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There is something sad about a Commodore who delays a newsletter until a nice date lines up; I must be obsessional compulsive or something. Still, it allows me to write at the close of this year’s Penguin sailing season after the safe return on the 30th September of Mike Webb’s Aegean cruise. I have yet to get full details and look forwards to the report at the AGM on 21/1/2012 – slightly later in January this year due to the way the weekends fall.

Our three cruises this year have all been a success – I have already mentioned Simon Walker’s Skye circumnavigation at Easter in the last newsletter. The St Kilda attempt in July has to be renamed as an achievement, though I have never had to fund such a giant fuel bill. The wind seemed on the nose for most of the week, and with a front threatening out in the Atlantic we decided to make a break for it and reached Hirta within 24hrs, albeit under power the whole way. The crews enjoyed 2 nights on St Kilda before circumnavigating the archipelago and sailing across to a new anchorage southwest of the Sound of Harris. Other highlights were overnighting on The Shiants and Crowlin Isles. A full report will follow at the AGM, when we will also get the lowdown of the delights of an autumnal Mediterranean from Mike Webb.

The Committee were honoured to meet in the hallowed grounds of the SS Great Britain dock, Bristol, courtesy of Julie Ward – many thanks. Apart from our usual thrash around club issues, I can reveal that Ian Rose starts the new season with the Easter cruise from Dunstaffnage on the 7-14 April with three Westerly yachts. The plan is to enjoy the southern areas of the West Highlands.

The next of our four planned cruises is from Lyn Ballard, with a fortnight from the 2nd June in a Westerly Fulmar and a Trapper 700 to North Brittany. There are only eight places, but with both boats able to dry out Lyn hopes to access parts other yachts cannot reach.

Next up is Jonathan Walton’s Stockholm Archipelago trip from August 11th to 18th. Warm water, blue skies, no tides, and a wealth of islands and anchorages make this ideal for a family cruise with three or four larger family friendly yachts.

Finally, Graham Room has arranged another two week cruise from the 25th August to Shannon in SW Ireland, though the cruise will offer a changeover in Dingle or Baltimore. 12 berths will be offered for each week on two boats.

As ever, you can read all the details of these cruises and sign up for them when the Mailing Pack drops onto your doormat at the end of October.

I will send another newsletter before the AGM to encourage support for the Club Ceilidh – arrangements will be much the same as ever, and including the popular barrel of beer as last year! And the band promises to play quietly…..

We will repeat the ‘Skipper’s Forum’ as per last year, though again I would reassure anybody interested that you don’t need to be a skipper to attend! We plan to have the minutes of last year’s forum available at that meeting.

On a personal note, I enjoyed the company of Dick Durham from Yachting Monthly on Aurial for two days this week in preparation for a ‘Me and My Boat’ report. This will be one of a series of articles on a yacht, her skipper, and the area they sail in. Be assured I promoted The Penguin Cruising Club – we expect the article to be in the February issue which will come out in time for the AGM. I’ll try not to let it go to my head.

And on that modest note, I’ll sign off till after Christmas, hoping your stocking will hang bulging with nautical niceties from your festive mantelpiece. Remember, only eleven weeks till Christmas!

Jonty Pearce