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East Coast - 27 Sep 17 Cruising

12 Boats met up in the Orwell for the last Rally of the Season

Determined to make the best of the end-of season rally and given a spring tide and benign winds 12 RNVR YC and RNSA boats gathered in the Orwell for the weekend of 22-24 September. The first rendez-vous was Shotley Marina. Set beneath the long-vacated and somewhat dilapidated premises of HMS GANGES the conversation inevitably turned to early training. Notes were compared between the alumni of Grimsby Maritime School and TS Mercury, the latter a close competitor to GANGES for the rigour of its 'training'. (My 99 year old mate had a 3 length swimming test iin week 1 at GANGES in an icy swimming pool, clad (to the wry amusement of his Yeoman Instructor)in an icy boiler suit taken straight off a snow covered washing line! It was 1935. He says it prepared him more than adequately for the Battle of the River Plate, 3 years setting up and operating a Falklands Islands HF Station and D Day).
Last boat in was the plucky Dancing Bear which Chris and Pat Jones sailed from Mill Beach to join Avocet(Richard Snell), Jacqui-B(Gale Bryan), Julie Marie (Terry Corner) Pisces(Andy Williams), Moonfleet(Russel Cherry), Didycoy(Bill Wilkinson), Much the Miller(Tony Henwood)and Tay of Shotley(Frazer Sanders). Avocet kindly drained its wine rack, to keep us fortified until we secured Dancing Bear at about 2100 and then off to the Shipwreck (not the polite name for a wayward Ganges rating but the Marina Restaurant) for a delightful supper.

Allowed by tide and distance to languish in our carts until the breakfast call (0900) - smoked salmon, cream cheese and champagne aboard Moonfleet - the David Whitby 'Special'. Then a flood tide and a light easterly allowed us to dawdle at 2 kts log speed up to Ipswich. There was even 'free flow' at the lock - how is that for idleness! The champagne corks almost caught us up.

Jacqui-B banged the gong for 'Pimms' at 1800. By this time Thames Fueller (Nick Moulton), Edith (Catherine Fearon) and Successor (Jon Cooney) had joined. With our stalwart shore party we numbered 26. With the prospect of the Blackwater boats catching an early tide it was supposed to be early dinner........ but then it is so easy to trade sleep for fun so we indulged in the excellent dinner arranged for us at the ' Last Anchor' until the lights dimmed and our younger cohort disappeared into the Ipswich nightlife.

On Sunday morning in glorious sunshine the boats slipped one by one and we dispersed. The North Sea can be kind....sometimes!

Our thanks to David Whitby for organising an excellent weekend.

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