The proof of the pudding…

It’s definitely that time of year when the thoughts of many folk turn towards the possibility of getting out on the river.

IT’S DEFINITELY that time of year when the thoughts of many folk turn towards the possibility of getting out on the river.

Following hot on the heels of Staines Sailing Club’s open day last Saturday (about which, more later) Desborough Sailing Club in Shepperton is about to host its own annual spectacular – called ‘Take to the River 2008’ – designed to lure more people into the club.

Desborough’s open day takes place this Sunday between 11am and around 4pm after the Shepperton Village Fair and the annual charity raft race fun and games are held on the Saturday.

The club, which currently has around 200 members, is situated halfway down Ferry Lane on the left-hand side of the road (as you are heading towards Nauticalia and Shepperton Lock).

Rear Commodore Dave Henfrey says all are welcome to come along for a look around and, weather and tides permitting, have a go in a sailing dinghy, a sailing cruiser or even (whisper it quietly when there are sailors around) a motor cruiser.

Desborough has an impressive fleet of boats ranging from single-handers like Toppers through a variety of other classes including National 12s, GP14s, Enterprises and Mirrors. They also have a number of boats designed specially for youngsters such as RS Teras and an RS Feva.

Dave Henfrey adds: “We’re always keen for people to come along and have a go just to see whether they like sailing or not – and even if they don’t there’s a licenced bar and it’s not unknown for club members to visit local hostelries on occasion. Excellent – hope you get a good turnout on Sunday, Dave. If you need any more information, give Dave a call on 07768 177422

I FELT so sorry for the lovely people at Staines SC at the weekend. Apparently they had a really good number of potential new members on Saturday but because of the very heavy rain we’ve had recently, the river was in full flood and sailing proved impossible. Secretary Joyce Threadgill tells me that despite that, they signed up a couple of new families and all those who turned up hoping for a sail have been invited back on June 28 when, hopefully, the weather will be a little more forgiving. Good luck second time around.

IF YOU feel as strongly as I do about the terrible injustice that the Environment Agency are committing by deciding to expel some of their Thames lock-keepers from their homes just to save a few bob, do please write to me and let me know about it. Our lock custodians do a terrific job in all weathers and are on hand to help hapless boaters even out of hours. We shall lose a valuable resource if the EA goes ahead with this madness and I’d like to urge everyone who has anything to do with our beautiful river to lend their support to persuading them to change their minds. Write or email me at the address below if you agree.

ON THE subject of regulation and the river, when is someone in authority going to insist that before a skipper is allowed to take a power boat out on the river, a qualification of some kind should be mandatory? Take the case of the skipper who drove his extremely plush and expensive power boat round Desborough Island at the weekend and managed to misjudge the corner and dump the entire boat on the top of the muddy river bank. I didn’t witness the accident but to get a sizeable boat that far out of the water, I imagine it must have been travelling at a fair old rate.

As it turned out, the main thing damaged appears to have been the skipper’s pride (although the boat was probably not in quite such pristine condition by the time it was back in the water). But it could have been an absolute disaster. That’s a corner of the river where a lot of youngsters sail and a big boat moving quickly through a sailing fleet could have resulted in a lot more than damaged pride.

We need to insist on proper training before allowing people to take today’s powerful modern boats out on a narrow winding river.

You wouldn’t let someone drive a car without a licence, would you? Sorry, I’ll get off the soapbox…

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