Solent Branch

August Bank Holiday Rally – 27th – 29th August 2016

Coordinators: Sheena and Martin Boyce

Recent draft event calendars have invited offers to coordinate a rally for the lighthouse2August Bank Holiday to locations that need the extra day.  Earlier this Summer, we wondered whether anyone might be interested in using the extra day to have a “fun day out on the IOW”.  Having sounded out a couple of crews on the Yarmouth rally and gained the support of the branch committee (and importantly some funding) phone calls were made and bookings placed.

We set an informal target of at least 6 boats (hoping for a few more) and arranged private travel to allow up to 24 people to participate in the day out.  Bookings opened towards the end of June and by the middle of July all the places on the day out were taken and we were negotiating extra berths in East Cowes.  The final group included Imogen, Mistral Dancer, Sea’Scape, Calista, Galatea, Gannet, Svecia, White Whisper, At Last, Sebby, Black Morwenna, Scirocco, Espray and LadyJ.

On Saturday 27th August Moody yachts could be seen making their way upstream the River Medina as midday approached.  East Cowes Marina delivered on a promise to berth us all together provided we arrived from noon onwards and even managed to berth three Moody yachts visiting as part of an Arun Yacht Club rally alongside.

There was plenty of time to catch up with old friends, to welcome David and Teresa to their first event on Sebby M31 and for quite a few crews to fit in a quick shopping trip to Waitrose for last minute items for the BBQ.

At 6pm we headed up to cook our suppers on bbqCharcoal BBQs that had been prepared by the marina team – all we had to do was turn up with our food – they even provided utensils.  Luckily we also had the use of a marquee which proved to be extremely useful a little later during a short sharp shower.

Everyone joining the day out was encouraged to set an alarm to ensure they wouldn’t miss the coach before we headed back for coffee and nightcaps on a number of boats.  Aboard Imogen it is possible we identified a branch member willing to stand as Vice Captain at the 2016 AGM (fingers crossed he remembers when our Acting Branch Captain speaks to him!).

Bright and early on Sunday morning (9am) we gathered just outside the marinacoach to await our coach and driver and we were not disappointed.  When John, our driver, arrived, in his 30-year old 25 seater coach, nostalgia was evident and memories of “the last time I was on a similar coach….” were recounted.  John delivered us as close as is possible to St Catherine’s Lighthouse and, having split into two groups, the first group completed a guided tour whilst the second group enjoyed a circular walk around the headland with a refreshments stop.

Each tour of the lighthouse lasted around lens50 minutes, visiting all four floors of the lighthouse accessed via a spiral staircase of 74 steps and a “ship’s ladder” of 15 steps.   Jennifer and Colin (At Last) opted out of the walk to spend time speaking to John and discovered (amongst many other interesting facts) that he is a direct descendant of one of the first lighthouse keepers to serve at St Catherine’s (c.1858). The groups swapped and we all made it back onto the coach by midday.

We travelled a short distance to Chale, enjoying views of a part of the island we rarely visit, and spotted, atop a nearby hill, the Pepperpot; the tall medieval octagonal tower that is all that survives of St Catherine’s Oratory.

We had heard, during our tours, that the oratory had been built in 1328 as penance by a local landowner who had plundered church property (casks of white wine) from a ship wrecked nearby.
Arriving at The Wight Mouse, we received a lovely welcome from Andy and Cheryl (who for many years hosted MOA events at The Folly Inn) and enjoyed an excellent Sunday lunch.  During our return journey to East Cowes a “Lighthouse themed” multiple choice quiz tested “knowledge and short term memory” and the tie breaker had a few people scratching their heads.  Eleanor and Stephen (Svecia team 1) topped the marks, managing to beat Ian and Sue (White Whisper) and Tony (Svecia team 2) by one mark.

By the time quiz entries had been completed we had arrived at The Garlic Farm with its opportunity to learn about, taste and buy garlic and garlic themed products…although, to be truthful, not many of us opted for garlic ice cream.

We were delivered back to the Marina with time for tea and, for some “forty winks” ahead of pontoon party drinks at 6.30pm (slightly delayed by a rain shower).  David and Sue (Charlotte Russe) who signed up to the MOA during the weekend and Robbie and Janet (Team Spirit) also joined our group for the pontoon drinks which was positively buzzing until shortly after 9pm.

Most crews enjoyed a leisurely start to Bank Holiday Monday and departed shortly ahead of the midday deadline.

Thank you for coming along and playing your part in a memorable weekend.

Sheena and Martin