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Commodore’s Newsletter Autumn 2021


Dear Members,


To sea at last!!  Following a bleak 2020 for Penguin Cruises, brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we finally managed some sailing.


 First off was the postponed 50th Anniversary Cruise around the West Coast of Scotland and the Outer Hebrides.  We chartered three boats out of Dunstaffnage, Oban, in early July for a two-week cruise.  Although crew numbers were restricted by the Scottish COVID regulations, we managed to accommodate everyone who had deferred their bookings from 2020.  Winds were generally light, obliging much use of the ‘iron topsail’, but in the first week the fleet made its way up through the Outer Hebrides and onto Ullapool for a crew change.  Many thanks to Ullapool resident and long-term member Paul Copestake who, despite the COVID restrictions, managed to organise a memorable Pizza evening for the crews in a marquee in the grounds of the Royal Hotel.  There we also drank a toast to the memory of Cliff Davies, who had pplied for the cruise, but tragically died following a cycling accident earlier in the year.  The second week saw a little more wind as we made our way back to Dunstaffnage via Kyle Ria. I was very grateful for a tow to Kyle of Lochalsh given by Peter Hands and the crew of Explorer of Sleat  (see picture) after we encountered engine transmission problems and the wind died.

Steve Pope diagnosed the problem as a missing shear pin in the prop shaft coupling and fitted a temporary one fashioned from the handle of a socket set, before we were able to collect the correct part in Mallaig.


Next off was our 10-day cruise from Plymouth to the Isles of Scilly.  We had a fleet of four boats, which were loosely followed by a boat skippered by Simon Morton and some friends and new member, Anne Hand, who sailed her own boat single-handed, much to the admiration of the other crews.  Well done Anne!  The cruise was blessed with some favourable winds; easterlies for the passage out to the Islands and a stiff westerly to bring the fleet back home.  In between-time the days were spent pottering around and exploring the islands.  Congratulations to the skippers and crews who managed to navigate their way around the islands and rocks without incident.


The final cruise of our season is yet to come, the cruise around the Western Canaries – volcanic activity permitting!  We have chartered four boats out of San Miguel, Tenerife, and hope for some warm weather to help get us through the winter.


For 2022 we have an eclectic choice of cruises.  We kick off with our traditional Easter cruise around the West of Scotland.  This is followed by a two-week cruise in June from Pontevedra, NW Spain; cruising the Rias of Galicia and round Cape Finisterre to A Coruña for a crew change, before the return leg back to Pontevedra.  For our third cruise, we will be hiring some traditional gaff-rigged yachts for a week of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ on the Norfolk Broads, late August.  Details will be published soon and, if you are interested, I recommend you book soon, as there appears to be strong interest in the cruises.


Despite not being able to offer any cruising in 2020 and early this year, we received 34 new applications for membership; welcome to the Club and I hope to see you all on the water soon, or if not, at our AGM and dinner which takes place at Colwall on Saturday 15th January.  Our after-dinner speaker will be Sam Llewellyn, a very experienced cruising yachtsman, who edits The Marine Quarterly.


Anchors Aweigh!


John Marriott