Preparing for the water:
Bird's eye view of the location:
St Mary's Junior Sailing Club was first formed in the mid 1960s's on its
present site by Peter Camp and Mervyn Dyer at the request of the then rector
William Rees. It took over the premises which had been occupied by
"The Viking's Club" which had by then closed down. It started by
using the existing boats - pram dinghies and Cadets. Later Mirror
dinghies were introduced and the original one, which was purchased using
Green Shield Stamps, is still being used by the children after restoration.
The club closed at the end of 1999 due to the retirement of the remaining
Following an advert put in the Parish magazine at
the beginning of 2001 a group of adults met down the club. As the
huts were first prised open, broken wooden dinghies lay on their sides,
rotting rope and rusted wires hung in tangles from split masts. The
boatsheds themselves were falling apart and the path crumbling; things
did not look promising. Just a few months later with a lot of hard
work in the background and a brand new boat, paid for by a lottery grant,
plus bags of optimism, the club was keen and determined to get back up
New members arrived and old members drifted back weekly
until a healthy 20+ was achieved per session. Some had little knowledge,
whilst many were complete beginners, but hey, we have turned out Olympic
medal winning sailors in the past so anything was possible. Under
the watchful eyes of the Sailing Officers new sailing skills were acquired
and confidence gained. There were gusty days when rowing was the
safest option and near perfect days when the capsize drill was practised.
By the end of the season 40 children had joined, many had mirrored all
of the RYA level 1 tasks and some had progressed through Level 2.
Seven Mirror boats were totally refurbished over the winter and some of
the original names from when the club was first formed were put back on
the boats. "Whirlwind", "Oink-Oink", "Ox-Box",
"Butternut", and "Mike," along with the new Miracle dinghy "Twister"
built by the Bosun, dedicating much of his spare time to rebuilding the
boats whilst others scrounged free materials and donations.
pathways and ageing pontoons have seen a lot of work. The old pontoons
have been slowly dismantled and either burnt or dragged out of the way.
With the continued support of local & national sponsors we have seen
water pipes being buried to supply fresh water to the clubhouse galley,
a first in nearly 40 years. The boat sheds have been re-roofed courtesy
of a company in the Midlands so that they can now be used safely.
Two major companies donated nearly a £1,000 between them to help
the club with its funds, a local sail maker gave the club a brand new set
of sails for all the boats, along with numerous other companies donating
rope, fittings, lights, water heaters, cash donations and many other things.
In October 2001 we contacted HMS Sultan asking for some rope. As
the link has strengthened, help from a team of their young Engineering
Mechanics has included shoring up and laying a new gravel path, helping
to clear years of overgrowth in the process, and constructing vital replacement
dinghy running rig, rudder assemblies, tillers and centreboards in their
With the assistance from volunteer support from parents, friends and
HMS Sultan, the club has increased the number of useable sailing dinghies
from four to eight, with four rowing boats, a rescue boat, and through the
link with Gomer Junior School, looking after a
new Topper for use with their after school club. The new lease of life has seen the membership rise
to fifty children in 2004 with more on the waiting list. We would like
to write a small book about the history of the club from its days under
the "Vikings" banner to the present date, so if anyone has any information
no matter how small please contact us, or come down the club and meet us.
We would also like to hear from any ex-members as we are planning to hold
a reunion in the future.
Club Future: All
of the hard work since its reformation has seen the consolidation of the
club. We are now planning for the future. A local architect
is currently drawing up plans for a replacement boatshed which we anticipate
building in October 2003, subject to Lottery funding. This and the
slow acquisition of newer boats will ensure the club continues for the
next 40 years, which is our ambition, whilst forging closer community links
between the Sailing Club and Alverstoke & Gomer Junior Schools.
We aim to maintain the growth and development of community foundations
first begun nearly 40 years ago, proven by ex-members returning to continue
the original clubs aims. Replacement of the existing buildings will
give more space for amenities, providing running water and lavatory facilities
for the children. Replacement of the shingle beach is essential where
it has suffered natural erosion over last 10 years. It is also necessary
to ensure a continuity of water depth in Stoke Lake, which has been naturally
silting up, whilst maintaining harmony with nature and the environment,
a matter to be raised in the near future with the Council.
This is our latest acquisition purchased
with funds from The Mayors Charity last year. Kindly donated by Rosemary
Bartlett and will be named Geoff in her husbands honour.
Chairman and all of it's club members acknowledge the very generous
contributions of the following businesses for their support: