Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas letter 2009

It has been another water-focused year, but less time on Kalessin in 2009 and more on other people's boats.

Sam (pictured mid-Atlantic with flying fish) has just completed his first-ever Atlantic crossing aboard Moonstruck, a Hylas 49 sailed by Alan Teed, his wife Joan and daughter Lauren. Alan and Camilla first met when travelling home from school aboard the 31B bus in Essex. He moved to the US in his 20s and we completely lost touch. Then three years ago, when planning to bring Moonstruck to Europe, Alan spotted Camilla's name on a review of a pilot book on Amazon, got in touch through Friends Reunited, and we finally managed to meet up for one evening in Barcelona at Easter in 2008. Later, Camilla mentioned on Facebook that Sam had always wanted to do an Atlantic crossing and Alan offered a berth.

It all came together with a delivery trip from the Algarve to Gran Canaria in October, and then departure as part of the ARC, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, on Sunday 22 November. They finally reached the finishing line in St Lucia in the early hours of 10 December having spent 17 days, 14 hours, 49 minutes and 32 seconds on passage.

You can read Sam's updates here on the blog - see links to the right. He found it, perhaps, harder work than he expected. Running with the tradewinds meant constant rolling from the big seas (see video above) and that's wearing both for the boat and the crew. They managed to destroy a spinnaker quite early on and all the other sails suffered badly – but still a great achievement for all concerned.

Guy has astonished us by taking to sailing in a big way on a voyage on the 72ft Challenger, part of the Tall Ships fleet. Not only did he thoroughly enjoy the voyage (Ipswich to Portsmouth via various parts of northern France) he followed it up with a Day Skipper Theory course which he passed with flying colours. Clearly it's not sailing he hates, just sailing with his parents!

Earlier in the year Guy spent several months in India, initially doing voluntary work in Delhi and Palampur, and then travelling around. It was an exceptionally hot year and he didn't go until spring, so he spent most of his time in the Himalayas, in Manali and on the second highest highway in the world, to Kashmir. He thoroughly enjoyed travelling but was pleased to get home to see Beth again – they have now been together almost four years.

Camilla hasn't been anywhere quite so exotic but joined Aviva Europe in August for a six-month contract, which has meant travel to Dublin, Madrid and Warsaw so far – and learning to use Micrsoft SharePoint in Spanish and Polish. In odd spare moments Camilla now works as a volunteer navigation ranger on the Norfolk Broads (see ranger's keys, above).

We also joined a massive Herrmann family gathering in a beautiful villa in the Dordogne at the end of May to celebrate Lucilla's 50th birthday (Camilla's sister). 

Our family sailing this year has been modest, but we did manage to find a couple of weather windows to sail Kalessin to the Netherlands in July, and home again three weeks later.

Highlights included sailing through the busy oil and gas rigs off Ijmuiden at night, four memorable days moored in central Amsterdam (crammed into the Sixhaven, above),  some great short-distance, shallow-water sailing on the Ijsselmeer, and the night transit of Amsterdam, heading south to the Delta.

Ben (almost 17) is continuing to be brilliant. He now has 15 GCSEs including 4 A* and 9 A grades. He applied for and won an Arkwright scholarship for youngsters interested in a career in engineering - pictured above at the awards with co-winner Josh (Ben on the left). He's now studying physics, maths and further maths, but makes life more interesting by also taking classical studies and philosophy & ethics. Suppertime discussions at home are getting very challenging. His interest in gaming is leading him to become scarily knowledgeable about IT – following a recent Windows crisis on his old laptop he was able to salvage key files by running Ubuntu (Linux) from an external hard drive. Gulp.

Ben built a kayak for his GCSE design technology project. Here he is water-testing it along with Camilla in her birthday-present inflatable kayak.

So, here we go with 2010, and we hope it is as good for you as 2009 has been for us.

Camilla Herrmann, Sam, Guy & Benedict Brown

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