The June cruise went very well and all those who attended enjoyed themselves. they all said that they would commit to a cruise in 2020.
Here is jeremy’s report from our sailing club’s jib sheet describing the event:-
Cruiser Class News Jeremy Sanderson
Planes, Trains, Automobiles and a Few Yachts – the Stone Cruiser Class Summer Cruise!
Having established that the “cruise in company” doesn’t actually involve much “cruising in
company” (and everyone has different plans anyway!) we decided to change the format this
year and have three separate cruises: a feeder cruise; the main cruise; and a follow-on
Baccarat, Chiron, Daydream Believer and Sea Nymph set sail from the Blackwater early on
Saturday 25th May. As Dave Taylor (Baccarat) is always late, Sam had taken the precaution of
telling him that we were planning to leave at 4.30am. For once in his life Dave actually did
leave when he was told and disappeared over the horizon before the rest of us got out of
bed (more about this later).
Chiron slipped her mooring at what her crew believed to have been the appointed
departure time and with good breeze made a speedy exit from the Blackwater. However,
looking at the AIS tracks of Daydream Believer and Sea Nymph it quickly became apparent
that they were some distance behind. As it wasn’t a race, Chiron turned round and sailed
back to the Bradwell Baffle to re-join the others. At this point the wind started to die, but as
it was well aft of the beam, Chiron decided it would be an opportunity to show the novice
guest crew how to use the cruising chute. After some time spent trawling the estuary, the
chute was finally set, by which time Daydream Believer and Sea Nymph had motored off
into the distance… The chute was quickly dropped and Chiron started to give chase under
engine – maybe this was turning into a race after all!
Chiron caught up with Sea Nymph and the pair of them took the short cut through the Sunk
Sands. Due to the changing nature of the sands, this involves downloading the latest
chartlet, inputting the waypoints into the chartplotter and relying totally on electronic
navigation aids. What could possibly go wrong?
What did go wrong was that just as Chiron was approaching the first waypoint, one of her
crew accidentally touched the chartplotter and set a man overboard alert. Instead of
navigating through the narrow channel between the Sunk Sands, Chiron’s chartplotter had
now set a course to return to the new waypoint to find the “man overboard”. Whilst trying
to re-set the chartplotter the decision was made to follow Sea Nymph. However, as the
depth dropped to less than 7 feet it become apparent that Sea Nymph, with her shallow
bilge keels, was cutting the corner… A swift turn to port and, much to the relief of her crew,
Chiron was in deeper water!
After motoring through Fisherman’s Gat, the wind started to fill in and Sea Nymph and
Chiron enjoyed a very pleasant sail down the Kent coast to Ramsgate. Having gone the long
way across the Thames Estuary, Daydream believer followed in behind.
After a quick search of Ramsgate Harbour it became apparent that despite leaving early
Baccarat still hadn’t arrived, and as none of us had noticed passing her we started to
become increasingly concerned as to what had become of her. However, a call to the
Coastguard revealed that Baccarat was on her final approach to the harbour, all was well
with boat and crew and Daydream Believer had sailed past her without realising…
As has started to become a Cruiser Class tradition in Ramsgate, we all went ashore for a
meal in the Italian restaurant under the Royal Temple Yacht Club, washed down by a few
Sunday morning saw not only a significant increase in windspeed, but also a change to the
wrong direction. The four boats had a beat to windward in 25 knots of wind, gusting to 30
knots and a fairly lumpy sea. Chiron arrived first at Dover (even though it wasn’t a race),
followed by Daydream Believer and Sea Nymph and the three boats moored up in Granville
Dock. Baccarat, was however, nowhere to be seen…
Baccarat finally arrived at Dover, having struggled to beat to windward under mainsail after
one of the genoa sheets had become detached. As soon as Baccarat had moored up, we
grabbed Dave and dragged him straight to the restaurant and a well-earned beer!
It was at this point that Chiron had to leave the Feeder Cruise and her crew caught the train
back home for a week at work.
Baccarat, Daydream Believer and Sea Nymph set sail to Boulogne, where they enjoyed a few
days (and a beer or two in what has become the “Stone Cruiser Class Bar” in the old town).
It was now time for Baccarat to leave the Feeder Cruise and Dave set sail to Bradwell via a
stopover in Ramsgate, arriving home on Saturday night.
Daydream Believer and Sea Nymph continued on to Dieppe, where they waited for the
other cruisers to join them for the main cruise.
Main Cruise and D Day 75th Anniversary
Friday 31st May saw Celebration and Trio (a guest from Burnham) sail across the Thames
Estuary and round the Kent coast to Dover. After many e-mails and texts, Jeremy, Pete and
Phil Longley managed to meet in the same carriage at Stratford International to get the train
to Dover on Friday evening. Unfortunately, as Jeremy and Pete had been standing at the
wrong end of the platform, all of the seats had been taken by the time they’d made their
way through the train carrying sailing bags and a more than adequate supply of beer…
On arrival in Dover, the crew of Chiron dumped their kit on board and then started the
engine to move her round to the tidal marina, ready for an early start on Saturday morning.
Except the engine didn’t want to start… After opening the throttle and trying again the
engine did finally start – was this trip going to be blighted by more engine woes in France?
The crews of Celebration, Chiron and Trio met up and enjoyed a meal before turning in
ready for the early start.
Unfortunately the wind failed to materialise on Saturday morning and the three boats
motored the 80Nm to Dieppe. With five boats in Dieppe, the main cruise was now on!
Plan A was to have a rest day in Dieppe and then sail on to Fecamp. However, we were
advised that due to the number of historic vessels that had come over for the D Day
Commemorations, Fecamp was closed to visiting yachts. After a bit of discussion Plan B
became an extra day in Dieppe, followed by a sail direct to Le Havre, bypassing Fecamp and
arriving a day early. Phil had to leave for the UK and departed the cruise to catch the ferry
(much to the relief of everyone’s livers…)
Having won the Stone Cruiser Class “Come Dine With Me On My Yacht” trophy in Dieppe
the previous year, Chiron marked the second rest day in Dieppe by hosting drinks and
dinner for everyone, and much fun was had by all!
Unfortunately, the trip down the coast to Le Havre ended up being another 60Nm motor…
We’d planned to hire a 9 seater (because if we were all in the same vehicle we’d all get lost
together…) to drive around the D Day 75th Commemoration events on 6th June. Having
arrived a day early it seemed sensible to hire the 9 seater for an extra day. However, as it
wasn’t available we cancelled the original booking and swapped it for the only two cars they
had available – a Fiat 500 and a Renault Clio. Obviously having two cars meant that we were
now going to get lost in different parts of France….
On Wednesday 5th June we set off for Sannerville to watch the Dakota fly past and
parachute landings. This was a hugely impressive sight, with the Dakotas doing many fly
pasts and dropping hundreds of parachutists, topped off with a Red Devils parachute display
including parachute jumps from D Day veterans now in their nineties.
Obviously we’d managed to park each car either side of the road blocks and several miles
apart. However, I’m sure the exercise did us all good, and we eventually managed to meet
up for a meal in the beautiful harbour of Honfleur. We all agreed that Honfleur needs to be
included on a future cruise!
After a few hours sleep, we dragged ourselves out of bed at 4.15am on Thursday 6th June to
get to Arromanches in time for the D Day event which was being staged at the exact
moment the troops landed in 1944. However, the leaflet from the Tourist Office hadn’t
made it clear that the roads were being closed at 6am and only ticket holders were being
allowed through… Using my best French, I quickly established that tickets were available
from the Mayor’s office, but only for residents or those staying in hotels within the closed
off area, and even if we’d qualified, we’d missed the date for applying… As we were still
many miles from the beach, sneaking through on foot wasn’t going to work either!
After several minutes of frustration and depression, we hatched another plan to go to
Pegasus Bridge. In a rare moment of success we arrived at the bridge long before the roads
in that area had been closed and managed to park at the café next to the bridge. A day that
had started out with such disappointment actually turned out to be a great day. There was
much to see and do, with historic vehicles and boats, the museum and another fly past by
the Dakotas. However, we didn’t appreciate the marching band of bag pipers quite as much
on their fifth march past…
Having been frustrated by a lack of wind on the trip over to France, it suddenly decided to
make an appearance on Friday, just as some of us were starting to think about heading back
home. With winds of up to 48 knots and seas breaking over the harbour wall, the only
sensible decision was to wait for it to blow through. At this point the cruise split into two
groups: one visiting the modern art museum; and the other sitting in the yacht club bar. I’ll
let you guess who ended up in each group!
At Le Havre the cruise split again, with the main cruise turning back and the follow-on cruise
continuing to the Channel Islands. What had been planned as a leisurely sail back up the
French coast for Chiron and Trio and a less leisurely sail for Celebration to Shotley for a lift
out and scrub, became a dash back to the UK…
Sunday 9th June saw no wind (bad), but also a much calmer sea state (good!). Celebration,
Chiron and Trio said their goodbyes and started to motor the 83Nm to Eastbourne. I can’t
pretend that the trip under engine was too much fun, but we were entertained by a racing
pigeon landing on Chiron for a rest (I wonder if this is one of the pigeons released at Pegasus
Bridge as part of the D Day commemorations?). Further entertainment arose when we
spotted a French Border Patrol vessel and accompanying RIB. However, the entertainment
quickly changed to concern when we realised that they’d changed course and were heading
in our direction!
Chiron was the first boat to be boarded. Unfortunately, the Gendarmes didn’t have the best
English and there were a lot of technical words that we didn’t know the French for.
However, they seemed friendly enough, despite their guns… After having checked the boat’s
paperwork, our passports, the flares and safety equipment, they seemed happy that
everything was in order. I think they also believed us when we tried to explain that the
pigeon wasn’t our pet! We gave a sigh of relief as they got back in their RIB and moved on to
Celebration… As everything was above board on Celebration, they decided not to inspect
Trio and the three boats were able to continue their way.
After 13 hours of motoring we finally arrived at Eastbourne Sovereign Harbour. As we were
all so tired, we just got straight off the boats and headed to the nearest restaurant, which
was actually very good (although we were all so tired and hungry that we’d probably have
eaten pretty much anything!).
Sunday night was very wet, with the rain continuing through Monday. Faced with a very
long wet passage from Eastbourne to Shotley, the crew of Celebration decided to leave her
in Eastbourne, reschedule the booking at Shotley, and get the train home. Trio decided to
stay an additional day in Eastbourne and hope for better weather, leaving Chiron to sail
Chiron did manage to get her sails up and sail to Dungeness. Beyond Dungeness, however,
the wind was on the nose and the engine was back on for the rest of the trip to Ramsgate.
Chiron arrived back at Stone on Tuesday 11th June, Trio got back to Burnham on Wednesday
12th and Celebration finally made it to Shotley on Saturday 16th June.
As with any sailing holiday it was a mixture of fun and frustration at the weather. However,
we all agreed that we’d had a great time. Anyone else fancy joining us next year?
Follow on Cruise
Daydream Believer and Sea Nymph left Le Havre for Cherbourg and then sailed on to the