Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas message 2015

Happy Christmas to you all, and two important questions before we start on the review of the year:

Are you now, or have you ever been, anything whatever to do with civil engineering? Ben now has a degree in civil engineering, hooray!, and would appreciate the chance to chat to anyone vaguely knowledgeable about the best way to get into the industry. He's currently still living in Nottingham but is willing to consider pretty much any option.

Do you fancy crewing for us on Kalessin in southern Brittany in summer 2016? More details in a separate post, but Guy is putting together a delivery crew for the trip there and back, and we need people to sail gently with us in June, July and September. Sam and I depend on extra crew to enable us to sail, so we really do need you.

Please post a comment to respond to either of these (or email us direct) and we will get straight back to you.

Anyway, 2015 has been a pretty good year, on the whole. At the very end of 2014 Camilla was appointed editor of the quarterly Cruising magazine for the Cruising Association, and this has given a definite shape to the year. The pattern is for one moderately busy month working part-time, then one extremely busy month, and one almost completely quiet month when we can go sailing or take a holiday. We have employed Guy to provide photographic services and over the year Camilla & Guy have managed to get to the London and Southampton Boat shows, to visit Imray in Cambridgeshire, and to visit the excellent International Boatbuilding Training College in Lowestoft. Camilla also spent an entertaining time at the Cowes Week Ladies Day when sadly there was no wind at all, has spent quite a bit of time at the CA headquarters in Limehouse, and in between has grappled with copy, photographs and contributors of every type and quality. If you aren't a CA member you can still see a sample copy of Cruising on the CA website.

The first issue was published in March and was a huge challenge. Camilla was deeply grateful for the support of our good friend Cathy Brown, the last editor but one of Cruising, and the staff at CA House. We have now managed to get out four issues which have had a positive response, and no major catastrophes.

Once the first issue was put to bed, Sam and Camilla flew to Barbados in order to come back to the UK much more slowly on P&O's Ventura. The Caribbean proved a major challenge for those of limited mobility and although it was marvellous to have the sun and warmth, we probably won't go back again. However the days crossing the Atlantic were delightful – introducing both of us to watercolour painting, and Camilla discovered and rather surprisingly loved Zumba dance classes. Our stop-off at Ponta Delgada in the Azores was a real highlight and reminded us once again how much we like Portugal and its islands.

Ventura dominates the harbour in St Lucia
Typical kerbs in Antigua...
...not accessible to Sam by wheelchair or on foot
Portugal! (Ponta Delgada)

In April Camilla passed the Yachtmaster (Offshore) practical exam after a brush-up course with East Anglian Sea School. You can read more on the blog but it felt like a major achievement and has given Camilla more confidence.

In June we sailed Kalessin to join the Westerly Owners' Association cruise in company in the Dutch delta. Despite long planning this nearly didn't happen for a whole range of reasons. In May, Sam suffered a seizure, which was very frightening for all of us, and was rushed to hospital. He made the mistake of having the attack on the Thursday before the May bank holiday weekend and the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital wouldn't let him go home. Worse, they kept him in bed for five days until he could barely stand, let alone walk. Guy and I went to the hospital on the Tuesday and used our best assertiveness skills to persuade the therapists that we could cope with him at home – they wanted to send him to a community hospital. It was a gamble, but by the Friday he was back to walking around the house and within a few weeks was pretty much back to normal.

Our GP was astonishingly supportive when we told him that we wanted to take Sam out into the middle of the North Sea and as far away as possible from any emergency support, just a month after the seizure. So we were all set, and thought we should take Kalessin down to Tollesbury for a shakedown cruise before the big crossing. Unfortunately the engine overheat problem which plagued us at the end of last season reared its ugly head again. You can read the full story if you're interested, but in the end after some expensive repairs Sam, Guy, Ben and Camilla sailed rapidly and very bumpily across the North Sea in Kalessin for a great two weeks with lots of very nice Westerly owners.

Lots of Westerlys in Yerseke
In July once more all four of us, plus Ben's girlfriend Anne, crossed the North Sea again, this time with the help of Mr Stena and accompanied by a car. We drove down to the Herrmann family home in Bavaria for an extremely hot and very relaxing week with Camilla's sister, Lucilla, and her family.

We managed a little more sailing in September but much of the UK's summer was cold, wet and/or windy, hence the plan to head further south next summer.

During all of this Sam has done pretty well, although the seizure did knock him back a bit. His speech continues to improve very slowly, and the electronic leg stimulator, when working at peak efficiency, helps him to walk a little faster and makes him more stable. This autumn he has once again started guitar lessons with a teacher in Diss, which is much less hassle than the far side of Norwich where he went before.

Guy is still living at home and has been an invaluable support in sharing Sam's care with Camilla - without him Camilla would struggle to work, let alone get to London fairly regularly. He's done some great photography, both for Cruising and for other clients.

Lightship LV87©That Guy Photography 2015
Posted by That Guy - Photography on Sunday, 20 September 2015

Ben now has a degree in civil engineering from Nottingham University - see above. For the time being he's staying in Nottingham and seeing more of his lovely girlfriend Anne.

We have ended the year on a high note. You may recall that in June 2014 Sam fell into the marina at SYH and lost the Rolex I gave him for his 50th birthday. We paid for a diver to search for it, without success. In early December 2015 I had a phone call out of the blue from a chap called Trevor Chatting, who told me that two or three times during the winter he hunts through the mud pumped out by the SYH dredger on to the tidal marshes, mainly looking for coins. He had just been down and spotted a watch: Sam's Rolex, which Trevor identified by the engraving on the back. It's a bit battered, the black bezel has gone, the strap is broken – which might have been why it was lost – but it is still working sporadically and we will see what we can do about getting it repaired. What are the chances of its being found like that? Even better, I had forgotten until we got it back the model of Rolex – it's a Sea Dweller!

Sam is reunited with his Rolex after it spent 17 months in the mud
The Sea Dweller itself, returned to land

Here's hoping that 2016 is as good for you as most of 2015 has been for us, and may all the unlikely events you are longing for, come to pass.

Camilla, Sam, Guy & Ben

Crew wanted for lovely warm summer sailing

After a distinctly grim summer in the North Sea we are contemplating taking Kalessin down to southern Brittany in 2016. At the moment our thoughts are something like this:
  • Late May/early June - Guy & delivery crew sail Kalessin to somewhere like Brest, Quimper or Lorient (I am trying hard to persuade Sam that he will not enjoy the delivery trip, he remains to be convinced).
  • Early June - Sam and Camilla travel to agreed location, taking a car via Brittany Ferries
  • June to mid-July - Sam and Camilla sail very gently in southern Brittany. We will need crew, so will only sail when we can persuade others to come with us.
  • mid-July - we hope to reach a point somewhere between the Vilaine and La Rochelle where we can leave the boat for a while. Camilla will collect the car, we hope to visit friends who live in the Limousin, then we we will come home by ferry
  • mid July to end August - Camilla & Sam at home while Camilla completes the September edition of Cruising. Kalessin may be available as a holiday residence if you fancy a short break on the Côte Atlantique
  • early September - if all goes well Camilla & Sam may return to France and start sailing Kalessin gently northwards again
  • end September - again Sam and Camilla return to UK and a delivery crew brings Kalessin home to Suffolk.
So we will need crew who can get to Brittany fairly easily, and will enjoy gentle sailing, for as short or long a period as you like. We would pay for expenses on board but would ask you to pay your own travel costs. 

If you are interested please post a comment and we will get straight back to you, or email directly if you already have our email address (we prefer not to include it here to avoid spam). 

Below, photos from our last trip to southern Brittany, 10 years ago, to whet your appetite...

View of Loctudy
Fruits de mer, Loctudy
Ile de Groix
Sauzon on Belle-Ile