East Cowes Rally 5th September 2020

It was with a very cautious approach that this rally went ahead due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The restrictions in place leading up to and during the weekend meant that gatherings of this sort could go ahead as long as we didn’t have groups of more than 6 people. 

So this was our first “socially distanced” club rally of 2020 and it was arranged at short notice when it was realised that we could hold an event that enabled members to participate in a rally with the necessary safeguards in place to protect them from the risk of infection. There would be no rafting (to exclude the need to go onto another member’s boat) and dinner in the evening would take place at The Lifeboat (marina pub) with a maximum of six people at any one table. There was also an App available so that food and drink could be ordered remotely, as is common practice in many places nowadays.

I’d been invited to join my good friends Jonathan and Celeste on their Starlight 39 “Blue Moon” for this rally and we set off from Haslar on Saturday midday to enjoy a lovely sail over to Cowes. The wind was perfect for a trip west under full sail and the tides favourable too for an afternoon sail.

We were soon tied up in East Cowes marina and started saying hello to the other members. There was not a huge crowd but enough to make it enjoyable. It had been decided that it would not be sensible to hold a pontoon party and instead we just spoke to each other in the afternoon on an individual basis. Being outdoors with one person on the pontoon and the other people being on their own boat meant that we were outside and at a sensible distance and the risk was practically zero.

Katheryn and Peter on board their 11m Hanse Blue Hoolie were amongst the first to arrive and this was their first rally even though they had been in the Club for some time. They looked as though they were enjoying themselves and were made very welcome. Katheryn is a keen member of the HYC WhatsApp group and was the first to share a photo of the pleasant view from their yacht in the marina that day.

Other members of the group started to share their photos of their trips that day to Newtown Creek and The Folly Inn. It was clear that a lot of us were out enjoying the superb weather and excellent sailing conditions.

The rally attracted 7 boats (sail and motor) and 15 people not all of whom had evening dinner in The Lifeboat. Some people decided to eat on board their own boats as they were more comfortable with that arrangement. There were 9 of us eating in The Lifeboat and it was particularly nice that Katheryn and Peter on their first rally were joined at their table by former Commodore Grahame from Sentosa and his crew plus Charles from Wakatere so they had plenty of fine company.

The Lifeboat was buzzing with life! It was great to see people enjoying themselves whilst still observing all the social distancing requirements. It was almost like being in a pub in “the good old days” before this wretched pandemic came along.

The next day Martin on Finnesterre needed some help as Jacqueline was suffering from a leg problem and Phil from Sentosa kindly agreed to help sail their boat back. This was another good example of the Club helping its own members when needed.

There was hardly any wind on Sunday so Blue Moon’s green sail had to help us get back to Gosport but that didn’t detract from a lovely weekend on the water.

As we move forward through this second wave of Covid I can’t help thinking I’m glad we went out when we did so that at least we have some good memories to help us until we get back to some sort of normal life.

Boats attending the rally were Wakatere, FruitBat, Blue Moon, El Finesterra, Sentosa, Princess Tasha and Blue Hoolie

Jem Nicholls

Haslar Yacht Club


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