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As summer slips gently into autumn with the 1st September on us already, it is time to look back on our Penguin cruising year again and start to think about next season’s exploits. That is not to say that the sailing season has finished – I, amongst many others, look forwards to autumn sailing right up to winter, though a powerful Eberspacher heater and a bottle of Laphroaig helps! The Penguin Cruising Club, however, has no more outings booked for the year, so we start to look to the September Committee meeting and then to the AGM and Ceilidh.

 I have just returned from my 2 week  August holiday on Aurial – not a very adventurous one, but full of interest. We started by inviting the Yachting Monthly team aboard for a look at how an 8 stone lady could get a 20 stone (yes, with wet oilies and lifejacket..) man back aboard once he had fallen off. The stern ladder is the easiest, though might dislocate shoulders in any sea – and winching using the halyard or genoa winches was insufficient. Using the rope drum on the electric anchor windlass worked but tripped the breaker, and the only effective way was to use a long 7:1 block and tackle onto a genoa winch.

Being winched up with just a lifejacket and harness was not comfortable (especially for men), but a lifesling (available with a long line and a padded hoop with ‘D’ rings for lifting,  much like Kevin Walton’s MOB retrieval device for those of an age to remember) was effective and easy. For unconscious victims our Mob-mat (a sort of parbuckle sling) allowed me to be retrieved horizontally. It made me realise how vulnerable we are, and although we are all good at practicing MOB drill we do not normally look at the next stage – MOB Retrieval. Our essential bit of kit here is a 40m length of 10mm braid and a pair of three pulley blocks, left ‘extended’ with the lines tied together with twine to stop tangling, and then coiled in a bucket for instant access and deployment. Maybe we should equip all Penguin Cruises so, but with boats as highly crewed as the Club enjoys, one would hope that there would be enough grunt on board to lift a fallen crew member back on board by another method. One to discuss at the AGM skipper’s forum, perhaps? The rest of the holiday took us over Carmarthen Bar to dry out on the sands in front of Dylan Thomas’s Boathouse in Laugharne – a location so idyllic we stayed put for 5 days, though a F7 from the exposed SE had its part to play! Watch out for a description of both this trip and the MOB retrieval in the pages of Yachting Monthly in due course.

I reported on the Scotland Easter cruise in my last newsletter, and now the Norwegian Lofoten expedition has returned after a successful expoit of exploration. I understand that all went well, though a paucity of wind left a high diesel bill. No doubt all will be revealed at the AGM – a good reason to attend! (Oh no, he’s started to nag already…).

I have not heard any report from the ‘school holiday special’ Scottish cruise from Alba Yachts at Dunstaffnage to sail the southern Inner Hebrides area – I hope no news is good news, but will keep you posted after the Committee have discussed the season in a few weeks time.

I have been asked what cruises are planned for next year – apart from the traditional Easter Scotland charter, I must admit that I have no inkling. With the September Committee meeting approaching, this is always a time to appeal for ideas (ideally with an offer of organising), so if you have a cruise in mind do let James Raby know. Don’t let the threat of being a cruise organiser put you off – an idea does not have to include a promise to arrange the cruise, but we do need to recruit organisers - if there are any members out there willing to take on this mantle you’d be welcome.

So, enjoy the rest of the cruising year, dream up new adventures and locations, and we look forwards to all meeting up again at the Ceilidh (10th January, 2015)

Till then, enjoy the sun and shelter!

Best Wishes