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12-3 Oppie dinghies

 August 2013:  Four Men and a Boat

(or Meals across the Channel - a greatly shortened version)

On Thursday 15th August, four members of the Horsley U3A Boating and Sailing group (Peter Tallon, Rod Newman, David Davis, and Ian Eversden) set out from Portsmouth in a 36’ cruising yacht ‘Lady Veronica’ for a week on the high seas. Calling first at Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight to meet friends; exchange stories, sup a number of bottles of wine, with a pub supper after wards on shore at the Bugle.

Early Friday morning, catching the west going tide past the Needles, Lady Veronica set sail across the English Channel. It was a tough crossing; the south westerly wind gusting up to 35 knots at times with a one to two metre sea swell. We finally arrived in Cherbourg at 20.00 hrs having avoided a few tankers and container ships. A late supper at L’Equipage was followed by a welcome night’s sleep on board.

After a leisurely breakfast on Saturday and a quick visit to the shops for supplies, we set sail for Alderney. We enjoyed some excellent sailing before hitching ourselves to a buoy in Braye Harbour. We pumped up the dinghy, attached the outboard and headed for land. A walk to the highest point on the island and a tour of various war relics brought us back to the harbour. We showered and enjoyed some tasty fish and chips back on board, laced of course with some excellent wine.

Sunday we set sail for Guernsey. Using the tides to the full, we arrived in St Peter Port at 15.00 hrs in bright sunshine. Thanks to the stitching skills of Peter & Rod, we were able to effect some essential repairs to the genoa before making for the shore in the dinghy. Tea on a balcony overlooking the harbour was particularly enjoyable and followed by dinner at an excellent hotel.


The crew at ease in St Peter Port

Monday. Hooray, the shops are open again, but before revitalling at Marks and Spencer’s, we had coffee in the local yacht club. A quick visit to the chandlery; lunch on the quay then setting sail for a second visit to Cherbourg. With light winds and a strong north going tide we made good progress towards Cap de la Hague and we decided to sail on northwards through the night, missing Cherbourg completely. With the help of radar we were able to track and avoid all vessels. Rod managed to provide us with a sumptuous evening meal of chicken in a mushroom sauce with vegetables. What a treat! By 04.00 on Tuesday morning we had anchored in Swanage Bay.

We weighed anchor soon after breakfast and sailed gently along the Dorset coast past the Old Harry Rocks. Avoiding the Bramble Bank we continued to sail up Southampton Water, reaching Hythe marina at 19.00, with an excellent meal at La Vista, an Italian restaurant in the marina.


Moored up in East Cowes Marina

Leaving Hythe at 10.00 hrs Wednesday we first motored further up towards Ocean Village to see the SS Shieldhall and the old Calshot lightship. Having plenty of supplies to eat up we headed for Newtown Creek, the National Trust inlet on the Isle of Wight. Easing our way out of the shallow water we headed back on the rising tide to finally moor at East Cowes for the evening with supper at the Lifeboat. Our final journey on Thursday 23rd August was back to Haslar marinas at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour in time for a final lunch.

26th July 2013: Dinghy Sailing at Cobnor

Recollections of a day out with members of the Horsley U3A Boating and Sailing Group.

(Celia Chapman, Sue Mills, David Davis, Pip Davis, Mike Brown, Tony Millership, John Harryman, Trevor Wykes, Ian Eversden, Bob Spackman, and Iris Watts - the latter not sailing, but staying at Cobnor).

We set out from Horsley at about 9.30 hrs on Friday, 26th July, heading for Bosham Sailing Club at Cobnor, where three of the group’s members keep their boats. It is a delightful spot on the edge of one of the many inlets that comprise Chichester Harbour.

Two Mirror dinghies and a Woodnut 14 were already down at the Club, but the Albacore recently refurbished by Bob Spackman, was being towed down to the club for the day so we spent a little time preparing her for the water. By 11.30 we had donned our buoyancy aids and were on our way, heading south from Cobnor Point and then east towards Birdham and Dell Quay. The Mirrors set off first but were soon caught by the bigger dinghies with their larger sail area. There was a light westerly breeze so we had a broad reach up to the southerly mark and then a following wind down the Itchenor Reach. Our progress was helped by a steady 2 knot incoming tide. We soon reached Birdham Pool and passing Chichester marina to starboard we had Dell Quay in our sights. It was a delight to see a long line of 20 or more swans making their way slowly up the inlet. For those who knew the waters well, mooring up for lunch at the Crown and Anchor would not be a problem. For others however the apparent absence of any mooring pontoon proved a challenge. John Harryman our expert helmsman, Sue Mills and I, were carried past the public house and found ourselves having to tack back against the tide to get to our destination. It was lucky that the breeze was just sufficient to counter the slackening tide.

The Crown & Anchor is a delightful water side pub serving excellent food. We headed straight to the bar for some refreshment and on the tables outside we managed to discretely consume our picnics.

Knowing that some members needed to get back for evening events at home, we did not tarry long. Using their outboard, David Davis and Pip kindly towed Celia and Tony back to Cobnor while the two larger vessels were keen to tack back against an increasingly slack tide. We had considerable fun ensuring that we overtook the brown sails of a Cornish Crabber and stayed well ahead of the Albacore.

The weather was kind throughout, and the light breeze suited the gentle sailing we enjoyed. On arrival back at Cobnor we brought the boats ashore, Bob lowered the mast on his Albacore and prepared the boat for its journey home, while Pip (and later Bob) kindly made tea and coffee for all those in need. Tony and John departed early but most of us stayed on to enjoy watching dogs playing on the shore, youngsters on a sailing course at the nearby Activities Centre and a couple loading their tender before disappearing into the distance, heading we presumed for a larger vessel somewhere.

At around 19.00hrs we headed off to the Bosham Inn for supper. Iris headed off for an overnight stay at the Caravan Club site on the Cobnor Estate while the majority of members headed off home to Horsley after an excellent days sailing in very pleasant company. We all called for the opportunity to do it again sometime this season.   Our thanks got to Celia Chapman, David and Pip Davis, and Bob Spackman for organising the event and allowing us to use their boats.

Cobnor House

Cobnor House is thought to have been built early in the 19th century.  It has been owned by the Beale family, along with Cobnor Estate, since just after the First World War.

The philosophy of the Beales through the generations has been to maintain Cobnor’s conservation value to the highest possible standard while at the same time providing access for other people to enjoy its beauty as part of the Harbour environment.


sailing 26July2013 

saling2 26July2013

Canoeing with Sue and David Reeve on Friday, 10th August 2012


On a beautiful sunny day Clive and Denise Smee, Ian Eversden, Celia Chapman & David and Sue Reeve, went paddling along the Wey Navigation. We started out from Horsley heading for the Scouting Centre in Godalming, but almost as soon as we had started, our car came to a surprising halt on the A246 just outside Clandon. Luckily, the fault cleared itself almost immediately and we arrived at Godalming Wharf at about 11.45.




We donned our buoyancy jackets, and launched the two-seater canoes. Soon, we got the hang of paddling in a relatively straight line, but canoeing is not as easy as it looks. The two paddlers have to balance their efforts in order to keep a straight course. We practiced steering and turning using different paddling techniques and we put our training to the test by carving a tortuous figure of eight course through the arches of a convenient bridge. All credit goes to Sue and David for being so patient with us oldies.





Heading downstream towards Guildford, we made good progress passing through some glorious countryside. At Catteshall lock we had to moor up, get back onto land and carry our canoes across the busy Catteshall Road before re-launching and heading further upstream towards our designated picnic site


A picnic lunch had been prepared in advance by Sue. Sitting on the upturned canoes we filled our rolls with salad, cheese, and chutney, and enjoyed excellent cups of tea prepared using a Kelly kettle, a gadget that most of us had never heard of let alone seen working.




There was also some lively discussion on a variety of U3A matters including strategy, leadership, why hens lay eggs, and suggestions for guest speakers.




Back in the boats and up stream to the next bridge before turning back upstream against the very gentle flow of the water that will eventually end up in the Thames.   Back across the road at Catteshall and past our starting point. We saw a horse drawn narrow boat in action. Under the main road in Godalming and further upstream towards the limit of navigation along the Wey canal, before turning back for home.

We moored up gathered our bags and stored the boats back in their shed before heading off home


This however was not the end of the story. Our adventures were not over. At the junction of the A248 and the A281 to Guildford our engine stopped again. This time it could not be started. The emergency rescue services were called and arrived within the hour predicted; just time to consume some chocolate coated ice creams courtesy of the Smees.

Thereafter our journey home was relatively uneventful. It was the end of a very enjoyable outing for which our thanks go to both David and Sue Reeve.


Further Notes

The Wey was one of the first British rivers to be made navigable, and opened to barge traffic in 1653. This 15-mile waterway linked Guildford to Weybridge on the Thames, and then to London. Godalming Navigation, opened in 1764, enabled barges to work a further four miles upriver. For further reading visit:

For notes on the Wey Arun canal development project see:


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Report by David Hartland; Solent Sailing on 24 -26 July 2012


For once the Solent could have been the Med. No oily for the rain , compulsory shorts to get a tan & keep away the heat. Hat to keep away the sun, shades for the Med brightness.

Courtesy of Ian & Lady Veronica (a centre cockpit yacht of truly aristocratic pedigree), we sampled light breezes & high temperatures not to mention a great deal of banter coupled with good humour to tour Osborne Bay IoW for lunch ( Queen Victoria would have been proud of us) before taking a well earned supper @ Folly Inn on the Medina ( the Folly Inn is well liked by all yotties for its excellent beer & food). We had an extended boat playing session because shortly after mooring we had to swap places with another overnighter. We were due to return to base after sunset with the fair tide & no wind.

On the morrow, with a little more wind we visited Sea View for anchor & lunch followed by an intricate , nay intrepid wriggle into Bembridge because the tide was high enough to allow us to do it safely with the aid of careful reading of the echo-sounder.

That accounts for 2 of the 3 of the great days. Many thanks to Ian for his fine judgement in allowing us to use his yacht for a Solent jaunt & to David for organising his Motley Members.

(Ian, David, Rod,Mike, Peter, David: Don't forget the gorilla!)


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.... and also Ian Eversden's exhaustive report on the same activities ....


On three days at the end of July, members of Horsley U3A had the opportunity to partake in some sailing in the Solent. The jet stream had moved north and the rain had stopped, so all looked fair for three days of gentle summer weather. The yacht, “Lady Veronica”, is a 1999 Beneteau Oceanis 36CC, the 36 indicating that it's length is 36' and the CC indicating that she is a centre cockpit boat. She is owned by one of the members of the group. Those taking part were David Davis, Iris Watts, Rod Newman, Peter Tallon, David Hartland, Brian Hayes, Mike Brown and Ian Eversden (skipper).

On Tuesday, although Ian and Rod had arrived early to purchase essential supplies, Iris, Brian and Peter were soon on board keen to set sail for the wide open sea. Having familiarised ourselves with various handling procedures on board, we motored out of Haslar marina at 11.00 hrs and headed out to sea towards the three Napoleonic forts* that are a prominent feature of the eastern Solent. The sun was shining, there was a gentle southerly breeze, and the sea was calm. With quite a strong east going tide, the obvious course was to head for Chichester harbour. Having safely crossed the main shipping channel at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour we set a course that took us through the ‘Dolphin’ and headed east towards Chichester Harbour. The waters off the entrance to Langstone harbour are notoriously shallow, and care had to be taken to prevent going aground. We were soon at East Pole which marks the entrance to Chichester channel and managed to sail around the Winner buoys to our planned anchorage off East Head.

Rod prepared some filled rolls for those who had not brought sandwiches and we quaffed several glasses of excellent cooled white wine from a wine box. We then settled down for a little light discussion which managed to range widely from the Higgs boson to politics to religion and back again. By 14.30 it was time to consider our return journey. We successfully rose to the challenge of sailing away from our anchorage without engine assistance and tacked our way back up the entrance to the Chichester channel against a persistent incoming tide. Eventually we succeeded and headed south until it was possible to sail back past East Pole towards Spitbank fort. Rounding the fort we negotiated our way past the channel ferries, container ships and naval vessels and managed to moor safely back on pontoon D36 in the marina.   The evening was rounded off by a meal in a restaurant in the Royal Clarence marina. We were joined by Mike, who was staying locally, and David D while Iris, Peter and Brian had plans for the following day so we bad them farewell and settled down to a well deserved nights rest on board.

Wednesday saw the arrival of David H and the return of Mike. There was very little wind and the temperature looked set for the mid twenties Centigrade. Although faced with a strong east-going tide we attempted to sail towards Ryde, then tacked across the eastern Solent to Gilkicker point but it was clear that we would never make Osborne bay for lunch unless we used the engine. To help shelter us from the intense sun we fitted a bimini which provided some welcome shade. By 13.00 we had safely anchored in sight of Osborne House and set about preparing lunch. Again Rod treated us to filled rolls while others eat their sandwiches, and we finished off the white wine.

Then, in a fit of utter madness, Rod stripped to the waist and took the plunge off the bathing platform at the aft end of the boat. Not to be outdone, Ian also took to the water and eventually, resplendent in his underpants, Mike Brown joined the crazy gang in the water. All agreed that the experience was stimulating. We weighed anchor and motored towards Cowes with the intention of returning leisurely to Haslar before 17.00. However, our plans then changed. We motored gently up the Medina river and moored against another vessel on the Folly Inn pontoon.   Staying too long would have made it difficult to make our way back up the Medina on a falling tide so we had an early supper. It was a beautiful sunny evening with plenty to watch and good food to enjoy. There were no complaints! As we made our way back to Portsmouth we were treated to the view of the sun setting over the Fawley tower at the mouth of Southampton Water before mooring up safely in Haslar marina. It had been another delightful day. Four of us spent a restful night on board after a comforting nightcap.

On Thursday, after breakfast, Peter returned and Mike joined us again from his digs. It was another bright sunny day, slightly cooler and thankfully there was a light breeze. We fuelled up at Gosport marina, and headed south past the forts intending to visit Nab Tower, and Sandown Bay. In the event, although the winds were sufficient for us to enjoy some pleasant sailing, we decided instead to head for an anchorage off the Isle of Wight beach at Seaview. No swimming this lunchtime but a sumptuous scrambled egg salad prepared by the ever resourceful Rod. A bottle of Rose fitted the occasion perfectly.

Ian then encouraged us to see if we could navigate our way into one of the more challenging river estuaries on the Island, leading to Bembridge Harbour. There is a very shallow narrow entrance which for craft drawing 1.5m, can only be safely entered 2hrs either side of high water. On occasions the depth alarm warned of zero water depth but we made it safely in and out before setting course for Portsmouth Harbour, back past the forts avoiding the main shipping channels. David H again skilfully led us back through the small boat channel at the Harbour entrance and back into our mooring in Haslar. Back on land again at 16.45hrs, bags were packed and we bid each other safe journeys home. It had been three days of excellent company, some stimulating conversations and some very pleasant sailing. Those not having sailed before had learned the necessary skills and everyone had enjoyed themselves. We all look forward to another opportunity to go sailing, perhaps further afield next time.


* Portsmouth's Sea Forts consist of Spitbank fort, St Helens fort, Horse Sand fort and No Mans Land fort. Spitbank fort was designed to provide a defence for Portsmouth Harbour from French Invaders. Work began on Spitbank in 1861 and in June 1878 the fort was completed. It was intended to mount 15 guns looking seaward, and six facing landward. The construction of the fort had cost £117,964. In 1871 the Defence Committee recommended that the fort be rearmed with more powerful guns. Nine, 12.5-inch, 38-ton guns were installed on the seaward face and seven 7-inch 7-ton guns on the landward side. In 1882, Spitbank fort was supplied with auxiliary armament in the form of 15 machine guns. In 1899, the role of the fort was changed to counter light craft instead of heavy warships. Two 4.7-inch guns were fitted on the roof and searchlights were added. By 1909 the area between Horse Sands fort and the coast at Southsea was protected by a line of concrete blocks, which can still be seen today at low tide. The Dolphin marks the gap in this so called ‘submarine barrier’. A similar line was also constructed between St Helens fort and the Isle of Wight. These lines ensured that all shipping must pass between these two forts. In 1956, the Coast defence programme was disbanded and the searchlights and generators removed from Spitbank fort the following year. The forts never came under attack and in 1952 Spitbank fort was sold to a private buyer - see

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