SS Varvassi

SS Varvassi

The SS Varvassi was a 3.874 ton Greek merchant steamship that became infamous for running aground off the Needles Lighthouse, Isle of Wight on January 5th 1947.

The SS Varvassi was travelling from Algiers to Southampton with a mixed cargo.  She was carrying 600 tons of iron ore, 200 tons of tangerines and 438 barrels of wine.  She suffered engine failure off the Needles and drifted onto the rocks where she became stuck.  The Yarmouth Lifeboat was called out several times to assist but the captain sent them away hoping to save the ship.  Several attempts were made to re-float her, but the strong South-Westerly winds and tides were not kind to her.  Eventually with waves breaking over the deck the captain abandoned ship, all crew were saved by the Yarmouth lifeboat.  Over the next few weeks attempts were made to recover the cargo but this proved very difficult.  The SS Varvassi was officially declared a wreck on 21st January 1947.  She was broken up as best as could be done at the time, but this was hampered by strong tides and bad weather.  The iron ore cargo spilled out onto the reaches, the tangerines could be seen floating around in the water for weeks and as for the wine?  Well I’m sure we can guess that one!  To this day parts of the hull still remains underneath the water.  On very low tides, close to chart datum, the boilers can be seen just breaking the surface of the water.

ss varvassi

The wreck of the SS Varvassi is marked on charts to warn ships and yachts of her location, but she still manages to catch some unwitting sailors.  The Round the Island Yacht Race runs every year and around 1200-1800 yachts take part in this popular circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight.  Yachts of different classes have to sail around the island in a day.  They start at Cowes head West to the Needles, go round the Needles down to St Catherine’s Point, then up the East side of the island and back to Cowes.  In 2016 the Commodore of the Island Sailing Club (the club that organises the race) Mark Wynter, lent his 1977 beautiful wooden Half Tonner Alchemist to friend and helmsman Andrew Talbot to participate in the race.  Mark Wynter was too busy to enter.  You can guess what happened.  Alchemist hit the submerged boilers of the SS Varvassi and started to take on water.  The Mudeford Lifeboat got to the scene and valiantly tried to tow the £30,000 yacht off the wreck but as it started to sink fast, this attempt was abandoned and the remaining crew were rescued.  Here is some footage taken by one of the RNLI crew showing the sinking:

 

https://youtu.be/5e_wlfcA2wQ

 

If you should find yourself sailing around the Needles make sure you have a current chart.  As a guide to those without electronic or optical aids (are you mad?!), there is a simple way to tell if you are near to the wreck.  Make sure you can see (with a height of eye of 6ft above the water) the Old Coastguard Station at a level clear above the top of the lighthouse.  Here is a diagram to further explain:

 

ss varvassi

 

And another to highlight the location:

 

ss varvassi

 

sailing dating

 

Summer Solstice Sailing

Summer Solstice Sailing on the Solent

Summer Solstice Sailing.  One of the Lovesail members is planning to organise a round the island social sail on the weekend of the summer solstice.  If you are interested then please log into your Lovesail account and drop solent_swinger a line.

 

19th – 21st June  2015

Celebrate Summer’s longest day with a lazy circumnavigation of the IOW.

SLOTHS AROUND THE SOLENT is your much needed antidote to all that racing and rushing about. Don’t shout “Starboard”, when you can whisper, “More Spritzer!”

Suggested Itinerary

Friday 19th pm tide to Alum Bar – beach barby and/or raft up.  Saturday 20th round the island, maybe lunch hook at White Cliff, onward to anchor outside Bembridge (Seaview) for dinner or brunch ashore at Baywatch Cafe.  Home on Sunday, drowsily.

All Love Sailors invited: – crew get your skippers sorted. Skippers – relax, and await provisions.

summer solstice sailing

 

Round the Island Yacht Race

Round the Island Yacht Race

The annual Round the Island Yacht Race is organized by the Island Sailing Club. Since 2005, it has been sponsored by JP Morgan Asset Management. Beginning and ending in Cowes, the date that it takes place depends on the tides. It is usually held during the month of June, although it may be held in late May or early July if the sea refuses to cooperate with the traditional timetable.

Round the Island Yacht Race 2014

This year, the Round the Island Yacht Race will be held on 21 June 2014. It will begin and end at Cowes. The event is expected to attract around 16,000 sailors and more than 1,700 vessels. Whether they are watching in person or via the live commentary on the website, spectators will have the opportunity to watch world class racers in action.

Most craft will take several hours to complete the course. The current record for a multihull boat is held by Sir Ben Ainslie on JP Morgan BAR in 2013 and stands at 2 hours, 52 minutes and 15 seconds. For a monohull craft, the current record is three hours, 43 minutes and 50 seconds, set by Mike Slade on ICAP Leonard, also in 2013.

Race History

The first race took place in 1931 with 25 entries. It was run at the suggestion of Island Sailing Club Member, Major Cyril Windeler, who proposed an event suitable for craft in the 5 to 25-ton category. The Gold Roman Bow, as the trophy is known, was lifted by Peter Brett, who competed in a 22-foot Cornish fishing boat he purchased for £45.

Two years later, the 1933 race was punctuated by drama when the Rosemary IV, leading the race under Isaac Bell, lost her mainsail right before the finish line. The crew frantically raised a trysail and finished 46 seconds ahead of the Felise. Not far away, the Enid, a 32 year-old cutter captained by Dr RT Cooke, sprang a leak and ultimately sank off Alum Bay, near the southwest corner of the IOW near the delicate rock formation known as the Needles.

Charity Fundraising

The race provides an opportunity for spectators to donate to the official race charity, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. Supporters may also sponsor their favourite crew via the JustGiving website.

round the island yacht race

 

Related Articles: Round the Island Race; Round the Island

Round the Island Race

Round the Island Race, 1st June 2013, Cowes, Isle of Wight

The Round the Island Race has been scheduled a little earlier this year on 1st June 2013.  You still have a few days to enter, but standard entries will close at midnight on Saturday 11th May 2013.

Latest news about this years’ Round the Island Race

Amongst the competitors for this years Round the Island Race there will be two Sirs (including a 4 times Olympic gold medallist), one Dame, two Members of the Order of the British Empire and various world record holders!  Sir Ben Ainslie, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Dame Ellen MacArthur, Dee Caffari MBE, Helena Lucas MBE, Alex Thomson, Mike Golding will all be taking part this year along with the 1600 other sailing enthusiasts.

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, is the official Round the Island Race Charity.  It helps young people aged between 8-24 regain their confidence, on their way to recovery from cancer, leukaemia and other serious illness. There will be Trust representatives on hand in the Race Village over the weekend.  they will provide details about how your donations will help young people from hospitals throughout the UK experience life-changing sailing trips.

To gain some local knowledge and be one step ahead of other competitors, why not join Sailing Logic’s pre-Race Masterclass on May 25th.  Tim Thubron will talk you through the tidal gates and how they will affect you, the tide patterns and eddies and highlight key hazards to avoid such as the wreck!  He will also cover reading the weather forecast and preparing your boat for the Race as well as racing rules and how to apply them.

Timex are holding a winch grinding competition for anyone who thinks they can flex their muscles the best.  You could win yourself a watch worth £245.  Find them in the Race Village.

Old Pulteney will be holding various whiskey tasting session.  To try the tipple find them at the Raymarine weather briefing on the Friday night or in the Race Village throughout the weekend.

Last, and by absolutely no means the least, Sir Ben will be signing posters.  It doesn’t say what posters, lets hope they are of him and not his AC45 catamaran J.P. Morgan BAR!  Catch him after the Round the Island Race on Saturday at 17:00 for the signing at the Henri Lloyd stand in the Race Village.

 

round the island race

 

Other related articles Round the Island Yacht RaceSailing Dates

Image: TH Martinez/Sea&Co/onEdition; free for editorial use.

 

Cowes Week Sailing Regatta

Details about Cowes Week

Cowes Week (Isle of Wight, UK) Dates for 2013: 3rd – 10th August 2013.  Here are some statistics to give you some idea of the event.

cowes weekA Regatta has been held in Cowes since 1826 in some form or another.  Lasting 8 days and with up to 40 races each day for over 1000 keelboats, this makes it the largest regatta in the world.  Over 8500 competitors take part from Olympic Champions to weekend sailors, all trying to sail The Solent waters with their tricky tidal conditions.   Lets not forget also this stretch of water is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world

With over 100,000 visitors attending Cowes Week, there are plenty of Shoreside activities too.  Try watching the races from The Green or pop along to the High Street to see street theatre, chandleries, art galleries, antiques, clothing/leisurewear and gift shops.  In the evening a carnival atmosphere is enjoyed with live bands across the various bars areas and plenty of superb restaurants and pubs catering for various tastes.

At the end of the Cowes Week there is a spectacular firework display on the Friday evening to close.cowes week   Thousands of spectators watch the fireworks from the shoreside or from boats.  A must see.

Images courtesy of lovesail.com

Related Articles: Cowes Week 2014; Images of Cowes Week; Cowes Week 2013

The Old Gaffers Festival

Old Gaffers Festival!

 

The Old Gaffers Festival.  Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight is the setting for the 3 day Festival running from 31st May – 2 June 2013

old gaffers festivalGaffers are sailing boats with a gaff rig, a sailing rig (configuration of sails) in which the sail is four cornered.  So called after the gaff, or spar pole that holds the sail up.

This annual festival see around 100 gaffers partaking in various races around Yarmouth’s picturesque harbour.  There are shoreline activities for visitors including music, dancing, beer tent, refreshments, circus workshops, RNLI Lifeboat and Search and Rescue Helicoper and much much more.

For more information visit this guide to the Isle of Wight

Lovesail will be attending the Festival so look out for us and feel free to ask us any questions about the site.

Related Articles: Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival, Old Gaffers