2015 London Boat Show

Good morning all.  Just a quick note about my visit to the London Boat Show yesterday.

It was definitely good to go to the show, if only to catch up with some ex-Sealine colleagues and some of my other industry friends and acquaintances but one thing that really struck me was how small the show is now.  I remember when the show moved from Earl’s Court to Excel.  That first year both of the halls were packed to the gunwales with all things boating and if memory serves, the south hall was almost entirely given over to motor boats – how different it is now, shame.

The industry powerhouses, Sunseeker and Princess dominated the show.  Sadly the Sealine stand looked a little forlorn, a shadow of our heyday but nevertheless, it was good that they were there at all. What did surprise me was the Fairline stand; running along the end wall, with some lovely boats on show but again, not a patch on previous years stands – gone are the days of Fort Fairline then…a sensible belt tightening exercise in these difficult times I suspect.

The busiest area was, of course, the usual array of chandlers, sea schools and paraphernalia stands. Squirreled away amongst all this lot, was one particularly pleasing find, Motorboat Owner.  Neale and Claire, who some of you will know from their MBM days have set up a digital magazine aimed squarely at motor boaters.  This new offering is designed to bring insight and comment for all practical aspects of running a motor boat.  What’s more, it appears to be absolutely free – how could you resist not signing up?

All in all a worthwhile visit and an enjoyable day out – if you have the chance to go, do.  The industry is for you, the boaters of this world and if you don’t support it you will lose the flexibility and choice that come from having a buoyant (excuse the pun) industry.  If you don’t believe me, consider the high street shops that we all used to use…

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.

Scilly Adventure

St Mary's harbour, IOS
St Mary’s harbour, IOS

Ever since I took the brand new Sealine F46 to the Isles of Scilly for a photo-shoot, I’ve had a hankering to go back.  These beautiful islands, just off the tip of Cornwall, are about 3 hours away from Falmouth if you get a favourable sea and you’re in a boat that can happily cruise at 20 knots.  Finally, a few years now since my first visit, the opportunity arose to go again.  So it was, that we set off from Guernsey, aboard a Sealine F42, on a fresh but not too lumpy Sunday morning, to make our initial passage to Falmouth.

Isn’t it disappointing when you look at a weather forecast and it says the wind is going to be light and the sun will shine all day but it doesn’t?  Well, that’s what we got.  By the time we arrived in Falmouth the wind had really freshened, the sun had been replaced by clouds and the rain was building up to lash down the moment we stepped ashore with the mooring lines.  Even worse, the near perfect conditions for the rest of the week had now become two days worth of lightish winds and F6 to F7 thereafter.  In fairness, the rain never arrived and the sun did come back out for a while but our plans to stay a couple of days in IOS (Isles of Scilly) had to be adapted.

The view across Falmouth harbour from Mylor
The view across Falmouth harbour from Mylor

The next morning, after a superb evening spent eating fine food and quaffing even finer ales in Castaways, we were up early, fuelled up and on our way.  As we nosed out of the harbour and moved up to speed, Falmouth coastguard gave a message out on the VHF, alerting everyone to the fact that there was some unexploded ordinance in an exclusion zone, which we had to keep away from and worse still, in my opinion, a large swathe of fishing net floating around, abandoned.  What joy!  Just what you don’t want to hear when your headed away from the Cornish coast in the general direction of America.  OK, so I’m exaggerating, the IOS were in between.

An hour from the Lizard and we swept past White Rock.  Actually, I’m exaggerating again.  It was a little lumpy, with a F3 to F4 on the nose and we were actually only making about 17 knots but it was comfortable at that speed and by the time we got to White Rock lighthouse we were over half way.

White Rock lighthouse, with Land's End in the background
White Rock lighthouse, with Land’s End in the background

There are absolutely loads of little bays and beaches amongst the IOS but other than picking up a mooring buoy in St Mary’s harbour, nowhere even comes close to being in a marina.  So, if it’s protection from the elements, somewhere to plug into, running water and the ability to walk ashore you are after, forget it.  This is a real adventure, for real adventurers and real adventures, so it turns out, involve getting a rib on and off a bathing platform that is going up and down like a whores drawers, spending the night rocking and rolling on a mooring buoy and waking up the next morning feeling like you’ve gone 3 rounds with Bruno!  Do you remember the comment about weather not turning out to be what was forecast?  Well, this, it seems, is what happened for the second time to us.  We were supposed to be protected from the wind, waves and swell by the harbour wall.  We’d laughed off the cautionary note about the harbour being awful in NW winds, on the basis that the forecast had it coming from the WSW.  How were we to know it was going to move around to the North during the night?  Do you know what was even more annoying? As we set off to return to Falmouth, the wind moved back around to the South!!

Calm before the storm - looking out from the mooring we took for our night in St Mary's
Calm before the storm – looking out from the mooring we took for our night in St Mary’s

In actual fact, when we first arrived it was quite calm, as you can see from the shot of the Lifeboat above.  We couldn’t wait to get ashore and as soon as the rib was off the back of the boat we wiggled our way through the moored boats and tied up in the dinghy park.  Walking around the streets of the ‘town’ felt like going back in time.  Everything was so ‘quaint’ and even ‘naive’.  I saw a sign attached to the harbour railings and simply had to take a picture of it.  Does anyone remember going around to friends for an exciting evening spent looking at holiday slides?


and this was a delightful moment captured, as someone walked up and leant their bike against the shop window…

Take no notice of the notice, it's only a notice!
Take no notice of the notice, it’s only a notice!

The following day we were up early again and soon on our way.  It wasn’t all that bad really and with the wind behind us we were whizzing along on our way back to Falmouth, the previous bumpy, sleepless night fast becoming a distant memory.  It seemed like no time at all before we were ‘tip-toeing’ our way through the minefield of fishing buoys which appear to have been purposely laid on the track of any vessel navigating from the Lizard to Falmouth.  Tied alongside in Mylor once again, we broke out the umbrellas and headed ashore for some lunch.

During the remainder of the day we relaxed and faffed about, as you do when you’ve got a little time to yourselves.  After all, this was supposed to be a holiday.  As most of you will have gathered by now, I’m a bit of a one for taking pictures, so I set to recording some shots of Mylor (one of my favourite stopping off spots) and the amazing calm we were experiencing.  Worryingly, this calm suggested that we were likely to be in for something quite different the next day and this was to be the day we were heading off on our next leg to Dartmouth…

Moored boats, outside Mylor
Moored boats, outside Mylor

Yes, I’ve got a bit of a Black & White thing going on at the moment.  I think it highlights the moody weather quite nicely, don’t you?

Wednesday morning turns up and the wind came with it.  Happily, the sun put in an appearance as well and this was our chance to prove the theory that lumpy, sunny days are easier to deal with than less lumpy miserable days.  One crew member disappeared off to catch a flight and Philip and I were left in charge of getting the boat to Dartmouth.  Having refuelled the boat and having had a hearty breakfast ourselves, we nosed out of Falmouth for a second time and headed East for Dartmouth.  It appeared that the abandoned fishing net was no longer a threat and the unexploded ordinance had been exploded, so our only concern was the frisky F6.  On the basis that it was going to be from the North and therefore coming off the land, we anticipated hugging the coast and ducking into Plymouth if we felt it was too bad.  However, once we got going, the ride was quite comfy and the biggest difficulty turned out to be climbing up the back of the larger rollers. You know, it did feel better with the sun out!

Eddystone Rocks lighthouse
Eddystone Rocks lighthouse

A bit bumpy around Start Point but then Dartmouth soon came into view and what a lovely sight it was.  I do like Dartmouth: so much history and so picturesque.  This really is a wonderful place to keep a boat.

Entering the Dart
Entering the Dart

We chose to go for Dart Marina, on the basis that the wind had some North in it and this would give us a flatter night on the berth but you know the way our luck has been running? The wind howled down the river, funnelled by the high sides to the river valley and as we approached the mooring someone turned the ‘full blast’ switch on.  Good job we had IPS that’s all I can say at this point.  Scarcely believable but true nevertheless, the moment we tied the lines to the dock the sun came out and the wind turned into a whisper.  If I hadn’t been there myself I wouldn’t have believed it.


We had a lovely fish dinner that evening, in a place right on the front called Rockfish.  Give it a try, I can recommend it.  Strolling back I was moved to take this shot of a rather calm and serene River Dart – simply beautiful.

Calm evening on the Dart
Calm evening on the Dart

The next morning we left the boat, caught the ferry across the river and made for the train station – our Scilly Adventure complete, we now have to figure out where we’re going next.

Our ferry awaits
Our ferry awaits

Keep your eye on those dodgy weather forecasts shipmates,

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.


The Grand East Coast Tour

Well here it is folks – the one you’ve all been waiting for, I hope…

This is the closest I’ve ever got to being a fully paid up member of the explorers club!  I know that for some this adventure is just another average summer trip but for me it is the longest journey I have ever made by water and the memories of this journey will live with me forever.  In fact, if I had any grandchildren, I would definitely sit them on my knee and tell them all about it, again and again and again!

This journey epitomises what having a boat and going exploring is all about – do it now, is my advice!

I’m going to serialise the adventure, as it’s too long to put up in one hit, so keep popping back to make sure you get the latest instalment as it’s posted.


© Richard Corbett 2012

‘1000 miles’ that’s what I was told.  Take the F48 from Norwalk in Connecticut down to Fort Lauderdale in Florida, it shouldn’t take long, 5 days maybe…

In the end it took a little longer than that and it was a few more miles too.

Much planning and preparation later, the day finally came to set off.  It was a little bit of an anti-climax actually.  There was only Neil left to see us off and we nearly took him with us. I thought he was off the boat as I pulled away from the dock we’d occupied during the Norwalk boat show but after much shouting and gesturing I realised we had a stowaway! Once I was certain he had left the boat we motored out of the mooring and waved goodbye.

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to start our epic journey.  The sun was shining, there was a light breeze on the nose and as Long Island Sound is fairly well sheltered from the west the waves were hardly noticeable.

New York City was our destination, as we had a journalist with us, who was trying the boat for an article he was writing about cruising.  The trip to New York City would be the perfect opportunity to get all the experience he needed.  There was just one small hitch… The UN Assembly was in town and our ‘best laid plans’ had to be changed to plan B.  The East River was closed and we had no choice but to pull up short and wait for the next day to pass through the city.  A stuttering start if ever there was one – hopefully, not an omen of things to come!

The World’s Fair Marina in Queens found us a berth for the night and we bade farewell to our journalist friend.  He was quite sanguine about being dropped off short of his intended departure point but I did feel sorry for him as I knew the trip down the East River was going to be spectacular –  if only those folk from the UN knew how they’d inconvenienced us, I’m sure they’d be suitably contrite…

Well, here it is; the view that greeted us as we made our very early way down the river the next morning.

© Richard Corbett 2012

Chris, also a skipper, although in the States they would call him a captain, was on the VHF checking with the USCG (United States Coast Guard) that the closure was no longer in force and we could, in fact, transit the river.  Whilst he was doing that, I was up top clicking away for all I was worth on my camera.

Sadly, we had to go down the east side of Roosevelt Island, as the police were still preventing people from getting too close to where the UN Assembly was being held.  Mind you, it did prevent my camera from almost catching fire!

Even so, I managed to snap a few shots of the sun’s early rays painting the Manhattan skyline.

© Richard Corbett 2012

And the odd iconic piece of advertising too

© Richard Corbett 2012

But this shot of the ESB really took the biscuit for me

© Richard Corbett 2012

The next shot I wanted was of the Statue of Liberty as we left the city and from this angle, which could only have been taken from on the water, this special landmark looked spectacular…

© Richard Corbett 2012

Then finally, after all the picture taking we picked up speed, headed out into the channel and set our sights on Ocean City in Maryland for our first overnight stop.

One last look over our shoulders, one last shot and we were off…

© Richard Corbett 2012

At the end of the channel, waiting for us, was the Atlantic Ocean.  From where we were sitting it looked fairly flat but as we got closer it soon became apparent that the rest of the day’s journey was going to be less spectacular and more bouncy…

Keep an eye out for the next instalment, when we work our way down the New Jersey coast and end up having to go inland!

Grand East Coast Tour Part II

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.

Sealine’s in the Mist

© Richard Corbett 2012

“Grab some food and something to drink, we’re off to Jersey!”

This is what I said to Tim when I called to tell him he was going to be crewing for me.  I had a handover to do on an SC35 at the weekend and the weather window to get the boat there from Southampton had just opened up.

As it turned out, this was exactly the right decision – the water was a little lumpy when we went through the Needles Channel but by the time we’d got to the shipping lanes it was flattening and the Alderney Gap was like glass.  In the end it took us precisely 5 hours to get the boat from the Hamble to St. Hellier harbour.

This must sound like a perfect start to glorious few days in the Channel Islands.  Well in some respects it was; excellent run across, wall to wall blue skies forecast and the prospect of some fabulous boating.  The ‘downer’ came in the shape of a fender line attached to the tender which, it turned out, was dangling in the water.  Thinking back, it must have been the first time I’d been in astern since leaving the Hamble River.  Yes, you guessed it, the rope got caught around the port props.

Fortunately, mooring an SC35 with only one engine working isn’t too much of a drama, even if the mooring was really tight at only 36 feet long!  Once we were tied up it only took a quick look over the back to see where the rope had gone and to decide on a plan to get it off.

The moral of the story – check for dangling rope.  I guess I should have known better and as much as I’d like to blame the rush to get across the Channel in time to get over the marina sill and the fact that the rope was only visible if you stood and looked at the boat directly from behind, I cannot.  As skipper you must check and re-check, especially when your trip takes you so far from land.

Anyway, enough self-recrimination, let’s get on with the story.  The handover was a riot from beginning to end.  To illustrate this I’ll just mention that we ended up toasting the arrival of the new boat with a round of bacon rolls!

© Richard Corbett 2012

I told you it was a tight fit!

Finally, having opened every locker, pressed every button, switched every switch and taken copious notes the handover was complete.  Well, actually, we still had to go out for a sea trial and once we’d had a bite to eat this is exactly what we did.  Everyone had a go on the controls as we went around and around like possessed madmen (and women, although I’m certain I’ve been told women are always fully in control).  We had to try her at full speed of course and somebody called Mandy had to go one step further and try ‘stop to stop’ turns at full speed too!!  In truth, it was at my bidding, as I wanted everyone to see what the boat was capable of.  I know it will never happen again but it does boost your confidence to find out that you will ‘give up’ long before your boat does and if you get caught out in bad weather, your elegant, stylish Sealine SC35 will also get you safely back to harbour.

The next day we mooched around the marina as we learnt how to control ‘Calma’ at close quarters.  Incidentally, the name ‘Calma’ is derived from Karma as in peace and well-being, coupled with calm as in not out at sea in rough conditions – clever, isn’t it?

By the time we’d finished for lunch we were getting pretty competent and the neighbouring boats were getting pretty fed up – the admiring glances and rounds of applause had changed to piercing looks and under the breath mutterings.

So over lunch we hatched a plan to go on an adventure the next day.  This meant that Nick and I would spend some time learning about the chart-plotter and the others would go and buy all sorts of scrummy things for the picnic.

Eventually, the planning was done the picnic was stowed and we sat ourselves down to relax and enjoy and evening on the boat.  This is one aspect of boating that all folk enjoy, irrespective of how good your sea-legs are, sitting on the back of a boat, sipping a chilled drink and discussing the day is an exquisite pleasure and one I would heartily recommend everyone to enjoy if the opportunity arises.




When I awoke the following morning and peered at the curtains I realised that even though my clock said 06:30 (lie in) it was still dark outside.  This didn’t bode well for our fabulous adventure and less still for the BBQ on the beach, which the picnic had now become.  When I looked out, the island was shrouded in mist – this was destined to become more significant than it seems right now.

Not to be daunted, I was soon breakfasted and on my way to the boat.  In my experience as Sea School Principal, with a whole host of theory courses under my belt and hours spent teaching Meteorology, I was certain the mist would burn off.  After all, we were in the ‘sunny’ Channel Islands, it was August and we were going to anchor off a beach at the top of the island and have a BBQ on the beach – mist was definitely not allowed.

It all became quite ominous when we received a call from one of Lucy’s friends asking if we could run her to Guernsey as the flights out of Jersey were cancelled.  “Cancelled!”, I blurted out.  “You do know I have to fly back tonight?”

© Richard Corbett 2012

During our lunch on the boat – the beach was looking a little forlorn by now – we checked on the fast ferry back to Poole and the status of flights leaving Jersey and the mist rolling off the top of the hillside above us and realised that all looked to be lost.  Normally, it wouldn’t matter too much but I had another handover to complete and this was due to commence at 9am the following morning.

Suddenly, we noticed blue sky appearing above our heads and all was well with the world again.  The lunch on the boat turned out to be great fun, especially the bananas cooked in Baileys!  Soon, it was time to head back and with the anchor stowed we headed back to the marina.

Now, if ever you are in Jersey and you get a chance to look at the entrance to the Queen Elizabeth Marina just as the sill drops, do.  You might consider getting a chair and a drink and perhaps even something to eat, as there are hours of fun and amazement to be had watching the boats coming screaming through at upwards of 7 or 8 knots – some even manage to turn around unscathed!!

I made my farewells and left for the airport, all the time watching the disconcerting sight of a fog bank sitting close to the western shoreline of the island.  It seemed quite menacing, I guess as a boater the significance of being enveloped in fog is so much greater than when you are in a car.  Even though the sun was shining brightly, that blessed fog was just hanging there, threateningly.  By the time I checked in, I had forgotten about the fog and was readying myself for the flight back.

At 11pm, 3 hours later, I walked back out of Jersey Airport and into a taxi as the flights had been cancelled…

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.

Offshore in the Channel Islands

Offshore, in the Channel Islands

As we zigzagged and rattled our way down the runway at Southampton I looked around at my fellow passengers and wondered if they were feeling the same sense of apprehension I was.  There were only 10 of us on the flight and that meant we were almost at capacity.  The curtain into the cockpit was held aside, so I had an excellent view of what was happening up front; finally I stopped panicking and instead I started wondering how different navigating through the air is to finding your way around on the sea.

Guernsey was wet and windy and as we walked across to the terminal it occurred to me that our first day of training, tomorrow, was going to be a little exciting.  Thankfully, the forecast from earlier in the week had changed somewhat, as it usually does, and the 30 knot winds had been replaced by much less worrying 16 knot winds.  Nevertheless, it was still going to make us think about how we approached our close quarters work.

After lots of cheery ‘hellos’ and swift, manly hugs, we headed off to the boat to dump my stuff and then on to dinner.  There are hosts of lovely restaurants surrounding the harbours in Guernsey. If you ever choose to cross the Channel, and I would heartily recommend you do, this island is definitely worth a visit. For all sorts of reasons of course but mostly, in my opinion, for the food.  The fish dishes are magnificent and the French influence is plain to see.

It wasn’t long before we had convinced ourselves that the wind, being from the North, wouldn’t be that bad after all and as long as we made sure we set off when the tide and wind were going in the same direction, we would be fine – besides which, the forecast for the following day was zero wind and cloudless skies, so getting back from St Malo would be a breeze…

The next morning the wind had changed direction and was now going to be completely in the wrong direction.  ‘Wind over tide, lunch over the side’, one of my students said to me once. It was definitely going to be lumpy out there and St Malo had become a non-starter.  So, plan B came into effect and as soon as we’d had breakfast and completed all our checks we set off for a bumpy ride around Herm.

Drawing on some expert local knowledge – Ross has been navigating around these islands ever since he was a young lad – we wove our way through some narrow channels, with some ever so jagged looking rocks sticking up on either side of us.

Actually, the channels were really well marked and once we’d made it through it wasn’t such a drama after all.

Out of the wind it was a superb day.  There were barely any clouds in the sky and in places it was quite calm.  So we decided to head for a sheltered bay to anchor off for a spot of lunch – on the east coast of Guernsey, just below St Peter Port, is a lovely spot called Fermain Bay.

There were plenty of transits to line up on but the wind was so light in the bay, as it was supremely sheltered from the North Westerly wind, that we needn’t have worried about the anchor dragging.  We were soon anchored up and munching our way through a light lunch; must save space for dinner!  Incidentally, if you do find yourself in a situation whereby you’ve set the anchor but it then starts to drag, before you go about pulling it up and starting again, try letting another ten metres of chain out.  Also remember, never anchor on a ‘Lee shore’.  This is a shore which the wind is blowing on to.  Clearly, letting out more anchor chain in a situation such as that would just put you closer to the shore and you would run the risk of grounding on the shoreline.

After lunch we headed back to the marina.  Being a very tidal area and the marina having a sill, we needed to get back into the marina before the tide level dropped too low.  Once inside I thought it would be a good opportunity to practice some close quarters work.  We created quite a stir, not only the mud at the bottom of the marina but also from some bemused onlookers, who’d obviously never seen a 42 foot, fly-bridge motor cruiser going sideways down a channel before – we meant to do that!

Finally, we moored alongside the berth and set about planning our next great adventure.  Two mugs of very welcome tea later, it had been decided that we should go to France for lunch – our destination was to be Dielette.

The next morning it was completely calm and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

Ross and I got up early to move the boat out of the marina before the tide dropped too far and put her on the waiting pontoon in the other harbour.  Once we had all showered and dressed we set about getting the tender off the back so that we could go ashore and get some… breakfast!

As soon as we were back on the boat we fired up the engines, let go of the lines and headed out to sea.  The plan was to head across to Sark and have a nosey round the island whilst we waited for the tide to come back up – heading into Dielette at low water can be a little exciting as it gets quite shallow…

Sark is gorgeous from the water, it must be even better on land.  Did you know that there are no cars on Sark, just horses, carts and a couple of tractors?

Look at the tide flowing through channel in front of the lighthouse in the shot below.

This next picture shows the harbour in the middle of the shot, with the road winding its way up the hill – an energetic walk or a ride on the tractor drawn trailer; you decide!

An hour and a half of perfectly flat sea later, Dielette harbour appeared in front of us and we headed in.  I made certain we had all the relevant documents on board, as a good sea school captain should do, especially since I have been asked for every bit of paperwork imaginable on previous occasions but the harbour master was kindness exemplified! Not only did he waive the mooring charge – we were only staying for lunch – but he telephoned a local restaurant and booked us in.  What a nice fellow.  Even better, the lady who owned the restaurant looked after us personally and sang a delightful song under her breath as she served us.  I’m certain it was delightful, even though my French is a little sparse, as she wore a lovely smile the whole time.

Go to Dielette, it’s a brilliant place!

Full from a sunny lunch in France, we jumped aboard and whizzed back to Guernsey.

As we made our way back to the marina I reflected on the last couple of days.

This is truly a magnificent way for friends and family to spend time relaxing together.  A spell of nice weather, an open sea, and a passage plan make up the ingredients for a smashing day out.

Keep a look out for my next big adventure which will be from Lake Windermere in Cumbria – by for now shipmates!

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventure.