Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Pete Hogan.  Short piece written for the Irish Cruising Club about the fancy boats on which I sailed this Summer.
New equipment and customs in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Having walked away from ten years of Glen sailing on Dublin Bay I now found I had time to do some cruising with friends on their boats.  This tended to be in warm waters, that is to say the Tyrrhenian Sea and points further south.  I was struck by several new (to me) pieces of equipment which now seem to be commonplace on the well-appointed ocean cruising yacht.
Nespresso Machine
This handy little number was the star of the galley, relieving the cook from endless boiling of kettles and cleaning of coffee machines and cafeterias.  Everyone on board bemoans the terrible waste, indeed the trashing of the planet by the disposable little pods.  While happily sipping away on their double expresso or macchiato.  Apparently a Nespresso machine draws a huge electricity load.  But nowadays I never worry about that.

A TV set.
Or a really a big screen dominating the saloon.  I can remember when I saw the first TV’s on board yots anchored in the Panama Canal anchorage back in 1982.  The warm glow emanating from the cabin at night indicated their presence and large American yachts gave Super Bowl parties and film shows for the rest of the fleet.  Now they are more commonplace and combined with a DVD player or broadband must be a welcome addition to the cabin if wintering over in some out of the way Spanish marina.  Alas, we could not figure out how to get the World Cup on our TV on-board this summer so had to go ashore and find a suitable bar or restaurant to view the action.
Carbon fibre mast.
Why not?  I witnessed the transfer from Sitka spruce to aluminium.  Now it has to be carbon.  Weight aloft saved is very important when sailing, and if your propeller falls off, (as ours did this Summer) sailing became a necessity rather than an option.  Other carbon pieces of equipment which I noticed creeping in were steering wheels, passerelles, booms, battons, winches, rigging and sails.  Can foils be very far off in the future?
The mobile phone/tablet.
While one of the boats I sailed on this summer had a full complement of navigation equipment - plotters, AIS, VHF BnG etc. the professional skipper on board relied on his mobile phone for all navigation and communication.  In fact it had its Velcro attachment alongside the yachts plotter at the wheel.  He explained that it was more accurate and up to date than the on-board package and could cite instances where it had included hazards which were not included in the on-board software.  In addition he used Windy a lot to plan passages and that was available on his phone.  The VHF radio was rarely used and the old custom of keeping channel 16 on in the background was dispensed with.  On another boat much the same system applied except that a nice Samsung tablet was used to great effect.
Handy also for making Ryanair bookings while underway.
Google maps.
Essential for finding ones way from a dinghy landing point on a remote island like Stromboli to the best pizza joint in the village, in the dark.  First having read the various reviews on TripAdvisor.  Google is also useful and entertaining when checking the pedigree of the other yachts in the anchorage.  Usually superyachts, but not always, there is a surprising amount of information about your neighbours on line.
Ice maker.

We  were in the Tyrrhenian Sea in mid-Summer so this handy little number stole the show.  About the size of a stack of National Geographic magazines it toiled away in a corner turning water from the water maker into lovely ice tubes.  Bliss.
Inflatable fenders.
My first experience of these giant bumpers which stow so neatly away in some remote locker.  Of course one must carry a compressor for the purposes of inflating them, but said compressor can be used to inflate the dinghy/tender and any number of other inflatable toys carried on board.
Cat’s  ( Catamaran’s) 
These vast, tennis court, layer cake, half-mast mainsail, machines seem to be everywhere.  One we were parked next to in Malta had a grand piano in its saloon. The coming thing, they don’t seem to have caught on in Ireland, yet.
Exotic lights
It’s handy now to have a lot of lights, not unlike some sort of Christmas tree adorning your mast.  This makes your boat easy to find in a crowded anchorage at night.  In addition a line of azure lights along the waterline gives a wonderful, magical effect at night, not unlike a flying saucer making a landing. And if you have an airplane type escape chute leading from high up on your bridge down to the water for the amusement of the kids on board so much the better if it is lit up.
Garbage disposal n other matters.
It was difficult to dispose of garbage which we had conscientiously collected.    Apparently one can be fined for bringing it ashore and dumping it in the municipal skips on some of the islands.  In some of the anchorages a boat calls around and collects garbage.  This is not a problem if one uses marinas frequently.  In addition on some islands it was difficult to even land with the dinghy.  The Italian custom of roping off sections of beaches for swimmers seems reasonable enough given the prevalence of high speed boats and tenders.  So one was invariably forced to use the commercial area of harbours.  The American custom of a ‘dinghy dock’ was absent.  It was a good idea to utilise a small anchor as a backup when leaving a dinghy unattended.  Once, the painter from ours was cast adrift in our absence by unfriendly natives.
 The Tyrrhenian Sea with its bounty of islands, its history and culture was a wonderful cruising ground, despite some of the above disadvantages.  While the anchorages were full to crowded, the cruising fleet was invariably interesting if not downright overwhelming.  From Wally’s to classics, from Oligarchs playthings to the latest from Beneteau and Dufour, nautical chic was what it was about.  The Italians are a stylish bunch.  In thanking the owners, I am pleased to say, the boats I was invited to crew on were able to hold their own in this august company.

Pete Hogan 2018

Friday, 26 December 2014

2014 review

Review of the year published in the ICC (Irish Cruising Club) annual 2014:

It was a bumper season for the Dublin Bay Glen fleet.  First the bad news.  Two Glens were not in the water this year.   Glencoral G3 is in storage (and for sale, I understand).   Glengesh G8 did not turn up this year.  But the 11 or so Glens which make up the rest of the Dun Laoghaire fleet had a very good season.  The balmy weather helped.  Numbers on the starting lines were consistently high and racing was keen.  Luckily the fleet retained their customary mooring area outside the RSTGYC.  Because of the machinations of the harbour board many of the one design classes have had to move to the marina or, in the case of Squibs, most are now being dry sailed.   Dry sailing, while having advantages, is not conducive to impulse decisions to go sailing.  It is also more expensive.  Consequently fleets turning up on starting lines suffered.  This is especially so in the case of the Dragons.  Dry sailing Glens is not really an option.  So, for practical, trouble free, traditional sailing, get a Glen!
The northern Glen Fleet came south this year to sail in our boats but the engagement was hampered by light winds.  So too was the George regatta, sailing being abandoned following one race.  At both these events an unusual thing happened.  There was a protest!  This is unheard of in the Glens.  I never learnt what the outcome of the protest was.  Normally disputes in the Glen class are settled in the bar.  Failing that, its pistols at dawn.  But never the protest room!
The boats to beat this year were the usual suspects.  Glenluce G67 and Glendun G9.   Pterodactyl G12 was a surprise contender.  Glenshane G5 is my boat and we had a better season than any previous.  So perhaps we are getting the hang of it.  We got the gun twice and got a second placing in one of the Thursday series.
Glenshane is taking a fair amount of water as she sits on her moorings and even more if she has a heavy weather race.  Several of the Glens now use solar powered bilge pumps to keep them dry as they await the twice weekly race.

It was the 50 year anniversary of the Glen Class sailing in Dublin Bay or as they say on the Glen website: ‘Celebrating 50 years of the Dublin Bay Glen Class.’   That seems to have been the extent of the celebrations marking it.  A missed opportunity to promote the class, in my opinion.  Over the winter I am hoping to prepare Glenshane for a second 50 year term.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Afloat Magazine

Piece published in Afloat Magazine website  November 14

#glensailing – The Glens are celebrating 50 years sailing and racing together as a class inDublin Bay Sailing Clubwrites 'Glenshane' skipper Pete Hogan. As a very successful season draws to a close for the 12 or so Glens in Dublin Bay there seems all prospects that the fleet can continue for a further 50 years.
The story of the Glens is worth repeating. Designed by the celebrated Scottish Marine architect Alfred Milne in 1945 the Glens were built by the Bangor boatyard over the following 20 years. Possibly 39 Glens, at least, were built which gives them claim to be Milne's most successful design and also one of the last of Alfred Milne Senior's designs. The firm still exists. He also designed the Dublin Bay 21'sand the 24's which were recently in the news on
At first the Glens were confined to the North but started appearing in Dublin over 50 years ago. Glenluce G67 celebrated last year being 50 years in the sole ownership of the O'Connor family. They started racing together as a class under DBSCorganisation in 1964 and have been racing ever since.
Glens are classic little yachts, retaining their looks up to today as reminders of what sailing boats looked like before the era of plastic mouldings, high freeboards and self-draining cockpits. 25 ft. long with a full keel and sensible sail plan they represent state of the art pocket cruisers of the period.
Glens were often compared to Dragons. They are heavier, shorter and carry a bit more sail. But they were never allowed to become the development class which the Dragons became and never made the seismic shift into fibreglass construction. Their handy size however, has allowed them to survive just as the 17's in Howth survive and thrive. There is a mini wooden boat building fraternity centred on the Glens and their needs. The Brennan boatbuilding family in Dun Laoghaire, all three generations of it, being its mainstay.
Moored out in front of the Royal St George YC and each painted a distinctive different colour, the Glens have become as iconic a fixture in Dun Laoghaire as the bandstand, Teddy's ice cream shop or the fishermen casting their lines from the pier. Long may they continue.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Glenshane Season 2014

Welcome to the new Glen Season 2014.

For the past 6 weeks I have been slaving away doing up Glenshane, preparing her for the new season.  First there were a few repairs. Two sections of the toe rail needed attention.  A foot long section at the stern where we got whacked while rounding a mark last year and the second, a long section amid ship where the rail was loose and rot was starting to develop.  I removed a 6 foot length of rail, filled and painted under it and then returned the rail to its former place using copious amounts of sealant.
Then it was on to the underwater hull.  This leaks quite a bit so I went around with a chisel raking out the seams which seemed suspect in places, taking the painted hull to the bare timber.  Next was an application of all weather sealant from a hardware shop.  This seems better than silicone as it is paintable and claims to stick to damp surfaces.  On top of the sealant goes an application of polyester filler which can be sanded.  Then lots of thick primer and more sanding then at least two coats of anti foul.
But I am in danger of boring everybody.  Who wants to read about paint drying.
The old boat (built about 1951) is tired.  A bit like myself who was built about the same time.  The wood is tired and brittle.  There are patches and spots of rot under the paint almost like a body riddled with cancer.  I hope the analogy ends before there.  But she has got style (in buckets!)  which is more than I can say for myself.

I will post a couple of photos and leave it at that.
 Early Days
 Rail repair
 Diamonds.  Gone.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Movie review

All is Lost

Off to see All is Lost, having seen the trailer and thought maybe Robert Redford had read my book.  But the timing does not match so no need for me to call my lawyer.

As a human interest movie I suppose it is mildly interesting.  If it had not been Robert Rredford out of retirement and with all the fantastic reputation he brings to the show no one would be much interested with this movie I guess.  Except perhaps single handed sailors.

So how does it stack up as a sailors movie.  Not very well.  The first scene with the sea anchor was a joke to anyone who knows about such things.  A hole in the side as depicted would have been easy to deal with -  a few screws and a piece of plywood and all would be right,  A container would not have done the amount of damage portrayed.  (There are not containers floating round out there I believe.)  All the yachts systems go down inexplicably. Why did the radio ariel become disconnected?

On the plus side the choice of boat was good an old Cal 35.  But the equipment was a bit dated compared to what a modern day cruiser would have had.  The weary way the aged sailor went about his tasks were realistic.  The liferaft scene where he rights it is realistic.  Redford at 77 looks great.

In general I would spend your money on my latest book.  Much better value.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Water Rat

Pleasant hour out on board Glenshane last week pumping her out, checking on things and generally taking it easy.  Might have gone for a short sail in the harbour if I had had the time.  But the boatmen clock off early these autumn evenings….

Like water rat there is nothing as nice as messing about on boats. Or something like that. ( there is NOTHING--absolute nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.)  OK. I googled it.

I pumped her out then thought I would try and find where the water might be creeping in.  This involves clearing out all the clutter and sponging all the water out of the bilge when the pump has done its best.  It’s still difficult, nay impossible to find the gentle slither of water into the hull.  Up at the bow, where the most pounding happens is the obvious place to search.  Here and there the bilge paint seems to be lifting, another good sign.  But its hard to tell for sure.

Then I espied a white breasted cormorant drying  its wings.  Not sure if there is such a thing as a white breasted cormorant.  Had a go at getting a photo.  Its perched on the hi tek ferry terminal.

An old codger passed by in a day sailer, I cleaned up a rope end with my needle and thread and tied off the jib halyard with a gilguy.  A Sigma 38 passed by and I started dreaming.  By then it was time to go as the launch arrived.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

More America's Cup stuff

I may complain about it but the Americas cup is absolutely compelling viewing.  As it proceeds it would appear that the boats are very well matched, something  that has not happened in the AC for a very long time.  And that has resulted in some very exciting close racing.
But to get there, there are very many negatives.  Are the boats really sailing boats?  Certainly not as anybody outside the handful of sailors who design build and operate them would probably agree.  The wing masts have to be removed as soon as the race is over.  Otherwise the entire structure would be simply blown over.
They will never be sailed again.  They will never lead to a racing class using wing masts which even very wealthy yachting enthusiasts might get involved in.  It’s a dead end, a cul de sac.  The rig and the technique reminds me more of some type of kite flying.  These guys have built complicated kites which they hoist up into the air and control very skilfully and skim them across the surface of the water.  Its not sailing, and it will not become sailing.

They use the rules of racing as we know them but have had to modify them.  This is most obvious at the start.  Gone is the hallowed upwind start, the most significant part of sailboat racing since day one.  I’m not sure why, but apparently it has something to do with safety and/ or the fact that these boats can do little unless they are moving on their foils at about a minimum of 20 knots speed.  So if they were trying to tack and jybe in a conventional start they might get blown over!

If money is the deciding factor then Oracle can win.  They have two boats.  NZ have only one.  On the last race with NZ facing winning the cup all Oracle has to do is take her out in a strategic crash.  Both boats go down.  Oracle, with its back up boat, goes on unopposed to win the cup.  I would not put it past Ellison. 

But its compelling viewing with all the professionalism of American sports broadcasting brought to bear on a sport which traditionally is not a spectator sport.