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May Bank Holiday Meet

I am happy to report a very successful event over the May Bank Holiday.  A total of eleven boats gathered at Buckler’s Hard on the Beaulieu River on the Saturday night.

The  weather was distinctly cold but the pontoon party went ahead nevertheless. We gathered between the fuel pump and a raised bed of dead geraniums and shared a large variety of canapes. Most importantly, Bernie Steed introduced the assembled company to the tot ceremony of The Royal Naval Tot Club of Antigua and Barbuda and duly raised the Naval Saturday toast. As the name of that Club implies, the toast was in rum for those who could swallow it, and  it warmed up proceedings significantly.  Commodore Peter Costalas read from the book, "The Royal Navy Day by Day", reminding us all of our auspicious heritage, with particular reference to Royal Naval encounters with European and American navies over the centuries.

Then the fun really started. The rotating dinner involved everyone scurrying off in different directions eating different food on different boats. What a great way of mixing us all up!  Then more of the same scrambling as dessert was served somewhere else, the difference being that by this time everyone had imbibed more! Happily there appeared no incidents of slipping over the side or of slipping into the wrong boat or wrong bunk, but we may never know…… Great organisation. Thanks to everyone.

The next morning, most of us turned up for a brief service in the chapel of St. Mary's at Buckler’s Hard. It felt very special. It was a privilege to have the use of the tiny converted cottage. The Club provided not only the entire congregation but also the Padre, John Singleton, and the organist, Martin Frith.

Buckler’s Hard is a delightful old village, heaving with Naval history, which many of us had a chance to explore.

In the afternoon we left our berth to go to Gin’s Farm, not far from the mouth of the River. Nothing to do with the beverage, Gin’s is thought to derive from ‘ingenium’, a lifting or winding device used by the monks of Beaulieu to unload cargo to avoid navigating higher up the river.

On Sunday, the weather persisted in behaving more like November than almost May, but, undeterred, we had drinks on Kiano, courtesy of the Ware family, to celebrate the yacht's return to the Club fleet under their new ownership,  and we overflowed into Susan Ayu and Spirit of Avalon when things got a bit too cosy.

Dinner in the Royal Southampton Yacht Club's clubhouse was superb, with shore party members swelling our numbers to over forty.  Once again change of one's location during the dinner, this time chosen by a raffle ticket draw, was the key to lively conversations.
The Commodore  then rose to say a few well-chosen words.

This was certainly a weekend to remember.

Sue West

Enclosed are some photographs of the event provided by Marcus Ware