Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Of the naming of things

Awaiting the tide, the slip at Lydney
Lovely being back on the lake, but pining for my old river. Been pouring through the sailing calendars for Lydney and Frampton respectively, comparing against the gigs I'm committed to and trying to work out when I can get out to play on Old Muddy again. As a general principle, I never sail on the estuary on the same day I have a gig in the evening, as there's always the small, small chance I might not make it back that same day.

The complication with balancing Lydney and Frampton is that I race a double-hander. So I can't just decide to up and shoot over to Lydney instead of racing at Frampton on any given day, as that would let my crew down. And Hels is not a lady to trifle with when it comes to her sailing.

Dad & Ondine, launching from Lydney
Of non-sailing days at Frampton, there are four. The first is Easter, but I've already promised that weekend to Nikki. The second is later in May, and I'm away with Dad and Ondine for a weekend in Fowey, Cornwall. The third is a weekend in July, but, if the stars align and I put the necessary effort into the preparation, I've got my 1st kyu grading; I've only been trying to work towards that for about the last three years, so it's pretty important to me. Finally, there is a weekend in September. This one might work; Lydney are planning a down-channel trip to Saint Pierre Pill, which lies on the far bank between the two bridges.

I've been wanting to sail down channel and pass under the Old Crossing for almost as long as I can remember. I think that one's a date to keep in the diary. I'll manage the negotiations with my wife a little closer to the time.

Dad, over Frampton Sands
Of other possible adventures out onto the river, there is a trip up to Brimms Pill planned for June, another up to Newnham for July and then finally an adventure planned to Frampton Pill in early September. Brimms and Newnham should be fine. I might have to trade my wife the Frampton trip for the St Pierre one though. That feels like the beginning of a campaign strategy to me.

Aboard Ondine, approaching The Noose
I'm always fascinated and amused by the names of things found on navigation charts.

Admiralty Chart 1166 River Severn Avonmouth to Sharpness and Hock Cliff, which of course is my particular neck of the woods, is especially great, and part of the afore mentioned pining for the river bit has included a fair amount of idle browsing of the chart.

Evocative names abound: The Shoots, Whirls End, Milkmaid Rock, Leary Rock, Hen and Chickens, Slime Road, Pighole Pill, The Paddock, Fairtide Rock, The Royal Drift. And, of course, The Noose.

Settled to await the morning tide, nearby to Bullo Pill
Traffic on the river above Avonmouth is very, very sparse, and above Sharpness, almost non-existent. It wasn't always so, however. For centuries, trows used to ply their way uptide all the way to Gloucester until the building of the canal, and the canal was a major thoroughfare for shipping and trade up until the railways all but killed it. Places like Frampton, Newnham and Lydney were significant ports in their own right. In 1778, a vessel of 600 tons was built and launched from Newnham.

Makes you wonder what ghosts of a story might be hidden behind each of these names.

Footnote: A moment's trawling through Google brought me to an interesting site about the history of the Severn:

I love the Internet for precisely things like this. The pictures of the grain barges that ploughed between Sharpness and Tewkesbury in the 80's are particularly evocative for me. Dad kept a 27' motor cruiser on the river back then called Paddler, based at Tewkesbury Marina but as often moored outside our house on Alney Island just upstream from Westgate Bridge at Gloucester.  As a kid, he'd set me loose in Paddler's tender up at Tewkesbury and meet me at the end of the day back in Gloucester, or the other way around. The river narrows considerably below the upper parting on the final approaches to Gloucester. Meeting the CHASELEY or TIRLEY in the cut was quite the experience and a very early, very keen grounding in that moral of the IRPCS, "Might is right".

Those were some grand old summers to grow up with.

Tender to Paddler, yours sincerely & early freedom

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