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Non-Tidal Thames Cruise 31 July to 4 August 2016

To view a selection of the photographs captured by Laura Armytage, Stuart Ashmore and Martin Alexander, click here.

It all started from a conversation between RNVRYC members Bob Smith and Martin Alexander under their umbrellas in a rain storm at the gangway of HMS Wellington after the Club’s 2015 Annual Dinner. “Let go upstream in the Summer!”. So the seed was sown and over last winter, Gavin Dunbar joined Bob and Martin to form a cruise sub-committee and a cruise plan was developed. The first time the RNVRYC have had an inland yachting event!

Bob Smith, being also the Commodore of the Royal Society of St George Yachting Association (RSSGYA), made the proposal, which was easily agreed, that the Cruise should be a joint event for the two Clubs. The event was announced and a fleet of nine motor yachts was soon established. Four yachts were flying the RNVRYC pennant: Aislinn, Espada, Lady Diana and Spirit of Avalon and four yachts were flying the RSSGYA pennant: Beatrice Rose, Escapade, Gadget and Speedbird. The ninth yacht, Sea Symphony, belonging to Bob Smith was flying the pennants of both Clubs.

By midday on Sunday 31 the fleet was berthed at the marina belonging to the Thames Motor Yacht Club (TMYC) at Hampton Court. We were joined by a shore party of eight RNVRYC members who had found their way that morning to the TMYC despite the many road closures in the area due to the RideLondon cycling races. The officers of the TMYC made us all very welcome and we enjoyed a glass or two of prosecco before a burgee exchange ceremony was performed with the Commodore of TMYC. This was followed by a barbeque. The hospitality given to us by the TMYC was second to none and in particular we really enjoyed their fantastic spread for the lunch.

On Monday we had our longest passage of the Cruise to Egham Quay where all the yachts were used for a rotating dinner. Members of both Clubs were mixed around and quickly got to know each other. The rain caused some discomfort at the start when we were ashore for the “Pontoon Party” and first course buffet, but that was quickly forgotten when back aboard in the dry.

Windsor Theatre was our next event on Tuesday for the opening night of West Side Story. As it was a production taking talent from local theatre schools, the auditorium was very full mainly with the cast’s relations. The performance by the young actress as Maria was memorable – she will become a well-known star before long.

On Wednesday afternoon all yachts had berthed at the Bounty at Bourne End and a large pirate flag was raised for our party. Before long, a piratical dress code was being realised. A bottle of Rum, of course, was awarded to RNVRYC Past-Commodore Mike Elton as being the best dressed pirate and a bottle of bubbly to RSSGYA Jane Ashmore as being the best dressed Pirate’s wench! As the evening temperature dropped we took over a room in The Bounty where the evening’s skulduggery continued with excellent bar food and ale.

Six yachts continued to Henley on Thursday to berth together on the bank of the Henley Royal Regatta Meadow. The other yachts had dispersed, but their crews together with ten other RNVRYC members, including the RNVRYC Commodore – Nigel, joined as a shore party. A bubbly drinks party was held alongside the yachts before a jacket and tie dinner in The Leander Club. Gavin Dunbar was Mr Vice and arranged a large single table with a seating plan to mix the members of both clubs. The meal, as always at Leander, was delicious.

Although managing to break the Leander gavel in the process, Gavin controlled the dinner running order, including a seated port toast to the Queen. The Commodores’ of both the Clubs briefly spoke to close the Cruise. The smiling faces around the table indicated the everyone had had an enjoyable time!

Martin Alexander