Monday 31 August 2015

Lake Boats

As a sailor on holiday and far from the sea, the lakes near Salzburg provide a nice surprise to see some very interesting boats.

The Yngling class of keel boat appears to be popular in Austria, we saw fleets on a few of the lakes.

There were more than a few Dragons on the water, this varnished one being a particularly nice example.

No idea what this was but it looked very fast and well developed for sailing the flat waters of the lakes.

There were even a few local gaffers.

Friday 28 August 2015

RYA 1 & 2

Joseph and his friend Toby spent a week doing RYA Dinghy Stages 1&2 at Hamble Sailing Club. Most evenings over dinner an excited 6 year old would tell us all about what he'd learned " a flappy sail is an unhappy sail", all about reaching and some knots.

The week ended with an epic sail across Southampton Water to Ashlett Creek aboard a Pico, Joseph has already decided that he doesn't want an Optimist as the Laser Pico is much more fun.

Joseph and Toby with their certificants.

Wednesday 26 August 2015


It's over 40 years since I visited Venice, but the magic of the place is still as strong and as moving as it was all those years ago, it really is a living museum, the affects of the modern world are clear to see but the hundreds of years of history are not diminished.

Coming out of the main railway station we crossed the chaotic and fascinating grand canal and then headed off to avoid the main tourist areas and explore the area to the south west of the grand canal.

Many of the major churches are charging an entry fee, but in the quiet back streets, or maybe that should be backwaters,  we found delightful churches with amazing 15th century paintings and ornate baroque decorations which were open and welcoming.

In another square we found what is probably the best chocolate ice cream we've ever had at Euro 1.30 for a cone it was hardly expensive. Lunch was in a small restaurant next to a canal, the choice was vast, the food was very good and the price was unexpectedly reasonable.

Inevitably we visited Piazza San Marco as Erica wanted to see it, which is actually a bit difficult with all the tourists, but never fails to be awe inspiring. the main tourist route seemed to lead to the Rialto bridge, but a quick right turn and across two small canals were once again back in relative tranquillity seeing things that so many visitors just seem to rush by.  

I could wander Venice for days and sit and draw the fascinating city, but Joseph was getting tiered so we decided to head back to the hotel and swimming pool. We  caught the water taxi almost along the full length of grand canal back to the railway station. It's also a great way to see the grandest buildings as it stops and starts every few hundred yards to docks on alternating sides of the canal.

Monday 24 August 2015

Super Heroes and Villains at Bursledon Regatta

Super Heroes and Villains were out in force at Bursledon Regatta with Superman seen here in flight between the tall towers of Bursledon City.

Inevitably there were a couple of Batmobiles, one an almost exact replica from the 1965 TV series

And in the other Batman and Robin curiously assisted by Riddler and what looks like two Penguins.

With such villainy afoot and an abundance of super heroes it wasn't long before fighting broke out.

Superman's support crew came off pretty badly, maybe the green hull was too much like kryptonite.

Saturday 22 August 2015

On days like these

We drove across the eastern Alps from Salzburg to Italy, taking the old road over some of the peaks, all the way we couldn’t help singing “Days Like These” from the opening titles of the Italian Job as we wove our way around the mountain roads.

Ok we were driving a Volvo, not a Lamborghini and were at the wrong end of the Alps heading for Venice instead of Turin; and thankfully we didn’t encounter a bulldozer at the end of any of the many tunnels we passed through.


 In case you missed the original movie, here it is.

Thursday 20 August 2015

Bursledon Regatta this Saturday - Super Heroes and Villains

And the weather is looking half reasonable, as long as the rain comes overnight Saturday s predicted.

At the Elephant Boatyard Saturday 22nd August  this year's theme is Super Heroes and Villains- open from 12.00 but the fun starts at 14.00 with the opening ceremony, racing and the water carnival. 

Come along, join the fun and say hello if you see me.

More details here

Postss from past years here, here, here and here.

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Schafberg Mountain Railway

It’s all Michael Portillo’s fault, or at least having seen one of his televised railway journey’s ascend the Schafberg Mountain high above the Wolfgangsee near Salzburg where we were staying on holiday,  we thought we would follow in his footsteps.

I’ve written before that the best place for a sailor away from the sea is in the mountains, so what could be better than a steamer trip along an alpine lake and then ascend the high peak in a steam driven, cog railway. Well while it was actually a good trip and the scenery was breath taking, but it was all a bit too organised and as a result frankly disappointing.

We arrived at the very pretty little town of St Gilgen on the Wolfgangsee, something like a small version of Lake Como. The ticket office seemed incapable of taking money off the queue of eager tourists, but we eventually managed to pay and get on the steamer just before it left despite having arrived 25 minutes ahead of schedule on what was a slow day. Bizarrely we were told that we had been “booked” onto the 11.45 train to ascend the Schafberg which gave us just about time to buy Joseph an ice-cream between disembarking at the dock at St Wolfgang and getting on the hot and crowded train at the station just across the road.

Once at the summit you need to book a seat for the return trip down, and while the view of the surrounding mountains was breath taking, we had barely 50 minutes before getting onto the return train. The train has hot, stuffy and crowded and the whole experience had far too much similarity to a morning commute on the London tube, with people pushing and jumping the queue to get seats.

On the way down a woman sat opposite us with a tee shirt which said “collect memories not possessions.” Now maybe I'm being churlish and I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment, but I couldn’t help thinking that rushing around on what was little more than a tourist theme park ride was hardly any kind of experience.

The day after our Schafberg Mountain trip found us at a village the name of which I have no idea, we followed a trail between low alpine pasture and a fast flowing river until we found a perfect picnic spot under some trees looking up at the surrounding peaks. All of the few passing walkers wished us “gutten appetite” as they went by, we played and read from Joseph’s book before walking back to the village in the shadow of the almost sheer high peaks which surrounded it to the west. That was an experience worth collecting.

The Salzkammergut Mountains near Salzburg are fantastic and we had a great time holidaying there, maybe I'm just not too keen on being organised.

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Folk Boats?

I can't resist, this is one of the best kept Marieholm Folk Boats on the river and has a stand out colour scheme.

If I'm not mistaken that's another Folk boat or variant in the background.

Saturday 15 August 2015

Live Life

I've long been interested in the Mini Trasat boats, so it was nice to see this one on the pontoon at Port Hamble.

Adventurer Nikki Curwin will be racing across the Atlantic in what might be described as a water-borne go-cart on steroids, a 21 foot open class designed specifically for the 4000 mile drag race between France and Brazil.

We wish her luck.

Thursday 13 August 2015

It's a dog's life

Then again maybe that isn't too bad.

Paddling the upper reaches of the Hamble river.

Monday 10 August 2015


On the north west side of Poole harbour the river Frome winds away from the open water, past tall reed beds to the old Saxon town of Wareham.

There are some spaces for visiting yachts, although limited and shallow draft would be useful. What a lovely spot to spend the weekend, especially if the weather was blowing up.

Saturday 8 August 2015

Slipway Saturday Wareham

There's probably a better slipway and there certainly is at nearby Redcliffe, but if you want to launch a canoe or small boat, this narrow path gives access to the river and you can get your car within a few yards.

What's not to like?

Thursday 6 August 2015

Stars return to Hamble

The Hamble Star is a local pre war dinghy long since vanished from these parts but kept alive at Erith YC on the south  shore of the Thames estuary.

In a surprise turn of events a local resident appears to have purchased 8 Hamble Stars which will be returning to their home waters in time for Bursledon Regatta.

A notice from Hamble River SC explains

Created at Hamble in 1925 the Hamble Star one-design dinghy was the boat to race until Merlin Rockets and National 12's took over in the 1960's. Now the Hamble Stars are returning home after many years at Erith Yacht Club on the River Thames, this time to create a new fleet of eight boats at Old Bursledon. 

Timing was crucial to this happening at all as Mike Blackman, a keen boater and Old Bursledon waterfront resident explains: "I had been planning to start a new fleet of two-man dinghies, possibly Enterprises, for racing in the River Hamble but that changed when I met Jonty Sherwill on the ferry to Cowes in early June and who told me about the Stars being for sale". Hamble River Sailing Club is where the Stars were originally based and Jonty, a former Commodore, had been tipped off by an old sailing friend David Munge (who learn't to sail in the Stars at Erith) that the club's beloved old boats were to be sold off just a week later. The deal fell into place on the morning of the sale when Mike phoned David with an offer to buy eight boats, sight unseen. 

 While members and visitors at Erith Yacht Club celebrated this most acceptable arrangement on that Sunday morning it also means that the memory of Michael Robinson will be rekindled on the River Hamble. He was the Hamble born man, brother of the legendary HRSC Commodore Nic Robinson, who arrived at Erith in 1945 with his own Hamble Star. Michael then built up the fleet with more Stars from Hamble, helping to teach countless children to sail in these safe and responsive dinghies. 

With a new trophy for an annual team challenge already being discussed (six boats are remaining at Erith) look out for the Hamble Stars when they race again at this year's Bursledon Regatta.

Monday 3 August 2015

Barge at Mercury

This old sailing barge has been alongside at Mercury marina for some time so I took the opportunity of visiting some fiends to take some close up pictures.

We have some friends in Ghent in Belgium who have a similar old sailing barge, maybe slightly smaller at around 75 feet, but they sail her 2 handed and have voyaged all along the north sea coast of Belgium, Holland and Germany. Apart from the obvious high cost for mooring and maintenance, a barge like this would be fantastic for summer coastal cruising.

Saturday 1 August 2015

Slipway Saturday - Swanwick Hard

The best local slipway for us is at Swanwick Hard, usable pretty much at any state of the tide.

The gradient is not very steep so boats with a deep draft often have to be detached from the tow vehicle and pushed down the shingle to launch and recovered with a very long rope.

Ideal place to launch rowing boats, canoes and small dinghies, a couple of wayfarere's getting ready to launch at the top there.

There's a free car park, but it all gets very busy on a sunny afternoon with cars parked on the slipway.