A Wheely secret trip

A couple of weeks after the trip up the Deben in late September, we took the Wheelyboat round to ‘Secret Water‘. Arthur Ransome’s book Secret Water was published in 1939 and was set in the Walton Backwaters. Ransome himself used to sail the area in the Nancy Blackett and so used it as a location for the eighth book in the Swallows and Amazons series. The Nancy Blackett has a starring role under the name ‘Goblin‘.

We chose to base ourselves from Titchmarsh Marina – not there in Ransome’s day! While we had planned to be there for two days, unfortunately the weather meant that we could only manage one day. Nevertheless, the weather obliged for the second day and we had a lovely run over. Follow the link below to see our track:

Once there we loaded up and set off up the Walton Channel. Near Stone Point we met up with Samphire of Hamford and Tony and Christine acted as expert pilots for us for the trip. From the Walton Channel we turned into Hamford Water and then up Oakley Creek and Bramble Creek to see the seals. We got an excellent view of them as we drifted past them engineless (deliberately!).

From there we headed down Kirby Creek and across the Wade (or the ‘Red Sea‘ as the Swallows named it to complete our circumnavigation of Horsey Island.

An excellent day out and many thanks to the volunteers who helped out and also to Titchmarsh Marina for once again hosting us for the day.

Wheelyboat to Woodbridge

In mid September we took the Wheelyboat round to Tidemill Yacht Harbour at Woodbridge and spent a couple of days doing trips around the River Deben. The trip round took us just over two hours and though a little bumpy in places, the Wheelyboat handled it all immaculately. Follow the link below to see our track round:

Once round we were hosted by Tidemill Yacht Harbour who kindly gave us access to all their excellent facilities. Their new pontoons provided ideal for loading and we were able to take a range of users on the water for two days. From the water, we had an excellent view of Woodbridge Tide Mill. There are records of a tide mill on the site from around 1170, but the current mill dates back to 1793. By the outbreak of World War II, it was one of just a handful of mills still operating and it finally closed in 1957. However, it has since been restored and is now managed by a charitable trust. It still regularly grinds grain producing wholemeal flour for resale.

We also went further up and down the river watching the racing at Waldringfield Sailing Club and having an explore up Martlesham Creek. 

On the Saturday, we headed back and you can see our track back by following the link below

The trip back marked a first for the Wheelyboat … We have never taken a bicycle to sea before and it performed excellently (even though it was just tied on!). The bike was for Alan Pawsey to get home once we got to Woolverstone.

Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped get the boat round there and back and crewed the trips while we were there. Thanks also to Tidemill Yacht Harbour for generously hosting us while there.

Select the images below to see some pictures of the trip.

RHYC 175

On Saturday 16 June the RHYC organised on the river Orwell a Pursuit Race for dinghies and keelboats as part of its 175th Anniversary celebrations. The event was generously sponsored by Fox’s Marina and Chandlery. Some 30 boats started in order of a local handicap formula.   There were around 30 entries, including many different classes: Access303, Ajax, Finn, Hornet, Laser, National 12, Optimist, Solo, Terra, Wanderer, and Wayfarer, amongst others.  Amazingly, the ages of the skippers ranged from 8 to 89!

The event started at 12.00 hrs with the Woolverstone Project Access 303 and sole Optimist helmed by RHYC immediate past Commodores grandson (age 8!) leading off, closely followed by a bunch of visiting RS Teras from visiting clubs like Brightlingsea. At 60 minutes the WP Access 303  and Optimist were still battling it out for 1st place with the WP Access 303 crewed by Peter Hibberd and Luc taking the glassware.

At the 120 minutes stage the WP Access 303 still led this time from a RS Tera Pro with the other WP Access 303 crewed by Robbie Johns and Johnty Dickinson (at age 89!) being in  3rd place. 

During the final hour the Wanderer crewed by Mike Clayton and Pete Smallwood went on to win the overall event at the 175 minute stage followed at some distance by Simon Ruffles and Jon Russell in a Wayfarer and Will Patten in his Finn. 

The event was a great success and a lot of fun – thanks to the organisers and to all of the participants, both RHYC and visiting sailors, many of whom are keen for this to become an annual event.

Margaret Howard

Thanks to Johnty Dickinson and Hugh De Las Casas for this tribute to Margaret Howard – someone who all of us at the Project owe a debt to.

All of those at The Woolverstone Project and her many friends who knew her were saddened to note the recent death of Margaret Howard.

Without Margaret the Woolverstone Project would never have come into existence. She was a woman of remarkable inspiration and great organizational powers. She was Commodore of the Royal Harwich Yacht Club from 1992-1995 and it fell to her to organize their 150th anniversary celebrations.

As part of these celebrations, she persuaded three members, Johnty Dickinson, Simon Tozer and Peter Hooper to set up some form of recreational sailing for people with disabilities. It was to be called The Woolverstone Project. In the first year alone they had raised sufficient funds to buy their first two boats and held a National Regatta of Challengers at Woolverstone. This initiative proved startlingly popular and attracted both customers and helpers in amazing numbers.

Margaret gave constant encouragement to The Project as it grew to its present size and was always pleased that it remains firmly rooted in The Royal Harwich. The continuing success of The Woolverstone Project is a fitting legacy for a fine woman and she will be fondly remembered by many sailors on the East Coast.

There will be a memorial service for Margaret on Tuesday, 15th May 12.00 noon at the Church of Saint John the Evangelist, Great Wenham.

AGM 2018

The Project AGM for 2018 was held at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club on February 26th. During the course of the morning we heard a series of reports on the project’s activities during 2017. We also had a fascinating talk from Gordon Sutton and Bruce Moss on the history of the RHYC over the last 175 years. The club celebrates its 175th Anniversary with a series of events during 2018 and we are delighted that the club has chosen the project as its charity for fund-raising during this important year.

We also had a talk from Peter Willis of the Nancy Blackett Trust on the history of the Nancy Blackett and her connections with Arthur Ransome and the River Orwell.

The full minutes of the AGM are available from the link below:

A busy winter of work

Over the winter break, a team of volunteers have been hard at work refurbishing the shed and the clubhouse. The ravages of time meant that the shed had started to rot along the side and also on some of the front and back walls. The quickest way to get rid of this, seemed to be to get rid of the wall, which we did.

 

This meant that we had to put it back together again and we did this by cladding the inside first to try and weatherproof the shed as much as possible. Then we clad the outside in new timber.

In the meantime, Peter set about enhancing the inside and organising the storage. Everything is now hung up with specific storage places for all the equipment. At the same time, he added extensively to the racking in the container, so that all the relatively rarely used gear could be kept in there without getting in the way of the regularly-used kit like buoyancy aids and waterproofs.

The clubhouse also has had a makeover – both inside and out. The roof has been completely rebuilt by Team Bosun and the inside has been painted and refurbished, so should be a much friendlier environment.

The end result of all the work is shown below:

Awards 2017

December 11th was the date for our Christmas party. Luckily, following the snow of the previous day, the snow cleared enough for us all to get together. However, we didn’t manage to sail that morning, though, given an air temperature of around 2oC and strong winds, most people seemed relieved about that!

As part of the party Peter gave out the awards for the 2017 season. These were given as follows:

Gold certificates

  • Brian Perry
  • Chris Rubens-Townsend

Silver certificates

  • Alice Carter- Swallow
  • Andrew Dunnett

Bronze certificates

  • Andrew Seymour
  • Michael Bell
  • Cameron Sherman
  • Glen

Improvers

  • Matthew Weller
  • Seb Marchei
  • Dan Smith

Helper Prize

  • Martin Lomax

Flossie Trophy

  • Chris Rubens-Townsend

Click on the thumbnails below for photos of the day and the award holders.

Judi Figgures MBE

We were saddened to learn of the death of Judi Figgures, former club member and a co-founder of Grafham Water Sailability. Judi passed away peacefully at her home in Huntingdon on Tuesday 28th November. Judy was a great support to the Project and supported Peter when he was acting as the Regional Organiser for RYA Sailability. She helped in advising the Woolverstone Project in its early days. Johnty Dickinson remembers her support:

“This is very sad news as Judy will be a very great loss to the disability sailing world not only in East Anglia, but also across the UK particularly to so many Challenger Sailors.

I first met Judy when we held our very first open disability sailing meeting in the first year of the formation of the Project. She brought down a team of Challengers from Grafham and demonstrated to us not only her sailing skills, but her gift of leadership. Through her own disability she had that innate ability to exude confidence to our own new sailors to the Project that day.

Joannie and I got to know her well over the years, as did many Project sailors – it was always a delight to be with her and her presence will be sorely missed.”

Leaving no stones unturned

On the last Wheelyboat session of the season, we had a lovely (if grey!) trip with Doucecroft School down the river to Pin Mill. This rapidly turned into a birdspotting trip as we spotted a flock of birds which had descended on a few of the moored boats. While it was a lovely sight, I was glad they weren’t on my boat – not sure what is the best cleaning product for cleaning guano off decks! After some research we reckon that they are turnstones but do let us know if you can identify them more precisely.