Part 7 - Potpourri
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.
The Slipway - 1987 and 2020
In 1997 extensive coastal protection work was carried out at Lee-on-the-Solent. Possibly coincidentally, 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. Many members and locals remembered a time when they could crawl under the wood structure of the slipway. 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 patrol boats which weigh 5,000kg (11,000lb) or more, 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 of uncompacted shingle 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 (at Chesim Engineering), arranged insurance, completed a risk assessment and started driver training, the tractor entered service in April. Since then, our tractor has proven indispensable. It has been replaced twice, in 2013 and 2019 and, on both occasions, the Siromer was selected as being optimal for the Club.
The photograph above was taken in February 2019. It shows Phil Warwick, then Commodore, with Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayoress of Fareham standing in front of the Club's new tractor. This was purchased with the help of a generous grant from Fareham Borough Council in recognition of the support the Club provides to the local community.
Big Dinghies! (Flotilla Sailing)
Within the Club membership there have always been those who owned yachts and/or were experienced yacht sailors. Toward the end of the 1990s, a couple of those with experience encouraged a few Club colleagues to join them on a flotilla holiday. In May 1998, ten Club members spent two weeks in the Ionian sailing 3 Beneteau 32s from Corfu to Lefkas. The flotilla company was "Sailing Holidays" which began life in 1976 as Flotilla Sailing Club. In 1987 the name was changed to Sailing Holidays Ltd and it began running flotillas with eleven Jaguar 27 yachts. Barrie Neilson, who joined in 1979 as a flotilla engineer, now owns and runs the company which has 178 yachts in Greece. John Glover, one of the experienced members of the 1998 Seafarers group, summarised Sailing Holidays approach in his description of the briefing given to all flotilla crews on day 1; "Funnily enough, nobody ever enquired about our sailing experience or gave any instruction on reefing etc". This may sound cavalier, but the system was ideal for Seafarers; many in the group would be experienced dinghy sailors, some would be experienced yacht sailors (from previous flotillas or otherwise) and the company's lead crew were always there, or a VHF call away, when needed. Over the next four years, a subset of the initial group joined Sailing Holidays flotillas each May; in 1969 in Greece and from 2000 to 2002 in Croatia.
Frustrated that, as a teacher, he could not escape in May, Mike Burlingham took early retirement and organised a flotilla holiday for 2007. A total of 9 Club members, 5 for 2 weeks and 4 for 1 week, joined Sailing Holidays flotillas sailing 2 GibSea 29s and a Beneteau 331 from Corfu to Lefkas. In June, a Tuesday evening was devoted to a briefing on the flotilla experience. This generated lots of enthusiasm. The following year, 2008, a total of 37 Club members, 16 for 2 weeks, 21 for 1, joined Sailing Holidays flotillas sailing a total of 10 boats (Beneteau 305s, 331s and 361s and Feeling 960s) from Corfu to Lefkas.
There has been a Seafarers crewed boat in a flotilla every year since 2007. In 2010, 20 members crewed 10 yachts from Lefkas, via the Gulf of Corinth and the Corinth Canal, into the Saronic Gulf. By 2012, October had become more popular than May and Neilson had become the flotilla company of choice.
Neilson, formed in 1994, was originally the activity holidays arm of Thomas Cook. In 2013 Cooks sold Neilson to a private equity firm. Thus Brighton based Neilson Active Holidays was unaffected when Thomas Cook collapsed in September 2019. Barry Neilson of Sailing Holidays has little love for this competitor. He has claimed that their choice of trading name, Neilson, was to confuse Sailing Holidays' customers. Neilson's early flotilla holday brochures were always titled "Sailing Holidays"!
Other notable outings were in October 2012 and May 2013 when the operating area was from Marmaris in Turkey and around the Lycian Coast and October 2014 when the operating area was the Argolic Gulf to the south of Greece's Peloponese Peninsula.
At the time of writing, a plan for 32 members to sail around the Greek islands for a week in October 2020 in 12 yachts with Sailing Holidays has been postponed by the Coronavirus pandemic. All are hopeful that they will get away in October 2021.
The Seafarers Badminton Group was formed at the end of 2010. By March 2011, the group had more than two dozen regular players most of whom, but not all, were members of Seafarers Sailing Club. Since then, the group has met to play on up to three evenings each week at Crofton Community Centre. The group is a "mixed bag" in terms of ability. Those who play regularly usually become quite proficient but not everyone plays regularly and not all the regular players become proficient! The group usually plays doubles which suits the age profile!
During 2016, David Grout, the Membership Secretary (amongst other things) undertook the Herculean task of merging all existing Club documentation into a single, 160 page document titled "Sailing Club Standard Operating Procedures" or SSC SOP. Previously stand-alone documents that became part of the SOP included Club Rules, Membership Application/Renewal Declaration, Parent/Guardian Declaration, Sailing Instructions, Health and Safety Policy, Duty Crew Guides, Child Protection Policy, Equal Opportunities Statement. The first edition was published in March 2017.
The SOP was never intended as essential bedtime reading. It was envisaged as a reference manual containing, hopefully, everything that a member or an administrator needed to know about the Club. The document is available via the website. A copy is presented to new members. It is reviewed and sent to all existing members at least annually.
The Club has supported many charities over the years. The RNLI collection tin has become an item of bar furniture and RNLI Christmas cards and calendars have been on sale at AGMs for more than a decade. Nationally, the RNLI's annual charity and social event is their Fish Supper. Seafarers held their first RNLI Fish Supper in October 2017 when attendees at this special fund-raising event were entertained by the "Surrey Hills Ukulele Big Band". For our next RNLI Fish Supper, in October 2019, entertainment was provided by the local band "Fareham Creekers".
Since 2013, our Coffee Morning each September has raised funds for Macmillan Cancer. Since 2014, we have held a race each September to raise funds for the Bart's Bash Foundation. Additionally, each year or so we choose a specific "Club Charity" to support. This is used, amongst other things, to give purpose to the Commodore's Challenge.
The Commodore's Challenge became a charity event in 2011. Having attended the launch of the Mayor of Fareham's charities, the Commodore (Pete Cox) proposed that the 2011 Commodore's Challenge be used to raise funds for "Toe in the Water" a charity set up to rehabilitate injured service personnel through sailing. During the year, a total of £405 was raised by the Club, much of it during the Commodore's Challenge Day. Feedback led the Commodore to propose that supporting this or a similar charity would be a feature of future Commodore's Challenges.
"Toe in the Water" remained the Club Charity until the end of 2015. In 2016 this was superceded by SCaRF (Skin Cancer Research Fund). In 2018 the Club directed its efforts at raising funds for "Cash for Kids", the official charity of local radio station Wave 105. The charity provides support to disabled and disadvantaged children across the South Coast. In November 2018, Geoff Holt MBE DL visited Seafarers to give a talk about his life and about "WetWheels". The charity builds disabled people's confidence by providing access to the sea in specially modified powerboats. After this inspiring talk, the Committee decided to make Wetwheels the Club Charity for 2019.
Seafarers Sailing Club's landlord is Fareham Borough Council (FBC). The Club works hard to maintain a good relationship with the Council and, more widely, to contribute positively to the local community. FBC has been kind enough to support the Club's endeavours through the provision of grants. Equally, since 2013, we have supported FBC's programme of free summer activities for 11-17 year olds known as "Access All Areas" (AAA). Each summer, on a day agreed with FBC, Seafarers has provided an introduction to sailing for children. Several dinghies would be made available each taking 2 or 3 teenagers at a time on 40/45 minute sailing experience sessions. In addition to the helms, Club members also volunteered to coordinate, to help on the beach, and to crew patrol boats.
These sessions proved very popular with 40 teenagers enjoying a taste of sailing in 2013 and 57 the following year. In 2015 and 2016, strong winds prevented sailing so the Club provided a static display of dinghies and guides. Traditionally, as part of their AAA programme, FBC provided a range of activities in the field adjacent the compound; sailing with Seafarers Sailing Club was just one of many activities on offer. However, because it proved so popular, from 2018 our introduction to sailing became the only activity on offer at Salterns.
Left: AAA July 2018; Right: Big Spring Beach Clean March 2020 and April 2019
The Big Spring Beach Clean is the largest and most effective volunteer beach cleaning project in the UK. The event, co-ordinated by volunteers for Surfers Against Sewage, has been running since 2010. Our beach at Hill Head may appear quite clean but In 2019, a typical year, Beach Clean participants collected a total of 35kg of all types of rubbish; almost 15kg of this was plastic. Also removed from our beach were 3 syringes, a scaffold post and a car wheel. Keen to support this initiative, since 2018 the Club has encouraged members to participate and has laid on biscuits, and hot and cold drinks for participants (not just Club members). In March 2020, around 300 people took part in the Beach Clean with 60 visiting the Club for refreshments.
In 2017, the Committee began investigating purchasing a defibrillator for the Club. Whilst hoping that one would never need to use a defibrillator, statistics showed that the chance of survival from a cardiac arrest was massively improved with the use of one. By February 2018 a suitable defibrillator had been identified and an application for funding made to the Hammond Memorial Hall Trust (HMHT). In June 2018, the Club received the welcome news that the HMHT had generously decided to grant Seafarers more than £2,000 to pay for a defibrillator and its box. In gratitude for this and in recognition that the Club was part of the local community, it was agreed that the machine would be sited on the outside of the clubhouse and the public made aware of its availability during our 'opening hours'. This covers significant periods over the weekends and evenings during the sailing season which coincides with the busy periods of beach usage. Thus the defibrillator will support the Club and, in line with the terms of the grant, those from the local Community and further afield who use the Salterns park. The defibrillator went 'live' at the beginning of August 2018.
In June 2019, after several months of enquiries, Carol Wealthy (Coven Coordinator since 2014, Coven member since 1996 and Training Secretary since 1993) successfully arranged for Hampshire County Council to design, manufacture and install signposts to Seafarers - and all for less than £100!
The Coronavirus Pandemic
At the time of writing, December 2020, despite the imminent availability of a vaccine, the Coronavirus pandemic is still a major influence on activity throughout the world. In March, when the UK went into "Lockdown" (a new term back then), the Committee took appropriate action. The programme was put on hold and access to the compound and clubhouse restricted. To help maintain a community spirit amongst the membership, especially during the first few months of Lockdown, a number of online activities were set up. These included "Virtual Regatta", virtual coffee mornings, a webinar, and quizzes and competitions via the website. Committee meetings, coffee mornings and the AGM used video conferencing; members became quite experienced at using "Zoom". Cautiously, progressively and always in step with Government and RYA guidance, the Club reopened with members being kept informed at every stage. The highlights have been:
- 16/17 May Maintenance Opportunity members could book a slot to access the compound to check their boats and undertake routine maintenance.
- 21-25 May Recreational Sailing Weekend a trial to allow members to undertake sailing by booking a half day slot with some supervision, the tractor available and only 6 boats at any one time.
- 26 May Recreational Sailing - the get back to sailing weekend went well with some 25 boats getting afloat. This gave confidence to regularise this as follows:
- Weekdays members had access to the compound for independent sailing without a patrol boat, tractor or supervision.
- Weekends - four half-day sailing sessions available with a supervisor on site, the tractor available and the downstairs toilet open. Booking required to limit maximum of 10 boats per session.
- 8 June Cruising Opportunities - at weekends an option was added to the bookings available to allow whole day slots, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, to undertake limited cruising.
- 12 June Webinar this allowed the Commodore to update members, to listen to their thoughts and answer their questions. A video of the event was made available via the website.
- 20 June Patrol Boat and Club Boats - following trials, a Club Fusion and two Club Hartleys and, subject to volunteer crews, a patrol boat were made available for the weekend sailing opportunities. The SOP for Club boats and patrol boats stipulated a full wash down with detergent before and after use.
- 4 July Booking Ended/Tuesday Added/Bar Opens the need for booking was lifted and all Club boats became available. The tractor and patrol boats would be available, subject to volunteers, on Tuesday evenings, Saturday mornings and afternoons, and Sunday mornings. The bar would open, initially on Saturday afternoon's after sailing, and subject to a number of constraints including 1-in-1 out, plastic glasses, and payment by contactless cards. Fun races were encouraged that minimised the need for race officials. The race tower was not available.
- 25 July Return to Duty Survey/Mixed Household Crewing a survey was underway to establish which members would be available to carry out duties from the end of August. Meanwhile, the "Breakout Series" of races, to be run by volunteers, was added to the programme.
- The RYA had advised that crewing of double-handed boats by members from different households could be be acceptable if, having undertaken their own risk assessments, members felt they could implement sufficient mitigations. The Committee's advice was that members should not take this decision lightly and would recommend against.
- 8/9 August Training Four trainees successfully completed the RYA Advanced Course "Better Sailing".
- 29 August Formal Racing a formal racing programme commenced supported by a duty crew roster. This continued through September and October although about one third of the races scheduled were cancelled due to high winds.
- 5 November Lockdown II the Club had to shut down again although members were permitted to enter the compound to carry out essential checks and maintenance on their boats. Virtual racing was revived.
- 10 November AGM - the Club's first ever virtual AGM.
- 2 December Lockdown II to Tier 2 sailing and maintenance permitted but the bar remained closed. Ad Hoc racing was organised by volunteers.
- 15 December Virtual Prize Giving ceremony involving prize winners, Commodore and Racing Secretary shared with members as a recording shortly afterwards.
- 16 December Webinar - guest speaker Susie Moore, RYA's Regional Development Officer for the south region.
- 20 December Gosport to Tier 4 members living in Gosport (which includes Lee-on-the-Solent) not permitted to leave their 'area' unless for work, education or other specific exemptions. They could, therefore, not visit the Club.
- 26 December Hampshire to Tier 4 this put the Club and virtually all members within a Tier 4 area. The compound could open and the slipway could be used to facilitate individual exercise although with only one person from another household. The Club was not permitted to run events, organise activities or open up the clubhouse except for the toilet facilities. Routine maintenance and gatherings on the Club premises were not permitted. Sadly, the New Year's Day race had to be cancelled. However, a VR New Year's Day Regatta was arranged instead.
Last updated 19:26 on 3 January 2021