Report and photo by Nick Ardley
The second Finesse Rally took place, as advertised on the Medway & Swale Boating Association web site some time ago, over the late May Bank Holiday weekend, with boats either collecting at Queenborough, for own convenience, or in Stangate where I anchored my Whimbrel, a Finesse 24, around noon on Friday to await the hordes.
Later two other boats arrived. One was seen to go on up to Chatham during the day and a phone message said, “…there’s two of us in Queenborough…” things were looking good: two were due to come over from Leigh-on-Sea on Saturday.
A pre-supper drinks and nibbles get together was held aboard Whimbrel for the crews of boats in Stangate. I have to say I had a glorious sail in my tender later as the evening ran on towards sunset… It had to be done. Another owner also went for a row along the marsh edges … its one of the area’s joys.
Saturday saw us moving off a little behind the two Queenborough craft and we sailed up river, in a line, to the lock at Chatham’s comfortable marina … one of the earlier boats had waited and we all locked in together. Chatham Marina loves this and several staff appeared to view clinker painted hulls and bright varnish … Bob Cox especially appreciates the sight. There was a feast of wood in Chatham: the Dunkirk Little Ships were meeting too!
A BBQ was enjoyed on the Saturday evening. With crews from eight craft and around seven others who travelled by road we were a bit of a crowd, but not rowdy I hasten to add… People had travelled from afar as Poole, Littlehampton and Leicester – River Soar area. I was greatly pleased with the enthusiasm of all.
On Sunday we enjoyed a visit from the yard manager of Robertsons of Woodbridge, who with ‘our own’ Alan Staley of Faversham, are reasonably well versed with these craft. There was also the Little Ships to visit and in the middle basin there was dragon boat racing. It all made for a good rally and gave people options other than the Old Dockyard Museum to keep them amused. Some just lazed in the sunshine, nattering and drinking tea(?).
The day was rounded off with drinks hosted by a member who has a ‘big’ boat based at the marina and a buffet at a Chinese within the complex.
As dawn came trundling along the first of our crowd were away, and others from the washes that slapped our sides. At a little before six, poked a head out of our fore hatch and watched another leave … then it was just us! We left late morning for a sail round to the South Deep … a quiet night with light drizzle, ahh but it was grand.