Part 1 - The Early Years
In 1960, John Harmer was living in Stubbington. Having read of the drowning of two boys enjoying a day's fishing, John concluded that lack of boat knowledge had contributed to the tragedy. In November, John canvassed the local area using newspaper advertisements, leaflets and personal calls. This led to a meeting in the annex of the Hammond Hall, Stubbington on Tuesday 31 January, the inaugural meeting of Seafarers Sailing Club, with 11 attendees. Those attending discussed forming a club aimed at the sharing of sailing experience and teaching others to sail with safety. The club was to be run on the lowest subscription possible so as to attract the widest family membership.
By the beginning of March 1961 the Club had taken over a derelict pump house at 31 Cottes Way which it rented from Fareham Council. Renovation of the building including the removal of heavy concrete engine beds, bricking-up holes in the wall, renewing the toilet and replacing broken glass. A member obtained a number of salvaged seats following a fire in a Southampton cinema.
On Tuesday 25th April 1961, with a membership of 20, the Club held its first AGM. A training programme of lectures interspersed the concrete chipping details. The syllabus included dinghy construction, rigs and rigging, sailing theory and aerodynamics, rule of the road, knots, buoyage systems, safety and rescue drill, cordage and splicing, weather and tides.
Plans for a GP14 sailing dinghy were procured and construction commenced between evening lectures. Meanwhile, so that practical training could get underway, a WW2 airborne lifeboat was purchased at a cost of £85. It was of the type designed by Uffa Fox to be carried under aircraft and parachuted to airmen who had crashed into the sea. The boat was converted for sailing duties at Cottes Way and named 'Airborne'.
'Airborne' was launched from the beach at the end of Crofton Lane at 7pm on Thursday 6th July 1961. The crew comprised Mr E. Aylett as helmsman with Mr R. Duffet, Mr and Mrs B. Brown and Mr R. Woolnough. About 100 yards off the beach and in 5 feet of water, the boat capsized and Mr Woolnough lost his shoes.
The final sail of the first season for 'Airborne' was on Saturday 21st October. During the first season a total of 75½ hrs of instruction were given. The Club devised a test of proficiency in dinghy handling and awarded a certificate to those successfully completing it. The Club became affiliated to the RYA in November 1963.
The Club's first 'formal' social event was held in the clubhouse in Cottes Way on Friday 15th December 1961 with drinks provided by the attendees.
A Place on the Beach
Originally 'Airborne' was stored in the compound and manhandled to the beach at Hill Head on its trolley. In mid 1962 the Club was given permission to use a plot of land west of Crofton Lane at the approach to the beach as a boat park. In the autumn of 1964, a request to rent the site was turned down by the Admiralty Land Office.
During 1963 a ship's hatch was washed ashore near the piece of beach that the Club sailed from. This became the base for the signal mast. Further improvements of beach facilities included replacement of the hand winch with a motorised one driven by a Petter engine, flags and a signal horn from an old car. The Club also purchased a shed and erected it in the garden of "Thatched Cottage" in Hill Head Road by kind permission of the owner, Mr Spring. This was used to store sails and gear.
In the Spring of 1965 the Club moved its "sailing centre" along the beach a short distance. They began sailing from the beach at the bottom of the garden of "Thatched Cottage". In February 1968 fencing was erected around the boat park which was occupied by up to 40 boats.
Mr Spring sold "Thatched Cottage" in 1970. The new owner, Mr McHendry, kindly allowed the Club to continue to operate from his property until the boats moved to the Salterns in 1974.
The aerial photograph below was published in 'The News' in November 1969. The clubhouse between Cottes Way and Osborne View Road and the dinghies on the Thatched Cottage's beach are both circled. The other photograph shows Club activity on the beach in 1972.
Sailing - The First Decade
In June 1963 the Club was loaned, then allowed to keep, an Enterprise, E45. This helped take the load off 'Airborne' which had accumulated over 135 hours of instruction during the 1962 season with some sessions lasting up to 7 hours. During 1963, 'Airborne' and E45 together accumulated 151 hours at sea being used for instruction including 3 hours night sailing experience.
The first and only GP14 was eventually completed in 1966 and named 'The John Harmer' in honour of the founder and first Commodore who, by then, was living in Canada.
The first Club cruise to the Isle of Wight was in July 1963. Twelve members in four boats, 'Airborne', E45, E9954 and a self-built boat, left Hill Head at 10am and sailed to Cowes where they secured at the public landing at East Cowes. They got back to Hill Head at 4:30pm.
Eventually, cruises became a popular, if infrequent, way to put sailing skills into practice. Venues included "The Folly Inn", Wootton Creek, Lepe, Netley and "The Rising Sun" at Warsash.
The first attempt at Club racing was in October 1964. Six boats took part but there was a distinct lack of wind. It took a while before racing became an integral part of the Club's programme. In February 1966, the Commodore stated the intention to hold one race "weekly in handicap style around the ski buoys". In June it was reported that, during the first race of the season, a number of boats had "gone astray". The Vice Commodore, Laurie Racey, recommended "the course be drawn up on a blackboard before the race for everyone to peruse".
In 1967 there was no Club racing. By the end of the decade, the improved levels of enthusiasm and participation generated by a racing programme was acknowledged. Within a year regular racing, coordinated by a racing officer and sub-committee, and a rescue boat, of sorts, had been introduced.
The photographs below, published in 'The News' on 22nd April 1971, show Gerry Warwick, Club Commodore, working on 'Airborne', Laurie Racey and members wheeling 'Airborne' down to the water and Vic Bryant, Rear Commodore, and members setting sail in 'Airborne' .
Fees, Fund-raising, and Social Events in the Sixties
During its first decade the Club was certainly not rich. The balance, typically £25 to £50 over the first half of the decade, rose to £100 by the end of the sixties. The Club's main source of income was the membership fee supplemented, for the first couple of years, by a share scheme.
The membership fee was initially set at 2s 6d per week (£6.50 pa). In 1962 this was revised to £4 pa. Concern grew that membership fees were deterring prospective members and, at a Special General Meeting in November 1964, a reduction to £2 pa was agreed.
The "family-friendly" ethos was enshrined in the rules and the fee structure from early on. In June 1962 the rules were revised to read "A full member shall be recognised as husband and wife" and in July 1964 the Committee agreed that the membership subscription would include member, wife and children up to the age of 16.
Nowadays another major source of income is boat parking fees. It appears that these first appeared at the end of the 1965 season when it was proposed that members be charged 10/- (10 shillings or 50p) for spaces in the Club park.
There was not a particularly busy social calendar for the first few years. During 1962 there was a film show in February, a very successful 'Bazaar' (jumble sale) in October and a social (bring a bottle) 4 days before Christmas. The Bazaar and the Christmas social were both held at Hammond Hall. In 1963 there was a bazaar in Hammond Hall in November. A month later a Club dinner-dance was held at the "Osborne View" in Hill Head.
The jumble sale, seen as an important source of funds, became a reasonably common, if infrequent, event. Jumble sales were held in November 1965 in the Church Hall, and October 1967, October 1968 and June 1969 in the Scout Hut.
In July 1964 the Club had a "highly successful" barbecue. These eventually became another popular event; held in the autumns of 1967, '68 and '69. Fish and chips were the norm. Why fish and chips at a barbecue? When planning the 1968 barbecue, it was suggested "that sausages were cooked . but no volunteers to organise the event were forthcoming".
As the decade ended, the Club moved further afield for its annual dinner. In 1968 it was held at "The Queen's Head" in Titchfield with about 30 attending for the buffet dinner. The next dinner took place in February 1970; it was a beer and skittles evening at "The Rising Sun" in Warsash.
Part 2 - From Cottes Way to Salterns and Developing the Clubhouse
Acquiring the Salterns Site
As early as July 1962 a letter was sent to Fareham Council to enquire if there was any land available for a permanent boat park. Between 1966 and 1969 the Club remained in contact with the Council as its plans for the Salterns matured. By the end of 1969 the Council had finished the slipway and was in the process of filling in the dinghy park. By the end of 1973 a lease had been signed granting the Club use of the land for 50 years from 1st January 1974. The rent was £185 pa subject to review every 7th year. The first year was rent-free.
The Club took possession of the new site in April 1974. In his annual report at the 1974 AGM, the Commodore said "Over 70 boats were parked in the compound and it seems that we shall eventually be able to accommodate slightly less than 100 when the clubhouse is built. These figures compare with about 40 boats which we parked near the Thatched Cottage last year". Attention now turned to the provision of a clubhouse.
Compound and shed viewed from the east - 1974
The First Clubhouse
The first clubhouse was intended to provide storage and changing facilities and to support a signal station. The Cottes Way premises would remain the Club's HQ and meetings centre. The estimated cost £2,500, comprised the cost of materials and professional fees only as construction was to be almost totally DIY. he Club still needed to raise about £900. Members were invited to offer interest-free loans to the Club in units of £10 to be repaid in full within 5 years. This raised £900.
Planning approval and Building Regulations clearance were achieved in January 1975. The Club had wanted to site the clubhouse near the front of the compound but Council planners wanted it nearer the back. The structure was to be protected with PVC-coated steel cladding. The Club preferred white. Reluctantly it had to accept grey for the ground floor. However, the planners accepted that, for visibility reasons, the signal tower should be white especially since it was sited, at their request, a considerable distance from the Solent.
Most of the building work was completed during 1975. The total cost had been less than £2,300 and the Sports Council had provided grants totalling £713.
Utilities, Meeting Room and Bar
At the end of the seventies the Club was using two sites. Cottes Way was the clubhouse with water, electricity and toilets. The beach premises comprised a boat park with the small store/changing room/signal station. During 1979 and 1980 cable, water pipe and a mobile toilet (Rollalong toilet block) were procured and applications made, to the Council and the utility companies, for electricity, water and sewerage services to the compound. Water and electricity services were connected in 1981, the water initially to a standpipe.
During 1981 the Club came under pressure from the Council to sub-let Cottes Way to a playgroup. Planning permission for the use of Cottes Way as a sailing club expired at the end of the year. Veiled threats were made regarding renewal of planning permission and rent. At an EGM on 14 July 1981, it was agreed that the Club would vacate Cottes Way at the end of the year.
Thus, at the beginning of 1982 the Club's home became the Salterns premises. The site had water, electricity, and a small building that could serve as a changing room, store and, with a squeeze, a meeting venue. It was with some relief that the mobile toilet was eventually commissioned during the year. While laying the sewer and routing water pipes to the mobile toilet, trenches were cut to allow structural engineers from the Council to determine what the Club would require by way of foundations for the next stage of building, a new clubhouse/classroom.
By August of 1982 planning and building approval had been obtained with the extension on the preferred side, to seaward, of the existing building. As no Sports Council grant would be available, funding the £7,000+ project was an issue. The project was given the "green light" when the Club was offered an overdraft of £7,000 guaranteed by an anonymous member, coincidentally an intimate acquaintance of the Treasurer. Generous interest free loans from members helped avoid the need to make use of the overdraft.
Members constructing the Meeting and Function Room (Bar/Lounge) 1983
The new clubroom was officially opened by Ron McKendry at a prize giving evening on 10 December 1983.
Boathouse and Showers
In 1985 a concrete-block garage was erected to house the Club's Avon Searider safety boat that had been bought in 1978. At the AGM in November 1986, a resolution was passed to incorporate byelaws allowing the Club to obtain a Registration certificate permitting the purchase and supply of alcohol. A bar was installed the following year and by the end of the decade it was contributing approximately £1,000 pa to Club funds.
The local authority was unwilling to extend the temporary planning permission for the mobile toilet beyond 1990. So plans were put in hand to build new toilets and changing rooms integral with the main clubhouse building. By February 1989 planning and building approval had been obtained and the concrete raft foundation had already been laid. The toilets became usable in 1991 at which time the mobile toilet was converted to become the Bosun's store. A gas supply was connected in 1991 and by the end of the year the building was virtually complete. The total cost was more than £16,000.
Members Working on the Shower Block 1989
The final inspection was carried out by the Council in June 1992. In the same month, the Club obtained the planning permission to retain the converted mobile toilet as a store for 5 years.
A New Boathouse
By the beginning of the 1990s the Avon Searider was getting old. A second Searider on offer at the Southampton Boat Show was bought. The original intention was not to have two safety boats. However, it was decided to keep the existing boat as a standby. The small boathouse could only hold one RIB, so the old one was stored in the compound under a tarpaulin. It was not too long before it became accepted that, having two safety boats, there should always be one available. The stowage arrangements for the No 2 boat made the task of getting it ready for use problematic.
The weatherproof metal cladding on some parts of the building had been put up when the first clubhouse was constructed in 1975. By the mid 1990s, despite painting and repair, some areas badly needed renovation or replacement. This was particularly true of the north face of the original clubhouse.
In July 1999 it was agreed that a building extension was needed to provide secure and weather-proof stowage for the safety boats, a Bosun's store and to cover the rear of the clubhouse. This would permit the disposal of the concrete block 'garage' and the portacabin and would eliminate the need for recladding for the time being.
To make the boathouse fit inside the compound required a "tapered" design. In June 2000, Alan Finding, who was master-minding the project, wrote to the Council asking if the Club could lease an additional small (12m²) triangle of land to facilitate a rectangular design. He had to enlist the help of the warden of the Stubbington Study Centre to contradict objections that the development would affect badgers and to point out that the local flora consisted of nettles and gorse!
A supplemental lease was signed in November 2000 increasing the total area of the Club's premises from 1,821m² to 1,833m². The boathouse was completed in 2001. Once again members provided most of the labour thus keeping the total cost down to £11,500. Fareham Borough Council contributed £500 toward the cost of the project.
Boathouse Construction - Footings November 2000, Cladding February 2001
A First Floor
Toward the end of the 2005 sailing season, in a crowded and rather sweaty changing room, a member turned to the Commodore, then Alan Finding, and suggested that more space was needed. Alan argued that, as boat spaces could not be sacrificed and the Council consistently rejected requests to extend the boundaries, "the only way was up".
In December the Committee discussed the benefits of extending to the first floor and agreed that Alan, by then Rear Commodore, should establish if local authority planning permission could be obtained. The first planning application, submitted in January 2006, was refused in March. Following an on-site meeting with Council Development Control officers (planners) in April, the application was resubmitted with minor modifications. This was approved in July.
Drawings were eventually submitted for building regulation approval in July 2007 and approval was granted in September. Phase 1 of the project involved completing all the major structural changes and reinstating weatherproof integrity. This was scheduled for June 2008 to make use of the longest days; most of the volunteers had "day jobs". The sailing programme included two "no sailing" weekends in June. More than sufficient numbers of members turned up to help; a lot of hard work was undertaken in the collaborative and genial atmosphere. The outside structure was completed and good progress made internally.
Members Working on the First Floor Extension 2008
The rest of the work began at the end of November, after the "Frostbite" series had finished. By the beginning of December the clubhouse had only one lavatory; this posed problems for the Prize Giving/Draw and New Year's Eve social functions!
Work was completed by the end of February 2009. The total cost of the project was just under £22,000. Approximately £1,400 of this was funded by a County Council Member's discretionary grant sponsored by Councillor Tim Knight.
Telephone the Final Utility (sans Poles)
By the beginning of the new millennium the only utility missing was a telephone line. Mobile telephones and VHF radios had limitations. A landline could provide reliable, effective communication for emergencies. It would also facilitate remote alarming and, in time, internet connectivity.
At the 2008 AGM the membership approved funding to cover the installation plus a year's rental and call charges for a landline. In May 2009, BT erected five telephone poles. A local resident complained and, in June, a meeting was held involving Council officers, Cllr Tim Knight (FBC and HCC), BT and the Club. BT had mistakenly believed that the car park was "highway". It was not; they required local authority permission to erect poles. The Club agreed that the area would be better served ("Enhancing our quality of place") by a subterranean connection. It was agreed that BT would remove the poles and, to minimise cost, the Club would lay the cable. Cllr Knight suggested the latter as he was well acquainted with the Club's reputation as a DIY organisation; it was almost "a challenge". Cllr Knight advised that a grant might be available and kindly offered to support a bid from the Club.
At Cllr Knight's suggestion, the grant applied for was extended to cover the introduction of the intruder alarm system into the central area as well as the telephone line. The application was submitted on 1 October 2009. The grant was received on 14 October. The telephone cable was laid on 16 October. By 10 November, the Alarming Company had upgraded the alarm system.
Cable Laying in October 2009
A New Clubhouse Ring-fenced Building Fund
Early in 2010, a suggestion that garnered support was to further develop the clubhouse first floor. The recently completed extension was a success. Increasing the first floor accommodation could provide an array of options including a lounge/bar with a spectacular view of the Solent. It was agreed that "Further Development of the First Floor" be included in the 'Ten Year Plan' and that a sub-committee be formed to progress under the chairmanship of David Grout, the Membership Secretary.
The Clubhouse post First Floor Extension as Envisaged 2011/2012
By the end of 2011, it had been established that Fareham Borough Council were not against the development. It was argued that the earlier the Club began accruing funds the earlier the project could be realised. A £10 supplement to the annual membership and boat space fees was approved at the 2011 AGM on the understanding that the funds raised by the supplement would be "ring fenced" for project use.
During 2012 and 2013 the sub-committee investigated building options including a "steel shell" set into the ground outside the current foundations and sources of funding. By the Autumn of 2013 it had been established that a new building would be cheaper than building on top of the current structure and that a significant proportion of the project would have to be carried out by a contractor. Consequently, the eventual cost could be of the order of £250,000. As the maximum that could be obtained from external funding was 50% of this, the project was not affordable in the short term.
In time, the clubhouse would have to be replaced. Thus, at the 2013 AGM it was agreed that the "extension supplement" introduced in 2011 should become a permanent element of the fee structure. In future, 15% of each year's income from membership and boat space fees would be added to the ring-fenced "building fund". Putting funds inside the "ring fence" was authorised by a vote of the membership at a general meeting.
Meanwhile Small but Effective Improvements
At the end of 2013, with the rebuild now several years away, there was a need to renovate and repair the clubhouse in the short term. Improvements had recently been made to the changing rooms and the kitchen. It was agreed that effort should be put into renovating the main club room and the area immediately outside.
Bar and Patio Doors
Left - Bar/Lounge December 2009; Right - Bar/Lounge December 2019
New fence being erected in January 2016 to extend the compound
In March 2016, a new lounge carpet was fitted.
Patio - November 2017 and January 2018
Electrically Operated Shutters
In January 2019, new shutters were fitted to the clubhouse windows. The new shutters were electrically operated using buttons inside the lounge. At last, it was not necessary to brave the elements to raise and lower the shutters, and the task could easily be carried out by members who were not in training for the "strongest man on earth" competition.
Part 3 - On the Water
As mentioned above ("The Early Years"), organised racing did not really "take off" until 1970. At the AGM that November it was agreed that regular racing be inaugurated. A Racing Officer would be appointed to produce a programme of fortnightly races to be held on Saturdays or Sundays and to compile a rota of all interested members to man the signal station and operate the rescue boat "if conditions demand".
1974 was the first season of sailing from the Salterns site. The programme for the year included 16 races; a shakedown, two 7-race series and a Cadets/Ladies race. Only 7 were completed; there were said to be 11 times more Force 6 winds registered than usual in a season. The Commodore added, interestingly, "the sea start which was used throughout was very popular. Next season we hope to have some shore starts as well so that we have variety". Obviously keen to experiment, the 1976 programme included a Mirror Race with "a Le Mans Start"!
Thursday evening racing began in 1976 with one series of 8 races, and proved popular. Class racing was also introduced in 1976 in the form of separate races. In general, races began at 14:30 on Saturdays, 10:30 Sundays and 19:00 Thursdays. Two innovations were tried in 1977; a short Tuesday evening series and sailing at high tides on Sundays. The first proved a mistake; without Tuesday evening meetings at Cottes Way, there was a complete breakdown in communications. On the other hand, the high tide sailing proved successful with days when 30+ boats turned out. This was retained until 1983. Since then all Sunday races have been held, as originally, in the morning.
1976 also saw the first "Seafarers' Open". This event, usually comprising two races held on a Sunday in the second half of August, continued until 1998. Our other popular Open, the Half Ton Cup, was introduced at the beginning of the 1980s. This continues to this day but not as an Open.
Half Ton Cup - Left 1985, Right 2005
By the mid 1980s the sailing programme was much as it is today. The 1987 programme, for example, included 10 cruises, 5 "Event Days" (Open, Half Ton, Regatta, Commodore's Challenge and WALSH Trophy) and 55 races (Shakedown, Spring - 5, Summer - 5, Autumn - 5, Evening - 15, Pursuit - 5, Ladies/Novice/Cadet - 6, "Top Dog" - 12, Final Freezer).
Regattas - Left 1986, Right 2010
An inter-Club series, the SLOSHH, involving Seafarers, Lee-on-the-Solent and Hill Head, began in 1989. In 2008, with LoSSC and HHSC focussing on Open races, the SLOSHH was cancelled at the last moment with some doubt over its future survival. However, the level of interest improved. This was helped by a novel scoring system, developed by Seafarers, which was introduced in 2012. It was designed to encourage and reward greater participation. In each of the three years following its introduction the total turnout from the three clubs exceeded 60. Seafarers SC won the SLOSHH Trophy five times in the ten years 2010 to 2019.
In 2016 a SLOSHH Winter Series was introduced. In 2016 three rounds of 2 races were completed. In 2017 and 2018 only one race was completed and in 2019 they were all cancelled. None were scheduled in 2020!
Left: Winter SLOSHH 2017 (HHSC) .. .. Right: SLOSHH 2018 (SSC)
Classes of Craft
Over the years various classes of boats have dominated racing in the Club. Lasers have always been popular. The Solo was ubiquitous for the first decade of this century but seems to have gone out of fashion since.
Combined 7 October 2015
At the time of writing (June 2020), of the 122 boat spaces allocated in the compound, 32 are for Lasers, 14 for Wayfarers, 9 Solos, 7 Laser Stratos, 4 each RS Vision, Topper Topaz and Blaze, 3 each Bosun, Enterprise, Laser Pico, Mirror, Pacer, RS 400 and Wanderer, 2 each Laser 2000, Leader, RS Aero and Supernova. There are 19 other classes with only one of type in the compound.
Using volunteers, or "interested members", to manage racing soon proved inadequate. By the end of the 1970s the duty watch system was in place. At the 1979 AGM, in referring to "the usual problem of the OOD and safety boat driver not presenting themselves for duty", the Commodore began a tradition of bemoaning duty crew absenteeism that continues to this day. There have been several initiatives addressing this issue. The procedure whereby the Sailing Secretary writes to absentees began in 1997. The distribution of duty crew lists to help members find substitutes began in 2005. In 2019 ("Communications" below), the Club adopted a new website with an integral Duty Roster system. This sends emails to inform members of their duties then reminders as these duties become more imminent. Using the system, members can invite and accept swaps. The system maintains a record of who is duty for any particular event thus providing an up-to-date list for the OOD. Has this reduced absenteeism? The jury is out!
One of the original aims of the Seafarers Sailing Club was to encourage people to sail and to teach people to sail safely. Much of the early training was at evenings and weekends in 'Airborne'. The Club devised its own training scheme and awarded its own helmsman certificate.
'The News', 22 April 1971
- Left: Stan Johnson showing George Hiser (12) and Howard Ellis (13) how to splice a rope
- Right: Club Secretary, Bill Garment, working on some rigging with Peter Rayner
Although the Club became affiliated to the RYA in November 1963, it was not until October 1975 that it applied for, and achieved, recognition as an RYA Teaching Institution.
Training expenses have always been kept to a minimum. Originally, with few qualified instructors and even fewer Club boats, experienced members and their boats were an integral part of our training programme. In the past decade the number of instructors has significantly increased. In 2020 we have 11 Dinghy Instructors (5 of whom are Senior Instructors) plus 5 Assistant Dinghy Instructors. All instructing is by qualified instructors and most training is carried out using Club boats.
The main training session each year coincides with the school summer half term break. For at least the past three decades, that week has been dedicated to the practical element of an RYA Level 1/2 (Start Sailing and Basic Skills) course. Each year also includes at least one advanced course. The Club also trains its own Patrol Boat crews.
In 2015 a second Level 1/2 training course was introduced running on Tuesdays and Saturdays from July to October. Over the next few years, this "summer" course morphed into a second one week course at the end of July to coincide with the beginning of school summer holidays. A new Junior Cadet Course (RYA YSS Levels 1-4) was introduced in 2019 for young cadets, aged between 5 and 11. The course was designed to run alongside the other summer course, but only in the mornings.
Training - Left 2010 Right 2019
Capsize recovery drills, an essential element of Level 1/2 course, were initially carried out at the Daedalus Boat Centre (now JSSC) at Hornet in Haslar Creek.
In 1995 and 1996 the venue was Royal Clarence Yard and from 1997 until 2008 it was the RNSC at Whale Island. In 2009 the drills were carried out in the River Hamble using facilities offered by Solent University's Watersports Centre, Warsash. This was not judged a success.
Since 2010, capsize drills have been carried out in the Solent on a convenient day during training week using a suitable Club dinghy.
Capsize Recovery Drills - Left 1986, Right 2009
The picture on the right shows capsize drills in the Hamble River in May 2009. It is a reproduction of a painting by Beverley Daniels which was presented to Dick Banks on his retirement as RYA Principal in August 2019.
Saturday morning sailing began in 1987 under the mentorship of Margaret Hyde and Edie Sampson and continued throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium with Tricia Gordon superseding Margaret as 'the other mother hen'. Although Saturday morning sailing was eclipsed by Tuesday evening sailing when the latter began in 1997, there has been a resurgence since 2015 when a second Level 1/2 training course was introduced running on Tuesdays and Saturdays from July to October.
Training and Practice Sailing on a Saturday morning - July 2015
The introduction in 1997 of "Informal" or "Practice" sailing on Tuesdays was part of a package of pro-cadet initiatives pursued by Mick Merson during his tenure as Commodore (seasons 1997 to 1999).
Cruising has always been a part of the Club's activities. There have been typically 10 cruises in each year's programme. The popularity of specific destinations can change from year to year. There may, for example, be several years between successive visits to venues such as The Folly Inn, Bucklers Hard, Lepe or Bembridge. On the other hand, in 1973 Wootton and Ashlett Creeks were visited; I doubt there has been a season since that these two venues have not been visited.
Left - Cruise to Ashlett Creek in the early 1980s; Right - Cruise to Wootton Creek in 2011
Mini Cruises: These appeared in the programme from 1989 to 1995. There were ten each year on Sunday afternoons after racing. The aim was to get more people on the water in an organised event and provide an introduction to cruising for the less experienced.
Round the Island: These cruises, aimed at the more experienced, began at the beginning of the 1980s and appeared in most annual programmes from 1980 to 2004.
Needles Astern - Round the Island Cruise - August 2018
Overnight Cruises: The first recorded Overnight Cruise was to Bembridge in 1977. Overnight cruises first appeared in the programme in 1999. Since then there have been a total 21 overnight cruises; 14 to Corf campsite, 3 to Bembridge (including 2019 above), 1 to Island Harbour Marina in the Medina River (2011), 2 to Lymington (2014 and 2015) and 1 (this year, 2020) to Medina Activity Centre.
Overnight Cruises - Right Bembridge 2002; Left Newtown Creek (Corf Scout Camp) 2016
Ad Hoc Cruises: In addition to the programmed cruises, there have always been "unofficial" cruises. In the late 1990s Wednesday cruises became quite popular particularly with members who could take the day off. They were thus dubbed the "The 'Geriatric' Cruises"!
Since 1985, the Commodore's Challenge has been one of the highlights of the Club programme. For its first 15 years, it comprised teams taking part in two or three races. They were often relay races and occasionally a mix of formats, handicap and pursuit.
2011 also saw the Challenge develop as a charity event. Having attended the launch of the Mayor of Fareham's charities, the Commodore (Pete Cox) proposed that the 2011 Commodore's Challenge be used to raise funds for "Toe in the Water". Supporting the Club charity became a feature of Commodore's Challenges from then on.
In 2016, the Commodore (Phil Warwick) decided to try something different; the Commodore's challenge was to set a new Seafarers' record for the number of boats/members participating in a Club cruise. The "Grand Cruise" as it was dubbed, took place on the 6 August with the Royal Victoria Yacht Club at Fishbourne the destination. The day was massively enjoyable and raised more than £105 for the Club Charity. In addition, several new Club records were set including the number of dinghies and members taking part.
Commodore's Challenge 2016 - Grand Cruise to Royal Victoria Yacht Club
The 2017 Commodore's Challenge was a cruise to Portsmouth Harbour. The venue was another first for Seafarers and another record was broken - 48 (of the 61 participants) travelled by boat.
In 2019, the challenge set by the Commodore was to achieve the best attended race. A Committee Boat was used to start the Half and Under Half Ton Cup races simultaneously. Forty-nine sailors crewing thirty-four boats contested the Commodore's Challenge. If not a new record, 34 was higher than any entry found in the Club archives.
For the first half of the 1970s the Club had three boats: "Airborne", the self-built GP14 and an Enterprise. The Enterprise was fitted with an outboard motor and used as a rescue boat. In 1977 the Club invested in a Wayfarer Mk 1 (Golden Eye - WF3282); it was of GRP construction to reduce the maintenance task. In 1979 the GP14 was sold and "Airborne" was donated to Laurie Racey and Ernie Hiser. "Airborne" remained in the Club until early 1992 when Laurie and Ernie donated it to the RAF Aviation Museum at Tangmere.
In 1984 two Mirrors were donated to the Club. The first Topper was bought in 1987, the second in 1992. By 1997 the Club owned a Wayfarer, 3 Toppers, a Mirror, a Skipper and a 420.
At the end of 2006, the Club bought a Topper Topaz on attractive terms from a departing member. This was to replace the Club Mirror and provide a useful addition to the training fleet. In March 2008, the Club purchased an RS Vision. This proved especially useful when the Club began carrying out capsize recovery drills in the Solent. In 2010, the Club purchased a second Mk 1 Wayfarer and a second Topaz with the help of a very generous donation from John and Mavis Harmer. As a token of appreciation, the Club named its Topaz dinghies 'John' and 'Mavis'.
Topaz Dinghies 'John' and 'Mavis' June 2010
At the end of 2014, the Committee accepted ownership of a member's RS Venture. Then in 2015 the two Topaz were replaced by three Hartley 12.2s. In 2017, a rather leaky Wayfarer was replaced by a Laser Stratos.
By 2018, Wayfarer "Golden Eye" (3282) had been in the Club's possesion for 41 years! With the help of a generous grant from Hampshire County Council, a generous donation from Mavis Harmer and the sale of "Golden Eye", the Club acquired its second Stratos and invested in three Hartley Alphas (Optimists). The following year the Oppies were put to good use when a new Junior Cadet Course was introduced for young cadets, aged between 5 and 11.
Racking for the Optimists May 2018
At the beginning of 2019, the Club was loaned a Fusion dinghy which proved both useful and popular. In June, the Club bought the boat with the aid of a generous donation from the estate of Nicky Dunk who had sadly lost her fight against cancer while serving as Rear Commodore.
In March 2020 the Club purchased a second Fusion which it named "Mavis" in honour of Mavis Harmer whose most recent donation to Seafarers had helped pay for the new dinghy. In June 2020 Bill Cunningham, Club stalwart and friend to all, very generously donated his almost-new Fusion, "Fusionista" to Seafarers.
Thus, by mid 2020 the Club owned the following boats: one RS Venture, two Laser Stratos, three Hartley 12.2, three Fusions and three Optimists. This fleet was considered optimal for formal RYA training, the development of personal sailing skills and to encourage new members.
The Club's first RIB, a 4 metre Avon Searider, was bought in 1978 after an EGM at which the benefits of RIBs as rescue boats was convincingly argued. The second Searider was purchased in 1993. In 1998 the newer boat was upgraded with hydraulic steering gear. The older boat, which was used mainly as a backup and for safety boat training, was updated to the previous standard of the newer one primarily by fitting a centre console. New outboard motors were bought in 2000 and in 2007 the latter was one of the last 2-stroke engines sold in the UK.
Despite their significant ages, both boats were kept in remarkably good condition by a succession of dedicated Bosuns. By 2016, Patrol Boat 1 had been in use for 23 years and PB2 had accumulated 38 years of service with SSC. After much research, a new Solent RIB 4.6 with a 40hp Suzuki engine was purchased with the help of a generous grant from the Hammond Memorial Hall Trust and the sale of the aged Searider. A training programme during July and August ensured that all patrol boats helms and crew were familiarised with the larger and heavier new RIB.
Patrol Boats Searider in 2010 (left) and Solent 4.6 in 2016 (right)
Part 4 - Social Activities
Club social events have always served two purposes. They encourage members and their families, many of whom are not sailing enthusiasts, to mix and they provide income. Since the bar opened in 1987, fund raising ie social functions, the bar, jumble sales, etc has provided between 7% and 23% of the Club's annual income.
In the early years, fund raising events were generally constrained to occasional barbecues and jumble sales plus the annual dinner. Tuesday Club nights, with a programme of talks, provided a regular opportunity to meet. In 1976 the Commodore, Alan Flack, suggested that a social committee be formed to arrange at least four main functions a year. This initiative seems to have succeeded as a year later he reported "thanks to a hard-working social sub-committee we have enjoyed more functions than in past years and a considerable sum of money has been made." In 1976 a jumble sale and a party had raised a total of £138 whereas social events in 1977 brought in £624.
The driving force behind fund raising from 1977 to 1988 was Social Secretary Sheila Jobling. In the early 80s a typical season would have 7 to 10 scheduled events including at least two discos, two jumble sales, a dinner/dance and a beach party. There would also be a garden party in June at 12 Old Street, Hill Head, the home of Sheila and Barry Jobling. By 1988 programmes had expanded to more that a dozen events primarily by the addition of post-sailing socials eg to celebrate the end of training, the Commodore's Challenge, the Regatta and the Half Ton Cup.
Left - Shipwreck Party 1986; Right - The Palace of Varieties 1990
Renata Lister took over from Sheila and introduced dramatic art to the schedule, for example "The Palace of Varieties" in 1990 (above).. At the end of 1995 no one volunteered to take on the role of Social Secretary. Several lady-members volunteered to form a "Social Committee", initially headed by Carol Wealthy and Wendy Stubbs with Edie Sampson acting as the link between this group, dubbed "The Coven", and the Committee. This worked so well that at the 1996 AGM the outgoing (again) Commodore, Alan Flack, declared "Social Secs were out, Covens were in".
The Bar and Licensing
Prior to 1986, to legalise the supply of alcohol for social events, the Club relied on ad hoc permission licences. In February 1986 a Bar Committee was formed. In September, the Club was granted a Club Registration Certificate by Fareham Magistrates Court.
Bar in use July 1987
The Registration Certificate was renewed at five years intervals. The final renewal application was made to the Portsmouth Law Courts in November 2002. A Certificate was granted which should have been valid for five years at a cost of £16. However, the 2003 Licensing Act intervened and responsibility for issuing licences moved to local authorities. The Act came into force in November 2005. The Club's licence, issued by Fareham Borough Council, cost £180 per year. Amazingly, it still does!
The annual dinner-dance or Laying-Up Supper has been held almost every year since the Club was formed. From the late 70s until the end of the millennium the commonest venue by far was The Belle Vue Hotel in Lee-on-the-Solent. The Swordfish and Maylings Manor Hotel were each used once. Lee-on-the-Solent Golf Club was the venue for the Laying-Up Supper every year from 1999 to 2011 with one exception. In 2012, the Laying Up Supper was held at the clubhouse and comprised a Hog Roast provided by outside caterers followed by desserts created 'in house'. Every year since then, the Laying-Up Supper and Prize Giving have been held in the clubhouse on the same evening, in late November or early December.
With no dance floor, the in-house Laying Up supper lacked dancing. Our Commodore, Phil Warwick, being a member of Hornet Services Sailing Club (HSSC), booked their excellent facilities for a Seafarers dinner dance in March 2018. This was a great success and the same venue was used again in July 2019. The Club had scheduled another dinner dance at HSSC for 2020 but the pandemic intervened.
Left - Lee on the Solent Golf Club 2004: Right - Hornet Services Sailing Club 2019
Prize Giving and the Christmas Draw
The first recorded prize giving was at the 1970 AGM. The presentation of prizes at the AGM continued until 1977. In 1978 the names of the prize-winners were read out at the AGM but the trophies were presented at a disco early in December. The Prize-giving Disco in the clubhouse became a feature of the Club programme for the next 10 years. From 1989 until 2006, prize-giving was accompanied by an American supper. Meanwhile, another event evolved, the Christmas Draw. By the end of the 90s, thanks largely to the efforts of the Assistant Bar Manager/Bar Manager/Commodore Eric Kettle, a very popular Draw had been established. By 2006 attendances at the prize-giving had dropped to the point where something had to be done. The following year, Prize-giving and Draw Night appeared in the programme together. This continued until 2013. Since then, Prize Giving has taken place on the evening of the Laying-Up Supper.
Prize Giving - 1994 and 2018
Jumble sales which began as bazaars at the Hammond Hall in 1962 and 1963, soon became annual fixtures. Throughout most of the 80s and 90s there were two each year, one in April and one in October, both at the Scout Hut in Bells Lane. In 1996, a room in Crofton Community Centre was booked. The following year it was decided that there would be only one jumble sale per year; this was held in April at the Community Centre. From 1998 until 2008 the jumble sale was held at Holy Rood Church Hall. Since then the event has almost always been in March. In 2009 the Club returned to the Scout Hut then in 2010 it moved to the Catholic Church in Bells Lane. The 2019 Jumble Sale, held at the Catholic Church Hall, raised a record £360 (net) for the Club.
Jumble Sales - Scout Hut 2009 and Catholic Church 2019
Commodore's at Home
The "Commodore's Evening" first appeared in the Seafarers annual programme in 1986. Local sailing clubs and, for example, representatives of the RYA and HM Coastguard, were invited. In 1997, re-titled "Commodore's At Home" and held in December, it became a lunchtime event. Since 2001 the "At Home" has been held in February.
Commodore's At Home - with Deputy Mayor in 2011, with Geoff Holt in 2019
The Club's first Trafalgar celebration was in 1988. On that first occasion there was an American supper and no entrance fee. The second Trafalgar Night, held in October 1990, was the more traditional formal dinner. Over the next five Octobers one Trafalgar Night dinner was sandwiched between two Halloween parties, a Boat Race and a Polish Peasant Night. From 1996 to 2008 there was a Trafalgar Night formal dinner every year. In 2009 Trafalgar Night was replaced by a hugely popular Bavarian-themed "Oktoberfest". In 2010 there was a less-formal "Gun Deck Dinner". For the following decade, the October events comprised five formal Trafalgar Nights interlaced with a halloween Night, a Curry Night and two RNLI Fish Suppers.
Trafalgar Night - 1988 and 2018
The first coffee morning was held in 2009 and there has been one almost every month since. Since 2013, the September event has become a "Macmillan Coffee Morning" with cakes supplied free by Coven members and all donations going to the charity.
Left - Coffee Morning December 2009; Right - Macmillan Coffee Morning September 2016
At about the time her husband Clive was elected Commodore of Seafarers, Gill Dakin decided to organise some craft workshops. The first session was in April 2013 and for the following five years there was a Craft Corner session approximately once every month throughout the sailing season. At the end of 2017, Viv Rance, our Social Secretary, took over the role of organising the sessions. The group now meets thoughout the year. The sessions are either a 'free activity' or a workshop led by a volunteer or an invited professional. Donations to cover tea and coffee are £1 for 'free activity' sessions and £2 for a workshop session to also cover the cost of materials. A total of 62 sessions had taken place by the end of 2019 with themes including cake making, calligraphy, crochet, lino cutting, pottery, photography, seasonal gifts and watercolours.
Left - Pottery February 2016; Right - Art August 2017
Part 5 - Membership
A Member is a Family
At the inaugural meeting in Hammond Hall in January 1961, it was agreed that the Club was to be run on the lowest subscription possible so as to attract the widest family membership. The "family-friendly" ethos was enshrined in the rules and the fee structure from early on. In 1962 the rules read "A full member shall be recognised as husband and wife" and in 1964 the Committee agreed that the membership subscription would include member, wife and children up to the age of 16. It is interesting to ponder whether the implication that the member was the male and the partner was a wife would be "PC" in the 21st century! Our Rules now, in 2020, read as follows:
"A FULL MEMBER - which expression shall include one person and his/her partner and any of his/her children that are younger than twenty-five years of age and undergoing a full-time, unpaid, course of training".
At the Club's inaugural meeting, it was agreed that numbers would be limited to 50 members. Throughout the 1960s, membership seems to have been a worry. From 1974 onwards, after the Club acquired the compound at the Salterns, membership was effectively limited by the number of boat spaces available. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, lack of membership applications was never a problem. In 1987 "Club membership had been at the highest recorded level at a time when some dinghy clubs in the area were in the doldrums". With problems of growing membership and lack of boat spaces, the Committee closed the membership list for 1991. Since 1991, membership has remained at, or near, "full" but never "closed". As most are families, the number of "memberships" is significantly lower than the number of people entitled to use Club facilities. Thus, for 2018 the total "membership" was 148 but the total number of "members" was 314.
A Membership Review was carried out in 2008. The subsequent changes, approved at the 2008 AGM, were primarily a simplification of membership types and the introduction of a formula defining the relationship between the various fees. In 2020 the formula is as follows:
Subscription v Boat Space Fee. It appears that boat space fees first appeared at the end of the 1965 season. In 1984 there was a view that the boat parking fee was low in comparison to the subscription. Thus the 1984 fees of £20/£6 (sub/boat) were superseded by £18/£10 in 1985. This was revisited in the Review of 2008 when the 2008 fees of £60/£38 (sub/boat) were superseded by £50/£50 in 2009.
Second Boat and Size of Boat. Membership had always, effectively, been limited by the number of boat spaces available. The issue of second boat spaces was debated (again) at the 2004 AGM when the Commodore explained that, if the trend were allowed to continue, the Club could end up with 120 boat spaces allocated to 60 members. A more rigorous and transparent mechanism for allocating second boat spaces was introduced and a premium added to the fee for a second boat space. At the same time, a charging system based upon "footprint" (boat size) was introduced acknowledging that boat spaces were a critical resource.
Overwinter. Prior to the winter of 2009/2010, boats had to be removed from the compound between December and March. At the second attempt, at the 2009 AGM a motion to allow over-winter storage was approved. This has helped increase Club income and allowed winter sailing activities to take place such as the Winter SLOSHH Series.
During early 2015, the Seafarers' membership system was migrated from paper to online with the introduction of WebCollect, an online membership and events management program for clubs. Seafarers uses WebCollect for storage of membership data, membership renewals, event registration and booking, merchandise ordering and group emailing to members.
Part 6 - Potpourri
The Club has supported many charities over the years. The RNLI collection tin has become an item of bar furniture and RNLI Christmas cards and calendars have been on sale at AGMs for more than a decade. Since 2013, our Coffee Morning each September has raised funds for Macmillan Cancer. Since 2014, we have held a race each September to raise funds for the Bart's Bash Foundation. Additionally, each year or so we choose a specific "Club Charity" to support. This is used, amongst other things, to give purpose to the Commodore's Challenge.
"Toe in the Water" was the Club Charity from 2011 to 2015. In 2016 this was superceded by SCaRF (Skin Cancer Research Fund). In 2018 the Club directed its efforts at raising funds for "Cash for Kids". In November 2018, Geoff Holt MBE DL visited Seafarers to give a talk about his life and about "WetWheels". This has became the Club Charity in 2019.
The Club works hard to maintain a good relationship with the local authority and to contribute positively to the local community. Fareham Borough Council (FBC) has supported the Club through the provision of grants. Equally, since 2013, the Club has supported FBC's "Access All Areas" (AAA) programme. Each summer, on a day agreed with FBC, Seafarers has provided an introduction to sailing for children. These sessions proved very popular with 40 teenagers enjoying a taste of sailing in 2013 and 57 the following year. Since 2018, our introduction to sailing has been the only activity on offer at at FBC's AAA Day at Salterns.
Left: AAA July 2018; Right: Big Spring Beach Clean March 2020
The Big Spring Beach Clean is the largest and most effective volunteer beach cleaning project in the UK. Keen to support this initiative, since 2018 the Club has encouraged members to participate and has laid on biscuits, and hot and cold drinks for participants. In March 2020, around 300 people took part in the Beach Clean with 60 visiting the Club for refreshments.
With the help of a generous grant from the Hammond Memorial Hall Trust, in 2018 a defibrillator was installed on the outside of the clubhouse. The public have been made aware of its availability during 'opening hours'. This covers significant periods over the weekends and evenings during the sailing season which coincides with the busy periods of beach usage. Thus the defibrillator supports the Club and those from the local Community and further afield who use the Salterns park.
Sailing from the beach off the Salterns would be impractical without the public slipway which was built when the sea defences and promenade were constructed in the 1960s.
The Slipway - 1987 and 2020
In 1997 extensive coastal protection work was carried out at Lee-on-the-Solent. Possibly coincidentally, within a year or two there was a noticeable change to the beach at Hill Head. The level of the shingle increased, approaching the height of the seawall/promenade. Many members and locals remembered a time when they could crawl under the wood structure of the slipway. The slipway became buried making it difficult to move boats up from the beach to the promenade.
It was eventually agreed that the only practical solution was a tractor. In March 2005, the Club took delivery of a Siromer flatpack tractor costing £4,400. The tractor entered service in April. Since then our tractor has proven indispensable. It has been replaced twice, in 2013 and 2019 and, on both occasions, the Siromer was selected as being optimal for the Club.
The photograph above was taken in February 2019. It shows Phil Warwick, then Commodore, with Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayoress of Fareham standing in front of the Club's new tractor. This was purchased with the help of a generous grant from Fareham Borough Council in recognition of the support the Club provides to the local community.
Last updated 12:32 on 8 August 2021