Bewl Autumn 2012 -
Bewl Water is a large and beautiful lake in Kent, the largest area of water in the South of England. At the Spring and August Bank holidays, we are invited to take part in a weekend of sailing events by the Bewl Valley Sailing Club. The invitations offer us free entry into the Bewl Lake recreation area; the use of the Club’s camping field and facilities; the chance for racing enthusiasts to pit their skills against crews from a range of clubs and casual sailors the chance to enjoy cruising over a wide area of this beautiful lake.
This year Richard was trying to get a group together to enjoy both the Saturday and Sunday activities so this meant an overnight camp, something Aquarius had not done for a while. Jean and I wanted to go and take our caravan and the Bewl Valley Sailing Club were flexible in regard to the equipment used, so provided we understood that amenities were scarce on the site there would be no problem. Although the initial take up was a bit disappointing eventually eleven Aquarius bodies put their names on the list. In the end we occupied six sites plus our van which with its’ side tent offered clubhouse facilities to the group and very comfortable facilities to Jean and me.
We drove down on Friday in the bright sunlight of what promised to be a fine weekend. The field was vacant when we arrived so we had our pick of the paddock, naturally choosing the flattest part of the site as close to the Heads (toilets to landlubbers) as possible. With our caravan unfolded and the side tent fitted we were established shortly after lunch and able to enjoy a very pleasant afternoon by the lake and a comfortable night in the country side.
Quite early on Saturday Richard and Liz arrived with the rest following soon after. The site became a hive of activity with tents being pitched around the mobile clubhouse. Richard even had a tent he had never erected before and actually had no memory of purchasing. Bryan had one that was spring loaded and although it leaped to its erect position with ease he had great difficulty folding it up the following afternoon. Unfortunately we did not have a video so we missed the chance of filming one of the funniest events I have seen since Saturday morning pictures with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Jean manned the stove serving coffee, tea and biscuits to all comers.
The breeze was blowing invitingly so quite soon the clang of masts, the rattle of halliards and the flap of sails became the dominant sound as the boats were rigged for an afternoon of recreational sailing. While the keenies got going on the water Jean and Brenda Panting researched a venue for dinner and found a very nice sounding pub not far away. The afternoon passed very pleasantly and soon we were all washed and polished ready for dinner.
We repacked the cars to minimise the impact of our passing on the Kent countryside
and with five in my car and the satnav providing the navigation we headed off for
the evening’s delights. Jane, my sat-
Sunday dawned a little cool but dry and promising with the lake ruffled by a gentle
morning breeze. Richard piked but John Panting and Frank both bravely entered the
racing program. Richard’s Signet and Paul’s Skipper offered the non-
Bryan and I took Paul’s Skipper for a fun run across the lake. Bryan had refused to helm with a novice of my capability as crew (my longest sailing trip being on a 36ft ketch from Cape Town to Mauritius in 1972) so I took the helm as skipper. We had hardly left the dock when Bryan mutinied ordering me to come up, fall off, tack, etc. In other circumstances I would have had him flogged or even hanged but I had no other crew (Jean was making lunch) so I just reminded him who the skipper was. Once the proper order was established we took long tacks across the lake spending almost 90 minutes on the water enjoying a great sail in a nice boat. Thanks Paul!
Whilst we the sailors were enjoying ourselves, Brenda and Jean gathered up the food scraps and put together a sumptuous lunch for all. Their efforts were certainly appreciated; thanks ladies.
Soon the crews were packing up for the journey home, leaving Jean and I to enjoy another evening of peace in the Kent countryside. As a finale Bryan embarked on the performance of his life trying to fold a spring loaded tent into a flat 2ft square bag. It sprang left, it sprang right, it sprang in and out of sight. It sprang up and then down going round and round and round. Bryan wheezed and squeezed but the thing would neither lay flat nor lay quiet. To give Bryan full credit, I did not hear a single 4lw but that must have played havoc with his blood pressure. As always, the tenacious won, so finally the tent, having thoroughly enjoyed itself, gave up and slipped easily and quietly in to its’ bag just as if nothing had happened. Bryan dusted his hands in triumph and peace descended on the camp once again.
Monday arrived as a perfect late summer morning with warm sunshine and no wind. Unfortunately we were scheduled to leave so having conveyed our thanks to our hosts we were off.
Bewl Lake is a wonderful facility in a very beautiful part of England, one to which we at Aquarius have access thanks to the generosity and hospitality of the lovely people at the Bewl Valley Sailing Club. They have even asked us back, so don’t miss out next time.