Changes to the Calendar

Additional Event on Sunday 7th May, Coronation Weekend:  there will be an informal barbeque after the race for members and families.  The race is an A/B-course starting at 15:15, with the BBQ starting around 17:00.  Beer and basic food will be provided but bring your own to burn on the barbeque

The D-course on 28th May has been cancelled because it would clash with fleets of rowers racing down from Brentford to the Mortlake Anglian and Alpha club at Chiswick Bridge.

In its place we shall have a D-course starting at 16:00 on Monday 29th May, a Bank Holiday. 

Platinum Jubilee Race Regatta: Thu. 2nd – Sun. 5th June 2022

Day 1.

Could it be the Queen herself about to parachute-in to join the SGSC fleet assembling for the 4-day Platinum Jubilee Race Regatta? 

The SGSC flag spun around its pole in dizzying anticipation – but the helicopter moved over and slowly descended on the allotments on the opposite Kew bank; an air ambulance had been called for some reason. 

Although Ait Knots rocked, while not being given exactly the right Royal Regatta send-off, we cheerfully made up for it with really great bunting! Unflustered by this kerfuffle, the SGSC fleet mustered; James with Ruth, Chris with Felicia, Ben, Tim, and Sam with a crew, and David Jones, Andy Ross and Tim in the Safety Boat; all lined-up for a tow down to London Corinthians in beautifully sunny weather. 

The Y-shaped arrangement of the towline, with two arms extending from the rear cleats with boats staggered alternatively proved hard to control. Swinging across the river as each of the lines took up the strain was only suppressed by keeping to a very low speed; a problem answered on Day 2. 

The fleet arrived at LCSC well ahead of time and moored on the rowing pontoon. And found no-one else there at very low tide.

Eventually, LCSC opened up and said they thought 4 or 5 of their boats would be sailing. But that quickly increased to about 10 -15. Then a message came from Ranelagh, and also from Southbank, to say that they were each bringing 10 – 15 boats, which began to panic the catering staff. And it eventually turned out that close on to 40 boats were assembling! It was going to be a massive Regatta! A vast fleet was soon moored all along the riverbank. 

The LCSC OOD announced there were going to be three races, around two buoys. The first would be of three laps, then two, then one. It was slightly breezy warm day, but now with a very strong incoming tide. At the starting signal, very few boats were at the line; most were drifting back with the tide – and it seemed several could be washed away completely. 

Sure enough, the SGSC SB went to rescue the LCSC Commodore, Beverley, from Chiswick Ait – and also towed back up Tim who, unobserved by the OOD amidst the struggling throng, recovered his position in the race. But the great majority failed to complete even one lap.  After an hour the OOD ended it. The second race fared no better, only a few got round, – and it was to the great relief of a by-then completely exhausted fleet that the remaining number of the original 40 boats finally managed to complete the third and final race, but only because the tide had slackened enough. Throughout, Sam’s boat was heard: its magnificent bunting fluttering, with Chris also thundering along. 

The SGSC boats were hauled up into the LCSC yard and our SB was moored onto the pontoon, ready for the trip down to Ranelagh next day. 

The LCSC catering crew in the meantime had managed find extra food for the unexpected number of sailors – and the beers from the bar went down very well. The bicycles that had been piled up on the Safety Boat took their owner’s home.

James with Ruth, who managed to finish all three races in the in the time available, came in third place overall.

Day 2. 

As we gathered on the Hammersmith foreshore the Red Arrows flew by on their ‘Round the Country’ tour, accompanied by a fly-past of dozens of veteran aircraft that dispersed over Hammersmith in every direction.

The cure for the swinging-about of towed boats on a single line was solved by using separate towing lines from the port and starboard rear cleats, with the heaviest boats first, lighter ones after. This indeed proved to be far more satisfactory during the journey to Ranelagh, as we sped downriver. 

After dropping off some LCSC passengers and re-rigging, about 30 boats were assembled there. On another warm and sunny day, but still with a very light wind, the Ranelagh OOD announced there were to be two races: one down to Battersea Bridge. And another back, after the tide had turned. 

Given the long slow bend round the Fulham reach, the fleet quite soon spread out and were far apart – with James, it seemed, in the lead.

After about an hour the OOD boat hurried away – and laid a buoy just before the bridge, though beforehand they had asked us to inform the fleet that the finishing line was between their Safety Boat and the buoy. 

Unfortunately, this was misinterpreted by some in the fleet to mean it was between us and the OOD. And so, as we had moored between the OOD, and a very shallow shore, several boats headed to finish between our two boats – and they could not understand why we were waving them away! 

The two OOD’s in the Ranelagh boat were then both simultaneously raising and lowering flags, sounding hooters, writing down times, – and taking photos of multiple boats crossing the finishing line on both sides at the same time. They needed a photo finish to separate everyone out! 

The return race from Battersea Bridge began precisely at 12.30pm – and, sonorously echoing across the whole of London, came the sound of the 16½ ton Great Paul bell of St Paul’s cathedral to mark the start of the Thanksgiving Service for Queen Elizabeth II.  

Simultaneously, the eight bells of St Mary’s church, right beside Battersea Bridge, burst into ringing chimes that were, in effect, the most extraordinary starting gun sound ever heard. Tintinnabulation of church bells on a sailing Sunday morning, blowing in the breeze across the river, marked both a magnificent sight and sound – and an unforgettable moment in history.

And so then, our own ceremonial Platinum Sailing Procession began in great style. 

After finishing at Ranelagh, all the SGSC boats carried on up to Southbank and were hauled out to await the start there of the race on Day 3 – and the SGSC Safety Boat returned to Ranelagh to moor out on a mid-river pontoon. Nearly everyone then walked back to Ranelagh for a pre-plated buffet supper.  But where was the Platinum Pudding? Not there. Where was it?

James and Lev finished third overall based on the two races, having come first on the beat downstream and Tim distinguished himself with a fourth place on the run back upstream.

Day 3

Overnight, the weather forecast deteriorated dramatically: gales and rain were expected. An early morning consultation with everyone then led to a decision to abandon completely SGSC’s participation in the Southbank race – and to head back upriver straightaway, while the tide was in our favour. 

Accordingly, Andy Ross took the train to Putney to collect the Safety Boat – and found the Ranelagh clubhouse locked and, at very low tide, nobody at all on the river. Not a single rower, and more significantly, not a single onboard boat could be seen anywhere to help get him out to the mid-river pontoon. 

A call to Chris – and his gentle persuasion on Southbank, enabled the commandeering of a Safety Boat to come and rescue ours, and so our fleet [in fine and sunny weather again] forsook the charms of Southbank [and the promise of its BBQ] – and we all prepared to head for home: Sam and Ben sailing, James, Chris and Tim in tow. 

The sailors were forewarned not, under any circumstances, to attempt to limbo under Hammersmith Bridge – even if tempted. And indeed, they stopped on the foreshore beforehand and de-masted to enable a walk-under, tilting their masts – and then, joined now by James, sailing on up.

The weary Safety Boat after days of motoring, protested at the gross indignity of being hauled by a winch up the ramp by its trolley with a split-flat tyre – but, as with all the other boats, and their sailors, everyone was glad to get home.  

Except, not yet.

Day 4

The precaution of sailing back ahead of a great storm of rain proved totally illusory. Sunday dawned as warm and as sunny as the preceding three days. 

So, the only remaining event on the Platinum Jubilee Race Regatta weekend was the Strand on the Green Association street party. 

Andy Ross 12.06.2022

SGSC Picnic – 2020

More information will come shortly. Please email if you want take part in it. Picnic time: Wednesday 12th August, starting around 1850 to clear Kew Bridge well before high water. Thank you.

Update: picnic was canceled, not enough light. Next time.

Two major events – August 2018

Two major events in the offing:

The Ladies Plate race on Saturday 25th August.  It’s and A-course with a start at 1340.  Any qualifying member who wants to sail but doesn’t have a boat can contact James, who is a willing and expert crew.

The Summer Party is on the same day at 7 pm. in James and Marian’s garden at 2 Strand on the Green.  The entrance fee is £12.50 but larger and rounder sums are accepted.  All very welcome.

Please email Marian so we can prepare enough food.

See you there

with SKB at Salcombe, 20 May 2018

SGSC AND BERLIN SKB AT SALCOMBE 2018 [See photos attached]

Sunshine glinted and sparkled off the multi-layered coats of varnish of Rob Adam’s immaculately restored boat ANCIENT CITY – recovered as a sunken wreck in the mud of the river Thames at Hammersmith and now gracing the waters at Salcombe.

SGSC and SKB sailors gathered by it on the Normandy Ferry pontoon, site of the American Army embarkation for D-Day, ready for an inward-bound invasion of the upper reaches of the Salcombe Estuary to Frogmore Creek – at the head of which lay the prospect of a good dinner for everyone at The Globe Inn.

Seconded into the fleet was Rob’s friend [………] whose similar open motor boat could also easily carry 10 people. As a blue-sky sunset dipped into the West behind Salcombe town with its crowds of Bretton-shirted and salmon-pink-trousered sailors, our very own double-breasted fleet chugged happily off into the estuary heading North up this long seawater estuary, formed in the Ice Age and known as an sea inlet ‘ria’ for its lack of freshwater river inflow – brilliantly lit on our way by the low-slanted glittering light on the water of the setting sun.

Threading our way through the resident and visiting yacht moorings, and then between the narrows of Snapes Point and Scoble Reef, suddenly the vista opened up to reveal the glory of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

ANOB’s are Britain’s best landscapes. There are 46 of them, designated by government and protected by law. Each one has its own special character. South Devon AONB covers 60 miles of coastline, estuaries and countryside between Plymouth and Torbay consisting of extensive coastal plateaux (areas of elevated, relatively level land) with great panoramic views along the coastline with dramatic cliffs interrupted by inlet combes [small valleys with steep dense woods in them], extending up to two kilometres inland. 

Following the fairway buoys we passed by stands of these woodlands, packed with oak and willow trees growing right down to the seashore; remarkably also with the occasional tall English Elm – sole survivors of the ravaging of Dutch Elm Disease. There were no big plantations or commercial woods here; all were too small for use except perhaps for local farmers’ handsaw milling for fencing and firewood, and with no disruption allowed by any intrusive modern house-building in these very ancient woods. The steep sides mean they are virtually inaccessible; and so they remain as an important haven for wildlife. As if on cue to confirm this, and to note our presence passing by his territory, the hoot of an owl echoed across the still water.  

The view opened up into the broad inner estuary. Suddenly the landscape looked different. Because the soils of the area are so fertile and the plateau land is so easy to run machinery across, these broad fields have been stripped of the high hedges that otherwise line the steep and twisting lanes of South Devon.  

Hedges are one of the really special things about this area. There are still over 2,500 miles (4,000km) of them in the AONB. They give the land its patchwork pattern. Some of the hedges were landownership boundaries originating in the Bronze Age, around 4,000 years ago. Many more were built in the Middle Ages, over 500 years ago. The most recent were built when open areas of cliff top were divided up into field parcels in the 19th Century; and then acquired and inherited by family estate landowners. But then the EU Common Agriculture Policy [CAP] came along.

Big land ownership means big money in big subsidies for big farming production. And that meant ripping out all these uneconomic hedges and planting mono-culture commodity crops.

This impact could be obviously seen in the dark green/black tracks left by the tractors with 36’-wide boom-sprayers of fertilisers and weedkillers and insecticides being spread over fields of viridian-green crops. And these tractor tracks were running only up and down the fields; not across and back along the contour lines, which would be less efficient and more expensive. It means that whenever it rains the run-off is chemical pollution that runs straight down into the estuary, taking the top soil with it; with only the ancient hedges and the bank of trees on the waters’ edge to stop it.      

80% of the wildlife of Britain has been lost in the last 30 years because of this. But it is now likely that post-Brexit, ex-CAP, a New Agriculture Bill based on the 25 Year Environment Plan will at last put a stop to this terrible loss and the government will pay farmers instead to protect and enhance the remaining biodiversity and thereby provide the sustainable ecosystem services on which the real economy of the area depends, such as tourists coming to see and enjoy the natural glories of nature in the AONB.

We turned up into Frogmore Creek. With the incoming tide we were accompanied by a golden brown froth on the waters’ surface, which could easily be mistaken for pollution; but it is, in fact, diatoms; phytoplankton which live in the water column and on the surface mud in estuaries. These tiny plants use sunlight and nutrients in the water and the mud to grow and to reproduce. On an incoming tide multitudes of these diatoms are lifted from the surface of the mud and form this golden brown frothy ‘scum’ on the surface of the water, providing a nutritious meal for grey mullet and crabs as they follow the water in and come out to feed – and for us to feed on them, if we wish!

We looked out for kingfishers, otters and little egrets along the shoreline while cormorants contoured up the creek beside us – and swifts overhead screamed and swirled and spun round and targeted aerial insects.

It was the Royal Wedding Day! And Frogmore House was the Grade 1 listed glamorous venue for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s post-wedding party!

Frogmore House has attracted Monarchs and Lords and Counts for the grandest of English-German royal parties since the reign of George III and his equally glamorous German wife, Queen Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz – who served as the first Queen of a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1818. But that Frogmore is set in the immaculate lawns of Windsor Great Park.

Our English-German post-wedding Frogmore party venue was at the tiny head of a watery cul-de-sac matted with wavy reeds and wading birds pecking away in the mudflats and amongst the seaweed on the encroaching tide.

And as if in our own Royal Party procession, after leaving our boats, and in a long and single crocodile line, we carefully crossed, one-by-one, with our wedding-trains lifted up, along a line of slippery stepping stones laid across the upper reaches of the salt marsh to find The Global Inn of Frogmore.  

It’s a small and snug 18th century traditional Devon pub; with local limestone kiln-dried and whitewash-painted outside walls and, inside, low-slung roof beams and bare stone floors with nooks and crannies with benches and wood-burning fireplaces – and a perfectly-sized small party dining room at the back with two big refectory tables for us all to cram around.  

Still stuffed with the enormous doorstep-sized crab sandwiches marvellously organised by Heather that we had all eaten at lunchtime on the sunny terrace of the Salcombe Yacht Club after the Royal Wedding, there was some thought about the great array of food on the menu: steaks and seafood, salmon and pigeon – and also the question of what to drink.

While pondering this and plumping – of course – for local Devon cider, Tim found there was a drawer under the table which opened up to reveal sheaths of hand-written poems!  It seems as though a tradition had developed by parties previously gathered in this room to write and leave poems about the occasion. Some were really personal and intimate and [very] explicit, while others ranged from the philosophical about the rain and the weather, while the best were hilariously nautical and bawdy. Obviously, something had to be written by us!

The SGSC version was composed by Andy Ross:

“The Germans from Berlin are here

And they’re not just drinking the beer.

The sailors from the Stand

Have made their stand;

And Devon cider is something to cheer!”


And, in response, an SKB version was composed by Klaus:

The good times have passed so quickly,

We hope will not have to worry about a Visa,

When in two year’s time,

We will once again travel,

To enjoy over here,

Cider and Beer,

After much kerfuffle at the end of the meal over the apportionment of how the bill was split between the tables all was resolved and we emerged into a vast and starlit night. If only Brexit negotiations were so easy!

In fact, though, there is a strange money background to the story; which affected us. It’s indeed about the real bill. There are actually two currencies in the AONB.

There is the Pound Sterling. This is the currency of the robber barons of the area.

They are the owners of the great landed estates living off the CAP subsidies at the expense of local smallholding farmers; most of whom are close to poverty. And it is the currency of the speculators who invest in the range of huge and empty properties high on the hillsides of Salcombe: tombstones of international property portfolios owned by oligarchs; be they Arabs or Russians – international trophy properties increasingly now being traded into by the Chinese. And it is also the currency of all the pubs and shops in Salcombe who charge London prices to fleece the tourists in a seasonal earning spasm that sees the town’s population rise from a residential 1,700 to a transient 23,000 during the summer. Historically, it is just the same as the traditional Salcombe and East Portlemouth seafarers who kept a sharp eye out in bad weather in order to set false harbour lights and lure sailors, especially French,  seeking refuge, to destruction on the rocks; to loot and pillage in the wreckage. Now global travellers and tourists are lured to spend by the lights in the Salcombe shops.

But local people cannot live on this unsustainably high cost of living. It’s far too expensive. And so there is an alternative currency in the AONB: the Totnes Pound.

It is a local currency. A local economy is normally like a leaky bucket. Wealth comes into the area and as soon as it is spent at a shop or in a business that has more financial connections outside the area than inside; that money disappears. However, the local Totnes Pound money doesn’t leak out of holes through to the multi-national banks. As a voucher system it bounces around and back inside the local economy, again and again. It keeps more money in local pockets at lower cost.

The local money is used for sustainable production and consumption closer to home. It pays attention to how products are locally made and traded and it reduces the waste streams that result from them. People and businesses using either the paper or the electronic or mobile Totnes Pound get a local discount on all transactions and earn loyalty points. They can all trade and communicate and advertise their products and their services to each other online. Its why there are no big supermarkets in the AONB. They are not allowed in. There is an hourly bus service to Kingsbridge and Totnes for that. And thereby local pubs can charge less to locals. But not to us.

So we set off back, sliding to seaward on the ebbing tide in a vastly dark night sky.

After such a baking hot day, and on a warm still night, the dank scent of seashore seaweed combined with the aroma of the flowering plants of the hillsides and hedgerows; primroses, violets, bluebells and pink campion, smells of blackthorn and wild rose wafted across the water. White phosphorescent sparkles arose in the bow waves and in the wake of Ancient City.

Totally dramatically as we turned the corner, Salcombe town suddenly appeared in a blaze of lights; as dazzling as a Royal firework display.  

What a triumphant finale display on a truly Royal day!



On the last day a farewell party for everyone was generously hosted by Enoch who opened up his suite in the South Sands Hotel, with its balcony view of The Bar and the estuary. Plates of hot and delicious local delicacies emerged continuously; speciality Devon Hog sausage rolls, and slices of warm and trembling quiches and pies – and, of course, plenty of Devon cider. It was a delightful and sumptuous end to a wonderful weekend.

Great thanks are due to Heather and Rob for so expertly arranging, managing and conducting and guiding such a superb expedition for SGSC and SKB in and around Salcombe and its magnificent surroundings. It was a privilege to get to see the area – and in such friendly company.  

© Andy Ross