Talks through the winter season were excellent this year and very well attended. Wendy Eagling gave us our first talk about the Endeavour Trophy, a timely reminder of what we owe to past commodores and how they supported and encouraged sailing. Duncan Kaye gave a very entertaining talk entitled ‘Offshore’ about his racing experiences on big boats including his time sailing on Ted Heath’s Morning Cloud. Pete Willetts gave us a history lesson on the Thames Estuary where we also learnt about coastal erosion and Roger Taylor entertained us with extracts from his latest book “Ming Ming and the art of minimal sailing”. Well worth a read if you have not already done so.
The sailing season this year started and ended well, as far as the weather was concerned, but the feature that seemed to keep cropping up, at least when the cruisers planned a trip, was the wind – as in far too much of it.
Fitting out was idyllic in balmy dry weather and for once most of us were launched in time for the early season run up to Brandy Hole, however Brandy Hole was not ready as they underwent a complete refit so we all went to Fambridge instead.
Proposed trips to the Orwell and the Calais Rally in May were the first to be cancelled due to high winds, although two boats did manage to reach Calais by starting off mid-week, namely Pete Willetts in La Mouette and Les White in Papa Romeo. They reported that they had a good time with not quite as many boats as usual.
The Branklet BBQ in June was again held in Church Road and was well attended. The Brightlingsea Curry run, one of our favourite trips had five boats going up to Friday when everyone cried off having seen the weather forecast - too much wind again. However the pontoon party faired much better. Three boats tied up to the pontoon, namely, Verlette, Amanda Louise and Quick Reflex. Verlette as a new cruiser member was very welcome though Steve and Catherine are long time members of the club having sailed in Squibs for many years. Over 30 people sat down to the Bistro in the club and a convivial evening was enjoyed by all. The next day six boats started the Swallowtail race. A course was set up the Roach and back to No 11. Baldrick and Amanda Louise made good starts, the rest of us being a minute or two behind the line. All went well with Amanda Louise and Orla in the lead until Orla went aground and had to retire after using her engine to get off. Grace had settled for second and then Amanda Louise went looking for the Branklet Buoy past the Roach buoy on the way to Pagglesham. Grace rounded Roach and set off fast for home, hardly believing her luck!
Mick King went to the Old Gaffers association East Coast Race in his new boat Baldrick where he did very well winning the Pusser’s Rum Trophy. He also went to Ipswich with the Old Gaffers and stayed in the harbour.
Various boats went off to do their own thing. Roger Taylor in Ming Ming headed off towards the Arctic Circle on another long solo adventure. Anne and Arthur Heasley in Star Swan went over the channel to the Channel Islands and Brittany. Quick Reflex with Graham and me went over to France and up the coast to Belgium. We had plenty of rain and wind on the nose, plus a poorly engine so all was not as peaceful as it might have been!
Burnham week was very well attended by members of the RCYC cruiser fleet. Class 4 had up to 8 boats from the RCYC. On the bank holiday weekend and mid-week, Adarin, skippered by Michael Bradley was 2nd. Amanda Louise II skippered by Len Cole came 4th over the weekend and then won the Sigma33 salver. Spangle skippered by David Hill won mid-week in class 4 and was 2nd in the Penrose Fitzgerald cup. Well done to everyone.
The trip up to Brandy Hole in September was affected by the weather again, as so much of our programme has been this year. Everyone decided to go wind over tarmac but it was worth the drive. The newly refurbished premises are lovely and the food was excellent for the people who made it. It was good to see some of our motor boat friends and we are hoping to see much more of them in the future.
The cruisers gathered for what was likely to be the last water borne event on Sunday 25th September. For almost the first time this year the weather blessed us with sunshine and not too much wind! Seven boats started the David Eagling race which was the best start, (thanks to Bruce in the race box) for a long time. Amanda Louise, Orla and Grace steamed off. Verlette, Good Hope and Snow Queen raced at the rear and Quick Reflex sat in the middle of the two fleets. Amanda Louise captained by Len Cole was the overall winner. Len set the quiz for the Spangle cup, having won it last year. We all enjoyed the fruit and vegetable quiz very much though some people did not seem to try as hard as they might. Derek and Dwilla Corless, won the quiz this year with a very respectable score of 18 out of 20. The day was really enjoyable with good company, good food and good sailing so thank you to everyone who turned up – 34 in total.
The best weather of the season came at the end and two boats took advantage of it by going up the east coast. Anne and Arthur Heasley in Star Swan went in company with Robert and Tracy Coyle in their new boat Clara up to the Orwell for Robert and Tracy’s first cruise out of the river. What a perfect end to the season. Let us hope and pray for more perfect sailing next season.