The Cruisers had an early start for their last sailing event of the year on Saturday 5th October, The Three Pubs Race. The fastest boat on the first leg was Mingming II with Roger Taylor and the whole event was won by Eclipse who with Alistair and Wendy Wilson, plus crew Harry Hastwell, got to all three venues. For Katherine Barham it was a new experience...
Steve assured me that waking to the alarm clock set at the weekday time of six thirty was a small price to pay for the opportunity to sail in a famous 'Swan' class yacht and for once he was right. The Three Pubs event began with a short race from Burnham into the Roach, Race Officer George, in his (one man) committee boat Sprite, got us underway in a light north westerly wind and soon Amanda Louise joined Mingming ll close to the south shore avoiding the worst of the flood tide.
Keen to set Star Swan's long rested masthead spinnaker Arthur, joined by Hippo and Steve on the foredeck, set the huge sail at the second attempt and we accelerated impressively downwind. Aft of the kettle, Anne was helming and Bill played the spinnaker sheet while I followed instructions adjusting the mainsheet. Eclipse, also flying a masthead spinnaker, was close behind. The Branklet soon arrived to starboard and the Foredeck Hands suggested to the Skipper that changing our destination to Holland or Bradwell would be easier than gybing the huge kite. Arthur insisted we stay with the rest of the fleet and a competent gybe saw us beam reaching to the finish line in the River Roach.
Mingming ll and Eclipse had very clearly demonstrated that smaller boats well sailed and with a clean hull can match the larger boats in the river. Another impressive yacht, Jack, motored to join us at Pagglesham as did the Club RIB, the latter providing the launch service to the shore.
We waited for the 'Plough and Sail' to open and at twelve noon a round of drinks was swiftly purchased and a relaxed social scene soon evolved, this meant that Arthur had to do some serious nagging to get us to begin the journey to the second pub, 'The Ferry Boat Inn' at Fambridge.
I have skied behind fast RIBs but have never crewed in one so whilst we motored towards the mouth of the River Roach I took Mark up on his offer and swopped places with Wendy. In the RIB we were able to get very close to the river bank and almost be amongst the chattering Canadian Geese resting whilst on a journey of their own. After an exhilarating burst of speed we were back with the fleet and I re-joined Star Swan. Punching the first of the ebb approaching North Fambridge we hailed the crew of Nightsong sailing in the last of the breeze in the opposite direction. It seemed likely that they had organised their own One Pub event working the tides more efficiently.
Some more serious nagging by Arthur was necessary before we left 'The Ferry Boat Inn' and made our way back to Burnham. Insufficient wind meant that the planned race was abandoned but with a fast ebb we were soon back in Burnham and making our way wearily to the third pub, 'The White Harte'. The presentation of the trophy to the crew of Eclipse marked the end of a long day which for me provided a welcome break after a hard week at work, in fact the only time that I had thought about work was when the chattering geese reminded me of my students!
My thanks to all who attended for making this such a fun event, to Arthur and Anne for their hospitality on Star Swan and to Steve for injecting some nautical terms to the text above. I hope to see you all again soon.