An early April cruise on the West Coast of Scotland covered two hundred and fifty miles from Armadale, Skye through Kyle Rhea to the Crowlin Islands, Rona, the Shiant Islands, the new Isle of Harris, North Harbour, Scalpay, and Loch Harport, had calm settled weather. A small fleet of three yachts from the Penguin Crusing Club sailed in company. The video was filmed aboard the Dutch yacht Ab Fab on charter from Armadale.
How does it feel being surrounded by rainbows plunging into the swirling lochs at dawn on a murky Spring day? Even at neap tides, the currents and eddies buffet vessels as they transit this narrow passage between mainland Scotland and the Isle of Skye.
Kyle Rhea is a classic pilotage and great care must be taken due to strong tidal streams. Eight knots are the norm in this tidal gate. However, with good timing and seamanship skills, the Kyle Rhea is a must-do and terrific transit to complete.
Once through, new scenery, adventures, and challenges begin.
Filming glaciers on a cold, windy spring day near Mount Cook, illustrated the powerful impact of nature’s attrition. South Island, NZ, and its rugged environment is the outcome of these awesome physical forces.
The story also relates to global warming and the shrinking of the earth’s heritage of ice and snow.
Over time, research indicates climate changes and significant variations. Glaciers are the product of climate. Right now in the age of the Anthropocene, snow, ice and glaciers are in retreat.
The video shows glacial areas that could not be filmed fifty years ago. Near the peaks, snow still accumulates to produce panoramic white expanses. However, lower down on the glacier, the melting water shows the outcome of the temperature rising.
It’s been a very special year. We’ve been working so hard on developing community involvement and participation.
The Parbold Street Festival is about trying to get people to be involved in all aspects of the program activities. This is a good feature. Our work and process gives people confidence.
All of a sudden people are running with new ideas and wanting to take a lead in the event. But not only that, they come with fresh new innovative suggestions that are far better than we could have as expected.
There is an overwhelming desire from residents to take a lead role in this project. With empowerment new people are given creative responsibilities.
A festival of this nature is not solely aimed at spectators but perhaps more importantly to facilitate participation. We've got this huge interest and all of a sudden people, last year’s spectators are queueing to get involved.
Teacher - Dr Les Cutting
Community workshops in the village hall and the Women's Institute were used for designing and building the Dragons and all the parade props.
During the six-week summer holidays, children from nursery to sixth form age, created ideas and transformed these into three-dimensional artefacts.
The practical activities involved art, design and technology, fine motor skills and lots of experiential learning. By utilizing canes, paper and all different types of fabrics, in a safe and supervised environment, the creators, by using scissors, sellotape, paper, paint, glue, fabrics and twigs produced two parade dragons and tons of props for the two-day event.
Jo McCrae - Mother & Dancer
I carry the head of Sunny the Dragon and lead the processions down the High Street. There are two parades over the weekend. My involvement started in the workshops in the village hall by supporting kids in the workshops. They were all thrilled and absolutely adored the dragons. The friendly dragon gives us a magical event that goes far beyond being only for children. Adults and the Parbold residents take great interest and are very proud and possessive about their fruit eating dragons. They take great pride in their event.
Al Hart - The Spirit of the Drums Workshops
The drumming workshops bring people together. Good rhythm and drumming is a fantastic thing for getting people to successfully mix and integrate. This weekend complete strangers have come together and are now successfully participating in the parades. The process of participating in the festival has connected people and is a great example of social cohesion.
Lydney Cricket Club legend, Christine Kear, is the wife and mother of her talented foursome team players: husband and three sons. She knows the meaning of being a ‘cricket widow’ and looks well for it.
I first met her husband, Andy Kear, at Shenstone New College forty years ago. We were the best of friends but where has the time gone? I have lived many lives and traveled the world but to what effect?
I think I may have neglected some important things while working hard trying to be successful.
Do you work long hours? Live for employment? Watch out. It will catch up with you.
Do not be like me in neglecting the quality of life by slaving long hours. What is the impact and outcomes on family and friends?
Personal health and well-being are important.
Stress, pressure and working seven days a week harms. The mantra over these lost years was trying to make the world a better place. A tough budget and solving intractable complex issues was the rationale.
There are alternatives. In June walking along a jetty in the yacht marina at Lorient, I saw a desirable tee shirt with the motif, ‘Sail More. Work Less.’
It’s too late now. I think Carol King sang about that in the 1960’s.
Now here is the rub. Catching up with Andy and Christine Kear last week in the Forest of Dean was my salvation. A dazzling epiphany led to a personal redemption. New realisations came from this reunion. Now it is going to be more sailing and less work.
Friendship like team spirit, ethos and excellent morale in winning organisations involves:
Shared, common values,
Neglect these at your peril. Friends are important. Have you got anything to add?
A sophisticated networker with a can-do, get up and go attitude, Tom has linked up with some of the best organisations in the region: Bendrigg Lodge, the Calvert Trust and Lancaster University to support his daring bid.
I caught up with Tom and his father, Peter Green, on a wet August morning orienteering just south ofSkiddaw at the Calvert Trust.
The family and carers are strong advocates in encouraging hard work, self-reliance and independence. Tom is not the sort of person who sits around waiting for things to happen. His drive, enthusiasm and great personality have helped deliver a range of successful outdoor charity fundraising events.
A powerful driver that has facilitated engagement with the wider community is his Lancashire County Council care package. Despite having the capability and potential, Tom is frustrated by the lack of engagement by national brand names employers to offer real work opportunities. What is happening here?
The heritage of commitment and endeavour is part of Tom’s DNA. As a teenager, he represented his school at regional and national games. Adventurous outdoor activities are his oxygen, and the motivation is experiencing the thrill.
Tom needs a full-time employment opportunity. I guarantee you; he and his carer will succeed and be successful if there was a chance. Can you help?
Impressionist painters loved the light of Southern Brittany. Crossing the Bay of Biscay on mid-summer's night at sunset, the boat sailed through intense and mesmerising golden light. During early morning and at dusk, on hot clear days, this creates a sense of awe and wonder. As in biblical and spiritual stories, this phenomena moves the soul. Angels, gods and goddesses live in this world.
When the gods hid, weather fronts zipped in off the ocean. Seeking shelter from the force six winds gusting to forty knots, we piloted to the security of Vannes.
It was a brilliant experience. Observing the French living life on windy summer's day helped gain insights into their culture. Despite the wild weather, the Gulf du Morbihan was alive with sporting activities. It is safe and sheltered inland sea.
During a stormy Sunday, stand-up paddle boarders competed in the Bretagne championships. In true egalitarian style, every part of the community was involved: children, pensioners, athletes and people from the whole spectrum of society racing to complete the white-capped course.
In the same area, the city’s rowing club had twenty boats out on a fun sortie powered by some very unhealthy and out of condition rowers. They were blown into the city by the fresh westerly wind.
The rowing and stand-up paddle boarding malarkey looked like hard work; much effort and not getting anywhere fast. Not my scene.
Smarter people were skidding across the white-capped waves doing about twenty plus knots in catamarans. It was good to see women helming with men crewing these greyhound like vessels.
Windsurfing and sailing are spiritual activities that lead into another world, another way of thinking, experiencing and feeling about life. It comes from the beauty of nature and its physical forces: the sun, wind, currents, waves, ocean currents, light, clouds, stars and the moon.
Back in the real man-made world, there is part of the yachting world that is about crowding boats into marinas and rafting up when all the pontoons are full. It is not my way of doing things. At times, it is like being on the bumper cars at a fun fair. Seamanship and careful docking do not appear to be a strong feature on the sailing pedagogy. Boat crash and bash into each other as the perplexed helm woefully lack seamanship skills. It is a male thing. When you see women steering the boat into a pontoon berth, they seemed never to make a hash of it.
Just a few miles north, we moored next to a fifty foot Beneteau that had lost its mast and had major structural damage after a local fishing boat on auto pilot crashed onto its mooring. Left on the high tide early afternoon the next day to escape the bedlam.
After the rigours of pilotage in the fast Spring tide currents in the narrow Gulf channels, the boat was set up to break out into the Bay of Biscay. The weather fronts passed and winds eased. The plan was to sail north to Benodet and to watch the Euros Football Championship, the England - Wales game, then anchor in the Archipel des Glénan for a weekend anchorage.
South of the Quiberon peninsula an Atlantic swell and the wind against tide chop had the nine-meter yacht rolling. After four hours, the Soliel Noir and its poorly crew happily arrived at the heavenly Port Tudy, Ile du Croix.
Here was a place worth visiting with blue skies, hot sands, fair winds and a bar showing footy. Life is worth living at 27C.
Due east, the city of Lorient provides an excellent staging post to change crew, replenish and a secure berth. Check out the Second World War Submarine Base. The Eric Tabarly Museum gives a superb insight into French yachting as a premier water sports nation. Buy a joint ticket and also go inside a diesel submarine. Imagine being part of the crew on these boats or the factors and processes that led to the construction of the submarine pens twelve-foot-thick roof. RAF Lancaster Bombers bounced their bombs of these with no damage. Today, the base is the centre of French ocean racing.
At La Trinite, monster trimarans, the size of New York street blocks and as high skyscrapers, train their crews and maintain a fleet of the world's fastest boats. Pete Goss, the ex-Royal Marine and Ellen MacArthur, would be envious of these facilities. Ben Ainslie, the British Olympic dinghy sailor and master helmsman in the San Francisco America's Cup win for the USA, new America’s Cup HQ looks insignificant against the Brittany team bases for the Vendee Globe races.
In hot thundery conditions with variable winds, distant thunder and lightning with huge black clouds approached from the west. Heavy torrential rain pounded the boat and glassy seas. Very quickly in the middle of the Bay of Biscay, a ferocious electrical storm with sheet and fork lightning surrounded the yacht for three hours. Blind navigation was the order of the day with visibility at ten to twenty meters. The skipper carried out watch duties during the severe weather while the first mate sheltered.
Sailing is like chess. Many factors come into play. Success comes from making the best use of changing winds and making good use of currents and tides for a conveyor belt boost to help reach the destination. Careful planning, prudence, respect for the elements, a bit of luck and help from the gods are essential ingredients.
Sailing in Southern Brittany in mid-summer involves warm seas, fair winds and sublime cuisineYacht charter via http://en.nautiloc.fr/
Conwy is a stunning base for about two thousand yachts. The marina facilitates an expert boating infrastructure for North Wales and the Menai Strait. The area is one of the finest and most interesting cruising areas in the Britain.
The eager competent crew, Louise, was keen to make progress and develop essential competencies. Testa Rossa, a 38' Starlight yacht makes an ideal vessel for sail training. It is MCA approved and well equipped.
On completion of the safety induction, Catherine structured sailing activities to improve Louise's expertise and understanding.
It was impressive to observing Catherine involving everyone in all these processes. A feature was the quality of the learning dialogue. The Horizon Sailing School sets high standards in its pedagogy and syllabus.
Match this with a real sense of adventure whilst voyaging past panoramic mountains. The adrenalin kicks in whilst trying to keep to the Swellies transit on a turning tide.
At the end of an action packed day, a more soporific pace and a sense of awe happens as you approach Carnarvon castle. The Victoria Dock has a welcoming marina. The friendly staff provide a great welcome and delivers superb support to visitors.
If you have time, sail over Carnarvon bar and explore the Llyn Peninsula and Angelsey.
After three nights and two days Catherine had instructed on:
Using transit marks
Passage planning and
Knowledge of boat
Picking up moorings
General duties on board
Horizon Sailing caters for friends, couple, families, business or women only groups.
Catherine Dobson RYA Instructor, Conwy Marina, Digital PR, Eddy Jackson Media, Menai Yatching, N Wales sailing, North Wales Crusiing, RYA Sailing School Menai, Sailing School Conwy Marina, Sailing School Wales, Video Marketing UK, Yatching Wales