First event worth recording, was a trip on 22nd January down to the south east Devon coast, where a large container ship had been beached, this being done as a result of damage to her in a storm. We thought it would be an interesting sight to see, as did quite a few other people. When we reached the shore, we found it lined with containers that had fallen off the ship, and in breaking up, they had strewed their contents onto the beach. Not surprisingly, visitors were picking these up. I for one, taking nothing away, considered most items of little value. The media though, who were there in force, adding an extra 'angle' to their story, described us as "scavengers". Another example in not believing all that is in the papers.

That was just a day away, but a couple of weeks later we took a little jaunt over to Dublin, I wished to draw some Euro cash out, so this could be the excuse. We drove up through Wales staying the night in Dolgellau, then onto Holyhead, here we left our car, and traveled over to Ireland on the high speed ferry. Spending two nights with our friend Geraldine outside Bray, then returning the same route. The weather for this short trip was quite unforgettable. Dead calm on the sea, and
a clear sky, resulting in unbroken sunshine.                         

Our journey back down through Wales was likewise. We'd stayed the night outside Bangor, then next morning spent a couple of hours walking up towards Snowdon. Not enough time to reach to summit, in any case we were told it was quite icy up there.  The route home was via Llan Ffestiniog and Bala, over the Berwyn Mountains, and down the Tannat Valley to Welshpool. A stop for tea at Bishops Castle, then down through Hereford to home across the Severn Bridge. Four delightful days.

It is the convention to get the boat out of the water at the very least once a year, preferably more often. Sylvania came out at the end of January for three weeks, she got a clean, and Muriel painted her hull with a coat of protective paint. We found the propeller pitted and damaged, so this was taken off and repaired. We also had extra anodes fitted, the lack of which we'd been told as being the cause of the pitting.

February 17th we drove to Portsmouth for the AGM and dinner of the Nimbus Owners Club. Most enjoyable. We stayed at the Ibis for two nights, and took a tour round the harbour Sunday morning, then a good look round the DDay museum in the afternoon. Called in at Southampton shopping centre on our way back to Poole - we rather enjoy looking into shops!

A 'perk' of our mooring at Cobbs Quay, is that we can take our boat to other marinas belonging to the MDL group, such visits being free of charge for fifteen days in any one year. As we'd not used any of these, and they needed to be taken up by the end of March, my wish was to go down to Brixham. This would be seventy miles, and perhaps take seven hours, it would be a good test of our abilities, and an achievement to be savoured. But we had to be careful with the weather. This held us up for almost a fortnight, but Wednesday 7th March seemed OK, so we sailed. Passing out for the 9.30 bridge, we pulled into Brixham spot on 1600 hours. The trip was a little rough, specially in the area south of Portland Bill.

I have to say, we were very impressed by Brixham - a homely little town, and the marina being just a few minutes away, we really enjoyed our stay. On Saturday we took the short hop across to Torquay, the marina here being even closer to the town centre than Brixham. On the Monday we took the boat round 'the corner' and up the River Dart, cruising up this river for over an hour, turning back once we'd reached Stoke Gabriel. Then we managed to find a berthing place at Dartmouth, and had a short walk around. Very settled weather the next day encouraged us to make the return journey back to Poole. A memorable voyage. Sea almost flat, an almost cloudless sky, and outstanding visibility. Not a trip we will quickly forget.

Top: Two views of Brixham. Left bottom: Entering the River Dart. Right: Not a situation I'd be happy in!

We returned to the West Country the following week, this time by road. Staying the first night in the Plymouth Ibis, the next two at Wadebridge. Looking at Dittisham on the Dart, then across country to Kingsbridge - nice little town, and Salcombe. Crossing the Tamer after leaving Plymouth, our first 'port' of call was Polperro - a most attractive fishing village. As with so many of such places though, it has its drawbacks - really narrow streets. Narrow country roads and lanes around too. These we drove through to reach Polruan, which is just across the water from Fowey, to which we travelled by ferry. Returning to Polruan by the same method, we then drove to the North Coast, to take a look at a place called Rock, this being just across the estuary from Padstow.

After visiting that town the the next day, we drove south again, visiting two National Trust gardens. 
The first being next to the King Harry ferry south of Truro, then on to another which is behind Penzance. Finishing that day by a look round the docks at Newlyn. Final day commenced with a drive through the famous clay area, then down to the Roseland Peninsula, about the only parts of Cornwall we'd not previously visited. Then a long drive home from St Mawes, stopping only for a meal at Exeter.

Our cottage just outside Josselin was base for the two weeks from 3rd April. We did a days trip to Vannes, and then onto La Trinite-Sur-Mer. An Ibis hotel in the town of La Rochelle turned out to be a good spot to stay for two nights. A really vast area of low lying land is around here, and we thought a leisurely exploration worthwhile - we do tend to rush rather too much!

First weekend in May is the date for the annual rally of Nimbus boat owners. This at Lymington. Not only is this event a good opportunity to learn from fellow users the best usage of these boats, but it is also a first class social event. We have found that people who use boating as a hobby are really friendly and helpful - those who use Nimbus perhaps even more so! We had arranged to extend this event by cruising to nearby locations in company with a few other users. However the weather turned bad, so this idea was abandoned. Rather than return direct to base though, we made the short hop over to Yarmouth. This proved a delightful little place to moor up in. Because we'd arrived in the morning, we had enough time to walk to Freshwater, then back by a different route - relaxing, but also a bit tiring.

Next morning, looking out over the Solent, the sea seemed very calm. It was overcast and raining though, so not conducive to walking and enjoying the area. So we decided to return. Outside Yarmouth, on the water, it was indeed very calm. We decided to take it slowly, and enjoy the journey. Passing out of the Solent however, things became rougher, plus a weather warning came over the radio. We did not consider turning back, though a yacht which we had been following did so. In the area of the Needles, both Muriel and myself saw something like a Whale jump out of the water ahead of us. Just a little later I caught glimpses of something large in the water - a light grey colour as I could see. So I assume a Dolphin. Our first sighting on our own boat. Hopefully not the last, but these creatures did look as large that they could tip the boat over. Not heard they have ever done such a thing however - I'd never use a boat if I thought they could!

The weather became even more uncomfortable. Most certainly we were no longer enjoying our cruise. I was thinking how glad I would be to enter calmer waters. But we pressed on, Muriel standing up to the experience really well, much better than on the return journey from Weymouth, of the previous September, when she had been very sick. No set pattern to the waves. But a few times large ones shook the boat up. This could turn us badly off course, on at least one occasion swinging the boat round to the extent that it was at least ninety degrees in the wrong direction. It was indeed a good job I had the compass and also the chartplotter as a guide. It being difficult to pick up sight of the land - indeed no sight at all much of the time. As we got nearer to Poole, we began to wonder if we would be in time for the two thirty bridge opening. I tried to speed up, but then had to shut down to lessen the boat slamming. Coming up to the Swash Channel another boat was entering the harbour, and following this we began to hope we would get to the bridge in time - we did! We feel we now have had plenty of experience of really rough weather at sea, and can be satisfied that we stood to these elements.

Not an update for two months. No, we've not been swallowed by the sea, but for sure in this period, the weather has not encouraged us to take the boat out. We have spent quite a lot of time on it though. Apart from a stay in Cheltenham, no other wanderings. Some farm work occupied a little time.

An additional worth while fitting to Sylvania is an Autopilot. We found that even in quite calm seas, it was not by any means easy to keep a steady course. This was fitted in early July. We had intended to 'cruise' down to the West Country, once this was done. However, sailing out to sea on 11th July, we felt the sea state was not comfortable enough to make a eight hour voyage in any way enjoyable. So we returned to port. Our little trip was a valuable test for our new kit though, it worked hard, and will save me  much effort.

Realizing the weather was in no mood to settle down, I thought it would be an idea to take a trip to France. We'd not visited our cottage outside Josselin for almost three months. Time to return. Booked before 0730 on 12th July, for a crossing timed to depart at 1230 the same day. Took a look at the "Onze Ecluses" of the Rance Canal on our way here.

One of our few trips away, was up to the coast at St Quay Portrieux, there is a marina here, so we thought we'd take a look. Two other marinas are on the coast near Lannion, so to here we travelled a couple of days later, this time staying the night in the town. The marinas were at Perros-Guirec and Trebeurden. None of these has altered my opinion that unlike most other boat enthusiasts, France is not somewhere I'd hanker to sail one to.

When moored in sea water, boats attract growth of weed and suchlike on their hulls, this tends to impede speed when underway, so needs to be cleaned off. Obviously the best way to do this is to take the boat out of the water, and give it a good wash. At over 100 rather an expensive proposition. We reckoned a cheaper method would be to run it on a beach, wait for the tide to go out, then do the job. This was to be carried out at Studland, which has a sandy bottom. However, the tide range and timing proved rather against us, so our friend Mike Edwards put on his wet suite, and gave the hull a good scrubbing whilst the boat was anchored.

The West Country is a bit occupied with boats in August, so rather than visit by sea, we thought a trip down to Plymouth might be a good idea - so it was! The weather was absolutely perfect, sunny and clear, we could not have expected better. After booking in to the Ibis, we took a drive out to Newton Ferrers - as pictured below. Later, we drove to Stoke, and then walked along the cliffs eastward, Stunning views, made perfect by the sunshine.

The next day, we thought we'd take a look at the MDL marina we would use for our boat - Queen Annes Battery. Walking along one of the pontoons, we spied the boat "Sea Eagle' whose owners we'd got to know a few months previously at Cobbs Quay - Paul and Libby Joyner, who were on board, and invited us to join them. We did so enjoy the trip they took us on round the harbour, and up as far as the Torpoint bridges, then back to anchor off Cawsand. Minor problem for me there - I fell in the water! This occurred when I attempted to get into Pauls dingy, I must have slipped, though it happened so quickly, I am not at all sure what was the real cause. The only damage was to my pride, also my mobile 'phone. A valuable lesson learned though: Tie the dingy to the boat securely, before attempting to board. Also that life-jackets work well and fast.

The following day, we crossed on the Torpoint Ferry, and again (for Muriel!) visited Cawsand. Then on to Rame Head, followed by a drive along the coast as far as Seaton. Here, we turned inland, driving through really narrow lanes, up as far as Rilla Mill. Then, past Callington to the impressive viewpoint east of that town. Our final visit that day was to Morwellham Quay, this proved quite an attraction. A meal in a 'Chinese' at Tavistock, prior to our hotel. Our final day was spent on looking over Burgh 'Island', then through Malborough, and a walk to Bolt Head. Weather quite outstanding every day.

The weather turned very settled at the end of the month, so at last we were able to take our boat down to the West Country. The cruise to Plymouth took place on 30th August. The next day we strolled round the city - rather a rest after our long journey. The following day we cruised down to Fowey, nice little town this, and we were able to moor up. Not so lucky for the next excursion, as no 'tie up' could we find. The trip itself though was delightful, up the River Tamar as far as Calstock.

Above left: The Tamar Bridges. Right: A river side scene.
Below: A couple of views taken on our cruise along the South Devon coast.

Although the weather was perfect, and we felt we should stay longer, a visit had been arranged to the Isle of Wight for the following week-end, so after four nights moored in the Queen Annes Battery Marina, we moved up to Brixham, when after one night, we did the long journey back to Poole. Two nights here, then to Yarmouth. Here we had time for a bus ride to Alum Bay - famous for its coloured sands.

After the short stay in Yarmouth, we meandered - well slowly cruised, along the Solent to Cowes. A distance of around nine miles, but we took almost two hours for it - why rush! At East Cowes Marina we met up with a whole group of other Nimbus owners. Here we stayed for almost four days, enjoying group activities, and sharing information.

The Charles Close Society had arranged a visit to the offices of Imray, Laurie, Norie & Wilson, the publishers of charts and books relating to waterways and the sea. This in the little town of St Ives, Cambridgeshire. So to here we traveled, staying a couple of nights at the Ibis outside Wellingborough. The visit took place on the morning of the 19th September. In the later afternoon we drove onto the Fens, and to Ely. After looking into the Cathedral, we wandered down to the waterside, here we came across a Nimbus moored up. Sitting inside where the owners, so I inquired if they'd considered joining the owners club. "Yes the previous owner had been a member - come on board". So we did. Enjoyable chat, with an engaging couple. On the journey home, we called in at Silverstone Racing Circuit. Very different, and much more developed than as I previously remember it.

Another pleasant crossing on the "Barfleur" to Cherbourg commenced at 4PM on the 2nd October, We'd tried to book in at our usual Ibis, as the ship was not due to arrive till ten. However unusually this was said to be fully booked, so we used the Mercure instead. More expensive, but it is right be the sea, with a grand view over the Marina. Good run down to Josselin the following day, using a route not travelled before - from Pleine-Fougeres on a almost direct run to Evran, were we viewed another section of the Rance Canal.

We usually try and do some longer excursions from our base, though its not all that often that our journeys reach into Germany. We feel its not much point in pre-booking accomodation, as it ties us down to a schedule.
In any case, almost always little trouble in finding a room. Not this time though! There are three Ibis Hotels in Chartres, where we first started looking at around four in the afternoon, these were all full! So after a quick look round the outside of the famous Cathedral, we gave on the town and left. No luck at the next large town Etamps either, usually we find when this happens, we are offered help in finding somewhere, but it was claimed these towns were full. It was not untill we called in at the little town of Milly-le-Foret well over three hours since we started looking did we end up in finding a room - we were beginning to think we might have to sleep in the car!

Our usual luck deserted us again the following evening when we arrived at the large French city of Metz, the three Ibis Hotels were 'complete' as the French say. it was indicated however that the Mercure had rooms available. Both these hotels proved difficult to find, so it was well after dark we finally found this hotel. Good job too, very difficult navigating in a strange city in the daytime - let alone after nightfall!

These unusual (for us) problems made us wonder if we should continue. However as if to make up, our luck changed dramatically for the following two evenings, both towns we intended finding an Ibis, we fell upon them as we drove into those towns - very unusual for Ibis! The first was as we entered Mainz, this being on the Rhine, being where the River Main joins, the second town was Wurzburg, also situated on the Main. The reason for journeying this way was because I wished to explore the waterway linking the Rhine with the Danube, thus meaning commercial shipping traffic can journey between the North Sea, and the Black Sea. The completion of this route was only completed in 1992. I was not sure of the scale of this achievement, but was aware it could accommodate a boat with ninety cabins on three decks. The route up the River Main is certainly not straight, certainly doubling the 'crows flight'. Obviously a canal had had to be dug linking the navigable Main with that of the Danube. This I considered really impressive. Much earthworks, and many new bridges.

Top left: A barge is leaving one of the new locks, which seems to be a bit larger than others we viewed, also unusual in being covered in. Right: A massive sized barge too! Bottom left: Illustrating the earthworks required. Right: A much wider waterway than might have been thought, left in that 'photo is part of a field of solar panels, we've seen others like this. Likewise; there are a massive number of wind turbines scattered around Germany.

We ended this section of our travels at the city of Regensburg. This had been previously visited by ourselves, but we thought a return viewing worthwhile. So it proved, lovely place. We found even better though, as we proceeded north. We'd left by way of the Auto route. Such roads I prefer not to use, and come off as soon as I can. I noticed that a part of the Czech Republic jutted out into Germany, and we decided we would venture into it. Well worthwhile it proved. The town of Cheb contained really colourfull and interesting houses, but it was when we fell upon a place called Frantiskovy Lazne ("Lazne" means "Spa", so I understand) that we were really enthralled. Quite outstanding streets - or 'roads' rather, because they were lined with trees, in front of properties painted with a pale mustard. Very obviously a 'planned' town, and deserving much more attention than it so far appears to have had - we at any rate had never heard of it.

Following our visit to the above, we spent a few hours in Dresden, then crossed the border into Poland. We'd been rather wary of this country due to the poor reputation it has had - not least from our own Foreign Office, also guide books had been advising to be careful. In practice, we felt no problem. However, we did feel it not to be a pleasurable country to visit. It is extremely flat, heavily forested with dull birch trees, and the roads are not good, not helped at all by heavy lorry traffic. All in all we spent around 27 hours in that country, traveling well over three hundred miles - we've no rush to return!

Contrast in Northern Germany, while again being extremely flat, also 
forested, but these were trees in full Autumn colours, so pleasant to drive through. Like Poland, farmland was virtually all arable, hardly any livestock did we see.

This massive area of level land extended from Poland across Germany, through Holland, and it was Southern Belgium before we came to any undulating land - quite a
lesson in geography! We completed this long journey in fourteen days, driving a total of two thousand eight hundred miles (two hundred miles per day) almost all of which were on 'local' roads.