Musyk – Home from the sea

January 2020 is already behind us and we are thinking ahead to where next for Musyk. It is also a time to look back at the end of our sailing season last year.

Our departure from Dartmouth in late August was memorable. Rather than trail across Lyme Bay and round Portland Bill we thought it would be more fun to head home via Guernsey and Cherbourg. So an early rise and confrontation with thick fog, partly expected and forecast as land fog. OK fine – it will burn off quickly in the forecast sunshine. Indeed, as we readied Musyk for the passage, visibility improved so that we could see the other side of the harbour.  We motored slowly out of the entrance, noting several vessels outside the harbour entrance on AIS. Emerging from the fog we were startled to come across what looked like the bow of a cruise ship anchored in front of us. 

On closer inspection we discovered it was an 85m superyacht called Ace, complete with a luxurious spa including hammam. On AIS we noted the next vessel we would encounter was called Garcon.  And then we started laughing as we realised that Garcon was the “tender” to Ace, a massive 67 metre support vessel including helicopter, officially named “Garcon4Ace”. 

Owned by a Russian oligarch, it was allegedly available for charter for 12 guests at €1,000,000 a week! And now hot off the press we can report that Ace and Garcon are up for sale!

We were disappointed to enter another fog bank shortly after leaving Dartmouth which kept us busy looking at the radar and AIS for several hours. Finally the fog cleared away, the wind picked up and we had a great sail to St Peter Port. The visitors’ pontoons in the outer harbour were crowded but we weren’t staying long enough to warrant a stay in the inner harbour. The benefit of having some flexibility on our departure date was that we waited long enough for the August bank holiday sailors to clear out, leaving us with a relatively easy exit.

Yet more fog in Guernsey gave us time to make use of the excellent launderette facilities at the marina and to use the local buses to tour round the island – good value at £2 a trip.

Our passage through the Alderney Race and round to Cherbourg was uneventful.Being early September, we had our choice of pontoons.  Our favourite restaurant Le Vauban was closed for its summer hols so we tried Michelin starred Le Pily instead and were very impressed. It was a wise choice to go for the 3 course menu which came with so many additional bits. We spotted diners on the 5 and 7 course menus who were definitely struggling!

Our return across Channel was also uneventful until we got to The Bridge in a lumpy sea at the end of the ebb (we crossed too fast again!) and were slightly surprised by a coaster coming in behind us, forcing us to clear out of its way.

A short stay in Lymington was followed by a peaceful few days in Newtown Creek with a choice of mooring buoys. We enjoyed a dinghy trip taking the tide up to Shalfleet and a walk to the newly reopened New Inn with excellent seasonal menus. On the way back we explored the Newtown River to westward. At the top of the tide we went a long way up, and mid-week in early September there was not a soul to be seen.

We then moored in Premier Marina, Gosport and found them very helpful and obliging. Their special deal for mooring was very flexible and good value.  Not so good was the occasional swell inside the breakwater or the lack of water at LW springs which reduced access to the pontoons.

Then in October onwards to Premier Marina, Chichester – covered by the special deal. It was an excellent place to take absolutely everything off Musyk ready for a deep clean. The car could be parked at the top of the gangway. The restaurant and bar at Chichester Yacht Club were very welcoming and excellent value.

Finally on a spring tide we made our way up to Dell Quay, relieved that the depth was never too challenging compared to a previous experience with out Sadler 29 many years ago. Musyk has been well looked after and looks smart with her new Coppercoat antifouling. This yard took care to do the whole of the underside of the keel, unlike the previous boatyard. Let’s hope this antifouling lasts as long as the previous one – not bad at 14 years!

So what next? We were pleased not to have to dash across the Channel in January to secure our VAT status in Europe. The RYA and the Cruising Association have been diligent in interpreting the convoluted regulations and keeping members in touch with likely changes following Brexit. We intend to moor Musyk in France at the end of the season so that on 31 December 2020 she retains her VAT paid status in Europe and avoids the risk of having to pay VAT again if we want to keep her in Europe for more than 18 months.

We are making plans to cruise Southern Brittany, a new cruising ground for us and looking forward to enjoying more splendid scenery, good food and good company

Oxted Offshore Annual Dinner – Sat 21 March 2020

Dear members,

I have much pleasure in inviting you to book your place at the society event of the year – the Oxted Offshore Annual Dinner 2020.

Date:               Saturday 21 March 2020
Time:               19.00 for 19.45
Location:          Park Wood Golf Club, Tatsfield, Westerham TN16 2EG 
Dress code:      Lounge suits and cocktail dresses

As always, the revered Oxted Offshore trophies and accolades will be presented for sailing achievements during the last year. The evening promises great company, good food, toasts and speeches and the traditional group photo. Drinks in the bar until midnight will round off the evening.

Reserve your place as soon as possible by emailing Howard now on oosailing [at] gmail [dot] com with your menu choices so that numbers can be confirmed to the venue. Special dietary needs can be catered for but please be sure to let me know in advance. 

The cost for 3 courses is £34 per head and for 2 courses (starter & main) £29 per head, including gratuities, and must be paid no later than Friday 28 February.

Wine and other drinks can be purchased at the bar, which will be open from 19.00 to midnight.

MENU CHOICES:
Entrees: 
1. Duck and mango salad with a lime and chilli dressing.
2. Chicken liver pate with onion and ale chutney, toasted brioche and pickled onions.
3. Mushroom and stilton tartlet.

Main course: 
1. Breast of guinea fowl and a cider jus.
2. Braised featherblade of beef with red wine jus.
3. Cod loin with a saffron sauce.
All served with dauphinoise potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

Dessert: 
1. Profiteroles with chocolate sauce.
2. White chocolate box with pannacotta and raspberry ice cream.
3. Cherry frangipane tart with pistachio ice cream and custard.

Coffee and mints will be served at the end of the meal.

I look forward to receiving your reservations as soon as possible and seeing you all there on the night.

Best wishes

Howard Richardson
Commodore

Musyk’s Summer Cruise – Part II

We have done so much since our last update – including some sailing!  The themes have been the sociability of sailing, the wonderful locations available from being on the water and the lack of settled weather.

In the shelter of Pendennis marina

We have entertained friends, relatives, new found sailing friends and ex work colleagues on board.  We got particular pleasure playing host to Theo, in his 20s, who has just discovered dinghy sailing and was keen to find out what life is like on board a cruising yacht.  He was so enthusiastic and reminded us of how lucky we are to live on board Musyk.  He was fortunate to be with us for a week of ideal weather for a novice and in Anne’s (possibly biased) opinion the best sailing ground, being in and around the Fal Estuary.  We got used to the “selfies” and constant flow of information to friends and relatives about his experience, including seeing a seal when moored up the Fal River.  He even had the opportunity to play a mandolin provided by a friendly neighbouring boat on the visitors pontoon after Theo had mentioned that he played the guitar. On his final day we were moored in the sheltered small inner harbour at Pendennis entered through a narrow entrance with a sill, ready to leave Musyk there for a week while we returned home.  We were having breakfast in the cockpit in bright sunshine.  Anne had just apologised for not being able to repeat the experience of seeing a seal to make it the perfect end to Theo’s stay, when 10 seconds later a seal popped his head out of the water!

A view across to St Mary’s from Bryher

On our return a week later, our friend John was with us.  He was keen to re-visit the Isles of Scilly and had booked a return flight from there for the Saturday – no pressure!  We made use of the one day of easterlies that week to motor sail across.  There was good visibility which was a relief.  On our previous trip with John we had arrived in thick (unforecast) fog, relying on radar and AIS to avoid the fishing boats and commercial traffic and to find the gap between Tresco and Bryher.  This time we had the use of Mark 1 eyeball and the delight of the watching the islands come closer and seeing them pass by as we entered New Grimsby Sound from the north, which is our favoured approach, rather than coming in from the south to St Mary’s. 

Sunset in New Grimsby Sound

While the rest of the UK was suffering from a heatwave and thunderstorms we had reasonable temperatures and only one day of really heavy rain so did plenty of walking round St Mary’s, Tresco, Bryher and St Martin.  We were surprised at the number of French, Dutch and German boats but were told that this is usual for July and August.  For a few days we met up with a friend of a Paul May’s in a “sports boat” with living accommodation.  Amazingly he was able to return from Tresco to Lymington in one day, including a stop in Falmouth to refuel!! 

All too soon, the unsettled weather and forecast for strong winds from the north west and then the east led to a decision to leave the Isles of Scilly.  We had a good sail back to Falmouth, hardly using the engine and then headed back up the Fal river to shelter from the strong easterly winds on the mid river pontoon near Malpas.  We later spoke to someone who rode out the gale on one of the buoys in Falmouth harbour who confirmed that we had made the right decision.  It had been very uncomfortable in the harbour which is exposed to winds from the east.

Musyk snug on a pontoon up the Fal near Malpas

Then off to the Helford River with an opportunity to rig our Tinker rib as a sailing dinghy.  We have only used the sailing rig a few times and were overly cautious about avoiding strong wind – so ended up with very little wind and a strong tide taking us up the Helford River.  No problem – we had factored that in and the tide was about to change and take us back down the river, except that it took us much further than we expected and then the wind died almost completely and the tide turned later than we thought so we used our oars kayak style to make very tortuous progress back.  It was very uplifting that a number of boats offered us a tow but we were determined to get back under our own steam which we eventually managed.

While back at Falmouth we were visited by a couple Tony and Alethea and their adorable young spaniel Winnie.  They own an Oyster Heritage like Musyk and were naturally curious to see another one.  Bear in mind that only 35 were made.  William and Tony enjoyed chatting to each other about what they had done to maintain and upgrade their boats.  There was much discussion about issues with outboards and fuel.  Our trusty Johnson Seahorse, previously so reliable, has been playing up.  We are currently trying out Tony’s suggestion of using Aspen fuel.

Then in Salcombe we had a similar experience meeting up with Robert and Christina who own an Oyster Heritage but one of the few built with a pilot house.  Again there was much swapping of ideas and Robert even came prepared for his visit to Musyk with a pen, writing pad and camera!

We are making good use of the Cruising Association’s Captain’s Mate app including the Find a Friend function and the local reports.

We find ourselves back in Dartmouth, having come pretty much full circle since our first newsletter.  Dartmouth is quieter than expected just a few days before Regatta Week.  It looks as if we might at last have a week of reasonably settled weather so our next stop may well be in the Channel Islands.  We then plan to head home for a few weeks before resuming our live aboard life, hoping for an Indian Summer.

How an Oxted Offshore Octet became very lucky sailors

We were lucky enough to book Lutine for the weekend at the end of Cowes Week, with Paul May as skipper and a crew of 8 Oxted Offshore members. Lutine was carrying her full racing sail wardrobe, so an exciting weekend beckoned, especially when a low developed off the Scottish coast on Friday and delivered lively winds all weekend! Peter Puttock takes up the story:

The Oxted Offshore Octet with skipper

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Nick Nack sails to the sun 2019

After the rain and variable weather of our Round Britain trip in 2017 – 2018 we determined to go south for the sunshine in 2019, leaving Port Solent on Sunday 2 June.

Nicknack

After a very short “night” in Cowes, we battled into a fresh south westerly breeze at 4am towards the Needles bearing away for Cherbourg, which we reached 15 hours later. We were delayed there by storms for 3 days but eventually made it to St Peter Port, Guernsey (another 42 miles) with enough wind and not too much rain, arriving in time to take wine on board another boat we knew. However, our berth inside Victoria Marina exposed our stern to both wind and waves as soon as the tide allowed water over the sill and we spent an uncomfortable 48 hours there.

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Bill and Anne head west aboard ‘Musyk’

Bill and Anne Lewis cast off from Lymington Yacht Haven in their Oyster Heritage “Musyk” in early June to cruise down to the West Country with the main aim of being in Falmouth by the end of the month for various commitments and then heading off to the Isles of Scilly for an extended stay, before deciding where next?

Update on 30 June 2019

We moved on board Musyk in the second week of June as planned. We wanted a suitable wind to move us in the direction of the West Country to arrive in good time for Anne’s family gathering in Truro on 29 June. Good weather windows were hard to come by, with plenty of unsettled weather forecast for a prolonged period. So we took the first opportunity to head out of the Solent, departing at 4.50 am on a lovely sunny Sunday morning. We hoped to make Dartmouth by 10 pm, knowing that we would have to motor all the way in the light westerly winds. A clean bottom (Musyk’s) and a strong spring tide used to best advantage got us to Dartmouth in record time so we were tied up and enjoying our arrival beer by 6.10 pm. Two minutes later the harbour master arrived to collect his dues – prompt as ever! Interestingly a yacht which left the Solent just ahead of us and took a more inshore route arrived just minutes behind us.

Musyk on the deepwater mid river pontoon near the Dart higher car ferry

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Classic Channel Regatta 2019 on Contessa 32 ‘Minstrel Boy’

Kevin Ludbrook sails with a regular crew on a Contessa 32, ‘Minstrel Boy’ normally racing round the cans in the Solent or down to Poole and so forth but as she was built in 1972 she is eligible for the Classic Channel Regatta. This is his report on the Classic Channel Regatta in July 2019..

This series of races is normally reserved for venerable wooden craft with a proper sense of history but in fact many of these are no more than ten years older than the Contessa. The regatta has always been a mixed French and British event albeit with a smattering of Dutch, Belgian and German boats too and that helps to create a great atmosphere. Around seventy-five boats took part which also helps to make it a very sociable event.

The regatta lasts a week, starting with races in Dartmouth, a race to St Helier, then finally a race over to Paimpol followed by a day of races there.

Well Heeled – photocredit bananapancake

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Club Weekend aboard “Lutine”

Slap in the middle of a much-welcome British heat wave, eight Oxted Offshore members boarded Lloyds Yacht Club’s X55 racing yacht – Lutine – for an almost perfect weekend’s sailing on 30 June and 1 July 2018. 

Lutine is built for speed. Whilst two foot longer than her predecessor – a Swan 53 – the current Lutine is 30% lighter. How? Modern yacht designs use a sandwich construction to save weight, with solid laminate used in areas requiring extra strength. In addition the X55 has a carbon fibre rig, with a strength to weight ratio far outperforming a conventional mast. It all adds up to be a real thoroughbred.

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Invitation to join Ulendo V’s leisurely cruise back to the UK

Chris and Bill Anstead have extended an invitation to Oxted Offshore members to join them  on Ulendo V in Greece this year, or at any time on their passage home to the UK in 2019/20.

In 2007 Chris and Bill set off from Padstow with Ulendo V and sailed directly across Biscay to North West Spain and then eastwards through the Med. They routed through the islands – Ballearics, Sardinia, Corsica and Sicily – and are currently in the Ionion Islands. Ulendo V will stay where she is for the rest of the 2018 season, re-launching in early August after new standing rigging has been fitted. 

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