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Annual General Meeting 2017
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The 50th AGM of the Association took place at The Village Hotel Wirral, Bromborough, Merseyside.

Members started arriving on Thursday taking advantage of the hotel facilities and its proximity to Liverpool and Port Sunlight Village to take an early break and do some sight-seeing although the weather was less than kind.

On Friday evening, approximately 40 people enjoyed two very different, but equally interesting presentations. The first was given by Precision Paints, the donors of our Precision Prize Trophy. An outline of the rebranded company and its products was given which resulted in a thought provoking discussion on where DIY application of antifouling was going. It was generally agreed that all concerned needed to take heed of advice given and adopt best practices.

The second company was Dah-Di-Dah, a new publishing enterprise, that have produced a range of aide memoire books to be used in an emergency. They have four volumes – Diesel, First Aid, Navigation and Baby/Child First Aid, all are designed to be prompts for action to be taken should you be in an emergency situation. Hopefully they will never be used in anger.

Saturday morning pre-AGM was a hive of activity with a range of companies collected in the lobby to display their products and discuss the services they had to offer plus, of course, our boat jumble.

The meeting commenced with the Commodore, George Pickburn, welcoming everyone at the end of our 50th Anniversary year using the gavel that had been received as a 50th Anniversary gift from Westerly Club Nederland. The Commodore and the Treasurer then gave their reports followed by the election of committee members and honorary auditor. This included a resume of the anniversary year celebrations; in addition to the gavel a framed certificate of congratulations from American Westerly Owners Newsletter was on display. The Treasurer shared with the meeting the problems being experienced with members who pay by Standing Order who do not update them or cancel them when they leave the Association. Direct Debits would be much easier to control but whichever form of payment if used the plea is please include your membership number!

The Commodore presented engraved glasses to retiring committee members and Officers, David Gill, WOA’s Auditor, Martyn Morris, Rear Commodore whose help and advice has been much appreciated, Robert Jones, Technical editor for 7 years, John Ruskin, our first Public Relations Officer who has done “a fantastic job and will be a hard act to follow”, and Bob Shapland was retiring as Treasurer, for the 2nd time, having has also served as Commodore. Finally, a big thank you was given to Liz Truscott, who has served as Secretary for the last 7 years. Liz was presented with a potted patio plant as a memento of her service to WOA.

There being no other business the formal meeting was closed. Presentations ensued of the Magazine Prizes, The Harken Trophy, Rayner Challenge Plate, Navigators and General Photographic Trophy and Commodore’s Clock. The Magazine Editor, Jill Pickburn thanked the many contributors during the year including members of Area Groups who send in their reports of events. She also thanked Brian Easteal for his ‘From the Archives’ series of articles.

A brief resume of the contenders for the articles and logs was then given before the winners were announced as follows:-
Best Article – Julian Mandiwall ‘Happy Birthday Borborygmae’:
Best Log – Liz Marshall ‘Centaur’s Voyage around the Aegean’
Best Technical Article was awarded by Robert Jones to Alan and Ann Rand – ‘Free Charging - Use Solar’
The Harken Trophy for an Inventive Technical solution – to Bill Redgrove ‘Continuing Camomile’s 30th Birthday Refit, Replacing Toe-Rails and Grab Handles’. Julian Roberts received the trophy on Bill’s behalf as he is on his way to Ascension.
The Navigator & General Photographic Trophy had 87 entries and was won by-Richard Truscott for his shot of a Konsort on the Round the Island Race.
The Precision Prize Trophy, to be awarded by the Area Groups (it will be circulated around the Area Groups with each group deciding as to how it is to be awarded) was won by John and Pauline Powell for winning the Portsmouth to Beaulieu Race held during the 50th Anniversary Meet in Portsmouth.
The Rayner Challenge Plate, our most prestigious trophy, was won by Doug Pingel for his participation in the ‘Jester Azores Challenge 2016’.
The Commodore’s Clock was awarded to Bob Shapland, not just for his service to the Association but for the help and advice given to Commodores, the Committee and members over 11 years of service.

The meeting was then opened to the floor for general discussion. John Alker, from SW Group, addressed the meeting with regards to the review of Reeds Almanac that is being considered over the coming 3 years. John asked how the content can be made more relevant and useful and requested that any thoughts and comments be emailed to him.

The Commodore than gave notice of the Fulmar Nationals at New Quay, 22nd – 25th June.

Alan Rand along with Jan Smallwood and JayT have been looking for ‘Lost Westerlys’. Alan is photographing any Westerly he encounters and either sends it to the owner, if he’s a member or to Jan if not. Alan requests that other members do the same.

Judith Symonds, on behalf of the last 3 Commodores thanked Liz Truscott for all her hard work and support during her time as Secretary.

Dick Leedham suggested the formation of a Westerly Motorhome Group for out of season activities and will put an article in the magazine.

A request for the competition photographs to be made available for viewing was made and JayT will be asked to provide a link on the web site.

A carvery lunch was then served.

The afternoon session started with a presentation by Katherine Lynch, Heritage Manager of Port Sunlight Village Trust who gave an interesting account of how the Village has developed over the past 100+ years and how the Trust is working to preserve it for generations to come. Our second speaker was Brian Anderson, a Wirral based architect, photographer and lecturer, who entertained us with his photographs and anecdotes of life on and around the River Mersey.

The meeting ended at 4.00pm with many members returning home whilst those of us who remained enjoyed the comfort and extensive facilities of The Village hotel for a further evening.

Next year we will be back at The Lifeboat College in Poole, I hope to see you all there.

Gill Clare – Minutes Secretary.

Contact: Gill Clare


London Boat Show 2017
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Despite the rail strike and threats of snow there was a good turnout of WOA members at the London Boat Show. The 237 visitors recorded and new memberships and sales statistics compare well will both last year’s London show and with the Southampton Show.

The WOA stand was part of a large stand area allocated to Owners Associations. The area was at the west end of the South Hall next to the indoor Marina and was shared with the Moody Owners Association and the Broom Owners Association. As usual the area had been organised by John Goode and John was there during the build up to advise and assist.

We had excellent stand staff on all the days including one person who had actually worked at Westerly building boats.

Special events during the show comprised a reception on the PBO stand and our pontoon party on the late-night Thursday evening which was well attended despite the threat of snow.

On the second Friday WOA had a slot on the London Boat Show Stage. I gave a 30minute illustrated talk entitled “Classic Westerly Yachts – Even better value in 2017”. You can download the presentation file from this URL http://tinyurl.com/woalondon (save the downloaded file and open it with powerpoint or a powerpoint viewer). The presentation briefly described the history of the Westerly Company and the objectives of Commander Rayner noting that it is 50 years since the death of Commander Rayner during London Boat Show week in 1967. The presentation illustrated the excellent value of Westerly Yachts in 2017 by reference to current adverts from the WOA web site. Thanks to Brian Easteal, Tim Pullen, George Pickburn, John Ruskin and Mary Buchannan for making pictures and slides available. Special thanks to Ken Hastie for allowing use of a short video of his W33 “Forever Autumn” sailing off Northumberland.

Future show dates in 2017 are expected to be:

Beaulieu Boat Jumble: 23 April
Jersey Boat Show: 29, 30 April & 1 May
All Wales Boat Show: 9-11 June
Southampton Boat Show: 15-24 September
Scottish Boat Show at Kip Marina: 13, 14, 15 October

Contact: David Jibb


50th Anniversary National Meet
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Participating Westerlys gathered for the 50th Anniversary National Meet at Gunwharf Quays Marina in Portsmouth from Tuesday 20th June. By the Friday of the week’s celebrations, 45 boats had arrived, many dressed overall, creating a spectacle for sailors and the public alike with their 50th Anniversary banners fluttering in the lee of the 550 feet high Spinnaker Tower. WOA members came from near and far, including Brittany, the Netherlands, Scotland and, remarkably, our only Australian members.

To mark the anniversary, a memento collection of a rally banner, buff and badge, all bearing our 50th anniversary emblem, was given to participants in the Meet and all attending our 50th events.

The Meet was comprised of several events - thank you to our South Coast Group for hosting them: a rally in Ryde’s drying harbour at for bilge keelers; a re-enactment of the race from Portsmouth to the Beaulieu Entrance held at the Association Inaugural rally in 1966; a rally and BBQ in Newtown Creek, a parade of Westerlys (take a look at the video on our new Facebook page); and a “Solent Haunts” evening for visiting members at the Still & West pub in Old Portsmouth. There were, of course, a couple of almost spontaneous pontoon parties, one hosted by the East Coast Group.

At Gunwharf Quays, we were visited on the pontoons by marine insurers Navigators & General, and Paul Cochrane of XW Rigging did a Q&A session on rigging and rope, including a demo of braid-on-braid splicing,

The focal event of the Meet was a Reception and Gala Dinner in the Royal Maritime Club where 144 diners sat down to four courses, and an excellent celebratory cake baked by member Mary Allen and decorated by Creative Cakes. The dinner speaker was Peter Thomas, ex sales director of Westerly, and our special guests were Caroline and David Hardy of Trafalgar Yacht Services, and Jackie and Tim Pullen of JayT who run the Membership Office and Website. In surprise presentations by Tjerk Tjeerde of the Westerly Club Nederland, we received a gavel for the Commodore to keep the Committee’s business flowing, a bottle of “Schipper Bitter”, and, on behalf of The American Westerly Owners’ Newsletter, a framed certificate of congratulations with accompanying bottle of West Indian rum. A tombola of donated items from our advertisers raised over £300 for the Ed Dubois associated charity CLIC Sargent; this will be added to that raised at our other 50th events. The evening concluded with enthusiastic dancing to IB5.

And if that wasn't enough, the week also included the referendum on membership of the European Union!

All were exhausted by Monday 27 June - a rest day - with participants finally dispersing when the weather suited both boat and crew.

George Pickburn, Commodore

Photos courtesy of Tim Harrison, Jill Pickburn, & George Pickburn
The Beaulieu Boat Jumble.
WOA was on stand Red (R) 33 which was on the left quite near the entrance.

Contact: David Jibb


Dubois Naval Architects announce the death of Ed Dubois
Ed Dubois made a huge contribution to the burgeoning success of Westerly yachtbuilding from the 1980’s onwards.
He was the company’s designer of choice to move Westerlys into a more modern market when the time came to replace the biggest-selling British yacht ever built – the Centaur.
Unfazed by the size of the challenge he produced the 26ft Griffon, soon a considerable success that paved the way for the equally well-liked 32ft Fulmar, one of his personal favourites. He went on to produce a total of 17 different Westerlys until the firm’s regrettable meltdown in 2000.
Although he progressed eventually to superyacht design and moved to a quite different level, he still occasionally recalled his earlier days at the Westerly drawing board that produced for him well-deserved recognition all around the globe.
Many are the owners of Dubois designed boats large and small who will feel the sailing world has just lost one of its best-loved marks.
Mary Buchanan new WOA Vice Commodore
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The Westerly Owners' Association, thought to be the world's biggest boat-owner group, has appointed Mary Buchanan from Glasgow as its new Vice-Commodore. In 2018 she is now set to become Commodore.

For the past four years Mary has been Chair of the Association's Scotland Group which has gone from strength to strength during her watch.

She learned to sail as a schoolgirl at Inverclyde, Largs and went on to crew and helm the family folkboat and others.

After long admiring Westerly boats, in 2000 with her husband Ian she bought a 38ft Oceanranger on the Hamble and two years later sailed her back to Kip marina, Inverkip via the Isles of Scilly and Ireland's east coast.

Mary said: "When we first joined WOA soon after buying the boat, I never dreamt I'd become their first flag officer to not hail from the south coast of England. Now, I'm looking forward to bringing a slightly different perspective to the position.

"I was delighted by the appointment which I see as a privilege, to help sustain the reputation of the UK's most prolific builder of boats for the leisure sailor "and what fine, durable boats they built."
George Pickburn new WOA Commodore
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The Westerly Owners' Association, thought to be the world's biggest boat owner group, has appointed George Pickburn from Southampton as its new Commodore. He will serve for the next two years.

He has been sailing yachts and dinghies for over 30 years, starting in the early 1970's and building his experience in dinghies before eventually being prompted by a young family to buy a cruising yacht.

He subsequently became the proud owner of a 33ft Westerly Storm: “solid, British and good value", in which he and his wife Jill have since gathered a growing number of sea-miles between their home berth in Portsmouth harbour and a wide range of destinations around the English Channel and Brittany.

George holds the RYA's Yachtmaster Offshore and Advanced Power Boat tickets and joined the Association ten years ago.

Becoming part of the Association's committee three years later, he went on to manage WOA's presence at the major UK boat shows and stepped up to the role of Vice-Commodore in 2014.
He has run Warsash Sailing Club's cadet programme and has also taught sailing for his local Scout group. Dinghies are still in his blood and as well as skippering his Storm he sails his own RS400 at speed when time allows.

"This year is the Association's 50th anniversary," said George, "and I'm looking forward to leading the celebrations we've been planning for the past year. I've also begun a project to locate the many Westerly boats and their owners who are not yet Association members."

Association AGM 2016
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Report of the 2016 AGM

For the 49th AGM at the start of our 50th Anniversary year we returned to the Lifeboat College at Poole for the AGM. All the accommodation had been booked by Westerly Owners' Association and members started arriving during the Friday afternoon. 24 members were taken on a guided tour of the new Boat Building Centre. Following this there was a presentation given by Crusader sails which was well attended, interesting and informative. Just time for a drink in the bar and then dinner in the very busy restaurant.

Saturday morning saw exhibitors arriving and setting up their stands and displays ready for the arrival of members attending the meeting. As usual the jumble stall was doing a roaring trade and members were seen coming away with all sorts of bits and pieces they never knew they needed.

Coffee was served from 10am and the AGM started at 11am. The Commodore, Andy
Truscott welcomed members and guests, David Pugh from PBO, Nick Girdler and Tim and Jackie Pullen. Before the main business of the meeting Doug Pattinson, Chairman of the South Coast Group, presented a cheque for £300 raised by a raffle at the South Coast 20th Anniversary Dinner. The cheque was received by Susy Smith-Wright from the RNLI who thanked members for their continued support.

The meeting then resumed with reports from the Commodore and Treasurer, election of the Association committee and a presentation of plans for the 50th Anniversary celebra-tions at Portsmouth in June.

The formal meeting was then closed and the magazine prizes, Rayner Plate, Navigators and General Photographic trophy and Commodore’s clock were presented. Contenders for each magazine prize were listed and illustrations shown by Magazine Editor, Jill Pickburn and Technical Editor, Robert Jones. The winners were announced.

Best Log Mike Crummy for ‘A voyage to the Faroes’
Best article Geoff Phillips for ‘All’s well that ends well’
Best technical article David White for ‘Pensioner modifications to a Berwick’.

There were 140 entries for the photographic competition. Andy showed some of these and photographs of magazine articles shortlisted for the Rayner Challenge Plate. The winners were:-

N&G Photographic Trophy : Paul and Liz Jackson for ‘Picking cloudberries’ at Teppkin, Norway.
Rayner Challenge Plate: Jean-Marc and Marie Papon for ‘Atlantic Crossing’ between Charleston, South Carolina and Lisbon.
Commodore’s Clock: Tim and Jackie Pullen for 20 years membership services for the Westerly Owners' Association.

Engraved glasses were then presented to retiring Association Committee members Claire Bainton, Martyn Langford and Anne Langford. The Commodore also presented a glass to Brian Bell, the retiring Chairman of the North Wales Group having been Chairman for 14 years.

There then followed a break during which a light buffet lunch was served,

The afternoon session started with the handover and presentation of burgees to the new Flag Officers. Burgees were presented to George Pickburn, Commodore, Mary Buchanan, Vice Commodore and Martyn Morris, Rear Commodore. George then presented Andy with his Past Commodore’s burgee and an engraved glass. He then introduced the afternoon speaker, Penny Tranter from the Met Office. She gave us an explanation of understanding weather information for cruising sailors. Many questions were asked by members and observations made. She was thanked by George. The meeting was then closed and was followed by some members having a guided tour of the Lifeboat College. Members then
either returned home or stayed for the New Commodore’s Dinner in the evening.

At approximately 7pm members gathered in the bar for a pre dinner drink and then made their way to the Waterfront Suite where dinner was served. Mary Buchanan said grace and Brian Easteal was the Master of Ceremonies.

After a well prepared and served meal there was a toast to the New Commodore by Brian Easteal. George Pickburn responded and proposed a toast to the Westerly Owners' Asso-ciation. Nick Girdler, the after dinner speaker then gave an amusing and entertaining talk including a recitation of ‘Albert and the Lion’.

Members then retired, a few to go home but most were staying at the College. We met again at breakfast the next morning before the rest of the members returned home.
All agreed it was a most enjoyable weekend.

See you again next year.

Liz Truscott, Secretary WOA
London 2016 Boat Show
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WOA had an excellent London Boat Show this year with more visitors again than for several years. Membership sign ups were also well up.

This year we again had Bob Shepton with us doing book signings and talking with members which added interest in the stand. We also put on a "Pontoon Party" on the show late night which was well attended and made an enjoyable end to the day.

Thanks to everyone who helped with the setting up, manning and tear down.

David Jibb

Boat Show Organiser 2015
Sharina II DS265
Pontoon Party at London Boat Show 2016
WOA will once again be at the London Boat Show at the Excel Centre from Friday 8th to Sunday 17th January inclusive. The show is open from 10.00 to 18.00 daily with a late night opening on Thursday 14th until 20.00. The WOA Stand will be part of the Owner’s Associations area at G056 (near to Sunseeker).

Members planning to visit the show can benefit from the reduced price ticket offer for Westerly Members which you can find in special offers area.

If you are at the show on the late night day, Thursday 14th, come and join us from 18.00 for an impromptu drinks and nibbles pontoon party on the WOA stand.

Also, Bob Shepton will be with us again on the 13, 14, 15 and 16th.


Boat Show Volunteer List
Anyone interested in helping to man the WOA London Boat show and/or the Southampton Boat stand please email David Jibb. Your name will go on our list of volunteers and when you do a shift you will receive free ticket(s) to the show and an embroidered WOA shirt(s) with the WOA logo and your boat name.
National Cruise 2015 - Exploring Zeeland
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Bookings for the trip settled out at a respectable 18 boats with about half from the south coast and half from the east coast. There was even one boat, Alastair Harvey, from way up on the west coast making them the farthest travelled to the Zebrugge starting point for the rally.
The weather just prior to the cruise was dominated by a high pressure area over the UK producing strong easterly winds that made progress along the south coast difficult. Most south coast boats came via Dover, Dunkerque and Oostend, with delays in Dover caused by the weather. They also experienced some rough passages into and out of Dover. Smallest boats to make the passage this way were Merlot and Ampotis.
East Coast boats fared better being able to reach Zebrugge in a long overnight sail/motor sail from the Harwich area after the weather had improved.
Sharina II arrived at Zebrugge a day early from Calais via Oostend to find that two boats had already arrived. Hurkur and Titan of Dart had both been sailing in the Nederlands for some time before the rally and were already waiting for the fleet at Zebrugge.
The Zebrugge harbour master had reserved the long visitors pontoon at the entrance to the Marina for the WOA fleet and over the next two days boats began to arrive with tales of the strong currents and busy shipping that they had encountered on the way into Zebrugge. Despite having the whole of the pontoon, rafting was necessary but this was mostly achieved without incident.
Rain was forecast for the early evening of the first day of the rally so the pontoon party was brought forward and food magically arrived at Sharina II from where wine, beer etc. was being dispensed. In the event the rain held off, the pontoon stayed afloat and the food and lots of red wine was consumed making for good start for the cruise.
View video of Pontoon Party here (this is a large file, please be patient while it loads)
Next day was the planned trip to Brugge. Nick van Den Brul had organised an English speaking guide to meet us in Brugge and a coach was booked to transport us. All went smoothly. The guide was contacted and we all set out on foot in fine sunshine for Brugge city centre, armed with maps and instructions as to where to meet the coach for the return.
We walked through the Béguinage courtyard, which the guide explained was a women-only community with a nightly no men curfew. This led us into a labyrinth of streets with glimpses of attractive waterways. The narrow streets were filled with bicycles, horse drawn carriages and tourist groups like ourselves. The guide explained how the wealth of Brugge had been generated by trade in the Hanseatic League between the 12th and 15th centuries, declining as a result of silting of the channel which had provided access to the sea for the wool trade.
In the main square the carillon in the medieval bell tower was playing tunes from the 1914-18 era and the guide explained that the tunes are changed every few years so the choice reflected the current anniversary of WW1.
The outstanding feature of Brugge is the network of canals which encircle the town and were once its main thorough-fares. The waterways penetrate right into the heart of the city even remaining in place underneath the main square which was once where boats unloaded. The main square was where our guide left us and the group split up to individually explore, buy chocolates in a variety of shapes and flavours and take lunch inevitably of something and frites.
After lunch we all individually made our way back to meet the coach at the designated meeting place. A roll call of boats confirmed that we had all got back safely and we were whisked back to the marina.
The following day we were due to travel to Middelburg but because of the state of the tide there was no hurry to set off so we could get the current to assist us between Zebrugge and Flushing.
We were still one boat short of those booked and it became apparent that Ampotis would have difficulty in catching the fleet up and had decided to turn back at Dunkerque. So the fleet of 15 boats was now complete with all the WOA UK members and only the two home Nederlands boats remaining to join.
Whilst waiting to set off from Zebrugge the Belgian police paid us a visit and very politely checked our ID, ships papers and radio details (Radio serial number Sir? Don't worry if you don't have it). Sharina II volunteered to be checked first having only white diesel on board but there was no diesel check. Falcon also got a visit before the three policemen strolled back up the gangway in the sunshine and out of the marina. There were to be no red diesel issues at any time during the cruise.
On the Zebrugge to Flushing section of the trip we had a pilotage competition requiring each boat to predict passage time from rounding a cardinal mark off Zebrugge to crossing the finish line at the entrance to Flushing. Predicted times were sent in by text before leaving and actual self-timed results collected the same way after the finish. Despite there being no other rules with any mix of sailing or motoring allowed most people underestimated the strength of the current and arrived up to 30 minutes ahead of their predictions.
We had a good sail up to Flushing with a moderate sea with occasionally some big holes in the water and fast moving barges overtaking and passing close in both directions. Passage through the Flushing lock was our first experience of locks on the trip and apart from personally being unprepared and so a little hectic it went without incident. The lock was passed in two groups as a result of differing arrival times and also as a result there were two groups going up the Kanal door Walcheren to Middelburg. Sharina II in the second group had a short wait for the first bridge but after that bridges opened more or less in synchronism with our arrival.
Arriving at Middelburg Sharina II, Arion, Anrheg, Falcon, Sea Quest, and Chilli in the second group turned left into the haven and Sharina II went onto the Haven Master’s pontoon for instructions. The lady Haven Master arrived and opened the bridge and we motored one by one into the berthing area right in the centre of the city. By then most of the alongside berths were taken so we rafted out up to three abreast turning to face out of the Haven. Being surrounded by tall buildings there was no wind so manoeuvring was one of those pleasant exercises where the boat and the prop walk do as they are supposed to. Sharina II ended up rafted to a Dutch steel motor barge that was leaving the next day and other Westerly boats had also moored onto Dutch boats so a general shuffle took place the next morning.
I will remember Middelburg as a very friendly town. We were there on a Saturday and the centre was buzzing with a fruit and vegetable market and a sand filled arena where beach volley ball and children's games were being played. The strawberry stall was impressive with an enormous display that could be smelled even before you got to it. At the bakers we bought an inexpensive loaf for sandwiches and were given a fruit loaf for us "to try". Then back at the boat we met with a Dutch gentleman and his Irish wife who had been sent details of our visit by Westerly Griffon (Alveolus) owners Ian and Gillian from the Isle of Man. They came along to say hello and presented us with a small keep sake in the form of a fridge magnet with a pretty blue Dutch design. So nice memories of friendly Middelburg.
The yacht club in Middelburg served an excellent and inexpensive dish of the day as long as you knew what it was and two good evenings were spent there.
On the second evening we got a text message that Tjerke Tjeerde was on his way from his home port and was unexpectedly coming down to meet us. He arrived and moored his Conway Members Only outside the marina on the waiting pontoon joining us in the yacht club to socialise and enjoy a drink.
For departure the Haven Master would open the bridge once an hour so we arranged to all go out together on the 9.15 opening and all turned left up the canal in an impressive convoy of 16 boats.
At the end of the canal we encountered our second lock this time keeping an eye on Tjerke to see how he did it. Singlehanded, he was soon hanging off from a post stern first! Again there were no serious mishaps and we left the lock to enter the open water of the Veersemeer. Sails were hoisted and almost immediately the fleet encountered several strong gusty squalls which resulted in some hasty reefing. The channel twisted and turned but we mostly had free winds and sailed up to Zandkreeksluice where we once again assembled as a group to wait for the lock. This time we all scattered as the lock opened to reveal an enormous three masted Dutch sailing vessel and a group of sailing dinghies.
The lock was enormous and we had no difficulty in fitting in with wall space for all. Leaving the lock we called ahead to Yerseke to be told that they were expecting us. Tjerke had briefed us that as we passed the canal exit at Wemeldinge we should expect fast moving barges and this proved to be the case. However we were unprepared for the barge carrying an enormous structure and we could only speculate as to its purpose.
At the entrance to Yerseke the briefing notes stressed the need to take the red/green buoy to port. Sharina II entered first and was pushed out towards the buoy by a high speed fishing boat, nevertheless taking the buoy on the correct side. Fortunately we were entering at high water because Tjerke was amused to observe that most of the fleet went the wrong side of the red/green buoy. Proving that you can lead a Westerly fleet into harbour……...but you better do it at high water!
Immediately inside Yerseke we were met by Jan the Haven Master. He encouraged us to move up and raft so that all 16 Westerly boats fitted perfectly together onto the Yerseke visitors pontoon. This resulted in some excellent fleet pictures with the bright red Harken flag and WOA rally banners flying.
In Yerseke next morning a rain squall went through and most people took advantage to rest and reorganise. We had hoped to visit the Oyster sheds but oysters being out of season and it being a Monday this proved impossible to organise. So the day was spent shopping for supplies for the BBQ. Nevertheless several boats had dinner at De Viskeete (Fish Quay) where the mussels were excellent albeit also being nominally out of season.
Next morning we were faced with the prospect of extracting the fleet backward out from alongside the visitor’s pontoon with a strong wind blowing the boats on. Again we stressed leave the red green buoy to starboard. Unbelievably still one boat one boat went the wrong side......
Members Only went first and demonstrated how to spring off and one by one we extracted ourselves by several variations on the springing off technique. Including walking pairs of boats down to the end of the pontoon to give a relatively clear route out. Finally Sharina II, having entered first, was left as the last boat out and after watching all the other attempts Sharina II left by moving back down the pontoon with the aid of prop walk turning into the space opposite.
Back in the Oosterschelde we crossed to the busy narrow channel leading north out from Wemeldinge. Again we encountered fast moving heavily laden barges invariably complete with motor cars on the back.
The fleet entered Krabbenkreek and followed the buoys down to Sint Annaland Marina where Cees, the Haven Master, was expecting us. Joining the fleet here was Gerard and Gina on Ginger and it was here that we planned to have the cruise BBQ. With a force 4 blowing across the exposed marina there was only one small sheltered place where we could possibly hold the BBQ. Fortunately we were allowed to move the marina BBQ stands to the relatively sheltered space outside the marina bar. We set up the Harken banner as a back drop and lit a disposable in the hope that the BBQ would actually happen. We were not disappointed as the WOA fleet turned up in force with different cooking devices and food ranging from enormous steaks to burgers and kebabs. Brian Easteal "experimented" with a new BBQ that had enough charcoal to smelt copper but, by dint of patience, it eventually burnt down to a useable cooking surface. So a good BBQ with night caps in the bar.
After carrying the BBQ stands back to where they belonged, the fleet set off next day for the Grevelingen. We said goodbye to Titan of Dart that was to remain and to Restless, setting off for home due to time constraints.
So by now the fleet was back to 15 boats and we were set for the best sail of the cruise. Entering the Grevelingen, we had a free wind of 17 - 18 knots for the entire sail up the Grevelingen to Marina Port Zelande. An exhilarating sail where Sharina II learnt to respect the buoys whilst reaching a top speed of 7.4 knots. Depths dropped rapidly only a short distance outside the marked channel. Several boats also had a Seagull land on the stern outboard to pose and beg for snacks balancing as the boat heeled.
At Marina Port Zelande we had been allocated spaces in double box/pontoon moorings. The pontoons were short and depending on which side to you were allocated keeping off the post at the entrance to the box was challenging. The Marina was enormous and even had its own permanent Boat Show style Fairline Nederland showroom....a long way from Poole,
On the sail up, Falcon had noticed an unusual noise from the prop that could have been a trapped rope or a loose rope cutter. Andy was considering a lift out when Tjerke appeared with flippers and snorkel and dived to check it out. No problem was found and the noise was finally put down to air in the Volvo seal.
Arion and Revolution stayed overnight in a nearby marina with Nick planning to leave his boat there and return to the UK for a while. So Ian temporarily transferred his East Coast Chairman's flag onto Revolution with Shaun.
Retracing our route next day back down the Grevelingenmeer was a more sedate affair with a gentle wind from nearly dead astern. The wind finally died away completely and we motored on towards Mosselbank Island in order to be there for shortly after mid-day, as planned by Gerard, to be there when the previous visitors would have left. The plan worked perfectly and we were able to take over most of the moorings on the west island as well as the two available seat tables. We had a beautiful sunny day for the island stay and as the boats arrived, the "Tastery" began to take shape.
All manner of delicious Nederland food and drink was laid out for us by Gina, Gerard and Tjeerke ranging from fresh herrings and eel to liquorice sweets, bitterballen (deep fried gravy flavoured paste-balls) and strong...very strong drinks such as Schipper Bitters at 30% and beers at 9%. An amazing experience and a day that the whole fleet thoroughly enjoyed. "Tastery" will henceforth be a new WOA legendary word.
After the “Tastery” experience, which brought everyone together, the results of the passage planning competition were announced and Travelling Light was declared winner of a Harken wet bag. Boat names were then drawn and as each name was drawn they were invited to select one of the generous Harken prizes of t-shirts, gloves and hats or alternatively they could select a lucky dip of a wrapped package containing some of the more obscure items such as winch grease, speed antifoul alternative (?), liqueurs and the fridge magnet that we had been given in Middelburg. With the sun setting over Mossel Bank most retired to bed but apparently a few sat up over midnight to light a Swedish Candle, to look at the stars and presumably consume more bitters?
Next day we had a relatively short motor to lock out of the Grevelingen and thence, motoring again, in convoy to the Zeeland Brugge. We assembled expectantly at the bridge only to be told that the bridge opening had been postponed because of emergency service traffic crossing. So we circled around to wait a little longer until finally the bridge opened and we all dived through. The next stop was Zieriksee which was only a short distance after the bridge. We entered Zieriksee down a channel leading into the centre of the city where we were met by the Haven Meester in a very smart uniform efficiently directing us to turn and raft together four and five deep at the alongside pontoon berth.
Zieriksee is a delightful must-see town which totally embraces sailing. Later at the Delta Expo we were to learn that Zieriksee had been very badly affected by the 1953 flooding which had cut it off for a year however again in the sunshine the busy waterfront, alley ways and shops showed no sign of this.
Zieriksee was where the cruise dinner was to be held in a restaurant only a short walk from the harbour. Several smart WOA ties and blazers appeared despite the warm evening and we walked together to the restaurant for the next cruise highlight - the table quiz. Thanks to Andy Clark for producing the quiz which was composed of two papers one on sailing general knowledge and the second a set of obscure cross word type clues which linked to towns in the UK.
The quiz kept every one busy until finally, on our table at least, most people had to admit defeat. However on other tables Denise and Brian did very well and were the eventual winners of the sailing paper and Sam, Camilla and Guy from Kallessin proved to have the necessary mind set to unscramble Andy and Carol’s obscure crossword type clues. More Harken Wet Bags were presented to the winners.
At the end of an excellent meal, served in a nice atmosphere, Brian and Tjerke made generous speeches and in turn WOA burgees were presented to Gerard and Tjerke of WOA Nederlands on behalf of WOA UK and the cruise.
Fortunately we only had a very short hop planned for the next day so we were able to explore Zieriksee until leaving at about one o'clock. We also said goodbye to Tjerke, Gina and Gerard as they headed home leaving a very happy cruise fleet behind them full of appreciation for the friendship, warm welcome and hospitality that we had been shown.
Our final marina was Roompot Marina. We had a short but choppy motor across the Oosterschelde which turned out to be another treat because we met the Delta Week racing fleets heading for Zieriksee and as we passed through the fleet we saw some amazing racing yachts with many sails set. Some sails seemingly right down almost touching the water. At the marina we had been allocated the inside of the visitor’s pontoon and everyone soon berthed without serious incident in the gusty conditions. Albeit Travelling Light having a close call when a mooring line came off its cleat just as the load was being applied to stop the boat!
Roompot marina was very different to the other marinas we had visited. It is also a delightful holiday resort with a beach, bar, restaurants and a "tropical pool paradise" which is free to boats visiting. However the reason for staying at Roompot marina was to make it easy for us to visit Neelte Jans and the Delta Expo. Again we booked a coach and our big orange coach was waiting for us next morning for the short ride to Neelte Jans. The Neelte Jans visit was to prove to be a high spot of the cruise. Our party of 25 were met by the English speaking guide and welcomed with delicious coffee and apple pie that had been set out ready for us. After coffee, apple pie and and lots of chatter our guide gave an explanation of the issues that Zeeland faced and how these had culminated in the 1953 floods. This was followed by a film show describing the construction of the barrier at Room Pot. The scope of the work completed by the Dutch was enormous. Amazing special ships had been built for each phase of the construction. A special ship was built to consolidate the seabed, another to lay a base of matting, another to float the concrete caissons into position and yet another to fit the storm barrier gates. Rather like building the Thames Barrier across the estuary from Margate to Maplin!
After the film show we walked over to the barrier itself and went inside where there was a broad passage way with displays and models and finally we were able to climb up to the top of the caisson to the point where the official 1986 opening party, attended by HM Queen Beatrix and our Prince Andrew, had stood.
Our guide then encouraged us to return to the dining room for the “light” lunch. This was laid out ready for us in our own private area and was an excellent and very adequate spread. So time had passed very quickly and there was just time for a stroll in the sunshine round the water features in the park before our bus returned to collect us at 4.00pm.
Back at the marina, we got together for one final pontoon party, this time actually on Sharina II, with discussions of the best time to leave and different routes that were planned. Some boats staying on, some retracing steps through Middelburg, some leaving early the next morning and going out through Roompot sluice for Oostend and some later in the day bound for Blankenberg.
So that is the story of the 2015 National Cruise organised by the East Coast Group. The promise of free winds, space to sail and excellent sea food had certainly been fulfilled. We had a good mix of weather comprising some wind, a little rain and sunshine and some great companionship.
Thanks to Gerard, Gina, Tjerke, Nick and Andy for their help with the organisation and to Harken for the enormous box of goodies for prizes and presentations. Finally thanks to Mike and Mick, the hard-working crew of Sharina II, for putting up with me, running the boat and getting us moored on time at all the right places.
Vessels taking part in whole or in part were the following:
Merlot, Ampotis, Titan of Dart, Revolution, Restless of Langstone, Arion, Sharina II, Anrheg, Travelling Light, Kalessin of Orwell, Hurkur, Falcon, Sea Quest of Hamble, Starquest, Alastair Harvey and Chilli.
Photographs are being collected on a Flickr site set up by Denise, look out for an email invitation. There are also some excellent Middelburg pictures - including the one of me looking only slightly more worried than Camilla (see link).

Link to details: www.thatguyphotography.co.uk/woa/


Where WOA has been ...

When WOA cruises visit clubs and harbours, there is often an exchange of burgees.
Here’s our collection so far . . . .