Tag Archives: Sailing

Seduction, intoxication! on the Solent in July

No wonder men spend millions on yachts when they look like this!

There is a seductive beauty in the sweeping lines that cut through the water, the huge towering sails. Add speed and danger – no guard rails on these yachts – and that beauty moves from seduction to intoxication.

The crew’s heads just visible give a sense of the scale of these vessels. And even though today was not particularly windy (a miserly F2 – 3) the J-class yachts streak through the water. No sound as they approach, at first far off, then suddenly they arrive, tear past and are gone. Thoroughbreds indeed!

The Solent with the Isle of Wight in the background (plus the inevitable groupie boats…).

The massive sail snugs the deck – no escaping wind.

Forty crew. Watch your step, if you slip you swim. We don’t turn around.

And when the race is done the yacht cruises back to port, serenely.

Down with the mainsail. Home. A good day’s sailing.

Now I just need to become a multi-millionaire, so I can have one….

If you enjoyed this post, try:  Bit of rough won’t stop me sailing    or  Oyster Smacks and Sea Dogs

2011 – a personal review

This blog is one year old, so I thought I would do a quick review of the last 12 months, in 12 pictures. If you want to read the blog page that lies behind the picture, just click on the caption and it will take you there. Magic!

Dec/Jan, Venice in the cold:

Feb: Blackberry photos of BMW dream machines

Mar: Sailing off Mersea Island

Apr: Spring has sprung

May: Bluebell woods

Jun: The Royal Wedding

Jul: Cars!

 Aug: memories of York

Sep: kids gossiping on holiday in Italy



Oct: Italy’s sexy statues



Nov: New York, New York!

Dec: London night scenes

Bit of rough won’t stop me sailing!

It may be the middle of August, but that doesn’t mean placid hot weather on the south coast of England! Oh no, gale force winds and choppy seas is what we’ve got. But that just makes it a bit more exciting…

Hope he's got waterproofs on...

Winds gusting up to Force 7, enough to topple a catamaran head over heals, and enough to just give us the slightest intimation of what a heavy sea might really be like. But just this side of gusty for us all to keep smiling and enjoying the choppiness (Isobel had a faint moment, but a tot of rum sorted that out).

Not too much sail now...

The kids loved it. Charles thought it was ‘sickage’ (no pun intended there), and Immy grabbed the wheel and turned into Jack Sparrow. “Blast ’em with the guns” she kept shouting, as she dished out the orders. Not quite sure who she wanted to shoot at….?

He should be up the rigging!

A natural captain

When I had my go I missed a gust of wind, the boat turned sharply and I almost tipped everyone in the drink.

Mind you, this one looked like fun. I would love to go on a cruise in a boat like this. I’d be turning into Jack Aubrey myself!

Square rigger

Can you see the men?  There are 3.

Not for the faint hearted.

This boat was a cracker. Zoomed past us at a huge rate of knots. Built for speed and she knew it. Next time, next time…

A racer!

Oyster Smacks and Sea Dogs, Mersea Island, Essex

When I was a kid I hoovered up the Hornblower stories. Lately I’ve read almost all the Patrick O’Brian novels. It’s fair to say, I’m a sucker for a good sea yarn. So what a treat to go on a photographic trip to see the Oyster Smacks racing off the coast of Essex at Mersea Island. But what is an Oyster Smack I hear you say, and what on earth is this race about? Good question…

Catch the wind, boy, come on...!

Well, this is all about small sailing boats, most of which are a good century old. And they used to catch oysters for the local markets. Nowadays those markets buy commercially farmed oysters, so the boats have a bit of fun once a year, and have an oyster catching race. And the boats are called Smacks. Why Smacks? – no idea… But what a great name! Rings with nostalgia…

No way you're catching me!

The point of the race is to catch as many oysters as you can in 2 hours within a set area. Any idea how you catch an oyster…?     No, I didn’t either. So, the way they do it is to sail as fast as they can from one end of the set area to the other, then slowly dredge the sea bed floor back through the area searching for oysters, then charge back again to the starting point to go again. Lots of frantic hoisting of sails and charging along, then go slow but heave the dredge up and down the sea bed as frenetically as possible. By the way, I think oysters are a bit thin on the Mersea sea bed, as pitifully few oysters come up for a hell of a lot of dredging!

Now some take it seriously. Have a look at this chap in the photo below. A sea dog, probably speaks an impossible dialect and looks upon anyone who comes from more than 5 miles away as a foreigner. It’s like stepping back into the 18th century!

Coming through!!!

Hauling in the catch

There is something lovely and romantic about sails. I would have liked to get these with the sun shining through them, but my day was particularly grey and grim. But hey, that’s where black and white comes to the fore. And it gives me an excuse to go back again

Sail set fair.

So if you fancy stepping out of the 21st century techno babble, go to Mersea Island and catch the Oyster Smacks. Feel the wind tug and the spray blow, leave the mobile back on shore, and then feast on oysters with a pint of the local brew.  Unforgettable!

Oyster Smack, Mersea Island, Essex, England

(PS – I was on a photographic day trip with Quest Photography. If you’re interested, google them. I recommend highly!)