Sailing 2012.

Sailing 2011.

Sailing 2010.

Sailing 2009.

Sailing 2008.

Sailing 2007.

Sailing 2006.

Sailing 2004/5.

Sailing 2003/4.

Sailing 2002/3.

Sailing 2001.




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You can email us at jj@alshaheen.co.uk

9 July 2012

Shelburne, Nova Scotia

A slow start to the season this year: understandable when you think that we leave Al Shaheen on the hard in the ice and snow for 9 months! How can we expect her to start up joyfully when we return?? Ever seen any woman who takes neglect for 2/3 of a year then smiles at you when you come back asking for a ride?

She’d wintered well in Gold River Marina, through what was apparently a mild winter, so no hassles there. GRM are a great marina, as we’ve said before – Cindy, Darren and Johnny make for a first class team where nothing is too much trouble and most things are possible: they make the most of the equipment they have and do everything you ask of them – and more! Cindy presented us with a bottle of homemade rhubarb chutney when we left! Wonderful.

But we had hassles, for sure: isn’t that the name of the game?

John had come back early to launch Al Shaheen while I was in South Africa for a big family conflab – the get-together of the Pick clan, some 100 of us meeting for the first time ever! Wonderful party – really good event. By the time I flew over to Mahone Bay, the boat was in the water, mast in courtesy of the new crane, sails on, most things up and running. We have a new burgee holder (left) at the masthead to fly the OCC Commodore’s burgee – bigger than our traditional one! And at least now the halyard won’t flap all night! We also have a new seat and cover in the for’ard heads – ever so elegant!

We stayed in Peter and Terry’s delightful home in Indian Point while getting things straightened out, then moved over to Zak and Annemarie’s cute little condo in downtown Mahone Bay (right) just for a change of scene. How wonderful is it to have such great friends? Finally moved aboard on Wednesday, planning to leave Thursday morning after a final fresh food shop.

But sleeping aboard for the first time, we realised something was amiss – the bilge pump was running every 25 minutes. Oi vey!! John spent the morning deep in the depths of the bilges etc, and eventually decided we had a very small, very slow leak – probably as a result of that smash way back in 2005, nothing major, but even to warrant investigation.

So, haul-out again, and we got Mategan Boatyard to come over for a look-see. They’re aluminium experts, over in the Bay of Fundy. Unfortunately we were now into the Canada Day long weekend, so nothing could happen until Tuesday – a weekend spent on the quayside in the rain!

Tuesday morning early we were hauled again (left), and the engineer found a spot that literally a hair couldn’t get through! How on earth water managed to, we’ll never know! Anyway, two hours later, some grinding, welding inside and outside, and we were ready for primer, paint and anti-foul again. Thursday morning we were back in the water, and the bilge pumps were silent. Hallelujah!!!

Having eaten all our fresh food, it was a quick trip back to the shops again (SaveEasy in Chester has a good selection), then as the rain chucked it down, we decided to stay for that day, do last minute OCC committee and website stuff (including a 2-hour call with the Web Team!) and leave Friday. Of course we woke up to a dull and dismal day, but by now we were both itching to get off, so left in the drizzle, hoping it would clear. We motored slowly out, past Young Island (the thought was that if it was too foggy out there, we’d hang a right and have Peter and Terry over for supper!), but of course, once out there was no way I was going to get John to stop! Atlantic, here we come!!

Actually it did sort of clear – there was fog, but far off, no wind at all and what little sneaked in every now and then was dead on the nose – but we motored round to Le Have Islands and tucked in to the north of Mosher Island – lovely spot, empty except for one other cruising boat, US flagged Cristata. We waved at each other, but neither of us had dinghies in the water, so we never spoke! But watched later in a bit of bemusement as suddenly their little dinghy hit the water and she rowed ashore, walked smartly up to some rocks, bent down, walked back and rowed back – what was that about? A geocache or something? A quiet night rocking at anchor – have forgotten how good that sleep is!

Saturday we were off again, with John doing the OCC radio net while I navigated us through the channel. Another motoring day: we passed Maggie B (Mike Mulrooney) and Nor-Easter (Rod & Gail Fraser) heading back for Chester, and decided to call it a day by 3pm at Carver’s Beach. Beautiful long white sand beach, lots of kids and folks walking and paddling – no-one really brave enough to be swimming, but thoroughly enjoying themselves despite the somewhat overcast day. We tried to anchor to the right of Carvers Point, but dragged over rocks, so came back and anchored off the beach in what we thought was sand. Next morning showed us it was thick mud, good holding.

Sunday we woke to brilliant sunshine – what a pleasure! Another motoring day, wind of 3-5 knots only, but we left at 7am, and were almost at the east entrance to Shelburne by 2pm. Of course just as we got to the entrance the wind piped up – and suddenly we were facing 32 knots – on the nose up the channel! And traffic – my gosh – suddenly there was a boat charging down towards us, another chugging away ahead of us, powerboats bouncing all over, little fishing boats scooting across the water – big cruise ship at the little shipyard, another big container ship hauled out at the dry dock, a huge fishing boat at the pier – wow, more activity we’ve seen in a long time!

In to Shelburne Yacht Club, to pick up a mooring. I’d forgotten what “fun” it is to pick up a mooring in the face of 27-30kn of wind! However, we were eventually tied up to the skipper’s approval – I’d also forgotten how whatever I do always has to be adjusted by the skipper before things are “right”! Launched the dinghy after a cuppa tea – tradition says the first thing done after finalising anchoring/mooring is a cuppa! Over to the Yacht Club, deserted on a Sunday afternoon, for a hot shower – what bliss. I forgot to say that the other thing that is not working is the hot water heater – or rather, it’s working, but the seal is leaking, so John’s bypassed it and we’ll pick up the replacement in Camden. So no hot water until then.

Back to the boat for sunny sundowners afloat, connect to the wifi, catch up on emails – 178 in 3 days – overkill!

We’ll be here in Shelburne for a few days, visiting with OCC Port Officers Alan and Jan Pulfrey (first met them in Caribbean aboard Coral Moon way back when!), and waiting for Jan and Nina on Raven, coming in from Cape Cod sometime today (met them in Newfoundland last year).

Chilling, as they say! And I don’t mean cold!!

12 August 2012

You know you’re having a good time when there’s no time to keep the blogs coming! And we’ve been having a blast –and even getting some good sailing in between the fog.

James,Toni, Alex (13) and Tyler (11) joined us for a week: landlubbers, just as I used to be, it was great fun helping them get their sea-legs. Taught me how much I’d learnt too!! All the usual “domestics”, like close the locker doors, pick up your clothes, switch off the lights, put things back exactly where you found them – John’s strict instructions were “There’s two rules on this boat, don’t mess up my varnish and don’t block the heads!”

Of course, the heads was the pivotal point of the first few days – I think John had put the fear of God into Alex, to the point where it was far better for him to pee over the side when we were in harbour or at anchor than to possibly block the dratted heads! In fact, peeing over the side was a great education opportunity, where they learnt all sorts of things about wind (only pee to leeward) and English lessons (origins of pissing in the wind and heads) and safety (never do it if you’re not clipped on to a safety-line).

Not to mention engineering, as they all had to have toilet training on 3 separate systems as we’d had to farm James and Toni out for most evenings – Al Shaheen is built for comfortable cruising for 2, and 6 sleeping aboard is a bit of a crush. Allen and Cathy on Evening Star and Pip and Judy on Lucayo kindly came to our assistance, and acted as mothership in various anchorages – most appreciated.

As a learning cruise, we had just about everything – rain, sun, fog – wind, no wind – normal Maine week, I’d guess. So we had them doing everything: casting off from the dock in Camden, tying up alongside Evening Star in Perry Creek, dropping anchor off Calderwell to go ashore and pick mussels for dinner – a wet process, but most enjoyable! Not so enjoyable was the hour-long cleaning of the mussels, but it was all good fun!

Lobsters from the lobster boat was a huge hit, and we gorged ourselves several times.  And of course raising the anchor was a treat: John has an adaptation called the anchor wanker which knocks the chain pile over in the anchor locker, and Alex and Tyler had a ball “wanking” the chain!! In fact that became the fun job of the trip – whose turn it was to wank today!!

We used about every configuration of sail in the week out, including a spinnaker run on the last day – although when we got down to 0.9kn through the water, even John agreed it was time to turn the engine on!

But we used the genoa, the jib, poled the genoa out one day – the boys and James were fully involved and became quite capable, even learning to drive the dinghy.

Tyler went up the mast in a bosun’s chair, getting almost to the very top before he looked down and bailed! Alex turned out to have a real feel for helming the boat, bringing her down Eggemoggin Reach at 7.4kn quite confidently and competently: I think we have some budding crew in the Vancouver Crickmore-Thompsons. A quick trip to the Azores in 2013, James??

Other than that, we seem to have done a huge amount of socialising on this cruise, which I suppose is what we set out to do – a hi and bye from the newly elected OCC Commodore to the NE Coast of the USA! Virtually every little anchorage we’ve poked into has had at least one OCC boat, and we’ll finish off here with a CCA gathering on Tuesday, a Penobscot Bay gathering on Thursday, the OCC Rally on Sunday and an OCC Cruise in Company Mon-Thursday. By that time we’ll be ready to head back to Nova Scotia for a holiday!

Sept 2012 to May 2013

Haul-out at Gold River Marina once again in 2012 – what a pleasure these folks are to deal with! Cindy in the office, Derren and Johnny in the yard are absolute stars: the yard is small, the equipment old and somewhat dilapidated-looking, but more do they make things happen and get things done, and done well! And listening to the disaster stories from boats in some of the other bigger, flashier boat-yards, I’m delighted we are here.

So another season of storage – this time Al Shaheen will be in the mega-dome for the winter, mast down, out of the snow and frost and storms. With an aimed for Atlantic crossing at the beginning of the next season, we both agreed this was a nicer option – less potential for trouble just before we started a big trip.

Coming back to Nova Scotia again after the season in Maine was a breathe of fresh air – no lobster pots, no crowded anchorages, peace and quiet! Unfortunately also no wind, so it was almost a relief to finally get back to Gold River and begin the haul-out process. Once again we stayed at Indian Point, once again we went to Peter and Terry’s annual September party at Young Island – it’s so special recognising people we met last year, and the year before. For the first time, Peter and Terry have no boat – but we met the young buyers of Rovinkind, and they were so thrilled about the boat it was a pleasure to see them!

Back to the UK and Sevenoaks: again like sloughing off one skin and putting on another, it’s a seamless fitting back into another world and another set of friends and situations. This one full of more formalities, more dressing-up “dos” as we partake in the various yachting events and OCC parties, very much more “British”! Lots of Committee work to catch up on, which meant lots of computer work for us both: being Commodore is far more onerous than expected!

We joined the whole Franklin family to celebrate James’ 70th birthday in Portugal (left) – a most enjoyable trip into the Algarve. Lots of good food, lots of good conversation, lots of time with the grandkids – a tad cooler on the beach than I’m used to, but what the hell??

As the weather changed and the whines from me to “turn up the heat, John” grew ever louder, we were off to South Africa again. Another continent, another lifestyle, another set of friends – this one is hot and dry, and very colonial – dogs, cats, a maid in to do the cleaning and the ironing weekly, two gardeners to do the veggies and the garden, Hatton to oversee the maintenance and the farm generally.  A pick-up truck to drive around collecting manure fresh from the cattle next door, the land-rover to go offroading and exploring – more family, more friends – braais and outdoor eating inside of stews and roasts huddled over the fire indoors: yes, South Africa has a lot going for it!

“No big building projects this year, John” was the command when we left for Broederstroom, “Let’s just enjoy the sunshine and relax.” Of course, there’s no way John could actually obey that command, so we landed up with a major shadecloth covering of the veggie garden to be done, a serious rigging job. Just as well he’s a sailor! But at least we now get the vegetables without holes pecked by birds or bites taken out by monkeys. The veggie garden has been a great success – about 12m by 6m, rows of fabulous stuff ripening in the sun; tomatoes, lettuce, beans, corn, peppers, pumpkin and various assorted squash, carrots, onions, garlic, a huge strawberry bed – we’ve left an avocado tree (had our first avos this year!) and naartjie (again, first fruit this season huge orange globes) and peach inside, trimmed down.But in a separate orchard alongside we’ve moved the lemons, nectarines, pecan nuts and some other peach trees. Hatton does a wonderful job maintaining everything – the deal is I provide the initial seeds etc, he tends the garden year round, ensuring that there is a crop to be eaten when we arrive back in the country, but he and the other staff have access to whatever grows the rest of the year. Works well – bought very little in the way of vegetables.

Had two great visits this season: John’s brother James and wife Ilse (above & left) came out (his 70th birthday present from the family), and we had a terrific time touring them around. Off to Kapama Lodge for some very luxurious game-watching and pampering, (not our normal style!) then down to Cape Town to visit with other relatives and see the sights there.

Then just after they left, John’s grandson Tom arrived – different fortnight that was! Much adrenalin-action involving high-speed amusement park rides, followed by a few days of R&R at a KwaZulu Natal park and resort, then off to Mfolozi for a five-day hiking safari. This entailed carrying all your stuff in on your back, sleeping out in the bush at night, under the stars, with everyone taking a designated turn at standing guard, torch in hand, to keep the fire burning and ensure the rhinos, elephants and leopards didn’t arrive in camp! Quite scary, but quite confidence-building too!

Then it was back to Sevenoaks and more pandemonium.

In the space of 4 weeks, we had an OCC AGM and Awards Dinner, Matt Rutherford’s lecture tour (see left and map above), a huge amount of OCC work to do and be done, we sold 8 Plymouth Park, cleared out 32 years worth of “stuff” and moved the rest into storage, had a very dramatic OCC committee meeting at which the Vice Commodore resigned – it was actually quite a relief to finally step onto Al Shaheen back in Gold River Marina again, some 8 months after we’d left her, and start to plan to go sailing!

9-11th June is our planned set-off date, so lots of things still to be done, but Azores – here we come!


We had some VERY close encounters with rhinos, so much so that after about the third day Tom asked Nunu, our Zulu guide, if we “could please just do impala and maybe giraffe today?” But it was an emotive trip: sitting around the campfire one night, Nunu had me in tears as he looked at Tom and said “You might be the last one in your family to see rhinos in the wild like this as the poaching is uncontrollable.” Dreadful thought!