Harwood weekend

Last weekend I took my first ‘little’ drive for quite some time, a lazy 7hrs up the Pacific Highway to Harwood. It was time again for the annual Bridge to Breakers Regatta at the Big River Sailing Club on the Clarence.

It has been quite some time since I’d been north and it was finally nice to see the completion of the dual road system that they’ve been working on for way too long.  Some might find it a little boring but with cruise control and several podcasts to listen to, the drive  up went relatively easy however the return trip was typical Sunday return with traffic bumper to bumper from before the Gosford turnoff.  What should have been a 30 minute trip turned out to be three times that.  Frustrating, but that’s life especially as now everyone can hit the road.

Leaving DeckHardware a early on Friday afternoon, I got into the club camping ground at 2130 and had the pleasant surprise to be offered a beer by Steve and Marita , friends who stayed up  for the welcome.

Barton Marine Banner at Big River Sailing Club

This year one of our new manufacturers Barton Marine also supported the event by offering goodies for prizes.

Whilst I wasn’t there to sail, instead to support the sailors, the conditions on Saturday meant that around half the fleet didn’t sail. A blustery westerly gusting 25-30knots made it difficult for many, I don’t  think that any who sailed went without a capsize. Everyone ashore however were amazed at the skills of some especially the two of the leading Heron sailors who showed that yes a Heron can plane.  It’s quite a long course on Saturday heading downriver to Yamba with a long beat and hard reach back. For many it was around 2.5hrs on the water, hard work.

A good roll up of Herons

Sundays planned two short course races were greeted by far less breeze, in some places none at all for those who didn’t sail the day before and those who’s boat remained in one piece from the day before. 

Unfortunately there were many who packed up and went home Saturday afternoon missing out on the wonderful Saturday evening spread that the locals put on. For me it’s my annual Sticky  Date pudding fix.

I left for the drive home once everyone hit the water on Sunday, but as I’ve mentioned everyone else heading to Sydney had the same idea. I’m sure that the Barton goodies were well received, I know that the Commodore when I presented the bag was very thankful for their support.

Time for an update

It’s been sometime since I’ve been on the road and been to a regatta. The last one for season 20/21 was at Batemans Bay back in April and following that one, interstate and intrastate travelling and Sailing along with most other sports was put to one side.

Western end of the rigging/camping area at BRSC

Looking east @BRSC

I’ve often spoken about the enjoyment of going to country regattas, like Batemans Bay, Jindabyne, Wallagoot Lake and Lake Keepit. Each event is unique in its own way with the variety of classes competing. This coming weekend, I’ll be taking the DeckHardware van north to the Big River Sailing Club at Harwood north of Grafton. It’s been a few years since I’ve been and I’m looking forward again to the country clubs hospitality. Barton Marine UK,a new supplier of boating products to DeckHardware have also come on board in providing some of their Easy Splice and Baby Splice kits as prizes.  I’m sure that these will be well received by the winners.

One of the larger and more comfortable competitors

Sportsboats

Whilst I won’t be actively involved on the water, it’s a chance to show the range of products that DeckHardware now can provide.  Since I was there last, we have added Antal and Barton to our range and they have added a variety of products that we often get asked for. With divisions covering almost every sailing craft from small dinghies like Herons, Sabres, Impulses and Lasers, to a wide mix of multihulls from Hobie and NACRA and A Class foilers and non-foilers to a mix of trailerables and smaller yachts, there’s a division for everyone.

Early mornings are like this at Big River Sailing Club
Some of the smaller competitors

This year the Bridge to Breakers Regatta as it’s known is capped at 70 entries due to C19 restrictions still in effect. Unfortunately those from Southern Queensland are not able to travel interstate and will miss this years event. The onshore hospitality of the locals is added to by everyone camping onsite, even some of the locals on Saturday night following the huge spread they put on.  For those who have not been before, put this event in your calendar for 2022,  there’s plenty of room for tents, campers, caravans and rigging. The Clarence River is plenty wide and long enough to cater for all .

Even the locals come out for a look.

Trying to keep up

With all the recent sailing that’s been happening, it’s just a little hard trying to keep up with all the regattas and then we have the unbelievable race 8 in New Zealand for the Americas Cup  .

Rigging at Port Kembla Sailing Club on Lake Illawarra

A couple of weeks ago, I went down to Lake Illawarra for the  second round of the Flying Eleven states. On behalf of Allen Brothers England and LIROS Ropes Germany, DeckHardware has been supporting the junior classes, so we took the DeckHardware RIB down for the weekend.  Mel took over a thousand photos on the Saturday and then spent Sunday at home doing  a lot of editing.  Conditions wise, it couldn’t be further from the first round on Pittwater.  Pittwater turned on a good southerly so there was plenty of standing on the centreboards, Lake Illawarra was  the opposite with the winds struggling to get above 8knots over the weekend.  The race team did a good job to get in the races that they did.   Our DeckHardware ambassadors Aimee and Bella led after Pittwater and to finish up second overall and first all girls is a credit to their teamwork and their parental support both off and on the water.   From what I saw over the weekend, all the sailors enjoyed the event, it was pretty close results wise and there was  plenty of speculation  as to the placings until they were published. 

Just after a Flying Eleven start, some go left and some go right

Following the  Elevens, it was back to the Farr40s for more of the same. Unfortunately only 6 boats sailed this event, but the closeness showed just how keenly fought the racing was. First and second tied on point as did third and fourth.  Watching just how close the racing was is why I enjoy being a race official.  Make a small mistake and you lose a boat length or two and you are out the back door. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone claw their way back after say, an OCS. It’s just too close speed wise with plenty of pressure on the tacticians.

Always good racing and great to watch

The third weekend in a row out on the water, strange given the current global situation was to watch the Sydney Harbour Regatta. For something a little different DeckHardware provided Middle Harbour Yacht Club the use of the RIB as a photography boat.  Marg Fraser -Martin has been taking photos both inshore and offshore at MHYC for a few years now and we have a great rapport between us.  We spent the weekend going from course to course [there were seven] and from top mark to gate rounding’s trying to capture some of the action.  Marg took well over two thousand photos over the weekend from sports boats to sports yachts and harbour racers. Then throw in the 18’ers on the harbour and there was plenty of action afloat.

Just a little soft spot for these boats

Here’s a couple of Marg Fraser Martins photos below

Always plenty on , on Sydney Harbour

Karen Gojnich and her J70 crew
Lachlan Steel, one of several DeckHardware ambassadors
Lachlan Steel on Lazarus Partners 18′ skiff
These guys have too much fun

And then one gets a call from a prominent Medalist sailor, “I’ve run out of fuel can I get a tow home?’

And at the end of the weekend, it’s under the Spit Bridge and heading for the boat ramp queue.

There has been of course a sailing event over the Ditch in Auckland, well done to the Kiwis with a little help from an Aussie or two. They certainly had the faster boat towards the end. Lets see what happens in the coming months as to the next one.

That’s nearly it for the summer Downunder season for me , although we still have the  Allen/Liros/DeckHardware sponsored Flying Eleven and 16’Skiff Nationals on  in the coming weeks. Then the Annual Batemans Bay Regatta over  the ANZAC weekend  with everything from Sportsboats, multihull, monos and Sailability. Always a great weekend on the water down south.                                                                                                                                                                                       

First for the year

It was nice to get out on the water for the first time this year.  With all the restrictions coming and going, certainly interstate travel is out of the question.  Then there’s all the regattas that have had to be cancelled including the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race on Boxing Day.  Some have been postponed to a later date, others canned all together.

A couple of weeks ago I was out with the Farr40s  on the harbour for what was to be eight races.  At the morning briefing, it was decided that the forecast for going offshore didn’t look too good.  We set up a line north of the Pigs in a northerly and got in the first race. Tick.  Started the next, however when the pack took 30mins to reach the first mark, it was an up anchor and three toots later Code Flag N was hoisted.  Our fleet and those competing in the Combined clubs racing [about 70 entries] hung around and drifted in the out going tide. After several hours of this, the call came to head to the bar, many relieved and appreciated the early on water finish to the day.

Cloudy overcast day on Sydney Harbour in January. More like a winters day without the cold.
Starters friendly flag – Answering Pennant alongside MHYC burgee.

Sunday dawned with a new direction and strength. With an earlier start to the days racing, we got away 3 races in a steady 15knot South Easter without any changes, just nice. Starting in Obelisk Bay and heading towards Rose Bay, the fleet had no issues as the harbour wasn’t too busy, even the ferries were timed well in their crosses. I started the last race of the day just as there was the beginning of a change in direction, so the next windward leg was  moved left to avoid follow the leader courses.  All good and a five race series was completed with the first three boats separated by 3 points, it showed that consistency was the key. Outlaw followed by Good Form and Edake for the placings.

Sunday race start

Next up for these guys is the NSW State titles  late February, hopefully then we can have the full compliment of boats racing, including the pair of Victorian entries C19  issues permitting.

This coming weekend Melissa and I will  be taking the DeckHardware RIB down to Lake Illawarra.  In conjunction with Allen Brothers England and LIROS Ropes ,  DeckHardware is supporting the Flying Eleven class and their NSW states and the National titles. We have a number of DeckHardware ambassadors competing as well,  with one pair of girls – Aimee and Bella currently leading the State pointscore going in to this weekends racing.  Weather looks a little light in initial forecasts.

Jindabyne 2020

The year 2020 just about sums it up for those who went to Jindabyne last weekend for the Snowy Mountains Regatta.

I missed Fridays invitation race as I was driving down from Sydney. Saturday morning was a typical Jindabyne start, light and variable with patches of nothing. Knowing however that the breeze was on the way, we swung in to action, just John and  I on the start boat.  The wind settling in from 270 at around 10-12knots.

Lake Jindabyne Sailing Club

Going in to sequence, John clipped on the Taipan warning flag and it was up at  1055, a minute or so later it was gone. A short AP and a change to Code T and we were back in sequence again. Then the breeze really filled in and the anchor on the start boat wasn’t holding. Rather than have  the fleet of 70 sailing around whilst we waited for more chain, I sent them ashore. After another short AP, we were all set to go again, letting the shore team know to drop the AP ashore and send them all back out again. However the breeze was still on the increase, so as only a few turned up we called it a day mid afternoon.

Time to head in

The forecast was for it to increase significantly and the warnings went out to all competitors to unrig and tie down their boats. As the Sun went down it really hit with rain as well helping to drop the air temperature, I was just happy not to be out there in it.

Happy to be ashore Saturday afternoon

Overnight it hit even harder and those arriving at the club  on Sunday morning were ‘greeted’ with trees down and boats all over the place. The Taipans and Vipers especially took the brunt of the blow.   Sunday morning on the beach was a sad sight of competitors packing up what was left. Those who escaped also packing up and heading home. Thanks go however to those who made the effort to come all the way from South Australia and Victoria for what would have been their only regatta this season.

Gust on Sunday morning

As the breeze started to drop as forecast, there was still a handful of locals who wanted to sail, everyone else were packing up, shaken by the overnight weather and the resulting damage.  It was then decided to do an Island course for the 5 monohulls and 5 multihulls rigged and ready.

Mono start Sunday

As I was no longer required, I too decided to head home early to escape the  afternoon traffic retuning to the city.

Multihulls start Sunday

My thanks again go to the locals and their support of the event was fantastic, there was plenty of  personnel and rescue boats to go around, even a mark boat for each course mark.  I’d also on behalf of DeckHardware and LJSC like to thank Barton Marine UK for their support with a donation of vouchers for  Barton product. 

I just hope that like many, we can drop 2020 out  of our lives and return to  regattas like Jindabyne afresh in the future.

10 minutes to first warning signal

More boat watching

Last Sunday I took out the DeckHardware RIB, Cadence to watch some  from a spectator  point of view. I was joined by Clare my regular timekeeper when working as a race officer and her husband Ian; then later we also picked up Melissa.

It was a totally different view not having to constantly monitor the conditions to keep the ‘customers’ happy, but good to be out on the harbour on a typical Sydney summers day with a great  NorEaster.  Putting the RIB in at Roseville west of the Spit was a new experience for them as the area wasn’t familiar for them. Pointing out to Clare where we were and the local points of interest, before heading under the bridge and out into more familiar waters for them. 

Typically close top mark rounding

The Farr40s were having their November regatta run by the CYCA and the inshore courses further down the harbour made for different tactics, especially when the  course is on the same  bit of water as both the 12′ and 18′ skiffs. The racing was dominated by Bluetack, a new comer to the class  owned by Patrick Delaney and Brent Lawson a pair of former Adams10 sailors. They had the services of Tom Slingsby as tactician and Alby Pratt from North Sails help them up to speed in their first regatta, which they certainly were. Second overall and keeping them honest was the Victorian boat Nutcracker, helmed this weekend by James Wilmot. Two other race winners were Edake and Zen in what was a close points tally for the minors.

Nutcracker chasing down Bluetack

At the same time we went over and watched the 18’s before their start just to windward of the Farr40 line. Running my racing up the harbour where it’s reasonably open, having fleets crossing over like this is not one of my normal experiences, but one that often happens down the harbour.  It was good to talk tactics with Ian who usually sails a Laser on these waters.

Both boats with Gold medalists as tacticians, Tom Slingsby leading Nathan Wilmot

The boat ramp and carpark was absolutely full, so we headed in early to avoid some of the crush. timing it perfectly to come out of the water. As I walked to the car and trailer, the packing up area was jam packed, however when I drove up, some 8-10 cars and trailers had all left.

Clare and Melissa doing some boat watching

Another weekend done and a day out on the water. Next up for me is the trip down to Jindabyne for the Snowy Mountains regatta. I’ll be the Principal Race Officer for the Bi-Annual regatta which incorporates many classes from Catamarans, dinghies of all sizes and a fleet of trailer  yachts.  Always a great event and freshwater too.

Heading in at Jindabyne 2018. The road behind heads to Australia’s ski fields

Back to normal, sort of

Last weekend was the first sailing regatta for me as a race official in many months. Like plenty of sailors, no one’s been near their yachts for probably 6 months. For me it was out on the water with the Farr40s, a fleet of seven for the weekend after several have been sold and two of the new are yet to settle crew lists.  There was a scattered array of well known champion sailors including,  Nathan Wilmot, Tom Burton and Will Ryan, all Olympic medallists bringing their talents and experience to the fleet.

Race start offshore Saturday

We headed offshore on Saturday where the NorEaster had come in early, greeting us with a steady 16-19 knots. The seaway however was something different, there was a good cross swell which made it hard to keep your balance, all the start team having issues just hanging on .  We got in 4 good races, two laps with about 1nm windward works.

Good swell offshore on Saturday

Consistency was the name of the game and the Victorian owned Nutcracker with stand-in helm Ray Roberts assisted by Nathan Wilmot as tactician, won three of the four.  There was a mixed crew of locals including one non sailing Farr40 owner Jason King /Solimar providing some guidance on trim.  Covid19 not allowing the Victorians to leave  Melbourne and come to Sydney to sail.  At the end of the day, the other Victorian owned boat, Double Black with their own mixed crew and ring in skipper Mal Parker lay in second.

Inshore start Sunday

On Sunday we were back inshore and I brought the start time forward with the hopes of getting a couple of races in prior to the forecast wind change. We started Race5 in a 8knot Westerly and  100m from the finish of the two lap course, the wind went  180 degrees to the east catching the leaders out and allowing the boats behind time to get jibs up and spinnakers down, close finish that one.  We ran another 3 one lap races in the Easterly of about 5-8knots and minimal swell, thankfully for us on the Start boat after the rolling of the day before.  So we got in all 8 scheduled races, certainly in two very different conditions.

Smooth water Sunday

This time the tables were turned and Double Blacks made up crew took the days honours, whilst Nutcracker took the overall by 4 points. Well done to both Victorian owners for allowing their boats to be sailed by ring in crews. The last race initially started with a General Recall, so we brought out  ‘U’ /RRS 30.3 for the re start which caught out three competitors who pushed it a little too far.  I’ve been starting the Farr40 Sydney fleet since 2013, so many of the competitors, both crews and boats are quite familiar and with a small fleet easily recognisable on the start line.

Sailing towards North Heads out of control bushfire

For now it’s back to work in these difficult times, hopefully we can all safely get out on the water and travel interstate again. Certainly something that I know I miss.

4hr scenic tour

Last Sunday I dropped the DeckHardware RIB Cadence in the water at Bayview.  It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for quite some time now, go for a tour around Pittwater and have a look back in time at the water in which I learnt to sail. The RIB of course was the perfect boat to do it in. I’m lucky that it’s now all set up that it’s easy to launch and retrieve singlehanded.

I started off by going anti-clockwise, first up into the upper reaches of Newport an area that was pretty much mangroves in the 50’s and early 60’s mucking about as a kid.  As time has gone on, all of it is now fully developed with many a home and wharf building out the land and the water.  I can remember picking up my first Manly Junior crew by boat as he lived on the opposite side, it was either that or  a pushbike for him. Continuing around and remembering the old  Newport pub, where our parents would be inside whilst we played on the carousel, that’s now a multi story carpark rather than the drive through to the bottle shop.

Then into Crystal Bay, where again it was all mangroves where kids could run amuck  and we did!  However this time it was stopping to say Hi to a couple of old salts, one on  the end of his jetty and the other in the cockpit of his lovely yacht. It was good to stop and say an all but brief ‘G’day’ to Hugh  Treharne and Ken Beashel, both legends of the sport of Sailing and certainly don’t need any introduction. Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club has certainly grown and changed with the times, as kids we used to climb the trees where the main clubhouse now is. One boat spotted on the marina was Patsy a Swanson37 that I did my first Mooloolaba race on in ’81. Still in the Yaffe family ownership, Daniel who I sailed with for a number of years was on board with his family and about to head out for the day. It was good to catch up.

The major change to Pittwater over the decades is the sheer number of boats on  moorings, the area that we leant to sail on in the 60s is full.

Heading north past Salt Pan Cove, and on a mooring  was a rather familiar Adams10. Yet more memories although they’ve made many changes to what I thought was the best A10 deck layout.  Then into Clareville and there was the old Swanson42 Tawarri,  as a teenager I did a RSYS Cruise on board with the Lewis family, spending a week aboard racing offshore and up to the lake.

Up to Barrenjoey and across to the western side brought more memories of camping at Resolute Beach with our Manly Juniors and walking up to West Head. Then on into  Coasters Retreat or  the Basin as many know it and more camping  and overnight memories.

Then it was around the corner of Longnose Point and into Towlers Bay. There’s a lovely beach on  the Northern side where we spent a week with the girls on Indulgence after a Coffs Harbour Race one January. We literally had it to ourselves but the other day it was packed , times have changed.  Next up was Lovetts Bay and then Elvina Bay, where there was once  plenty of bush and now there’s houses right round both bays. Still going at 4knots [the speed limit] and heading up McCarrs Creek, for a change [not] the water was full of ‘jelly blubbers’. The constant thud of hitting them with a centreboard, didn’t matter what I was sailing. Another boat that I was surprised to see, was a little Primaat called Tainui. Tainui was built by Bill Burrows, an old sailing foe of my Dads. Many a JOG race was had against her in the 60s. Bill also made the mast for my fathers first yacht  Temeraire, so there’s the connection.

I finished up my tour of Pittwater by going past Church Point and Bayview, looking at where we used to live and how things have changed. Surprisingly the houses are still there, they haven’t been updated. Only the addition of solar panels to Church Point was noticeable, but Bayview is still the same colour some 5 decades later. It was a great day, something I’d been wanting to do for some time.

Next up however, it’s back on the MHYC start boat and running a regatta for the  Sydney Farr40 Fleet this coming weekend.

Back on the water

It’s been quite some time since I’ve been out on the water, all due to the world-wide effects of the Coronavirus. I haven’t been driving any great distance either.  In fact, I think I’ve driven to the  local council tip more than any other place besides going to the office at DeckHardware.

 

It’s been interesting talking to some of our suppliers overseas and how they are coping.  I think we Aussies have had it quite good till the last couple of weeks.  Unfortunately due to the actions of only a few, the rest of the country is in lock down. No one can go interstate with out doing a fortnight in quarantine and Victorians can’t go any further than about 5km  from home, not even to work for many as retail and manufacturing shuts down.

 

I’ve been busy doing all sorts of jobs around the house, including some big clean ups, cutting down  a tree or two and having the odd lazy day of doing almost nothing.

Middle Harbour in Winter

Looking towards the heads

Last weekend however was the first time out on the harbour in several months.  As some may know , DeckHardware has for several seasons been supporting the 16′ Skiff class and  as there was some winter racing/training happening at Middle Harbour and it was a non winters day with a NorEaster, we went out to watch and take some photos. And what a great day it was too,  clear skies and 10knot  ‘summer seabreeze’ in Winter?  As the boat driver for the day and having two photographers taking care of that side, I just had time to watch whilst driving the DeckHardware RIB.

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Spit Bridge east

The only really cold feature was coming back in to the boat ramp to pull Cadence out of the water,  wee bit chilly on the ankles hooking up the retrieving  trailer winch wire.

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As we come into what used to be a busy time heading out on the road seeing customers, life has changed for us all. We just have to accept a different way of life till this virus has cleared up world-wide. Hopefully those of us who enjoy heading out on the water, have the opportunity to do so.

 

I certainly look forward to seeing everyone once we are able to do so. In the meantime, stay safe , stay home and stay Covid19 free.

Till everything stopped

Following the Australia Day long weekend on the water with the Adams10s, it was another of the monthly regattas for the Farr40s. Normally the pattern is 4 races offshore on Saturday, followed by another 4 inside Sydney Harbour on Sunday.

This time however the conditions were against us, it wasn’t as if there was too much wind, rather a lack thereof. It was decided that we’d shift inside on Saturday with the hope of something, however that something wasn’t coming too soon. After talking to each boat, the decision was made to head for the bar, having sat around for over 3 hours.

Inshore Sunday

Racked up after a clean start

Sunday the plan was to get in the 4 races and get some results, once again the AP was hoisted and following an hours delay, a nice little NorEaster came in. The first 3 races were just one lappers in order to get them in, the last race was a standard 2 lapper. So we got in 4 races to make a series at least.

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SailGP in a NorEaster on Sydney Harbour

The following weekend was pretty similar, although the boats were something different this time, SailGP held it’s only Act so far this year. Rather than take over the harbour for the weekend, it was on Friday and Saturday. Saturday, we put the RIB in the water and went out to watch the ‘Old Buffers’ at Middle Harbour16s where my old laser foe, Kev Wadham led all the way on Erics. With a quick unrig, Nathan and Harry jumped aboard and it was off down the harbour to watch the ‘Flying Machines’. Needless to say that section of the harbour was cordoned off giving them free reign. These ‘things’ doing 30+ knots and spinning in a tack are something else up close. I’m glad we had the opportunity, although the TV coverage does provide a lot of technical information and closeups.

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Early morning over Corio Bay Geelong. Cruise ship passenger disembarked at the yacht club.

I was then back on the road south to Geelong, this time for the Geelong Wooden Boat Festival where DeckHardware had a range of Allen, Antal, Forespar, Goldspar and LIROS on the Wooden BoatShop stand. Whilst no where near the size of the Hobart version, the enthusiasm for working with wood was highlighted. There was a race bringing some of the boats from Port Arlington on Saturday and they all dispersed Sunday afternoon. Whilst looking around some of the other stands, there was one fellow steaming timber to bend and it brought back memories of my late father building his first yacht on the front lawn at Newport in the ’60s. Steaming the ribs and bending them into shape, a lost art.

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Rowing sculls at Geelong

Dad at one stage picked up a rowing scull similar to this one, although more of a single hander, Mum was still able to sit in the stern and be taken for a row around Pittwater. I’d do the same with my younger brother Sam sitting in the stern. Not light to lift around, but remarkably easy to row. I don’t know what happened to it once the family home was sold at Church Point, if anyone sees it around?

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Casablanca

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Casablanca

Another highlight was seeing the 49’er Casablanca again, this time up close. I’d helped John Biddlecombe to build her and on launching in the mid 70’s competing in her first race to Montague Island and return. Somehow as a teenager, she seemed big but compared to say the current 50’ers, she’s small with probably half the beam. The centre cockpit and flush deck was gone, replaced with a coachroof. Unfortunately there was no one aboard so I couldn’t see below, mind you going to Montague, all I can remember below was the bunk! A lot of time was spent on deck trimming, short tacking back up the coast out of the Set.

The World and the Economy has ground to a halt with COVID19 and whilst we are reasonably stocked up at DeckHardware, some of our retail outlets have felt the downturn of isolation effects. Now is surely the time to not only do some of the chores around the house, but also a good time to have any maintenance done on your boat. Supporting your local outlet during the shutdown period will assist us all when we come out the other side and get to spend some enjoyable time back out on the water.

In the meantime, I hope that everyone is safe at home and taking care.