Another year, another competition, another closely fought battle ….That is the story of the WBCC skittles competition held at the Sunbury Sports Association in the latter part of 2017 (sounds so long ago!)

As usual, the Commodore’s team did battle with the Vice Commodore's chosen players. Round one started with a light headed ‘get your eye in’ round and finished with the two teams just one point apart, with the vice commodore just ahead. The second round improved on this performance, illustrating with some certainty (but no guarantee) which was the better team.

And so it continued, each round being a closely fought battle of skill, concentration, heckling and strength.

Supper was a well prepared and tasty affair right in the middle of the competition. The break allowed members to gloat about high scores or simply hide if scores were not high enough, but most importantly allowed the players to resuscitate in time for the second half.

Of course, the electronic score board and laptop computer (both of which replaced our ultra reliable John Cleaver) did not lie and could not be bribed, and by the end of the competition, the scores showed the V-C’s team as slightly ahead.


Tony Cliffe won the award for the most points scored by an individual, no doubt as a result of the multiple 10s he scored! Well Done, Tony.

It was particularly good to see Ron Pusey looking so well at the evening, having had good news from his medical team that the treatment had been successful.

Thank you to Jim and Julia for making all the arrangements for this splendid evening.

Twelve of us enjoyed a delicious meal in the happily chaotic Yangtse Chinese restaurant in Windsor (Lisa having to wait a while for her mains), Jim & Julia drove back home and nine of us made our way back to Morgana for a Moonlight cruise, from  Windsor to Boveney Lock and back, with our hosts Lisa and Graham. Snappily dressed in his new shirt, Graham showed us how it was done, stood on the seat with his head out the top and steering with his feet. Not to be outdone, Sandy took the helm for a while and did the same.

 

What a night for a cruise – completely still and reasonably warm. The moon was a bit coy at first, peeping out then ducking back into the clouds before coming out in its full glory for the trip back. It had been a full Harvest Moon just a couple of days ago and looked lovely. Although the moon gave us some light, there were some very dark parts of the river and Sandy and Graham did well to keep the boat away from the banks. Lisa ensured that we had adequate nibbles and drinks. Debbie managed to  ake a close up photo of the moon’s craters with her new camera, and by the time we got back it had a halo round it. Lisa and Graham kindly pulled in by the model Hurricane plane to drop Debbie and Detlef and us off straight onto the path, before  returning back to their mooring. Thanks so much to them both for a magical end to the evening (and to Debbie and Detlef for giving us a lift in their car!).

 

This year’s upriver cruise could not have been more enjoyable. Wall to wall sunshine, good company, and unlimited mooring for club boats. Messin’ about on the river does not get better than this. The cruise started at Windsor, but was soon joined by more boats at Hurley Lock. As we waited for club members to arrive, a boat was moored on the visitor moorings allocated to WBCC. Alan asked them if they would kindly move and the lady on board said she would ask her husband to move the boat forward as soon as he returned. Fortunately, this did not happen, because a few minutes later there was a crashing sound as the tree on the opposite bank fell across the narrow channel right on top of where the little boat would have moved to.

A BBQ that night set us up for a great week ahead, the next stop being Henley, where we were moored at Fawley Meadows right at the finish line of the ladies finals of Henley Royal Regatta. How lucky! It was so hot and sunny, we all chased the ever diminishing shadow as the sun tracked across the sky. Onlookers would have been forgiven if they thought we were playing a little known version of The wheels on the bus go round and round….

Onwards, upriver on another glorious day. As Roger put it, “The weather was fantastic. Each day Lynn would ask her app what weather was in store for the next day and every time it told us that it would be dry and hot. Either the app was remarkably accurate or it was stuck!

We all found moorings easily at Pangbourne, relatively close to each other, so the tent was erected and most people spent the day sheltering from the sun under it. Most, but not all.....Sita, who had become known to Alan as Furry Friend soon found the water and went in for a cooling swim. Soon, because she wanted to go for a swim repeatedly, she would become known as Soggy Doggie! After a lazy sojourn at Pangbourne, it was time to head back downriver, and the next stop on the schedule was Henley Town Moorings. Once again, fortune was with us and we all found moorings near to each other. We were joined by Miss Pud’n. The highlight at tea was presenting Barry with a birthday cake to cut! Later, some went off to Weatherspoon's while Tony persuaded a reluctant fuel pump to work again. It was the night of the Summer solstice and by coincidence the warmest night of the year.

What better way to spend the evening than to sup a drink and watch the sun go down.

Early morning saw the club leave for Cookham. Hambledon Lock was full of WBCC cruisers making an early move. Out of the blue a cloud appeared and dropped a quantity of wet stuff on our heads without much warning. Lasting for about 10 minutes, this was the only rain we had throughout the cruise. Arriving at Cookham, we were also fortunate that most of us were able to moor on the Town moorings. Some of us attempted to put up the tent. After several futile attempts, we called on Phil to supervise, and tent and BBQ went up in double quick time.

As it turned out, the evening was a warm, pleasant and balmy one, and no one wanted to go into the tent to eat. So Al Fresco it was and a the tent remained empty until we all retired to our boats.

The cruise was now drawing to a close and the next stop was Bray Marina, with a BBQ and sail past scheduled.

Naturally, all the WBCC craft were spruced up and dressed for the sail past taken by Commodore David Seager and his wife June. Witnessed by a number of bystanders on the front at the marina, WBCC boats made an impressive sight as they exited the marina in an orderly fashion, cruised downstream past the Oakley Arms and then upstream, past the Commodore and into the marina.

This was a fitting closing ceremony for the upriver cruise, a celebratory tea, complete with cake and BBQ followed. Miss Pud’n was awarded the Concurs de Elegance prize 2016 and the shield presented to Barry at the tea.

A perfect summary of the week was provided by Tony Cliffe. He says:

The weather! The weather! I say it twice as we had such incredibly hot weather for the upriver week away. Pastiche did the whole trip starting at Windsor but an early sign of the  effects of the hot temperatures happened to us at Henley. With the fridge trying valiantly to keep things cool for us it was on almost constantly, so much that it flattened our domestic batteries. The first we knew of this was when we got up the next morning and found that the new electric loo would not flush, no need for further comment. Suffice to say that normal service was resumed after we linked batteries and started the engine, but we did have a few moments of near panic.

The whole trip to us was what boating is all about, great weather, not many queues at the locks, perfect moorings and relaxing and socialising around the BBQ with all the other masterchefs.

Our only real problem came as we were entering Marsh lock on the return leg when the starboard engine gave out. Not too much or a problem crabbing out of the lock especially as we only had to reach Henley town moorings where most of the club boats had already tied up so we were given plenty of help to come alongside and moor. We li􀅌ed the engine hatch to allow both the engines to cool while we took a stroll into the town and when we returned I decided to find out what was wrong. With help from Barry, Phil and Neville the problem was traced to a faulty fuel pump, naturally it failed on the engine that was charging the batteries and providing hot water, so I swapped the good pump over to that engine. In the meantime Phil and Barry took the faulty pump away and traced the problem to a faulty electrical contact so I reinstalled it and hey presto! 2 working engines.

Out of interest it was 33 deg making it the hottest day of the year whilst the temp in the engine compartment was 48 deg. After spending 2 hours down there I could not have been wetter if I had been dunked in the river. Also worthy of note is the  quote given to me by DB Marine to supply me with a replacement pump (as we were going to Cookham the next day) of almost £400 including next day delivery from Belgium, this against a price Phil found on ebay of £64 for the same thing. My special thanks to Barry for noticing I was more than a bit hot and passing down to me the best can of cold lager I have EVER tasted.

Denise added another story. She said:

We were the last to leave Fawley Meadow at Henley on our way upriver, and I was just giving a crust of bread to a couple of swans when a Swan Rescue boat pulled in just behind us and two ladies got out. Was  I in for a scolding? No, she too was feeding a crust and calling all the other swans over. She explained that they had to collect all the swans because the boats in the Henley Regatta could hit and kill them.

They were joined by five other boats and they corralled them in, just as the Swan Uppers do, put bags over their bodies to stop flapping wings, and put them into the boats. Funny to see a lady marching along with a swan under her arm with just its head and neck sticking out. We left them to it – fancy that!


Julia added:


The Chinese meal in Windsor on Friday was excellent. It was a last minute decision to eat in Windsor and David and June were able to join us as well and travelled with Roger and Denise in Chimereque and taxi back to Bray marina a􀅌er the meal. The meal was All You Can Eat which is a great way to sample Chinese food as I get very confused by the vast choices on the menu.

We left Windsor early on Saturday so I was able to meet Lisa to go shopping together for the evenings BBQ.


The sailpast was a spectacle with 9 boats all decorated with flags . The weather stayed dry even though some angry clouds were about. Afternoon tea followed the sailpast and Debbie and Detlef arrived with a gorgeous homemade cake.


Jim and I had a really lovely few days cruise with friends. The weather made it extra special and the heavy rain at times didn’t spoil a thing.

P.S Everyone will join me in saying a big thank you to Julia and Lisa for the grub, Debbie for the celebration cake and Phil for leading a splendid cruise, for organising the BBQs, and providing specialist expertise (which no one else seemed to have), in erecting the tent.

This year’s Laying-Up Supper meet was held at the RNLI college in Poole and part of the attraction and adventure is to ‘drive’ the lifeboat simulator. This is a life size model of the cockpit of the Severn Class of lifeboat, a 51 foot, twin caterpillar diesel engine ‘Fast afloat Boat’ as they are called. Our intrepid members took the helm with glee. Alan Darby, Phil Johnston, Tony Cliffe and Ron Pusey each took turns to helm the simulated rescue which is pretty realistic, while the simulator operator changes the
weather, hazard and other conditions as the simula􀆟on progresses, to make thing progressively more difficult—or exciting!

   

They were on a mission to rescue five people who found themselves in the water after a collision, just outside Dover harbour, involving a freighter and an oil tanker. There was a lot of debris in the water as well as the oil, which was on fire. The guys had to deal with a beam sea as well as worsening condi􀆟ons that caused huge waves to break over the bow. It was so rough that some of those on board became a little queasy, including one of the helmsmen. But no names, no sick bucket…

Apart from the comforts of the hotel and the interst to boaters , there is a good little bar and restaurant with a dis􀆟nctly nautical theme serving delicious food. Also a key attraction is the stunning vista over Black Water, with the setting casting its golden glow over boats at rest in the still water. The view can be enjoyed from the restaurant balcony as well as from many of the rooms.

A large group met on Saturday at Teddington moorings with a meal at the Tide End Cottage in the evening.

Sunday morning Lady Weaver (David & June) and Crestal (Sandi & Andy plus crew member Alan Darby) were waved off by the other club  members, as they set off on the 9¼ hour journey downriver to Queenborough Harbour on the Isle of Sheppey. We were met by a really helpful harbourmaster who invited us to moor on the Pontoon and recommended the Flying Dutchman pub which  served good grub at reasonable prices. The sun shone and the view over the harbour was idyllic. A great start to the voyage.

Monday morning we set out to sea, heading for Burnham-onCrouch. Past the rather eerie masts of HMS Montgomery, sunk in the estuary during the war, and now following the marker buoys away from land. Eventually sigh􀆟ng the Essex coast we  sailed on into the River Crouch estuary. Burnham is a long way up the river, but scenery is lovely. We spotted seals both in the water near to the boats and basking on the shore. Having re-fuelled, we were directed to our moorings and shared our stories of the voyage so far – over a drink, in true nautical fashion.

Tuesday was time for wandering along the coastal path into the village. In the evening Sandi & Andy went off to the pub whilst Alan, Dave and June shared a superb Chinese takeaway meal from the Golden Dragon – delivered in 20 minutes to the marina.

Wednesday morning we set off at 11am from Burnham reaching Chatham, on the river Medway around 6pm. A long uneventful trek, but water like the proverbial millpond (thank goodness!)


Thursday morning Sandi and June did some food shopping,  then we all hit the Shopping Outlet Centre! Shoes, Cadbury’s shop – what more could anyone want? All five of us ended the day together in an Italian restaurant in the centre.

Friday we made a 7.30am start and headed down the Medway, round the coast and up into the Thames estuary again. After entering St. Katharine’s Dock we moored up in the west basin and in the evening had a fantastic meal at “CAU” restaurant –
Carne Argentina Uniqua. The “servers” as the American’s call them, were wearing T-shirts with CAUBOY and CAUGIRL written across their chests. Some invaders had entered the marina, taking photos on board the boats during the evening in spite of their so-called security provisions. During the night, the occupants of Crestal were awoken at 2am by young men on the bow of their boat. A very disturbing experience for them. We changed pontoons after that.

Saturday we relaxed in the sunshine, and soaked up the atmosphere. In the afternoon David & June went to the Duchess Theatre to see “The Play That Goes Wrong”. The weather being perfect for a walk, they went from the Aldwych down to  mbankment, then meandered along the Thames Path all the way back to the marina passing seven bridges along the way. Meanwhile, Sandi & Andy had a visit from their daughter and boyfriend while David, Alan & June had a drink then another yummy
dinner, this time in the Slug and Lettuce.

Sunday relaxed in the sun until time to leave for 2pm lock-out, back to Teddington then on to Weybridge. Unfortunately, the Weybridge moorings were full so Crestal carried onto the Thames Court for dinner whilst Lady Weaver had to spend the night outside Thames Lock before heading up the River Wey and home on Monday morning.  An excellent cruise and very enjoyable company.

June Seager.