“Hazel, I have had an email invite from Richard at the Aquarius club for a river cruise to the Weir Hotel for dinner, leaving the Aquarius club at 18:00”. “That sounds nice”.
I thought I would interpret and slightly embellish the email rather than read it verbatim to my wife as water activities and her are not great bedfellows. So I immediately responded and asked if we could go in a patrol boat, to which the answer came “yes”.
Game on! Only just having been accepted into the Aquarius sailing community I was not sure what to expect from this expedition. I organised it to escape work so we could get there on time ready for the 18:00 departure.
When arriving at the gates, despite being told they would be unlocked, they defeated me at first and it was my wife who deciphered the cunning arrangement (I am easily confused). Arriving at the clubhouse there was a quiet air of activity. In the finest tradition of our military brethren, we departed spot on, 18:11 or was it 18:20 ish?
The flotilla comprised of a larger motor cruiser, two sailing boats and ourselves in the patrol boat with 4 other newly met members. We had some luxury of plastic chairs, but where was the drinks cabinet? (In the cruiser)
With a cheery wave from Bryan Clements on shore who issued dark reminders to keep using the bilge pump as there was a bad leak. I looked across at my wife who I could see was already thinking about the local newspaper headlines, “Boat sunk in Thames, All lives lost, bodies not found, suspected eaten”.
I was entrusted with steering the boat (if they only knew my last boat sank in a storm I don’t think they would have been so keen). We chugged down (up?) the river at a leisurely pace until we reached Sunbury lock. It took a while to get through as I am told when the lock gates are unattended they work at half the speed. After about ¾ hour we arrived at the Weir Hotel and I secured the boat with my best granny knots.
The weather was neither hot nor cold so there was equal division around the group to sit inside and out. After a pleasant meal and some chat, it was time to return, unusually the wind had not dropped and could have been best described as “sporting”. Richard this time at the helm, we followed Rodger Wheeler in his Laser; a tricky sail with the shifty wind and just avoided a few near capsizes. I haven’t sailed for 40 years and glad I had not elected to attempt to sail a single handed one instead of the motor boat as I expect I would have taken more than at least one swim. As darkness was falling the lights from the clubhouse were clearly visible from some way off and guided us nicely.
By now it had turned a little cold and the tea on arrival was very welcome. All in all, a successful and enjoyable evening. All who went, got back-
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