Looking back at the Autumn Rally 2019

Posted by Beryl Reed on 11 November 2019

There were six Fairview yachts this year, twice the number the club chartered last year, when on that occasion the owner-boats out-numbered the chartered boats. In comparison, only Sea Myth joined the party this year, the rest of the fleet being the Fairview boats: Faux Pas, D'ArtagnanApres le VentFleur De Lis, Carte Blanche and Tres Jolie.

Apart from Pauline Hobbs, who had a frustrating wait for the recovery service after getting a flat tyre en-route, the crew of Tres Jolie arrived in time on Wednesday to get settled in, after which they strolled into Port Hamble village and had dinner at the Bugle.  Helen, Gerald and Lawrence, from Fleur De Lis,  joined us. Walking back to the boat later on, we met up with Pauline in the marina carpark. 

Thursday morning saw the rally really coming alive, with the various charter crews doing their handovers with Fairview. We did this after enjoying a hearty breakfast of porridge.  We slipped lines at 10am and in damp but bright conditions made our way downriver, with the usual feeling of expectation and excitement that accompanies the start of a cruise.  We enjoyed a westerly sail across to Lymington, mooring up in the Berthon Marina. Our skipper, Judith Holden, encouraged all the crew to get involved (above and below decks), and leading by example, was not afraid of rolling up her sleeves in the galley. Initially we had toyed with the idea of going tuther way to Portsmouth for Gunwharf, but this would have meant a beat back the following day, likely in increasing winds. Peter Smerdon, aboard Apres le Vent, invited the crews for drinks on-board. The cabin and cockpit was chock-a-block. The rally party boat - such a nice tradition.

On Friday we decided to sail to Yarmouth while this was still comfortably possible - the already grim weather reports were getting worse for the Saturday hoolie. With one reef in we made for Newtown Creek for lunch. We picked out visitor buoy #14 and had crew ready on the foredeck with boat hook and line. However the boat would not respond to the helm, causing this to be missed, and so we picked up #13 instead.  We did not share the superstitions of our sailing great grandfathers,  who had a huge number of such fears including flat feet, renaming a boat, whistling, cutting your hair or nails, and sleeping with your head toward the bow! A couple of other boats from the fleet also joined us in the creek. After lunch we made our way to Yarmouth, putting a second reef in. We arrived in good time to get moored up and enjoy a cuppa, and later get ready to entertain: It was our turn to be the party boat that afternoon. In the evening we went ashore and had dinner at Salty’s. 

On Saturday morning we walked through the howling wind and rain to the Royal Solent Yacht Club, where we would be having the rally dinner that evening. After mooring up yesterday afternoon, Martin Woods from Carte Blanche had been ashore and “done a recce”, in order to find the best place to watch the Rugby World Cup Final, and this was the place.  They did us proud too, giving us our own room, and serving monster bacon baguettes. It was a stout effort at short notice. Our sole South African, Paul Richardson from Sea Myth, sung a couple of lines from his country’s national anthem, and as might be imagined, was the target of some good humoured banter.  But after the game this turned to sincere congratulation, for the Boks fairly easily saw England off. It was not to be our day. After the game the crews did their own thing, some returning to their boats, and others hoping on a bus to tour the island. It was a filthy day to be outside.

At 7pm the crews assembled back again at the splendid Royal Solent Yacht Club for the traditional Commodore’s Cocktails reception.  The Fancy Dress creations were now on display. This year the theme was “Space Movies”, chosen because it was the year of the 50th aniversary of the moon landing. Sea Myth brought us the Apollo 13 astronauts, and Fleur de Lis the astronauts from the film Gravity. With Carte Blanche’s crew, we had several characters, some very colourful, from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  It was the Alien franchise theme for Tres Jolie’s crew, who brought us Mummy and Daddy Alien, Ripley, Vasquez, and of course an infant alien emerging from the chest. Cast from the Men in Black films came from D’Artagnan, and Apres le Vent delivered up some of the planets in the Solar System on a take on Forbidden Planet. Non-rally goers the Shintons also joined the reception (their boat was out of the water for the winter). Roger had a minimalist but very effective piece of fancy dress - a headset: He was mission control! However, the “masters of minimalism” prize would have to be awarded to Alistair Kingham’s crew from Faux Pax . On being asked the theme, Alistair answered “We’re from the planet Gin & Tonic”.  The Gin & Tonicians sole distinguishing characteristic was pencil drawn eyebrows!

We took our seats for dinner and Commodore Mike Veal invited David Reed to say Grace. It was the beginning of a most enjoyable dinner and sociable evening. Mike’s post-meal address highlighted some amusing anecdotes from boats on the rally. More somberly but very properly, the address included a toast in memory of Graham Fisher. As tradition befits Mike thanked our hosts. They thoroughly deserved it too: What nice people, and they looked after us royally well. Mike also thanked the new rear commodore cruising team of David and Beryl Reed, for their efforts in organizing the rally. As the evening was drawing to an end Mike invited the crews back for a nightcap aboard Sea Myth. It had  been a smashing rally dinner. 

The crews awoke on Sunday morning to a much nicer outlook: The storm had blown itself out overnight. After a grand fry-up we slipped lines and sailed across to the Beaulieu River for lunch, where we rafted up against Apres le Vent. This year the wind conditions heavily dictated the passage of the fleet, and this meant more shared moorings and lunch stops than has been the case in the past. Indeed, one could say that this was a particularly “rally” type rally! After lunch we made a leisurely sail back to Port Hamble. Perhaps overly leisurely, for we were very lucky to be able to top up our fuel in time. We moored up (I think we were the last in), and started packing and clearing up.  I thoroughly enjoyed the rally despite the weather, sentiments I later heard repeated by others.  Here’s to next Spring!

Post Script from the Ed

Bernie and the crew of Tres Jolie were awarded the Fancyt Dress prize by the catering staff at The Royal Solent Yacht club and it was presneted at the annual Laying Up Supper at the end of November. Congratulations.

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