Solent Gaffers


The Solent AGM 2017

Mike & Elaine Turner won the Concours d'Elegance Trophy
©A Hind

 A very personal view

Marchwood Yacht Club is not very accessible from the land. The obvious solution is to sail there. 
By Saturday the forecast had improved apart from the NW 15-25kts. It would be cold and sunny.  I hoisted the main on a swinging mooring and set off down the Medina River.  The close fetch across the Solent was enjoyable, and we ( Carlotta and I ) were bounding along at 5-6kts.  A container ship preceded by the pilot boat was coming down Southampton Water.  It swung ponderously to starboard around Calshot Spit Light and we had to bear away to allow it to pass down our port side.  After that we were hard on the wind and heading for Hamble Point. Choppy water slowed our progress.  I had to roll away the headsails and motor-sail up to Weston Sailing Club.  Then the wind was tight on the nose and I dropped the main, crossed the main shipping channel at Hythe and headed in shallow water for Marchwood.   It was 16.00 hrs by the time Carlotta was moored. Kathy and Ed had sent me a text to say they were on their way and, by the time I was ready to go ashore, Ben was phoning me to advise on a landing point:  what a lovely welcome!  It was pitch dark when we arrived in the Yacht Club to be welcomed at the bar by the friendly staff.  There was just time to test the technology before the committee meeting.


The place was full of old friends and many I recognised but could not name.  The AGM, chaired by Tim, ably supported by Marion, was followed by a triple presentation of Sou'b'Sou'West. Richard went first, mapping out the route, together with many beautiful pictures of gaffers sailing, racing and enjoying pontoon parties.  Ben followed with more photos and philosophical and personal reflections.  Sou'b'Sou'West was his chance to test himself and Betty II to the limit.  His crew ( not by chance I guess) was not only a fisherman but also a shipwright with a photo of Betty II, having reached her limit, being repaired in Dittisham.  Then it was my turn to explain how, when it became apparent that only the hardy few were going to make it to the Scilly Isles, the less hardy but still adventurous souls explored the River Fal:  first the Pandora at Restronguet for Ben's birthday and then the Heron at Malpas.  Further pictures showed our voyage to France and the Festival du Chant Marin at Paimpol.


 Most people headed home after salmon or lamb followed by apple crumble or panettone, chocolate and cream,  but Dave and Margaret had come in their campervan from the Island. I was not in a hurry to re-join Carlotta.  It was a merry evening and contiuned until midnight.

As I paddled back to the outer pontoon a huge container ship seemd about to run me down. It towered over the pontoon as tugs dragged it around ready to depart in the morning.  With two sleeping bags and after heating up the cabin with the Eberspacher I had a very comfortable night.








6 Dec 2017