Are you a Northern sailor, or a Southern one?

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Telo
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Are you a Northern sailor, or a Southern one?

Postby Telo » Tue Mar 18, 2008 2:02 pm

I liked the article by Libby Purves in the March YM, in which she considers the prospects for marital breakdown as the the consequence of disagreements over sailing issues (deep keel, or shoal draft, for example).

She also considers the North/South divide and comments that Northward Man is "in thrall to the bleak, gale-swept beauty of the north, and nothing will stop him. Even if his cruising horizons are more limited, he will always point at Scotland rather than Scilly".

A point well made imho. We started sailing relatively late in life, through a flotilla holiday in the Ionian. Never looked back. Since then, we sailed in the Ionian (again), the Adriatic and the Aegean, but mainly on Scotland's west coasts. There's just something about the islands, the rocks, the mountains and the sea-lochs, that that is very special.

The downside is, of course, the weather. It can be cloudy, wet, windy, and cold. When it's sunny, it's spectacular. It can be very hot occasionally, but it takes a long time for that sea to warm up. But Libby Purves is spot-on; "north people" have a thing about the north.

After a cold and damp summer cruise in 2004 (with additional interest provided by the discovery of a bilge full of seawater in Barra, the result of a leaky stern tube, and the subsequent haul-out and repair), we decided to go south the following year. The plan was to sail down the Irish Sea, call in at Pembroke, possibly visit grandchildren in Bristol, and then head for Scilly. The result was a bit different.

We meandered our way, with indifferent winds, usually followed by F6s, by Portpatrick, the East Tarbert Bay (Mull of Galloway), Peel, Howth, Arklow, and North Bay (Wexford), an anchorage which I would not recommend at all (we had the "ideal" conditions of a gentle westerly breeze).

Now, the east coast of Ireland is quite pretty. Its sandy beaches and campsites would be ideal for family holidays for people with young children. There were lots of young people out in sailing dinghies (the Irish clubs seems to have a very strong commitment to youth training). However, it just lacked that roughness - the rocks the mountains, the islands.

It seemed that a decision had to be made - the blandness of the south, or the roughness of the north and west. So, we turned to starboard at Carnsore Point and set off along Ireland's south coast using a rather old second hand chart with depths in fathoms. Needless to say, it had never been corrected.

We began to feel more comfortable when we reached West Cork - rougher features, more of a challenge, and certainly more like what we were used to. The sailing from there to Donegal is outstanding, and certainly as interesting as the west of Scotland imho.

Any regrets? Not really; I'd still like to visit Isles of Scilly at some point, but to be truthful, I'd sooner visit the west of Ireland again.

Going back to Libby Purves, the decision at Carnsore Point did not provoke marital breakdown; just demonstrated that we're both north types. Anyway, it's not an issue of geography, more of an attitude thing; West Cork is pretty balmy owing to its southerly position, and Kerry is hardly north, but "feels" like it.

How do the south people feel about it?

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oldgaffer1
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Postby oldgaffer1 » Tue Mar 18, 2008 5:09 pm

I suspect that it may be a case of being able to take the sailor out of the North but not the north out of the Sailor.
I’ve been living and sailing out of Dartmouth for about 35 years and have been thrilled, captivated, frightened and awed in equal measure by the seas between here, the Isles of Scilly and the coasts of Brittany. This surely has to be one of the great sailing areas of the world.

Would I swap my safe and sunny river mooring, the likes of Newton Ferrers, Fowey, Falmouth, L’Aberwach, Cameret and St.Marys for the sailing of my youth in the Firth of Clyde?

Damn right I would! The Matriarch and I intend to retire to Arran at which point I look forward to renewing my acquaintance with the grandeur of the West of Scotland. I will however probably trade in the Herreshoff for something like a Fisher 30 with a wheel house on it!

(p.s. We were one of the few boats to make it as far west as Scilly last year. A hairy and wet motorsail against a SW 5/6 culminated in late arrival at a full St.Marys Pool and a consequent damp dash in darkness to Watermill Cove. Shivering and wet we retired to our berth to be woken at 0400 by the keel bouncing on a rock. All this on the birthday of SWMBO. My, how she laughed as she thought about the impending divorce! The next few days were spent being thrown out of our bunks whilst on a mooring in St.Marys Pool while waiting for a weather window and a dash back to Penzance. She now refuses to return to what she refers to as 'A great big rock waiting to happen'. Can't understand why...)

Cheers,

Alister.

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Re: Are you a Northern sailor, or a Southern one?

Postby tcm » Tue Mar 18, 2008 5:14 pm

Huh, another one who bamboozled swmbo into a saily boat with a greek flotilla holiday. Still, i suppose the Ionian is Northern Greece so that's alright.

Swmbo is definitely southern i think, and likes the comfy spacious seating with nice sun and pleasant lunch before she will even set foot on the boat, always provided that I have moved the boat to within a short dinghy ride (not too fast mind!) from aforementioned lunch.

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Postby stevepick » Tue Mar 18, 2008 10:52 pm

Its an interesting question, and post, although I would dispute the word "bleak" in Purves' quote. :D I was lucky growing up in aberdeenshire I came to sailing, mountaineering and skiing young, and weather has never really factored in outdoor decisions for me , other than how many layers to wear.
Before we got our own boat I had sat on many a top on the mainland and on the islands and been absolutely stunned by the view arround me. I always wanted to sail the west coast, and sailing with friends on Tobermory races only wheted our appetite. There is so much to see an sail (and climb) on the scottish west coast, in fact the first decision we made when we bought our boat ( she was lying at Kip) was which marina to move her north to.
If you spent time in small , uncomfortable tents high up some where , then even a damp boat seems like luxury. There is also fact that anchorages can be had to yourself.
Finally the fact that by sailing around the hebrides you see them and thier places as they were seen for hundreds of years, the locations of the towns make sense, and positively encourage exploration with so many natural harbours. What am I saying in this garbled way? I think I am always going to be a northern sailor!

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Postby Telo » Tue Mar 18, 2008 11:30 pm

stevepick wrote:Before we got our own boat I had sat on many a top on the mainland and on the islands and been absolutely stunned by the view arround me. I always wanted to sail the west coast....
We were also climbers, with exactly the same thoughts as we sat on on a west coast mountain top. Then somehow it started to happen...

In passing, and re my original post, I just checked; parts of West Cork are as far south as Wimbledon. Jings. Just "feels" north.

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Postby sahona » Tue Mar 18, 2008 11:37 pm

I used to sit on the roof of my boarding school, listening to and seeing the paddle steamers in the Clyde. Got the same feeling but probably younger and with less exertion.
http://trooncruisingclub.org/ 20' - 30' Berths available, Clyde.
Cruising, racing, maintenance facilities. Go take a look, you know you want to.

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Postby Arghiro » Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:31 am

Born a Merseysider, I guess I could have swung either way. But SWMBO loved Scotland & we spent our courting years all around N Wales so we have mostly stuck to the River Dee, Conwy & N Wales, Bardsey, IoM, & Ireland, plus 3 years on the Clyde and a couple of trips around Oban & Skye. With just one trip to Mylor on the Fal.

Northerner's thro' & thro' then I guess! Always expect mud, rain, cold & gales, then anything different is considered wonderful weather.

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Postby cpedw » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:57 am

stevepick wrote:I was lucky growing up in aberdeenshire


Discuss...

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Postby stevepick » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:32 am

cpedw wrote:
stevepick wrote:I was lucky growing up in aberdeenshire


Discuss...


erm , well , yes :lol:. I was at school there 76 - 84. The skii/ice climbing seasons were always long. The hills were an hours bus ride away, and thanks to an enthusiastic teacher I got into sailing at stonehaven.

I was a kid, it seemed great at the time , the dons were even quite good!

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Postby So_Sage_of_Lorne » Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:19 pm

Both!

Almost 20 years on England's east coast sailing out of Maldon.
Now in my 10th season on Scotland's West Coast.

Used to take 45 mins to get to the boat, now takes 6.5 hours.
Would I go back to the convenient option. No not ever in fact, we bought our current boat 3 years ago in Bradwell and moved her quick smart to the Clyde.

Which, is a horrible dismal cold wet and windy place full of midges and unfriendly natives. So, its best if all you Southern Jessie's stay away!
I will not stay young forever but, I can be immature for the rest of my day's!

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Re: Are you a Northern sailor, or a Southern one?

Postby damo » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:59 pm

Shard wrote:
Any regrets? Not really; I'd still like to visit Isles of Scilly at some point, but to be truthful, I'd sooner visit the west of Ireland again.

Going back to Libby Purves, the decision at Carnsore Point did not provoke marital breakdown; just demonstrated that we're both north types. Anyway, it's not an issue of geography, more of an attitude thing; West Cork is pretty balmy owing to its southerly position, and Kerry is hardly north, but "feels" like it.

How do the south people feel about it?


Getting round the bottom of Ireland is my main aim this year, as it is every year :D But where the winds blow.....

I think it is a west coast thing - the Bristol Channel English coast can be a daunting place, with committing passages and a deep sea feel to it. And the Isles of Scilly are not to be underestimated - it is easy to come unstuck. I find it very claustrophobic in the main areas, but there are plenty of outlying bits to explore if you are handy with an anchor.

If only I could get a bit more time off and see the west coast of Scotland from the water instead of a summit :)

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I was lucky growing up in aberdeenshire

Postby garredfox » Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:17 pm

So was I - not in your neck of the woods. Still have family over there - we are now in the West. Wouldn't have a yacht based over there - not enough places to go.
the other half

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Postby wotayottie » Fri Apr 04, 2008 8:04 am

How do the southern sailors see it? Well I suppose that I'm a southern sailor, albeit Yorkshire born and only an immigrant to Wales.

I took a boat up as far as Kintyre a couple of years ago, and I have to say that the trip confirmed all my old memories of Scotland from business trips during my career. The weather was unreliable tending to cold and blowy, the natives were dour and unfriendly, the towns were scruffy and depressed. Campbelltown, for example, reminded me of parts of E Europe pre glasnost.

I'm not trying to be rude here nor to give offence - just reporting how I saw it. My shipmate had a totally different view of the trip.

Personally I would head south for the sun and French or Spanish culture every time. But then I would live abroad if I could persuade SWMBO that her 30 something brood werent any longer dependant on her. My old bones need warmth.

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Postby aquaplane » Fri Apr 04, 2008 10:13 am

Living in West Yorkshire, the options are limited. I don't fancy the east coast, or the Irish Sea.

Windermere is a good compromise for a worker, no tides to limit access, an easy after work drive on a Friday evening, good scenery and pleanty to do after a bit of day sailing.

It's good to trail to the Clyde or Norfolk Broads for a summer cruise/holiday though. When I blagged a trip/got invited to Seminole I liked the trips from Loch Sween to Oban/Tobermory. The West Coast will be my first choice when I retire, that's plan A anyway.

I've never sailed on the South coast, and though I feel as though I should want to try it, I don't. I'm a Northern Sailor.
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Cheers Bob.

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Postby Arghiro » Sat Apr 05, 2008 4:58 pm

"Campbelltown, for example, reminded me of parts of E Europe pre glasnost.

I'm not trying to be rude here nor to give offence - just reporting how I saw it."

Not much change there sin the 1980's then, I guess. No work = no money = depressed appearance to any town. It may be on the fringes of a beautiful area but it ain't getting enough from tourism to do any good is it?


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