Scotland - The best of the North

Friday 12th May.  Many of the crews of the TOG 2017 two week sailex in Scotland will be making their way north today, some part way to overnight in Scotland, some all the way to Dunstaffnage Marina, Oban, where they will overnight on a yacht before taking over Eloise and Highland Sealord.  A few will travel north by train.

The yachts were handed over Saturday afternoon and at 20:00 hours both were on course for Tobermory with the intention of pressing on to Stornoway.  All on board safe and well.

Sunday 14th May.  16:58 Both yachts safely tied up in Stornoway after a cracking sail across the Minch F4/7 a 142nm passage from Dunstaffnage overnight.  Alan reports that he is not sure what tomorrow will bring as forecast is for strong gale force winds.   No reports from Andy McWilliam just yet.

Monday 15th May. Heading for a safe haven before gale force winds go through.   Neil reports plan to set off from Stornoway for Cape Wrath and the Orkneys this afternoon.  Pic shows Eloise on the right with Highland Sealord in background on a finger pontoon.

The Orkneys beckon !     At 21:00 hours Alan reports that the yachts are now 3 hours from Cape Wrath on passage to Pierowall.  Mainly F5/7 SSE so able to make good progress with the third reef in.


Tuesday 16th May.  Neil reports great sunrise on route for Orkney.  At 14:45 hours both yachts are in Pierowall Orkney after a second O/N passage, this time 127nm from Stornaway.  The yachts are reported to be fine after instrument failure on Eloise - now sorted.  Steering on both yachts holding up (but then they are not on board a Beneteau Oceanis).    Your shore contact has just re-provisioned at Charnwood Brewery so stay safe tonight!  

Wednesday 17th May.  Neil reports that today will be a day of rest with the crews off to explore Westray.

Thursday 18th May.  Alan reports at 16:00 hours both yachts safely on moorings at Stromness marina.  Neil reported that a pod of four killer whales passed close by this morning but no one was quick enough with the camera.   A mini bus has been hired to tour the main island tomorrow (Friday 19th May). Photo left showing the brothers McWilliam taking lunch at Kirkwall, although your friendly UKIP representative appears to be following in the steps of his past leader and partaking of a liquid lunch.    Plan is now to leave Saturday morning for Wick, then depart Wick Sunday evening and O/N to Inverness arriving early Monday morning, for entry to the Caledonian Canal. and meet up with Graham Wassall.  

Friday 19th May.  The crew of both yachts enjoyed a mini bus tour of the main island today as the end of the first week approached.  Pic shows Ruth at the Ring of Brogdar.

Saturday 20th May.  The yachts will be setting off mid morning to pass islands within Scapa Flow to cross the Pentland Firth round Duncansby Head for Wick - home of Old Pilteney !   Stewart and Neil hope to introduce themselves as Maritime Heroes and maybe, just maybe, get a free drink.  Meanwhile the lead skipper takes a rest.

At 15:00 hours Alan reports that they have rounded Duncansby Head and are heading for Wick.  They should be in Wick within two hours.

At 17:15 Neil reports both yachts moored up in Wick Marina after a 40nm passage from Stromness leaving at 10:30  They sailed down Scapa Flow by the smaller islands - leaving Graemsay to the south, Cave to port, Fara to port, Flotta to port, and into the Pentland Forth leaving Switha to port. Tides were later and less than expected but the flood helped down to Duncansby Head avoiding the Pentland Skerries to the east.   Weather was fairly damp most of the trip with a F3/4 SE which enabled them to sail in poor viability.  Update at 18:22- just getting the G&T's planning to eat ashore tonight.

Sunday 21st May.  The crews had a relaxing night in Wick Marina and woke this morning to a bright and sunny day which contrasted with yesterdays wet and mist.  This morning saw the yachts festooned with wet weather gear and towels now drying out.  Neil reports that Wick is an interesting place, particular;y Telford's 19C Pulteney Town which is in some decay but with signs of restoration.   It is reported that Wetherspoon's was very lively last night with some sights! - no further details for the web!  Neil and Stewart were disappointed to find the distillery closed for the Sabbath.   The yachts will set of later this evening for an overnight passage to Inverness to arrive on the right tide.

Alan reports both yachts slipped their moorings from Wick at 16:35 and are now heading for Tarbat Ness and on to Inverness.   The yachts tracked down the NE coast on 210 degrees under sail for several hours in mainly a south east F2/4 in fine weather.  At 05:00 hours Neil caught sunrise and Highland Sealord (in the distance) on the Moray Firth.

 At 06:00 well down the Moray Firth near Fort George they were met by a pod of bottlenose dolphins which swam alongside for about ten minutes. 

Monday 22nd May.  Entered Inverness Firth, under the bridge, and entered Clachnaharry Sea Lock at 08:00 hours.   Graham Wassall joined the Sailex at this location. The yachts then progressed through a swing bridge and up a flight of locks, through the small Loch Dochfour and into Loch Ness.   The yachts motored down Loch Ness with the wind on the nose and later into heavy rain.    At 16:35 they moored up at Fort Augustus at the south west end of the Lock having completed a 24 hour passage.


 Alan sounds the bell at the High Point

Alan sounds the bell at the High Point

Tuesday 23rd May.   So Loch Ness now behind them and the long decent through the canal section, Lock Oich, and Loch Lochy down through the locks towards Fort William.  At 19:16 both yachts were moored up at Banavie, above Neptune's Staircase.      The plan being to get into Loch Linney tomorrow and catch the evening tide to anchor off Shuna Island.


 Sea Lock at corpach

Sea Lock at corpach

Wednesday 24th May.  This morning saw the crews up early to decend eight locks in quick succession, Neptune's Staircase.  At the bottom they had to wait for the road and rail swing bridges to open, the latter giving priority to a steam powered Harry Potter special!  Through a further two locks into the sea basin at Fort William, then in the sea lock both yachts rafted up to a large dutch barge.  The lock gates opened and they "escaped" the confines of the canal and out into Loch Linnhe - back on the west coast! (Neil sounds very relieved to be back at sea).   Highland Sealord released Robert McW for 90th birthday duties and drafted in Graham.    Both yachts then tacked down Loch Linnhe for a time then under engine to pick up buoys for the night in the anchorage east of Shuna Island.

 on mooring in shuna

on mooring in shuna

Thursday 25th May.  Highland Sealord left Shuna and put into Dunstaffnage to put skipper Andy McW ashore to pursue mother's birthday and electioneering. Highland Sealord then sailed off Mull before mooring up in Kerrera for the night.   Eloise sailed down the Firth of Lorne, NW up the Sound of Mull and into Lochaline for lunch.   The crews enjoyed blue skies, sun and F3/4 from the SW, the west coast at its best.   On extra low springs the depth gauge read ZERO for a cable or so but they did not touch bottom.!   Then back into the Sound on a rising tide  down SW to the island of Seil to a beautiful anchorage for the night.

 at anchor seil island

at anchor seil island

Friday 26th May.  After a night out in Oban Highland Sealord's crew blew away the cobwebs by sailing off Mull in the Firth of Lorne in glorious sunshine, then into Dunstaffnage for mid pm.  Eloise left Seil and sailed down to the Garvellochs in search of wild life.  Neil report they saw seals basking in the Skerries but that was all.   In a F4/5 Eloise touched 9 knots before they put in a reef.   Back up the Firth of Lorne running before the wind, under genoa alone, via Kerrera Sound passed Oban and into Dunstaffnage for 16:00 hours.  Cleaned the boats and into the marina restaurant for beers and a meal.  Approx 580 nautical miles.





 Eloise  final day

Eloise  final day


2016 Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Awards

This year three TOG members were nominated for an Old Pulteney Maritime Heroes Award.  The first stage of the awards has required the judging panel to select thirty semi-finalists and we are delighted to say that all three – Stewart Cook, Neil Macfarlane and Adrian Johnson were chosen.

They each received a Maritime Heroes Certificate and a bottle of 12 year Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch whisky in celebration of their achievement.

Caribbean Sailex 2016

The long awaited Caribbean Sailex to the Leeward Islands got off to a good start on Thursday 14th January.  Two Oceanis 48's were chartered with 7 on board each yacht.   Starting from MARIGOT, Saint Martin both yachts sailed south - beats the UK weather


Text received from Dave Clark aboard Dalton on Thursday 21st January 

Dalton had major instrument meltdown two days ago and all except the plotter died. Thierry 1 and Thierry 2 at Dream Yacht Charters have been on the case all day. Including going up a 30 metre mast... a bar stool, especially Neil Mckechan's dodgy ones, are high enough for me smile emoticon — at Jolly Harbour Marina.


Sunday 24th January.   Neil sent the following text saying that Joule had a problem

Joule's steering mechanism failed.  They were unable to steer properly with the emergency gear so we took them in tow.  However they began to take in water and the auto and hand bilg pumps appeared u/s.  Towing was very difficult and they began to sink despite bailing.  Adrian had sent a pan-pan so upped it to Mayday.  We went alongside and took off the ladies.   Keith and Adrian stayed on board, then the helicopter arrived and dropped two guys on board.   They could not do much so we took Keith and Adrian on board and we're now approaching Deshaies leaving Joule to her fate.  Both yachts have already shown major problems requiring DY technicians!  Joule's crew remarkably cheerful.    Neil

Dalton successfully transferred the crew of Joule to Guadeloupe for the night.  Monday 25th January Adrian made contact with Dream.    These are the pictures taken by Dave Clark of the attempted rescue and final moments of Joule.   Dream Yacht Charter later confirmed she had sunk.

 Guadeloupe coast guard dropped from helicopter

Guadeloupe coast guard dropped from helicopter

 Joule low in the water. CG on board with Keith Stedman and Adrian Johnson

Joule low in the water. CG on board with Keith Stedman and Adrian Johnson

 Guadeloupe CG on board trying to fix the problem

Guadeloupe CG on board trying to fix the problem

 Joule now very low in the water - time to leave.

Joule now very low in the water - time to leave.

Monday 25th January

Neil and his crew plan to press on to Martinique tomorrow morning.  Adrian and his crew will discuss their options with Dream Yacht Charter and hopefully join up with Neil and the crew of Dalton on Friday for  the last night supper.  Much to tell , we wish them all well.   We understand that the crew managed to recover most of their personal kit before Joule sank .

Tuesday 26th January.

Neil and his crew aboard Dalton have reviewed the worsening weather forecast and have made a decision to stay put in Basseterre until Thursday then complete two long hops to DY in Martinique.        Adrian called from the DY base in Guadeloupe saying that he and Keith have now completed their reports and will spend Tuesday and Wednesday exploring Guadeloupe.  They spent the first night in a hotel and are now based on a super CAT on the marina - bags of room and great sleeping with en-suite facilities.  On Thursday they will either fly or take the fast Sea CAT to Martinique.  Have Friday to explore then meet up with Dalton's crew friday evening for dinner.

Thursday 28th January

Neil's text arrived 21:30 hours today.  After two days in Basseterre, Guadeloupe to let high winds pass through, Dalton left at 06:30 bound for Dominica.  Passage between th islands was rather bumpy with high seas and a big squall gusting 35Kn approx.  In the lee of Dominica the seas subsided and we made good progress to Roseau at 14:00 hours.   Now on a mooring and cleared in/out by customs.   Neil

Adrian and the crew of Joule made a decision to tale the flight rather than the Fast CAT and arrived in Martinique before lunch.   Dream Yacht had  no suitable yacht free for the crew to use for a couple of days/nights so Adrian made a decision to check into a hotel for Thursday and Friday nights.  

 Joule picture from the web.

Joule picture from the web.

 Attempted recovery

Attempted recovery

Friday 29th January

At 5.00 pm Neil sent a text to say that Dalton was safely moored up in the Dream yacht base in Martinique, and they were having a beer after a long 68Nm trip from Dominica.   They all ate ashore in the evening. reports good.

Saturday 30th January

Hand over day for Neil and later all will make their way to the airport for the flight home which leaves Fort de France at 19:25 Caribbean time ( 23:25 UK time) scheduled to arrive Paris at 8:30 on Sunday morning.   The final leg with BA to London then onward by road to the respective homes.

Sunday 31st January

Air France flight from Martinique arrived Paris Orly at 9.09 this morning some 39 minutes later than scheduled.  Next leg BA Orly to London scheduled to depart 10.45 and arrive Heathrow and arrive London at 11:10 - Stats show arrival at 11:12.  Unfortunately more lost luggage but this time hoped for recovery.

Looking forward to the TOG annual Dinner / Disco two weeks today on Saturday 13th January at Quorn Grange, Leicestershire, to get first hand accounts.   Bookings for our Annual Dinner / Disco are now near if not already at maximum.  Any last minute interest must be directed to Andy McWilliam - see the Social Page.



Ian Calderwood – Old Pulteney Maritime Hero 2015

Each year Old Pulteney, the “maritime malt whisky”, invites nominations from sailing clubs for their “maritime heroes” in the categories: club service, sailing achievement and bravery.



This year the council of Trent Offshore Group nominated Ian Calderwood for his ten year record of editing and producing our journal TOGline. In 2005 Ian was "persuaded" to take over the editorship of TOGline - our quarterly newsletter in black and white with rather staid factual reports of our various sailing expeditions. Ian livened up the magazine very successfully - particularly with his witty editorial comment, his encouragement of a more interesting and lively sailing reports and full colour illustrations.

In ten years as editor he has never failed to produce a timely and entertaining edition and he has an excellent way of cajoling copy out of reluctant or reticent contributors. Ian is now one of thirty finalists for the award of Old Pulteney Maritime Hero and will receive a certificate and a bottle of 12 year aged Old Pulteney. He follows other TOG recipients in earlier years including John Bryant, Arthur Wood, Mark Davis and Keith Stedman.

Annual Awards Dinner and Dance

Members and guests attended a relaxed and informal Dinner and Dance at the Greetham Valley Golf Club on Saturday, 31st January 2015.

The event provides an opportunity to present the Annual Awards to those deserving souls whom Council believe to have earned them over the course of the year.  The following awards were announced and presented by the Presiding Master.


The ElLis Trophy

THE ELLIS TROPHY for the most promising newcomer goes to Jean Bevan who joined us in the Windward Isles January 2015 - not really knowing too much about the group or her fellow crew members. We hope that Jean will join us again soon on another trip, but unfortunately she cannot be with us this evening. Mary Bancroft accepted the Trophy on Jean’s behalf.

The Navigators Tankard

THE NAVIGATOR’S TANKARD goes to Neville Buckle who discovered the club through our website and joined the crew of Tres Jolie on the cross channel trip to the Baie de la Seine and then later, on the October Sailex in the Solent. Neville has all the makings of a stalwart TOG member




THE MILLENIUM TROPHY is awarded by TOGLINE editor’s choice in recognition of contributions to TOGLINE. It is awarded to Kevin Martin, who wrote an excellent report on the Scottish Sailex as skipper of Ruby Too.



The Commodore's Cup

THE COMMODORE’S CUP for long standing service to the club as enthusiastic crew member, unstintingly cheerful navigator and all round good egg goes to the editor of TOGLINE  himself, Ian Calderwood.



The Norman Allen Trophy

Finally, your council has agreed to award a new trophy in tribute to and in memory of, our first Presiding Master, Norman Allen. Appropriately, this is a fine tankard and it goes to a relatively new member - someone who has already made a considerable mark in the group through his enthusiasm, experience and expertise; and who, most recently as skipper of the successful Pembrokeshire cruise, drew much praise from his crew. Alan Mortimore is the first recipient of the Norman Allen Trophy.”


After a number of years, we have resurrected the PHOTOGRAPHY AWARD for the most impressive picture submitted, with its accompanying article, to TOGLINE.  This year it goes to Rowland Charge for his picture of sunset on Loch na Drum Buie during the Scottish Sailex.

 The Calm before the storm

The Calm before the storm

Photography Award

There is always a slideshow at the Annual Dinner, on this occasion arranged by Paul Ratcliffe, our membership Secretary, showing slides sent in at Paul’s request.  A presentation was made to the most prolific supplier of those slides - again a joint effort by Kevin and Linda Martin.