13th and 14th September 2014
I’m rather ashamed to admit that I have never been to this event before. I can only assume that any weekend that I had free I would whizz off to the coast to sail the Good Ship Sumara.
This year the Arthur Beale Yacht Chandler project has rather taken over my life so any chance to mix business with pleasure was to be very welcome. The staff at St Katharine Docks have been very supportive of the Arthur Beale project. They put our fliers in all the welcome packs which are given to the visiting yachts and send visitors down to us if they need anything for their boats. So when I broached the idea of Arthur Beale’s having a stand at their Classic Boat Festival it was received as a welcome addition to the shoreside activities at the festival.
We got to work and built a little stand and they let me sail in with Sumara as part of the festivities. The three mile trip up the Thames can be surprisingly rough. At high water, which is the only time you can lock in and out, the waves created by the pleasure passenger boats bounce off the embankments and cause a confused chop of short waves. It is lovely and calm at low water when the waves are dissipated by the beaches but of course you can’t lock in or out. Making use of the last of a really powerful spring tide we moored at St Katharine’s at about 4 pm on the Thursday. The dock was full of fantastic looking boats all dressed overall with gleaming brightwork. The steam tug Portwey was there, an MTB, some sailing barges and the Queens barge Glorianna plus a host of small yachts and wonderful river craft.
On Friday evening we built our stand. The blurb describes it as a pop up chandler – if only! It went together very smoothly but still took three or four hours to “pop” up. The stock arrived on Saturday morning and by 1100 we were open for business. Luckily it was a dry weekend although the odd spot of rain did scare us. The stand is watertight but we had spread our wings and laid goods out all around. We had no idea what to do if there was a downpour!
It was a lovely weekend with thousands of people admiring the boats and of course our fine merchandise. Some couldn’t resist the temptation and made a purchase others would chat about their boats and others just wondered what we were doing there.
On Saturday night we all dived on board Sumara for a drink and a modest bite to eat. With ten people on board it is a cosy affair!
The stand is all away now and early in the morning I’ll sail Sumara back to South Dock. Hopefully we will be able to do it again next year.