More of your correspondence
Any mention of the great writer/sailor Arthur Ransome is always appreciated. Libby Purves’ mention of my long time heroine, Nancy Blackett (May issue) is even more appreciated! You have carried articles on the Norfolk Broads and Walton Backwaters. How about something sailing or chartering on Windermere? Without the high speed motorboats and water skiers this should make for wonderful sailing. Think warm sunny sailing weather!
I am intrigued. Your correspondent (YM May issue) report that 1,500 litres (341 imp gallons) weighs about 3,400 lbs; or just over 1.5 tons. How on earth can this produce four tonnes of carbon, as well as the other products of combustion ? I wrote to David Attenborough on this same point after one of his Blue Planet programmes. He replied, but ignored the specific question that I raised.
When Cpt. Vancouver Sailed the South coast of Alaska in about 1790, he passed a five mile wide glacier and called it Glacier Bay. When my wife and I cruised there some 12 years ago, we sailed 78 miles up a fiord before we saw the face. The hard fact is that the world is warming up and has been for centuries. I fully agree that we should not make it worse but will someone tell me how the above figures add up and how we think that we can interrupt the natural processes of nature
Jack Campling (by email)
I’ve just read Rod Heikell’s Blue Water letter (YM June) which refers to the Ionian Regatta. This event is organised by a group of volunteers, of which Vliho Yacht Club is one. For 2008 we plan a race week culminating with a big fleet race at the Ionian Regatta.
This year’s regatta will be held on 20 September and we hope to have an even bigger number of entries. Any sailing boat is welcome to enter. Entry forms are available from Vliho Yacht Club at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ruairi & Vicky Bradley
Days of ‘proper sailors’
You published letters from a Yachtmaster who passed his exam in the Med, unaware of tides, plus a man who wants a professional maritime qualification, but didn’t know that being colour blind was a bar BEFORE he applied. It was refreshing to read Arthur Clements letter (May). I crewed for him from the 1950s and can assure you his expertise and sailing experience is vast. He came to no harm, nor did his brother. It all started when sailing on the River Crouch. His hip flask was produced with the promise ‘it’s a nip of brandy all round if we get past the boat in front!’. This was in an 18ft open Thames Estuary One Design, which we subsequently sailed up the coast to Woodbridge! Arthur went on to sail his own yachts regularly on the East Coast and the continent and we remain friends to this day. Thank goodness the world still has some proper sailors.
Terry Pond (by email)
I endorse Mr Bob Johnson’s statement (letters to the Editor YM May 2007) that the extreme conditions that yacht Rosa Fascia’ (YM March 2007, page 36) encountered during her crossing from Antibes to Corsica were not a rare local occurrence, as their meteo adviser would have them believe.
The Mistral they encountered was well forecast and I was in fact sitting it out near Toulon (further West) at the time of their crossing. We were encountering winds of Force 7 and 8 (gusting 9 or 10). Not the kind of conditions in which to undertake a crossing towards Corsica.
So why did experienced sailors like them get caught out? I would like to offer some answers based on my own knowledge of the area and explain some local idiosyncrasies of the Mistral wind.
The Mistral is predominately an offshore North-westerly direction wind occurring when there is a steep pressure-gradient between, very approximately, the Gulf of Genoa or Corsica and the mouth of the River Rhone area. The steeper the pressure gradient the stronger the Mistral will blow. It is in fact quite an easy wind to forecast, and doesn’t just mysteriously “happen”, as some believe.
A very important point (which may explain Rosa Fascia’s predicament) is that the Mistral, after flowing down the Rhone valley, spews out into the Mediterranean in a fan like configuration. The initial Northerly air flow curves towards the West (in the area in question) and will generally miss coastal areas towards Cannes, Antibes and Nice completely.
One could well imagine that the crew of Rosa Fascia had picked up the local inshore forecast (Bulletin de Metéo Côtière) for their area (Antibes) before setting out for Corsica. The inshore forecast for that area would, correctly, not forecast gale-force winds,. Sailors should be sure to listen to the Offshore Sea Areas Forecast (Bulletin de Méteo pour les Zones du Large) prior to setting out on any major crossing in the Med. My personal preference for the Offshore forecast in that area is Monaco Radio on 4363 kHz short wave (USB) also on VHF channel 20.
In my opinion Rosa Fascia set off for Corsica with a certainty of sailing into extreme conditions out at sea. Publishing their story however stimulates an exchange of knowledge, and I hope that my letter may be helpful to those new to the Med.
Tony Ringrose, Geneva.
(Name and address supplied)
Who was this man?
I hope that you may be able to solve a problem that has been bugging me for some time. In my cruising days, in the 1980’s I was moored at a jetty in Porto Colomb in Majorca. A much used Kingfisher came to moor at the same jetty and because of a strong offshore wind I helped the single hander by taking his lines. He was a charming and obviously very experienced yachtsman and that evening together with my wife we had dinner together. He told me who he was but my log of that time has gone missing. To complete part of my sailing memoirs I would love to know who he was. Here is his story.
During the Second World War he became an early member of the Special Boat Service and was put ashore in Italy in an operation that went wrong. He was captured and then escaped with the help of some partisans. He married one of them and later lived in Italy where he was based when I met him. He had been a member of the British Embassy as commercial attaché. He told me that his wife was an invalid and could not sail but she encouraged him to take 6 weeks for cruising every year and that was what he was doing when we met him. I have a vague memory that he was the brother of a well-known novelist and for some time I thought it was Neville Shute but I have recently found that he had no surviving brother.
I remember that in the early 1990s, when I was an occasional contributor, there was an article or a letter about him in your magazine that described him as at one time a very experienced yacht deliverer. From your extensive contacts can you tell me who he was? Syd Porter (by email)