‘On one of the finest evenings of the year so far 16 of us set off on the 'Mid Summer
Madness' cruise to the Magpie pub for dinner, leaving at 6:30pm. Having missed it
last year I was very keen to join what is advertised as a sophisticated trip up the
Thames. I left work early and thanks to it having been the England game in the World
Cup that afternoon there was very little traffic so I arrived in plenty of time to
Dilemma struck when we discovered that this same football event meant that The Magpie
had run out of food! Frantic planning and plotting led to the decision to head for
the Weir Hotel instead, having confirmed there was something to eat when we got there,
Disaster averted, Roger Wheeler in the Laser, and I in my Comet (emboldened by having
been awarded the Ladies Cup earlier in the month at the Regatta!!!) I decided to
try to sail despite only a gentle wind.
The better- dressed members of the party either rowed (Eiko and Graham) or cruised
alongside us. Richard Cannon in the patrol boat with Joan Walkden & Linda Wheeler
patiently accompanied me in my Comet as I made my way slowly up river until Roger
disappeared from my view! Then I was able to enjoy the magic of the evening as two
swans flew low overhead in the direction we were headed; people sat in their gardens
along the bank, chatting drinking and cooking food - magnificent!
We all regrouped in Sunbury Lock - apologies those of you in the cruisers who had
such a long wait for me while I was helped to catch up!! (It seemed you all made
good use of the time though?) Fortunately no one else was wanting to use the Lock
at this time of the evening so we went through en masse For the record - Richard
tells me it is the first time he has taken sailing boats through the lock since he
joined AQSC in 1992. Certainly a first for me!
But that was not the last challenge along the route as it soon became clear that
our masts would not clear the next bridge; it was very difficult to judge if we would
clear the several cables strung across the river but we didn't bring any down.
Roger was ably assisted by Graham and Eiko to tilt his Laser and bring it under the
bridge at a precarious angle! My team took a different approach as Joan generously
offered to go ashore and hang on to my mast while walking my little craft through
to the other side - a hairy moment but without any disasters, and another first for
And then we cruised on up to the Weir Hotel where we caught up with the rest of the
crew and were joined by Don & Helen Barnett for a wonderful hot dinner in the warm,
setting sun (or watching the marathon tennis match for Joan - former Ladies Cup winner
- and I!, we left just as bad light stopped play).
After some essential sustenance we headed back down to the club, perfecting the art
of being towed and passing under a bridge (this time I was IN the Safety Boat and
pulled my Comet to me!) before decending the lock and being released back onto the
river with a gentle tail wind
A more perfect night you could not have been imagined - the sun was all-but gone,
not a cloud in the sky, an almost full moon with some stars along the way, and the
Thames glistening all around.
Patiently the cruisers escorted Roger and I slowly on our way back to AQSC in the
gentle breeze and silent evening air until it was almost completely dark. Thanks
again to the patient efforts of the Safety Boat crew I was escorted back to the club
before midnight and able to get ashore and de-rigged by torch-light
It was a truly memorable experience for me, thanks to the patience and assistance
of everyone else - I do hope you all enjoyed it too!
And for those of you who missed it, next year perhaps we will change the planned
venue and do it all again? Not that I can imagine getting a whole flotilla under
that bridge and still having time to eat dinner before dark!