[As explained in the Footnotes, this article outlines the history of Seafarers Sailing Club up to 2011]
The First Fifty Years of Seafarers Sailing Club
Part 1 - The Early Years
John Harmer left the Royal Navy in 1954 after 15 years service. In 1960, John and his wife, Mavis, were living in Stubbington. Having read of the drowning of two boys enjoying a day's fishing, John concluded that lack of boat knowledge had contributed to the tragedy. He approached two existing local sailing clubs to form an education section. Neither club was interested, so John set about forming a new club. In November 1960 John canvassed the local area using newspaper advertisements, leaflets and personal calls. This led to a meeting in the annex of the Hammond Hall, Stubbington on Tuesday 31st January, the inaugural meeting of the Seafarers Sailing Club. The Club's aims would be to share sailing experience and teach others to sail with safety. The Club was to be run on the lowest subscription possible so as to attract the widest family membership.
By the beginning of March 1961 the Club had taken over a derelict pump house in Cottes Way which it rented from Fareham Council. Renovation of the building involved a lot of work including the removal of heavy concrete engine beds with hammer and chisel. Some of the seats were salvaged from a Southampton cinema following a fire.
On Tuesday 25th April 1961, with a membership of 20, the Club held its first AGM. A committee was elected and Club colours were chosen as orange and white.
A training programme of lectures interspersed the concrete chipping details. A manual for the training programme was produced. The syllabus included dinghy construction, rigs and rigging, sailing theory and aerodynamics, rule of the road, knots, buoyage systems, safety and rescue drill, cordage and splicing, weather and tides.
Plans for a GP14 sailing dinghy were procured and construction commenced between evening lectures. Meanwhile, so that practical training could get underway, a WW2 airborne lifeboat was purchased at a cost of £85 from a member of the Hamble Club. It was of the type designed by Uffa Fox to be carried under aircraft and parachuted to airmen who had crashed into the sea. The boat was converted for sailing duties at Cottes Way and named 'Airborne'.
During the first season a total of 75½ hrs of instruction were given. The instruction circuit was Hill Head to Brambles Buoys, beaching at the end of Crofton Lane for return to the Club. The Club devised a test of proficiency in dinghy handling and awarded a certificate to those successfully completing it. The Club became affiliated to the RYA in November 1963.
The Club's first 'formal' social event was held in the clubhouse in Cottes Way on Friday 15th December 1961 with food subsidised by the coffee boat and drinks provided by the attendees. In the photograph of this event below, the Club's founder and first Commodore, John Harmer, can be seen at the front left wearing a bow tie.
On the Beach
Originally 'Airborne' was stored in the compound and manhandled to the beach at Hill Head on its trolley. From mid 1962 the Club had a boat park on the beach. Initially this was adjacent a plot of land owned by the Admiralty west of Crofton Lane on the approach to the beach. In the Spring of 1965 the Club moved its "sailing centre" along the beach a short distance to the bottom of the garden of "Thatched Cottage" (7 Hill Head Road). In February 1968 fencing was erected around the boat park which was occupied by up to 40 boats. The Club continued to operate from his property until the boats moved to the Salterns in 1974.
The aerial photograph below was published in 'The News' in November 1969. The clubhouse between Cottes Way and Osborne View Road and the dinghies on the Thatched Cottage's beach are both circled. The other photograph shows Club activity on the beach in 1972.
Sailing - the First Decade
In June 1963 the Club was loaned - later given - an Enterprise, E45. This helped take the load off Airborne which had accumulated over 135 hours of instruction during the 1962 season with some sessions lasting up to 7 hours. During 1963 'Airborne' and E45 together accumulated 151 hours at sea being used for instruction including 3 hours night sailing experience.
Construction of the first and only GP14 was eventually completed in 1966. The boat was named 'The John Harmer' in honour of the founder and first Commodore. John and Mavis Harmer had emigrated to Canada in 1964.
The first Club cruise to the Isle of Wight was in July 1963. Four boats; 'Airborne', E45, E9954, and a self-built boat - with 12 members aboard, left Hill Head at 10am and sailed to Cowes where they secured at the public landing at East Cowes. They got back to Hill Head at 4:30pm. Eventually, cruises became a popular, if infrequent, way to put sailing skills into practice. Venues included "The Folly Inn" on the River Medina, Wootton Creek, Lepe, Netley and "The Rising Sun" at Warsash.
The first attempt at Club racing was in October 1964; six boats took part but there was a distinct lack of wind. It took a while before racing became an integral part of the Club's programme. Despite best intentions, there were few races in 1965 and 1966 and none in 1967. However, by the end of the decade the improved levels of enthusiasm and participation generated by a racing programme was acknowledged. Within a year regular racing, coordinated by a racing officer and sub-committee, and a rescue boat, of sorts, had been introduced.
The photographs below, published in "The News" on 22 April 1971, show Gerry Warwick, Club Commodore, working on 'Airborne', Laurie Racey and members wheeling 'Airborne' down to the water and Vic Bryant, Rear Commodore, and members setting sail in 'Airborne' .
Fees, Fund-raising and Social Events in the Sixties
During its first decade the Club was certainly not rich. It owned three boats; 'Airborne' valued at £40, Enterprise E45 valued at £35 and, eventually, GP14 'John Harmer' valued at £150.
The membership fee was initially set at 2s 6d per week (£6.50 pa). In 1962 this was revised to £4 pa. Concern grew that membership fees were deterring prospective members and, at a Special General Meeting in November 1964, a reduction to £2 pa was agreed.
The "family-friendly" ethos was enshrined in the rules and the fee structure from early on. In June 1962 the rules were revised to read "A full member shall be recognised as husband and wife". It is interesting to consider whether the implication that the member was the male and the partner was a wife would be "PC" today!
Nowadays another major source of income is boat parking fees. It appears that these first appeared at the end of the 1965 season when it was proposed that members be charged 10/- (10 shillings or 50p) for laying-up spaces in the Club park.
There was not a particularly busy social calendar for the first few years. During 1962 there was a film show in February (which made a loss), a very successful 'Bazaar' (jumble sale) in October and a social (bring a bottle) 4 days before Christmas. The Bazaar and the Christmas social were both held at Hammond Hall. In 1963 there was a bazaar in Hammond Hall in November. This raised over £20. A month later a Club dinner/dance was held at the Osborne View.
The jumble sale, seen as an important source of funds, became a reasonably common, if infrequent, event. Jumble sales were held in November 1965 (Church Hall made £13-12-3), October 1967 (Scout Hut £20-6-2), October 1968 (Scout Hut more than £20) and June 1969 (Scout Hut £15-6-6).
In July 1964 the Club had a "highly successful" barbecue. These eventually became another popular event. Fish and chips were the norm, initially from "Mr Chippy" (mobile) then subsequently from the Stubbington fish and chip shop. Why fish and chips at a barbecue? When planning the 1968 barbecue, it was suggested in committee "that sausages were cooked but no volunteers to organise the event were forthcoming".
As the decade ended, the Club moved further afield for its annual dinner. In 1968 it was held at "The Queen's Head" in Titchfield with about 30 attending for the buffet dinner. The next dinner took place in February 1970; it was a beer and skittles evening at "The Rising Sun" in Warsash.
Part 2 - From Cottes Way to Salterns and Developing the Clubhouse
Acquiring the Salterns Site
By the beginning of 1966, Fareham Council's aspiration to acquire and develop the Admiralty-owned land at Salterns was known. The Club contacted the Council to express an interest with an outline requirement for an area approximately 150 feet by 90 feet to contain a boathouse and a dinghy park. By the end of 1969 the Council had finished the slipway and was in the process of filling in the dinghy park. It was noted with some disappointment that there would not be, as originally proposed, a separate car park for boat owners; there was going to be a public car park only.
By the end of 1973 a lease had been signed granting the Club use of the land for 50 years from 1st January 1974. The rent was £185 pa subject to review every 7th year. The first year was rent-free. The lease was signed on behalf of the Club by its three Trustees; Tony Short (Commodore), Alan Flack (Vice Commodore) and Bill Garment (Secretary).
The Club took possession of the new site in April 1974. The first tasks were the erection of fencing and gates and hardening up of the surface. This was done at a cost approaching £600 on a DIY basis. In June the Council gave the Club permission to move the shed and 20ft high signal mast, previously sited in the garden of the Thatched Cottage, to the compound. In his annual report at the 1974 AGM the Commodore said "Over 70 boats were parked in the compound and it seems that we shall eventually be able to accommodate slightly less than 100 when the clubhouse is built. These figures compare with about 40 boats which we parked near the Thatched Cottage last year". Attention now turned to the provision of a clubhouse.
The First Clubhouse
The first clubhouse was intended to provide storage and changing facilities and to support a signal station. The Cottes Way premises would remain the Club's HQ and meetings centre. By September 1974 the Sports Council had offered a grant of up to £1,010 toward the estimated cost of £2,500. This latter figure comprised the cost of materials and professional fees only as construction was to be almost totally DIY. Members were invited to offer interest-free loans to the Club in units of £10 to be repaid in full within 5 years. This raised £900.
Planning approval and Building Regulations clearance were achieved in January 1975. The Club had wanted to site the clubhouse near the front of the compound but, in preliminary discussions, Council planners had argued that it should be nearer the back ie the current location. The structure was to be protected with PVC-coated steel cladding. The Club preferred white. Reluctantly it had to accept grey for the ground floor. However, the planners accepted the Club's argument that the signal tower, for visibility reasons, should be white especially since it was sited, at their request, a considerable distance from the Solent.
By June 1976 the only significant task to be completed was fitting steps to, and guardrails at, the first floor. The total cost had been less than £2,300 and the Sports Council had provided grants totalling £713.
Utilities, Meeting Room and Bar
At the end of the seventies the Club was using two sites. Cottes Way was the clubhouse with water, electricity and toilets. The beach premises comprised a boat park with the small store/changing room/signal station. During 1979 and 1980 cable, water pipe and a portaloo (Rollalong toilet block) were procured and applications made, to the Council and the utility companies, for electricity, water and sewerage services to the compound. Water and electricity services were connected in 1981, the water initially to a standpipe.
During 1981 the Club came under pressure from the Council to sub-let Cottes Way to a playgroup. Planning permission for the use of Cottes Way as a sailing club expired at the end of the year. At an EGM on 14 July 1981, it was agreed that the Club would vacate Cottes way at the end of the year.
Thus, at the beginning of 1982 the Club's home became the Salterns premises. The site had water, electricity, and a small building that could serve as a changing room, store and, with a squeeze, a meeting venue. It was with some relief that the portaloo was eventually commissioned during the year. While laying the sewer and routing water pipes to the portaloo, trenches were cut to allow structural engineers from the Council to determine what the Club would require by way of foundations for the next stage of building, a new clubhouse/classroom.
By August of 1982 planning and building approval had been obtained with the extension on the preferred side, to seaward of the existing building. As no Sports Council grant would be available, funding the £7,000+ project was an issue. The project was given the "green light" when the Club was offered an overdraft of £7,000 guaranteed by an anonymous member, coincidentally an intimate acquaintance of the Treasurer. Generous interest free loans from members helped avoid the need to make use of the overdraft.
The new clubroom was officially opened at a prize giving evening on 10 December 1983. The Club was presented with a painting of Sir Alec Rose's homecoming off Southsea after a solo round-the-world voyage in his 36-foot cutter "Lively Lady". Sir Alec signed the painting with a message of best wishes.
Boathouse and Showers
In 1985 a concrete-block garage was erected to house the Club's Avon Searider safety boat that had been bought in 1978. At the AGM in November 1986, a resolution was passed to incorporate byelaws allowing the Club to obtain a Registration certificate permitting the purchase and supply of alcohol. A bar was installed the following year and by the end of the decade it was contributing approximately £1,000 pa to Club funds.
The local authority was unwilling to extend the temporary planning permission for the portaloo beyond 1990. So plans were put in hand to build new toilets and changing rooms integral with the main clubhouse building. By February 1989 planning and building approval had been obtained and the concrete raft foundation had already been laid. The toilets became usable in 1991 at which time the portaloo was converted to become the Bosun's store. A gas supply was connected in 1991 and by the end of the year the building was virtually complete. The total cost was more than £16,000.
A New Boathouse
By the beginning of the 1990s the Avon Searider, bought in 1978, was getting old and plans were made to replace it. At the Southampton Boat Show in September 1993 there was an offer which the Club found irresistible, a 4 metre Avon Searider with a 30hp Yamaha 2-stroke outboard motor for a mere £4,980 (inc VAT). The original intention was not to have two safety boats. However, it was decided to keep the existing boat as a standby and, if ever necessary, a second safety boat. The small boathouse could only hold one RIB, so the new one occupied the boathouse while the old one was stored in the compound under a tarpaulin. It was not too long before it became accepted that, having two safety boats, there should always be one available. The stowage arrangements for the No 2 boat made the task of getting it ready for use problematic.
The weatherproof metal cladding on some parts of the building had been put up when the first clubhouse was constructed in 1975. By the mid 1990s, despite painting and repair, some areas badly needed renovation or replacement. This was particularly true of the north face of the original clubhouse.
In July 1999 it was agreed that a building extension was needed to provide secure and weather-proof stowage for the safety boats, a Bosun's store and to cover the rear of the clubhouse. This would permit the disposal of the concrete block 'garage' and the portacabin and would eliminate the need for recladding for the time being.
To make the boathouse fit inside the compound required a "tapered" design which was, to say the least, inconvenient. In June 2000 Alan Finding, who was master-minding the project, wrote to the Council asking if the Club could lease an additional small (12m²) triangle of land to facilitate a rectangular design. He had to enlist the help of the warden of the Stubbington Study Centre to contradict objections that the development would affect badgers and to point out that the local flora consisted of nettles and gorse! A supplemental lease was signed in November 2000 increasing the total area of the Club's premises from 1,821m² to 1,833m².
The boathouse was completed in 2001. Once again members provided most of the labour thus keeping the total cost down to £11,500. Although the National Lottery rejected the Club's application for a grant, Fareham Borough Council contributed £500 toward the cost of the project.
A First Floor
Toward the end of the 2005 sailing season, in a crowded and rather sweaty changing room, a member turned to the Commodore, then Alan Finding, and suggested that more space was needed. Alan argued that, as boat spaces could not be sacrificed and the Council consistently rejected requests to extend the boundaries, "the only way was up". He considered it highly unlikely that Council planners would allow the Club to extend at first floor level but agreed to find out.
In December the Committee discussed the benefits of expanding the shower/changing facilities by extending to the first floor and agreed that Alan, by then Rear Commodore, should establish if local authority planning permission could be obtained. The first planning application, submitted in January 2006, was refused in March. Following an on-site meeting with Council Development Control officers (planners) in April, the application was resubmitted with minor modifications. To guarantee an adequate supply of water to the extension, a water reservoir was incorporated into the revised plans. These were approved in July. At the AGM in November 2006, there was strong support for the Committee to continue investigating the feasibility of the first-floor extension and approval given to spend up to £500 to have detailed drawings produced.
It had been hoped that drawings and costs would become available within a month or two leading to an EGM in the Spring of 2007 to authorise "go ahead". Drawings were eventually submitted for building regulation approval in July and approval was granted in September. There followed a rather hectic period of estimating costs, preparing a programme, publishing briefing materials and voting slips in time for the AGM in November 2007. At the AGM, by 52 votes to 19, the members agreed that the project should go ahead and authorised a spend up to a total of £23,000.
Phase 1 of the project involved completing all the major structural changes and reinstating weatherproof integrity. This was scheduled for June 2008 to make use of the longest days; most of the volunteers had "day jobs". The sailing programme included two "no sailing" weekends in June. More than sufficient numbers of members turned up to help; a lot of hard work was undertaken in the collaborative and genial atmosphere. The outside structure was completed and good progress made internally.
The rest of the work began at the end of November after the "Frostbite" series had finished. Work was completed by the end of February 2009. To celebrate and say thank you to all those who had helped, a social evening with a buffet was held on Friday 24th April. The total cost of the project was just under £22,000.
Part 3 - On the Water
Organised racing did not really "take off" until 1970. At the AGM that November it was agreed that regular racing be inaugurated. A Racing Officer would be appointed to produce a programme of fortnightly races to be held on Saturdays or Sundays and to compile a rota of all interested members to man the signal station and operate the rescue boat "if conditions demand".
1974 was the first season of sailing from the Salterns site. The programme for the year included 16 races; a shakedown, two 7-race series and a Cadets/Ladies race. Only 7 were completed; there were said to be 11 times more Force 6 winds registered than usual in a season. The Commodore added, interestingly, "the sea start which was used throughout was very popular. Next season we hope to have some shore starts as well so that we have variety".
Thursday evening racing began in 1976 with one series of 8 races and proved popular. Class racing was also introduced in 1976 in the form of separate races. In general, races began at 14:30 on Saturdays, 10:30 Sundays and 19:00 evenings. One innovation tried in 1977 was sailing at high tides on Sundays. This proved successful with days when 30+ boats turned out. This was retained until 1983. Since then all Sunday races have been held, as originally, in the morning.
1976 also saw the first "Seafarers' Open". This event, usually comprising two races held on a Sunday in the second half of August, continued until 1998. Our other popular Open, the Half Ton Cup, was introduced at the beginning of the 1980s. This continues to this day but not as an Open.
1985 Half Ton Cup 2005
By the mid 1980s the sailing programme was much as it is today. The 1987 programme, for example, included 10 cruises, 5 "Event Days" (Open, Half Ton, Regatta, Commodore's Challenge and WALSH Trophy) and 55 races (Shakedown, Spring - 5, Summer - 5, Autumn - 5, Evening - 15, Pursuit - 5, Ladies/Novice/Cadet - 6, "Top Dog" - 12, Final Freezer).
The "Top Dog" series was intended to produce a ladder that merged helms of all experience by adjusting handicaps. It ran as a separate series of races for two seasons from 1987. It continued as a prize "construct" from 1990 until 1993 using results extracted from the Main or LNC and Handicap series.
The WALSH Trophy was an inter-club event involving Warsash, Hill Head, Lee-on-the-Solent and Seafarers Sailing Clubs. Held at Hill Head, Lee or Seafarers on a Sunday, usually in August or September, and comprising two races, it began in the early 1980s. It was originally titled the "Badger Trophy" as Badger Brewery sponsored it. In the early days they provided beer to be awarded to the winners. In 1997, the WALSH was cancelled at the last minute due to increasing wind strength. Meanwhile Hall and Woodhouse, who had taken over Badgers, had kindly supplied the Club with a free barrel of beer. This was sold and £35 from the proceeds used to buy a new WALSH trophy. Seafarers could never win this as the Club never took part in the event again after 1997.
A similar inter-Club series, the SLOSHH involving Seafarers, Lee-on-the-Solent and Hill Head, began in 1989. For the first 5 seasons it involved 6 races on separate days with 2 at each venue. From 1995 the format changed to 3 races over two days at one venue. The Seafarers first won the SLOSHH in 1997. The series did not run from 2002 to 2005. When it reappeared in 2006 it consisted of a single race off the Seafarers using a duty crew made up of personnel from each of the three clubs. Photograph is of 2018 SLOSHH.
Using volunteers, or "interested members", to manage racing soon proved inadequate. By the end of the 1970s the duty watch system was in place. At the 1979 AGM, in referring to "the usual problem of the OOD and safety boat driver not presenting themselves for duty", the Commodore began a tradition of bemoaning duty crew absenteeism that continues to this day. There have been several initiatives addressing this issue.
One of the original aims of the Seafarers Sailing Club was to encourage people to sail and to teach people to sail safely. Much of the early training was done at evenings and weekends in 'Airborne' and the Club devised its own training scheme and awarded its own helmsman certificate. The photographs below, published in "The News" on 22 April 1971, show Stan Johnson showing George Hiser (12) and Howard Ellis (13) how to splice a rope and Club Secretary, Bill Garment, working on some rigging with Peter Rayner.
Although the Club became affiliated to the RYA in November 1963, it was not until 1975 that it sought formal RYA approval for the training provided. After considerable effort by certain members, notably Richard Van Kempen, and at considerable expense, in October 1975 the Club achieved Recognition as an RYA Teaching Institution. Initially the qualifications offered were Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced Certificates. In the late 80s this changed to National Dinghy Certificates Level 1, 2, 3 and 5. Between 1975 and 1995 it was not unusual for the Club to successfully train up to 23 members to Intermediate/Level 2 and up to another 13 to higher levels in a season. In 1997 the number on the Level 1/2 course was restricted to 18. The maximum number has subsequently been reduced to 12.
2010 .. 2019
Capsize recovery drills, an essential element of Level 1/2 course, were initially carried out at the Daedalus Boat Centre (now JSSC) at Hornet in Haslar Creek. In 1995 and 1996 the venue was Royal Clarence Yard and from 1997 until 2008 it was the RNSC at Whale Island. In 2009 the drills were carried out in the River Hamble using facilities offered by Solent University's Watersports Centre, Warsash. This was not judged a success. In 2010, on a convenient day during training week, capsize recovery drills were carried out in the Solent using the Club's RS Vision dinghy.
1986 .. 2016
Opportunities for novices to hone and extend their skills are considered as important as formal training and a number of Club initiatives have addressed this. Saturday morning sailing began in 1987 under the mentorship of Margaret Hyde and Edie Sampson and continued throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium with Tricia Gordon superseding Margaret as 'the other mother hen'. Although Saturday morning sailing was eclipsed by Tuesday evening sailing when the latter began in 1997, there has been a resurgence since 2015 when a second Level 1/2 training course was introduced running on Tuesdays and Saturdays from July to October. The photographs below show Training and Practice Sailing on a Saturday morning in July 2015.
The introduction in 1997 of "Informal" or "Practice" sailing on Tuesdays was part of a package of pro-cadet initiatives pursued by Mick Merson during his tenure as Commodore (seasons 1997 to 1999). 1998 saw the introduction of a scheme whereby experienced helms volunteered to crew in the Novice series. Novices found this very worthwhile especially as an introduction to racing. The photograph shows a novice lady competing as the helm in a Ladies, Novices and Cadets Race in 2006 being crewed and coached by the dinghy's owner, a very, very experienced sailor.
Situated on the Solent coast with many interesting rivers, beaches and havens to visit, it is little surprise that cruising has always been a part of the Club's activities.
There have been typically 10 cruises in each year's programme. The popularity of specific destinations, like the popularity of cruising, can change from year to year. There may, for example, be several years between successive visits to venues such as The Folly Inn, Bucklers Hard, Lepe or Bembridge. On the other hand, in 1973 Wootton and Ashlett Creeks were visited; I doubt there has been a season since that these two venues have not been visited.
These photographs illustrate a cruise to Ashlett Creek in the early 1980s and a cruise to Wootton Creek in 2011.
'Round the Island' cruises, aimed at the more experienced, began at the beginning of the 1980s and appeared in most annual programmes from 1980 to 2004. The photograph was taken during an "ad hoc" (additional to programme) Round the Island cruise in August 2018.
The first recorded overnight cruise was to Bembridge in 1977. Overnight cruises first appeared in the programme in 1999. On Saturday 17th July that year, 4 Wayfarers sailed to Bembridge. The 14 crew had a barbecue dinner followed by drinks at Bembridge Sailing Club before sleeping in their tents erected, with some difficulty, on the sand spit. On their way home on Sunday, the overnighters stopped at Woodside where they rendezvoused with 6 other dinghies and a RIB from the Club. Exactly one year later, 4 Wayfarers and a Wanderer sailed to Newtown Creek and pulled up on the edge of Shalfleet lake. The 13 crew put up their tents at Corf (Scout) campsite. The 6 cadets found lots of mud to amuse them. The adults enjoyed a walk to the New Inn and all enjoyed the glow worm display on the way back. The return journey on Sunday began with no wind and looked like a scene from "African Queen"; 5 dinghies being "walked" along the beach toward Gurnard. Eventually the wind appeared and the overnighters reached Hill Head at about 4pm. Since then there have been 9 more overnight cruises to Newtown and 1 to Bembridge [written end 2010]. In 2004 weather reduced the planned visit to Bembridge to a day trip. This ended with 3 Wayfarers paddling across the Solent from Woodside. An ad hoc overnight cruise to Newtown was fitted in a month later. There were two overnight cruises in 2006, both windy! Since 2005 many of those taking part have elected to go for two nights.
These photographs were taken during overnight cruises to Bembridge in 2002 and to Newtown Creek in 2016.
For the first half of the 1970s the Club had three boats: "Airborne", the self-built GP14 and an Enterprise. The Enterprise was fitted with an outboard motor and used as a rescue boat. In 1977 the Club invested in a Wayfarer Mk 1 (Golden Eye - WF3282); it was of GRP construction to reduce the maintenance task. In 1979 the GP14 was sold and "Airborne" was donated to Laurie Racey and Ernie Hiser. "Airborne" remained in the Club until early 1992 when Laurie and Ernie donated it to the RAF Aviation Museum at Tangmere. In 1984 two Mirrors were donated.
By 1997 the Club owned a Wayfarer, 3 Toppers, a Mirror, a Skipper and a 420. The 420 was sold the following year. It was considered unsuitable for the Club's training needs. Today [January 2011] the Club has 2 Wayfarers, an RS Vision, 2 Topazes and a Topper. The latest, a Mk 1 Wayfarer and a Topaz were bought with the help of a very generous donation from John and Mavis Harmer. As a token of appreciation, the Club named its Topaz dinghies 'John' and 'Mavis'.
The Club's first RIB, an Avon Searider, was bought in 1978. The second Searider was purchased in 1993 (see "A New Boathouse" in Part 2). In 1998 the newer boat was upgraded with hydraulic steering gear. The older boat, which was used mainly as a backup and for safety boat training, was updated to the previous standard of the newer one primarily by fitting a centre console. New outboard motors were bought in 2000 and in 2007 the latter was one of the last 2-stroke engines sold in the UK.
At the 1980 AGM it was agreed that the Club should accept board sailors, the numbers to be limited at the committee's discretion. By 1982 there were 9 sailboards in the compound and the Sailing Secretary reported that a rack for 10 sailboards would be provided for the 1983 season. By 1984 the sailboard rack had been abandoned "as insufficient members expressed an interest to warrant the expense". The Rules, approved in 1988 said, as they still do today "Any boat in the Club's compound must be a sailing dinghy".
Part 4 - 50 Years of Fund-Raising
Club social events have always served two purposes. Firstly, they allow and encourage members and their families, many of whom are not sailing enthusiasts, to mix in pleasant circumstances. This fosters a Club community spirit.Secondly, they provide income. Since the bar opened in 1987, fund raising ie social functions, the bar, jumble sales, etc has provided between 12% and 23% of the Club's annual income.
As mentioned in Part 1, in the early years fund raising events were generally constrained to occasional barbecues and jumble sales plus the annual dinner. Tuesday Club nights, with a programme of talks, provided a regular opportunity to meet. This remained so until well into the 70s albeit some of the events were notably popular; over 80 attended the dinner/dance held in November 1971.
In 1976 the Commodore, Alan Flack, suggested that a social committee be formed to arrange at least four main functions a year. This initiative seems to have succeeded as a year later he reported "thanks to a hard-working social sub-committee we have enjoyed more functions than in past years and a considerable sum of money has been made."
Shipwreck Party 1986
In the early 80s a typical season would have 7 to 10 scheduled events including at least two discos, two jumble sales, a dinner/dance and a beach party. There would also be a garden party in mid June. By the late 80s, programmes had expanded to more that a dozen events primarily by the addition of post-sailing socials eg to celebrate the end of training, the Commodore's Challenge, the Regatta and the Half Ton Cup.
In the early 90s dramatic art appeared with "The Palace of Varieties" in 1990, "Up Pompeii" in 1991 and a pantomime in 1994. At the end of 1995 no one volunteered to take on the arduous and time-consuming role of Social Secretary and the Club was forced into re-thinking how to organise social events. Several lady-members volunteered to form a "Social Committee" dubbed "The Coven".
"The Palace of Varieties" 1990
The annual dinner-dance has been held in late November or early December almost every year since the Club was formed. From the late 70s until the end of the millennium the commonest venue by far was The Belle Vue Hotel in Lee-on- -Solent. This was despite occasional misgivings that it was expensive and service too slow and the inevitable pressure of selling enough tickets; the minimum was usually 80 to 100. Other venues were tried. The Swordfish was used at least once. In 1993 the dinner-dance was held in March at Maylings Manor Hotel in Highlands Road, Fareham. The same venue was booked for a Summer Ball the following June. When, with 2 weeks to go, only 15 tickets had been sold, the event was cancelled. Maylings Manor would not return or carry forward the £100 deposit. The Belle Vue was then booked for the end-of-1994 dinner dance and, subsequently, for each of the following 4 years. Only 65 attended the 1998 dinner-dance, significantly below the minimum 80 stipulated. The reaction of The Belle Vue led to a search for a new venue. Through a family connection, the then Rear Commodore, Tim Wadham, managed to book the Lee-on-the-Solent Golf Club. The Club held its annual dinner-dance there from 1999 to 2011.
LoS Golf Club 2004
Prize Giving and the Christmas Draw
The first recorded prize giving was in 1970 when, at the AGM in November, Vic Bryant, Peter Rayner and Andrew Reeve were presented with prizes for performing extremely well sailing 'Mirror' dinghies in the Hill Head Triangulation race. The presentation of prizes, which by then included the Thatched Cottage Cup for the Most Improved Cadet and the Harry Formby Newton Trophy for the Most Improved Novice, continued until 1977. In 1978 the names of the prize-winners were read out at the AGM but the trophies were presented at a disco early in December. The Prize-giving Disco became a feature of the Club programme for the next 10 years, always in November or December and usually at the clubhouse. Notable exceptions were the prize-givings in December 1981 and 1982 when the venue was the "Park Hotel" in Gosport. The disco element was dropped in 1988. From then until 2006, prize-giving was accompanied by an American supper. Meanwhile, another event evolved, the Christmas Draw. This began at the end of the 80s as a few mince pies and sausage rolls on the last Tuesday evening before Christmas. By the end of the 90s, thanks largely to the efforts of the Assistant Bar Manager/Bar Manager/Commodore Eric Kettle, a very popular Draw had been established. By 2006 attendances at the prize-giving had dropped to the point where something had to be done. The following year a Prize-giving and Draw Night appeared in the programme and has done each year since.
1985 Prize Giving 1994
Jumble sales, which began as bazaars at the Hammond Hall in 1962 and 1963, soon became annual fixtures and a useful source of income; in 1975 jumble sales brought in £100 of total income of £1,410 (2009 - £220 of total £15,800). Throughout most of the 80s and 90s there were two each year, one in April and one in October, both at the Scout Hut in Bells Lane.In 1996 the Club was told that, as it was not a registered charity, it could no longer hire the Scout Hut; a room in Crofton Community Centre was booked. The following year it was decided that there would be only one jumble sale per year; this was held in April at the Community Centre. From 1998 until 2008 the jumble sale was held at Holy Rood Church Hall. Since then the event has almost always been in March. For a number of reasons the venue has varied recently. In 2009 the Club returned to the Scout Hut. In 2010 it moved to the Catholic Church Hall.
2009 .. 2019
Commodore's At Home
Many of the local Sailing Clubs hold informal social evenings to which they invite the Commodores of neighbouring Clubs. The "Commodore's Evening" first appeared in the Seafarers annual programme in 1986. They were usually held on a Saturday, initially in March then in October. Local sailing clubs and, for example, representatives of the RYA and HM Coastguard, were invited. In 1997, re-titled "Commodore's At Home" and held in December, it became a lunchtime event. Since 2001 the "At Home" has been held in February.
2011 .. 2015
The Club first adopted the naval tradition of celebrating Nelson's famous victory off Cape Trafalgar with a dinner in 1988. On that first occasion there was an American supper and no entrance fee. The second Trafalgar Night, held on 20 October 1990, was the more traditional formal dinner with seating limited to 40. By the beginning of October all tickets had been sold. Over the next 5 Octobers one Trafalgar Night dinner was sandwiched between two Halloween parties, a Boat Race and a Polish Peasant Night. From 1996 to 2008 there was a Trafalgar Night formal dinner every year with tickets for the limited seats always in demand. Since then a slightly less formal event has been held in October. In 2009 it was a hugely popular Bavarian-themed "Oktoberfest" with beef goulash, Black Forest gateaux and steins of beer. In 2010 it was a less-formal Trafalgar Night.
1988 .. 2018
Part 5 - Potpourri
Fees and Boat Spaces
- Year .. .. .. .. Annual Subscription.. .. .. .. .. Boat Space Fee .. .. .. .. Club Total Income
- 1961 .. .. .. .. .. .. £6.50 (2/6 [12.5p] pw) .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .£130
- 1966.. .. .. .. .. .. £2 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .... .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. £170
- 1976.. .. .. .. .. .. £8 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .£1,200
- 1986.. .. .. .. .. .. £20 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . £11 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. £5,600
- 1996 .. .. .. .. .. .£38 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .£20 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .£10,000
- 2006 .. .. .. .. .. £56 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .£36.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..£12,400
- 2010 .. .. .. .. .. £50 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. £50 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .£19,000
The entitlement to, and fee for, boat spaces has been debated from time to time. In 1984 there was a view that the boat parking fee was low in comparison to the subscription. The Committee felt that low boat parking fees encouraged "boat storage" membership. Thus the 1984 fees of £20/£6 (sub/boat) were superseded by £18/£10 in 1985. This was revisited during the Membership Review of 2008; the 2008 fees of £60/£38 were superseded by £50/£50 in 2009.
During 1988 there was a complete re-write of the Club's Rules and Byelaws. These were approved at the AGM that November. In the debate the contentious issue of the number of boats per family was raised. Some members considered a proposal for 2 boats per family an abuse of Club potential income. Other members cited the case of married couples that were active sailing members, sailing their own individual boats and also members dual interest in cruising and racing, requiring 2 boats. A motion that each membership is entitled to 1 boat space but a second boat can be approved by the Committee was passed by 26 votes to 12 votes. This was revised in 2004 when a charging system based upon "footprint" (boat size) was introduced and a more rigorous method for the allocation of second boats spaces initiated.
What's in a Name
At the AGM in November 1980 there was a proposal that the name of the Club should be changed from Seafarers to either Crofton or Salterns Sailing Club. This was not agreed.
Sailing from the beach off the Salterns would be impractical without the public slipway which was built when the sea defences and promenade were constructed in the 1960s. Many members and locals remembered a time when they could crawl under the wood structure of the slipway. These photographs show the slipway in 1987 and 1988.
In 1997 extensive coastal protection work was carried out at Lee-on-the-Solent. Within a year or two there was a noticeable change to the beach at Hill Head. The level of the shingle increased, approaching the height of the seawall/promenade. The slipway became buried making it difficult to move boats up from the beach to the promenade. The slipway problem was raised at the 2000 AGM and a sub-committee formed to look into it. It concluded that the safest and most convenient solution was to purchase a small tractor with a scoop. In addition to clearing the slipway, the tractor could be used for towing boats across the beach and up the slipway. At the 2001 AGM a show of hands established that less than 20% of those present were in favour of the scheme. The main arguments against it related to maintenance, operation and storage problems and concerns that the Club would be carrying out work which was rightly the responsibility of Fareham Borough Council.
The Club employed a number of techniques to survive the conditions.From time to time the members turned out en masse with spades and wheelbarrows.Trials were carried out using a block and tackle to pull boats and trolleys up the slipway. This proved inefficient and introduced a hazard to the public as the tensioned ropes had to run across the promenade. The Club tried using matting. This was not a great success and was discontinued immediately after a member of the public tripped and was injured. The only successful strategy involved teamwork. In circumstances where several boats returned together ie after racing or cruising, the crews would muster around each boat in turn and, applying brute force, drag it over the shingle and up the slipway.For the safety boats which weigh 4,500kg (9,000lb), this required lots of people!Some of the more senior members gave up sailing when they could no longer cope with the physical effort of launching and recovering their boats.
The Council were sympathetic and, to a degree, helpful. From 1999 onwards they would arrange for the slipway to be cleared up to three times a year. This became counterproductive when, to avoid damaging flora, contractors were instructed to deposit shingle removed from the slipway into piles on either side. This provided material which wave action then formed into a steep ridge across the slipway making life even more difficult.
Things slowly got worse. In October 2004 the then Vice Commodore, Dick Banks, wrote a lengthy article for "SSC News" setting out the problem and possible solutions. At the AGM the following month those attending approved a continuing investigation into, and possible introduction of, a tractor with 34 in favour, 23 against and 1 abstention. In March 2005, having established that the lease between the Crown Estates and the Council did not prohibit its use, the Club took delivery of a Siromer flatpack tractor costing £4,400. Having assembled the vehicle, arranged insurance, completed a risk assessment and started driver training, the tractor entered service in April.
Communication - from 'Advertiser' to Internet
Keeping members informed has never been straightforward. At the 1978 AGM it was mentioned that there had been problems communicating with members particularly "out of town members". The Advertiser was suggested as a way of communicating with local members. In 1982 it was proposed that members provide s.a.e. for better circulation of newsletters etc. Using the Advertiser as a vehicle for Club information would not have been novel. Every month or two from his founding of the Club in 1961 until his departure to Canada in 1964, John Harmer published a 'Seafarers Club' report in the Advertiser.
The content and frequency of newsletters has varied considerably. Simon Hunt (of Islington, London) joined the Committee at the end of 1983 as Publicity Officer. During 1984 he produced two excellent 12-page editions of a Club Magazine; the Spring edition being Vol. 1 No. 1, the Summer edition Vol. 1 No.2. A third edition was promised for Christmas.
During the rest of the 80s and early 90s the norm was two 'Commodore's Newsletters' or 'Newsletters' per year. Issue 1 of "SSC News" was published in December 1994, edited by Peter Butterworth and published, at least initially, bi-annually. Peter, an ex-Commodore, left the Club in 1997 and David Taylor, recently retired as Membership Secretary, stepped in to edit editions 10 (July 97) to 16 (Oct 99). Martin Rance became editor in 2000.
1996 November .. 2019 March
The Club first appeared in cyberspace in January 2004 when our first webmaster, Neil Suffield, made our website 'live'. Kerry Stares took over in 2005 and added a number of features including race results, cruise reports and a picture gallery. He also introduced a forum to enable members to exchange views on Club matters. Noting the popularity of the gallery, the following year the Club purchased a waterproof camera that could be used from the safety boat. It could also be used ashore to record social functions for posterity.
to 2018 Website from 2019
The photograph below was taken at a dinner held on Saturday 29 January 2011 to celebrate the Club's 50th Anniversary. It shows the serving Commodore (Peter Cox) and nine ex Commodores.
Mick Merson . . Tim Wadham . . Alan Finding . . Terry Pearson . . Peter Cox
Eric Kettle . . David Thorne . . Vic Bryant . . Alan Flack . . John Glover
** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** FOOTNOTES ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
- The above notes are extracted from a booklet published in 2011 celebrating the Club's Golden Jubilee. A copy of this booklet can be downloaded from the Archives section of this website.
- In January 2021 the Club reaches its sixtieth anniversary. A Diamond Jubilee booklet is being produced. These notes will be updated as part of this process.
- In addition to the Golden Jubilee Booklet, the Archives section of this website gives access to several sources of information about Seafarers Sailing Club since its foundation in 1961 including Club Newsletters, the minutes of every general meeting held since formation, a record of prize winners and the Gallery Archive containing Club photographs from 1961 to the present day. Most are for members only. If you are not a Club member but are interested in the Club's history, contact the Club Communications Officer and Archivist.
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Last updated 21:11 on 31 March 2020