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As Christmas is upon us and I have singularly failed to report in a timely fashion after each 2016 cruise - I have achieved some seasonal progress! The festive beers, wines and spirits on offer have been “tested”and you will be pleased to know that I shall NOT be sailing for the next month (or so - at least until the hands stop shaking!)

Surrounded by so much clutter (seasonal decorations) around the house, I am mindful to burst into print - for your amusement and edification over the festive period - and of course - I HOPE TO SEE AS MANY OF YOU AT THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING AND CEILIDH ON SATURDAY 15TH JANUARY AT COLWALL! (Click here for full details). Dancing to the excellent band we had last year and a raffle with tempting prizes to relieve you of yet more money . . . 

If you intend to join us at Colwall on the 15th - it would be great of you could let Marian Keall know of your intentions - family, friends and other hangers-on welcome - just let Marian know how many of you are likely to attend This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Now - Pugwash’s “take” on the Holland Cruise -

Holland 2016 - “Queen” tribute band - hits the Netherlands - literally!

Tales are beginning to emerge about the recent Penguin Cruise of Holland this August. Two boats were chartered for the first week cruised the Ijsselmeer (inland lake) and the second week saw a third boat join in for a cruise up on the Waddenzee tidal bit.
A docking “shimmy” - best described by the song “Fat Bottomed Girls that make the rocking world go round” (Brian May 1978) - how to get a “fat bottomed” boat (2.7 metre beam) into a 2.5 metre berth - comes to mind.
Then - on a windy day - all boats moored up and some of the crews took took bicycles - finding that battling against the wind was nearly as bad as beating to windward on a boat “I want to ride my bicycle” (Freddie Mercury 1978) - did they really? 

Finally, to cap it all, “Flash” Gordon seems to have managed to set fire to a critical part of the Netherlands infrastructure, resulting a fabulous “foam party”! Courtesy of the local fire fighters - Flash’s theme - “Flash, a-ah, saviour of the universe!” (Brian May 1981) - some hope! Pictures - I can’t wait to see!!!

Now - the truth - not wishing to pinch too much of the cruise organiser’s report (gratefully cadged from Ian Rose!) I quote - “from Amsterdam, one could at one time have sailed north through the Zuiderzee and on into the North Sea, negotiating the sandbanks of the Waddenzee and the passages between the Frisian Islands where Erskine Childers set his yarn 'The Riddle of the Sands'. Since that time, the Dutch have poldered the Zuiderzee to form the IJsselmeer, relegating ancient ports like Hoorn to waterside towns which now attract curious visitors.

In the first week, the Penguin fleet of two yachts sailed the IJsselmeer then returned to Andijk, the charter base, for some crew changes. By now, crews had got the measure of Dutch marinas and the crowds of yachts - The Solent doesn't come close - and to the sight of many interesting old vessels, particularly Dutch sailing barges. A third yacht joined the Penguin fleet for the second week in which we entered the Waddenzee and visited the islands of Texel and Vlieland.”

To reach the Waddenzee, a man-made dyke - the Afsluitsdijk (try saying that after a couple of beers!) The Afsluitsdijk is a man made marvel. A twenty mile long dyke which is 90 metres wide and rises over 7 metres above sea level. The locks at each end are 140 metres long and 25 metres wide. A motorway on top of the dyke, using lifting bridges, allows vessels to access the North Sea from the Ijsslemeer. It is a pivotal part of the Zuider Zee project to tame the North Sea and to reclaim polder land. Since 1900, Holland has reclaimed nearly 300,000 acres of polder land from the sea. One had to admire how the Dutch have quite literally made their own country.
Sailing in the Waddanzee requires careful planning. Although there are substantial stretches of water to sail in, there are also very narrow channels bounded by mud banks. Most of these narrow channels have limited depth and a very limited tidal range ( 2.1 metres at springs ). The channels meander which means that you can be hard on the wind and then around the next bend you find yourselves on a broad reach. The risk is that since you cannot de-power the main with the wind aft of the beam, a sudden gust can drive you firmly into the glutinous mud. This was a particular risk near the top of the tide. The maxim that you do not deploy the main in a narrow channel with the wind aft of the beam needs to be respected. 

Cruise commodore was James Raby who skilfully succeeded in finding a safe haven for the fleet each night. It was a cruise with good winds and time divided between sailing, sometimes testing, and visiting. We had many regular Penguin sailors and the welcome return of some less regular.

Cruises 2017

Jonty’s “retirement” cruise - the annual Easter week jaunt around the Hebrides - is now fully subscribed with some four boat-loads of Penguins eager to sample the “bracing” waters of the Minch et al. There is even some poor sap on the waiting list . . .

However, both the Croatian Cruise and the Shetlands Cruise are still open for applications.

The Croatian Cruise offers the chance for some warm weather sailing and exploration of Croatia - the land of a thousand islands - very friendly locals, cheap food (and wine!) and gentle island hopping for one or two weeks - and swimming in seas bordering on a warm 25 degrees! Please send applications (forms now on the website to John Marriott or contact Simon Morton - cruise organiser - for more details, call him on 01926 856780 or 07920 510183.

The Shetland cruise offers exciting sailing and spectacular scenery - think of Muckle Flugga, St Ninian's Isle, Mousa Broch, Foula, Fair Isle and a passage through the northern isles of Orkney, all possibilities but entirely as conditions allow. The committee has agreed to offer subsidies to young applicants, normally only applicable to the Easter cruise, who wish to join the Shetland cruise. Please send applications (forms now on the website to Ian Rose, the cruise organiser, who will happily discuss the cruise with you. Call him on 01380 721262; 07779 387006.

Tight Halyards

Captain Pugwash