crew racing this year, Molly and Ayesha, who put in a great performance. 
To the bottom left of the picture is Cordelia, rowed by Mr and Mrs Hand. They had been evicted from Mistress, their Bursledon Gig, by their children who won a pot in it, the ingrates.
Despite the rain, enormous fun.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

An Even Blusterier Day

If that's a word.
Anyhoo, Saturday was a sailing day that turned into a fairly brutal row.
Not wishing to turn this blog into a 'why can't the Met Office ever see it coming' rant, but the local hour-by-hour forecast showed the breeze sharpening to F3 gusting F5 in the afternoon, but in the event a squall came in like a train registering 25kn at Cambermet. That's mid F6 and it lasted for over an hour which doesn't count as a gust in my book.
All in all, I learned a lot yesterday.
First lesson was: remember to put on my lifejacket. I launched at 8 o'clock just as the tide was leaving the slipway (because I didn't want to get out of bed any earlier than I had to) and it was half an hour before I realised I wasn't wearing the bloody thing, by which time the slip was inaccessible behind a hundred yards of deep Havant mud, which is not a nice place to lose a boot.
The moment was captured by Andy Cunningham (there to inspect Snarleyow to gain info for his conversion of a similar hull). Note acres of Havant mud in the foreground.
I dropped in on the friendly kiosk at the mouth of Langstone Harbour for coffee and to consider if I was brave enough to go out on the Solent without one, mentioned my predicament to owner John and he very kindly offered to lend me his. Top man! Onwards!
I was, however, still a bit concerned about the wind so I took a reef in. Then, out in the Solent, the wind more or less died so I had to shake it out again. Another bit of useful experience gained.
On returning to the harbour to give John his bouyancy aid back I noticed nasty clouds circling the area, as you can see in the photo. This gave me a nice smug feeling that loads of people were getting rained on but not me. But it was clearly time to head back.
With the wind right on the nose and sharpening, I decided to get a bit of exercise and row, so down came the masts. Just as well, as shortly after the squall came through and it took me for ever to reach the slipway, inch by inch. If I had still had the rig up I would have gone backwards. Lesson: watch the real weather rather that rely on the Met Office.
To cap it all the slipway was infested by jet skis illegally buzzing about damn them to hell, and in the evening a massive filling dropped out into my dry martini.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

A Blustery Day

The eminent Helena Smalman-Smith of that great blog Expedition Rowing came to Langstone today to experience the wonders of the Solent galley. The 10 knot sou'westerly was already breezier than I'd expected when we set out at 15.00, but what followed came as something of a surprise. As shown on Cambermet, the wind built to over 20 knots gusting to 30.
When I looked back at the Met Office forecast on my return it was showing this retrospective:
Now I'm fairly sure it was a lot less than that when I checked first thing in the morning. How often does the forecast get updated? Was that squall predicted more than an hour or so ahead? I'm not criticising - forecasts are better than they ever have been - but it would have been nice to know.
Anyway, Helena got a fairly punishing row downwind to Emsworth in Solent galley Bembridge. After tea in the Deck we swapped over to the Tiefi skiff Lottie. The instant we left the shelter of the marina at about 17.00 it was apparent it had blown up something considerable. It was a hard, wet slog upwind to Langstone.
But fun. I think.
Back in the boat park, Helena and I took pictures of each other taking pictures of each other.
And so to beer.
And in the pub she gave me a wonderful rowing gift, a mug celebrating her trans-Atlantic row back in 2011 with her husband (to whom she is still married despite spending weeks cooped up with him in a floating wheelybin hundreds of miles from the nearest pub.)
The liquorice and those darling little clogs were presents from a departing Dutch student lodger.

Monday, 18 April 2016

The Conundrum of Jubilee

Jubilee hit the water for the first time yesterday and floated nicely, only taking in modest amounts of water considering how long she has been dry. Geoff and I took her out under sweep oars with Marilyn coxing, and she goes jolly fast, as you might expect from a boat 20ft long but only 3ft 6in beam. 
However...the rowing positions are so far aft she trims bow up and the water is up to the top two strakes in the stern.
It is a mystery why the crew are placed so far astern, especially as the arrangement leaves a huge empty space in the bow and crams the cox'n into a space so small they have no room for their feet.
The sculling rig was a total failure as we don't have any blades short enough.
This morning I took a closer look at her and discovered some interesting evidence of the way she has been modified over the years.
Something was fitted on the open area behind the foredeck, shown by filled holes along the top of the gunwale. And both thwarts have been moved forward by a few inches:
The cox's seat looks suspiciously like an afterthought:
Was she originally a coxless pair? If so, why the huge empty space up forward? And why does she have alternative rigging as a double scull?
Anybody know what Jubilee might have been originally built as?

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Jubilee's First Outing

Langstone Cutters has a new boat, a mini-galley called Jubilee, owned by the Pat Sherwin Trust.
She is 18ft long, very slim and can be rigged for sweep or sculls. Very pretty.
We carried her to the water today (she has a handle at each corner and is light enough for four people to lift her with ease) and then launched our Solent galley Langstone Lady. We turned our backs for two minutes and, inevitably, Lady took advantage of the incoming tide and offshore wind to make a break for it.
Our fast-thinking bosun Geoff leapt into Jubilee and pushed off, telling us to hold on to the painter as he went. In a matter of moments Lady was back on the beach. Jubilee is already a Really Useful Galley.

Thursday, 14 April 2016


Little Snarleyow went to Bosham today for her first real outing since her refurb. The weather was still, the clouds of an incoming depression moving up from the southwest. 
The improved rowing position and the longer oars worked a treat - she is considerably faster and will be a pleasure to take down the Thames with the HBBR later this year.