Winter Sailing versus the London Boat Show

South Dock London

Saturday, 27th December 2014

The Christmas rush is now over and our next task will be to remove the Arthur Beale Christmas Window Display. We are dithering about ideas for the new window so I expect we will go back to the old display until we make our minds up.

We did consider having an Arthur Beale stand at the London Boat Show but decided against it - for this year at least. We have a lovely picture of our stand at the first ever London Boat Show which Arthur Beale was partly responsible for setting up. Personally the best show that I have been to (since it moved from Earls Court) was the one that coincided with the Outdoor Show. The combined shows made a really good day out. Sadly the London Boat Show seems to have lost much of its appeal for people with small yachts and modest means. There is always something of interest to be found but there isn’t quite enough to warrant people travelling from far afield and spending the whole day there. Very few people have bonded with the Excel Venue. I may go along one morning and see what’s cooking but I probably won’t be there on the final weekend because, and it’s a good excuse, - I’m going sailing.

I say “probably” because winter sailing is a bit of a gamble. I remember planning a winter sail from Chichester to Brighton a good few years back. The weather was so appalling we needed to use safety lines to get along the icy pontoons in Sparks Marina to avoid being blown off. We went for a beer on New Year’s Eve in the local Yacht Club. The barman was so miserable he didn’t even say “Good Evening” but just gave a grunt as he took our money. We swiftly drank our beer and returned to the yacht. In the early morning while it was still dark the wind had dropped enough for us to feel that we could venture out over Chichester Bar. The idea of another night on that pontoon did not appeal so we cast off our lines and pushed out to sea. If I remember rightly we thought the Looe Channel would be too hairy in the weather conditions and set a long course to clear the Owers. As we approached Brighton I remember spotting a very threatening dark squall approaching and decided to get the sails down as fast as I could. Whilst dowsing and lashing the main an almighty blast of wind hit us and the boat heeled right over just under bare poles. The squall was quickly followed by hail so dense that all our instruments stopped functioning except the log which was telling us that we must be fast approaching land! Luckily the visibility cleared in the very nick of time and we caught sight of the marina entrance. Sumara was the first boat in that year, the following boat was a training ship that went aground in the entrance.

Oh the joys of winter sailing! We are only planning a modest sail down the Thames, hopefully leaving South Dock late Friday afternoon and possibly spending the night at Greenwich Yacht Club although we haven’t asked them yet. Very early in the morning we will take the tide down the Thames and up the Medway to anchor at Slaughterhouse Point for a hearty meal. On Saturday we are proposing a good run around the Isle of Sheppey but I have a feeling that it may be a run to the Harty Ferry and a warm lunch. We will sail back on Sunday afternoon. Well that’s the plan but who knows what will happen. You will be able to find out from the Sumara of Weymouth blog -

We will take some winter gear from Beale’s to test out. I’m going to try out a “Leg Bag”- but more of that later. We will test out some clothing too.

Of course it all depends on the weather – we may end up at the Guinness Stand at the London Boat Show after all!


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