News 2015

Skating at Eden

We were a small, but determined group of festive skaters who met up at Eden on an unseasonably warm December Saturday.  First stop was the restaurant for a hearty lunch, while we compared lengths of time since we had ventured on ice – 10 to 40 years, or in one case, never!!  There was then time for a wander and to listen to the renditions of a visiting choir in the Mediterranean biome or to trek to the roof of the Tropical dome, before we met up again nervously at the rink side.


As our turn came to make our first glide, our best skater immediately performed an impressive slip, flick, flip and flop manoeuvre, landing on her front.  Fortunately, no harm done, but a sober reminder of what we were up against!  Any thoughts of a sedate progress around the perimeter, clutching the rail, were prevented by the number of folk standing immobile, clutching the rail so, one by one we braved the interior!  Thereafter we all made steady (if wobbly at times) progress, thankfully and surprisingly with no further falls.  The protective bubble wrap stuffed down one pair of trousers proved unnecessary after all!

Many thanks to Dawn Veal and Linda Spiller for the photos

Christmas Dinner 2015

For the annual Dinner this year, the club returned to ‘The Weir’ at Marhamchurch for the second Christmas running.  It produced an impressive turnout, in UTLSC terms, with nearly 50 people sitting down to an evening of excellent food rapidly served, with the possibility of singeing your fingers on the hot serving dishes being the only potential downside.  As customary, the meal was followed by the presentation of prizes from the year’s sailing.  Since, for the first time, the series results had previously been published on the website as the season unfolded (so that there was a reduced element of surprise for anybody who had checked the final listings in advance), Vice-Commodore Adam Hilton opted for a new-style format for the presentations which reduced the amount of walking up to collect the awards.  Many thanks to Adam for the brief commentary as club members came up to receive their awards and also to Rosy Hilton for  presenting them. Prior to this, Roger Heasman presented a new trophy, given on this occasion for the Bosun race series which had been scheduled for summer Saturdays; the trophy, a beautifully-turned wooden bowl crafted by Roger himself, made a stunning addition to the club’s awards.

The evening was then rounded off with the opportunity to cut a dash on the dance floor; many thanks to John Weller for being the prime mover in both the equipment and the choice of music; it certainly managed to get people up and dancing.  Many thanks to Linda Spiller, for organising the venue and producing an evening that went so smoothly and produced so much pleasure for members – as some of the subsequent comments on the club’s Facebook page made clear.  All-in-all, a memorable way to bring the club’s season to its climax.

Many thanks to Mandy Pollard for the photographs.

Dartmoor in the (mainly) dry

Rendezvous difficulties sadly reduced our numbers, but those of us who managed to make it to the Moorland car-park at Lydford set off eagerly, especially the two dogs! Walking eastwards along the bank of the river Lyd, we found the track along the old peat railway, following it steadily upwards to the end of the line and ruins of the drying shed. After coffee, we set off across open moorland to complete our circle, finding it easy to walk across the peat after two weeks without rain.  There was still enough mud however to trap a shoe, leaving it’s owner hopping and needing assistance!  With the help of Toby Tobias’ local knowledge we could appreciate the history of this wild place, busy these days only with ponies, cattle and sheep.  The vistas were wide and the peace palpable.  There was even a little sunshine!  It was a shame to descend back to our cars and civilisation, but after 7.6 miles on the GPS recorder, chips and baguette at the local pub was very welcome!

Windsurfing without the Wobbles

Well, the title’s a bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but on a sunny Saturday, a sizeable group of Tamar sailors decided to investigate the rival attractions of windsurfing.  The gentle winds may not have been the traditional windsurfing ideal, but they made it easier for novices trying the sport for the first time to get up and stay on their feet whilst they worked out the similarities (and differences) to conventional sailing – and everybody did really well.  Some of the mature club members were actually returning to windsurfing after a (sometimes lengthy) layoff but they made it look easy as they had their boards gliding along in the light breezes.  Other watersports options were available as well, however, and though nobody tried paddleboarding or pedalos, there were two or three canoes out on the lake for much of the time – often investigating those bits of the lake that you don’t often get to see at close quarters when out dinghy racing.

By the time everybody had decided they’d done enough, Brian and James Pollard made a quick foray to Kilkhampton and picked up a awesome order of pizzas from The Pizza Ape, instead of the more usual barbecue – and this worked really well, because by the time Brian and James returned, the declining autumn sun was already going down behind the trees; instead of having to stay close to a shaded barbecue, however, everybody simply picked up their chairs and took them down to the very edge of the lake, so that they stayed in the sunshine for the longest time possible whilst they munched their (excellent) pizzas.  As usual at Tamar gatherings, there was lots of talk and laughter from the long line of people strung out along the water’s edge – and everybody seemed to be having an excellent time.  Many thanks to James Pollard for organising the event, to Matt Lennox for making it possible and providing advice and tuition to the novices, to Brian Pollard for his considerable patience in attempting to phone through the pizza order and not least to Mandy Pollard for taking the photographs.

No salt water? No problem….: Roadford Lake instead of Carrick Roads

A great couple of days sailing at Roadford, or, as a Daily Mirror headline writer might put it: ‘Roadford revels a real rave’….  And this was despite the forecast weather, which predicted winds rather stronger than ideal for cruising sailing.  Whilst Roger, Geoff and Bob all camped at the lake overnight, Roadford was close enough for most of the Tamar sailors to drive down each day.  By coffee time on the Friday morning, four boats were lying rigged on the pontoon (two Bass Boats and the Drascombe Lugger, plus Bob’s RS200), all having safely negotiated the piles of crassula helmsii weed clogging up the slipway.  Knowing that a hungry sailor isn’t a happy sailor, organiser John Dabbs suggested that everybody sail across to the cafe at Lakeside and discuss further plans on the veranda over coffee and cakes – which as the smiling faces in the photo below show, was indeed a suggestion of genius.  After coffee, the fleet set off to explore the lake; the wind remained on the strong side, but the Drascombe had shaken out its initial reef and everyone then had a great sail, commenting on the vast empty expanses of space available at Roadford, compared to the more claustrophobic confines of Upper Tamar – on the Friday, there were no other boats at all sharing the water with us and we had the whole lake to ourselves.

A late picnic lunch was enjoyed back at the picnic benches next to the shelter overlooking the lake – though Geoff Floyd demonstrated considerable culinary skills in cooking (in double-quick time) a hot meal on his gas stove.  In the afternoon, there was a general change-round of crews and boats: Jane Chadney and Ken Lambert went out in club Bosun the ‘Mike Ford’, whilst probably the most sought-after crewing spot was with Bob in the RS 200, as they reached up and down the lake at considerable speeds.  Everybody was ready for food by the time of the evening BBQ, which went very well after John Dabbs had cleared dead wildlife from the area – the shelter up by the camping field turned out to have the added bonus of electric light – though as this was on a timer, every so often the  merry Tamar band was plunged into darkness and someone would then have to play blind-mans-buff to find the light switch again.

Saturday dawned still dry, with the wind remaining quite fresh.  The RS200 was once again hurtling round at high speeds, this time with Nathan Pollard accompanying Bob and getting some serious helming experience under his belt.  Lunch this time was taken on the picnic benches by the Roadford waterside hut, after which it was good to see Ken Lambert out at the helm of his Wayfarer, with Robin Spiller crewing this time.  Cilla Gilbert took over the helm of the Buckett Bass Boat, accompanied firstly  by husband Dave for a chunk of the afternoon and then by Nicky Buckett, whose back allowed her out just for a few minutes to take some more photos.  Then it was time to retrieve all the boats and put them to bed, though getting out took some time, as the westerly wind flickered and died in the sheltered bay in front of the Watersports pontoon – and John Dabbs’s Drascombe refused to go anywhere at all, which was only subsequently explained by the huge clumps of weed on centreboard and rudder.  Tamar boats returned to the lake with the campers on the Sunday morning – thanks to John Dabbs, Ken Lambert and others for the time they spent in pressure-washing the boats on their return to Tamar, to try and ensure that no traces of weed remained which might then spread more of the crassula helmsii into Tamar.  And special thanks to John Dabbs, for all his hard work in organising the event, which was greatly appreciated by everyone who took part.

Many thanks to John Dabbs, Dave Gilbert and Nicky Buckett for the photographs.

Laser Shooting at Yarnscombe

“It’s August and the wet, windy weather had become very tedious, so what could be better than running around a muddy wood in face paint?  It was a risk, as most of us had never tried this before and, at least for those of us with silver hair, there was a mental adjustment to be made, leaving our dignity in the car park!  However, with overalls donned, receptors in place and laser “guns” in hand, it was surprising how rapidly we all adjusted to gleefully attempting to annihilate friends!
Great fun!  The rain held off with impeccable accuracy, only resuming when we were safely under cover, enjoying what felt like a well deserved BBQ.”

Many thanks to Survival Paintball at Yarnscombe for looking after us – and providing an excellent wooded location to run around in and revisit our childhoods; the laser games looked to be much more fun than the hard-core paintballers  – and many thanks too for the photos from Sue Murray.

Tarka Trail Cycling from Bideford

We were so lucky!  The weather is very important when riding a bike and 25 July was a jewel of a day, sandwiched between waves of rain and high winds thrown at us from The Atlantic.   After comparing notes on racks, lycra, padded seats (cycle, not anatomical) and offering advice on the assembly of a folding bike, our team of 11 set off at

a varied pace for the 6 mile ride from Bideford to Fremington Quay.  A helmet fashion/ safety faux pas correction was needed half way, but other than this we progressed sociably along the level trail, admiring the spectacular estuary views along the way.  Joined by our “support” crew, there was plenty of time to enjoy tea at the cafe on the old quay, although there was competition over huge slices of cake from a determined squadron of wasps!  Our return was just as leisurely, tolerated well by the youngest member of the team who, at 11 probable travelled twice our distance back and forth!

A really good afternoon.

Many thanks to Linda for organising the trip – and to Robin for the photos.

Carrick Roads – a bit windy, wet (sometimes) but fun….

A select half-dozen club members made the usual trip westwards for a cruising weekend on the waters of Carrick Roads.  With university terms having ended, the group opted for the relative luxury of the student accommodation on the Tremough campus (jointly run by Falmouth University and the University of Exeter in Cornwall), taking over a complete floor of one of the newish, en-suite, blocks.  After a great lasagne cooked by Annie Quartermain on the Friday night, the intention was to make a really early start from Loe Beach on the Saturday morning.  Arriving at 9am, and with just two boats to launch (Falmouth Bass Boat and the club Kestrel), things looked promising but a couple of technical hitches (problems with reefing the Kestrel mainsail and an inability to free up the outboard tilt on the Bass Boat) meant that it was later than hoped when we finally set off.   Rendezvousing off Loe Beach, it was decided to drop the initial destination of Pandora’s in Restronguet Creek, because  nearing midday the pontoon was likely to be full – so instead we headed straight for St Mawes.  As the boats moved out of the lee of high ground behind Loe Beach, the strength of the westerly wind turned into a good Force 4 or more, and the working boats were heeled well over as they jockeyed for the start of their race.  We kept well out of the way – whilst Nicky took some great photos.  As they all disappeared into the distance, the Bass Boat set off again, when all of a sudden, a handful of (slightly smaller) working boats materialised – there’s obviously a second class start, five minutes later – and we’re in the middle of it all as they reach across, dip the line, do a crash tack and set off at vast speed – felt a bit like being a tortoise trying to cross a motorway!!  The water got pretty lumpy as the westerly wind funnelled into the approaches to St Mawes and Roger felt that landing in the chop onto the tiny bit of shore at high tide was a big ask, so that in the end, the two boats headed back separately to Loe Beach – although the Bass Boat did investigate the option of going ashore on the placid beach at Place, perfectly calm in the shelter of St Antony Head.

After hot showers and an evening of good food and great conversation back at the Tremough flats, Sunday dawned sadly wet and miserable, with a driving rain and drizzle.  Accordingly, the group all headed off to the warmth and comfort of the Falmouth Maritime Museum, which had lots of fascinating exhibits – and great coffee and cakes in the cafe overlooking the harbour.  In the afternoon, the forecast promised an improvement, so we launched and set off upriver this time, passing Turnaware Point and on past the King Harry Ferry, with the Bass Boat motor-sailing with jib and mizzen and keeping up with the Kestrel, which was purely under sail.  The destination of Malpas proved to be beyond our reach, given the late start, however – and we turned back at Smugglers, with the Kestrel finding beating into the fluky winds on the return to be a frustrating and lengthy business, especially as an unscheduled drizzle returned to haunt us.  Nevertheless, it cleared up whilst we packed the boats away and had another great evening before driving home on the Monday morning.  Thanks to Nicky for organising the accommodation, for taking the photos, to Irene for her cake and not least to Annie for all her work in the kitchen – an enjoyable weekend, as the photos below show.

‘Starting Sailing Without That Sinking Feeling’ Course

Once again, the club has been busy with one of its sailing courses for novice and beginner sailors.  This year, the course was run (in association with South West Lakes Trust) under the title of ‘Starting Sailing Without That Sinking Feeling’ and managed to live up to its nomenclature, except on the last day, when three of the younger members of the course opted to go out in single handed boats and had the odd capsize. The course made considerable use of the Falmouth Bass Boats, but with some of those on the course already having had some sailing experience, Bosun dinghies were out on the lake from the first session and by the end of the course, everybody had gone out in them.  The weather varied from ideal on the Tuesday evening, to rather on the windy side on the Thursday and then a decidedly murky day on Saturday, but a good time was had by all.  The club Bosuns were  invaluable for the course – but we were also indebted to all those who loaned their own boats.  Many thanks to all the many sailing club members who helped out – it was a real team effort that took up a lot of hours of time, from getting the boats on the water to putting them away in the evenings.

Thanks to Bob Sampson for the photos (taken on the murky Saturday when he was out on safety boat duty).

Bude Canal Rowing

UTLSC members do not allow their spirits to be easily dampened, so despite a grey “mizzle” throughout the day, a large party of us descended on Bude Canal for an

evening of rowing. It remained grey, but this really didn’t matter once we were all out on the water, ducking under the bridge, ploughing through weed, attempting (with

variable success) to steer a central passage and generally enjoying working up a healthy appetite. A BBQ on the quay afterwards felt well deserved! The midge

menace was minimal without sunshine – and the rain stayed away. Many thanks to Bob Sampson for organising the evening and expertly manning the BBQ.

Thanks to Linda Spiller for the photos.

Adrenalin Quarry Zip Wire

A group of big kids from the sailing club, some of us older than others, braved the thrilling quarter mile Zip Wire at Adrenalin Quarry on 9 May.  Although the spectacular view over the water from the top looked rather daunting, we all launched ourselves off the edge with no second thoughts, a few hunched up to increase speed!  A memorable descent (or two), followed by a picnic on the lakeside lawn in the sun, made for an entertaining afternoon.”Thanks to Linda Spiller for the photos.

Naming Ceremony for ‘Rob Eason’ club Bosun

An informal ceremony was held before the first race on Sunday 17th May, to mark the naming, by Ragna Eason, of one of the club Bosuns as the ‘Rob Eason’, in memory of a long-standing member and former Commodore of the club.  The boat, which had been bought shortly after Rob’s untimely death, had been heavily used by the club but has recently been off the water for some time awaiting repair.  The club was very fortunate to be awarded funding from the Langford Solar Farm Grant last autumn, which enabled the boat to be professionally refurbished by Sidford boatbuilder Kevin Gosling.  The boat looked extremely well turned-out at Sunday’s ceremony, at which Rob’s widow, Ragna, named the boat in the traditional manner by pouring a bottle of bubbly over the bow.  Ragna was accompanied at the ceremony by her friends Mona Ford and Ruth Savage; Mona had baked an excellent cake to accompany the drinks for those at the ceremony, with the cake’s icing appropriately decorated with a sailing dinghy motif.  Afterwards, Ragna, Mona and Ruth watched the progress of midday race, in which the ‘Rob Eason’ was being helmed and crewed by the team of Roger Heasman and Annie Quartermain; the Bosun looked very attractive on the water and, in Roger and Annie’s hands, sailed extremely well to end up in third place on handicap.  The dinghy will clearly be a major asset to the club and can now continue to be used in many areas, including club courses for novice sailors, cruising and the forthcoming Saturday Bosun race series for those new to dinghy racing.

Coastal Walk at Morwenstow: cliffs and more….

The brilliant Easter weather continued and gave us perfect sunshine with a cooling breeze for our coastal hike from Morwenstow on 18 April. After fuelling up with a generous lunch (and possibly inadvised tipple in some cases) at The Bush Inn, we split into 2 groups depending on estimated knee performance/ stamina levels.  All enjoyed the spectacular views, bright splashes of gorse and good company. There were (much more adventurous) cliff climbers to admire and a surprised adder to dodge. By the time we all returned to The Rectory Tearooms we felt we’d earned our cream teas and cake!

Thanks to Linda Spiller and Nicky Buckett for the pictures

Quiz Night At Kilkhampton

After a year’s gap, Nicky Buckett put together another of her Quiz Nights, held as usual at the Grenville Rooms, Kilkhampton.  As  in previous years, there was an excellent turnout for this event, with around 40 people filling the skittle alley to capacity.  Nicky had included some ‘pub quiz’ type questions and identifying pictures of buildings but during the course of the evening, contestants were faced with a wide range of challenges: identifying a range of brown powders taxed the taste buds, as did trying to work out what were the ingredients in a range of different fruit squashes.  Rear Commodore Linda Spiller contributed a question to the quiz that involved naming pictures of celebrities when they were children – and this caused considerable head-scratching, followed by cries of ‘Oh, of course…’ when the identities were revealed.  Probably the most difficult task, though, was constructing the longest bridge to take a toy car’s weight, using only 4 sheets of A4 paper and a short length of Sellotape – whilst the task of picking up Smarties using only a straw to put them back in the box produced lots of laughter.  The winning teams as usual were rewarded with some edible prizes, but this year in addition they also received hand-crafted glass keepsakes (with an appropriate nautical motif), made at home by Linda.  From feedback on the night and subsequently, this was clearly an evening that many club members really enjoyed – grateful thanks to Nicky Buckett and Linda Spiller for devising and organising it.

Many thanks to Nicky Buckett and Mandy Spiller for the photographs

Safety Boat Certificates for Club Members

Or, if the ‘Daily Mirror’ was doing the headline, it would be ‘Tamar Four Power to Success’!  Congratulations to Brian, Sue, John W and Toby for all successfully completing the two-day course over the weekend and being awarded their certificates.  Phil Timings ran the course, which by all accounts was very comprehensive, including practicals on rescuing canoes, kayaks and windsurfers, as well retrieving capsized sailing dinghies.  Fortunately, the weather was relatively benign for the time of year, with some sunshine on both days.  Thanks to all four club members for giving up their weekend to gain the qualification.

Many thanks to Mandy Pollard and Roger Heasman for the photographs.

Ten Pin Bowling at Harlequinns

A cheerful group of club members gathered at Harlequinns to help banish the January blues away with an Saturday evening game of ten-pin bowling.  Divided into four lanes, everyone entered into the spirit of gentle competition to compete for best group, best individual, best junior etc. The pressure was eased somewhat by having the bumpers up on each lane, so that the potential embarrassment of rolling consecutive gutter balls was lifted.  Many thanks to Linda Spiller for organising the evening, which all ran very smoothly – and to Mandy Pollard for taking the photographs, on which the lighting produced some fascinating effects.