Autumn 1999

Solent '99 - Mary Dennis

After an 18 year wait we were finally offered a Hamble mooring this year. Consequently, Kwahu has been keeping company with the sleek, upwardly mobile boats resident on the Hamble. We took advantage of our mooring by having a two-week holiday on Kwahu this summer. Happily, our holiday coincided with Cowes Week.

We had not booked a berth in Cowes and our attempts to raise any of the marinas on our VHF were ignored. They were obviously full to overflowing and had no need to listen out for new customers (or possibly, they had heard we were coming!).

There is a real buzz to Cowes Week -especially on a sunny day with a stiff breeze. It was such a day. Huge colourful sponsor flags waved happily to leeward along the entry channel. Large and small boats dodged and darted around the Red Funnel ferry as it tried to avoid a hundred pestering sailing boats. Large imposing CCC yacht club launches were moored off the entrance keeping an eye out for misbehaving yachties. Crowds lined the promenade and start line in front of the Royal Yacht Squadron as we nosed into the entry channel. Wanting to make a low-key impression (we had given up trying to make a good one) we determined to be really organised for once.

1 Commodore's Bit
2 Annual Dinner
3 Working Party
4 Sunbury Regatta
5 Signet Championships
6 Topper Adventures
7 Solent '99
8 Solent 99 page 2
9 Children’s Activity Day
10 Bewl Visit
11 Sailing Report
12 Eclipse Cruise
13 Hampton Riverside
14 Hampton Riverside p 2
15 Cundy Race
16 The Internet
17 Raffle Donations
17 The Club Geny Missing
17 Hail & Farewell
18 AGM & Prize Giving
19 Dates For Your Diary

Charles had taken down the jib and carefully stuffed it into its bag. The engine had been started in readiness and was humming away in neutral. Charles called "main coming down" and I smartly put the engine into gear and steered carefully between a catamaran and a large motor yacht. Charles looked down proudly from the deck - we had made it without losing face. For once, we had not humiliated ourselves by the almost inevitable disasters that strike us when crowds are looking on. "Just tighten the main sheet a little darling" he called as we were passing the Royal Yacht Squadron with its rows of brass cannons and important looking people in uniforms and smart dress. I obligingly gave the main sheet a gentle tug at which the topping lift broke and the boom dropped down onto my head. I collapsed semi-conscious into the cockpit.

Given the circumstances I expected a little sympathy from my fellow mariners when the sudden collapse caused me to automatically let go of the tiller to try to protect my head. But no! As Kwahu went her own wayward way the surrounding boats went into a frenzy of shouting and swearing and chaos broke out around us. All this delighted the crowds who started cheering and pointing at us. Somewhat shamefaced, and more than slightly concussed, I regained control and, with bowed head, steered towards Cowes marina.

A dory operated by a handsome and deeply tanned young man in trendy sailing gear was stationed outside the marina waiting to escort customers to their moorings. We hailed him and enquired about an overnight mooring. He looked us up and down with a polite sneer on his face. We looked suitably humble and begged for a place anywhere - even the dinghy park (a place where we are often shoved out of sight by image conscious marina proprietors). But there was no place for us. We went on our way only to be met by rejection after rejection as we made our way up river. Nobody wanted us; we were unfit for polite Cowes society. Dejected, rejected and ejected.

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