Rallies 2018

Countess Owners June Rally to Suffolk Yacht Harbour

Our first rally of the 2018 season took us to Suffolk Yacht Harbour on the River Orwell in Suffolk on the 2nd June. The weather for the rally was ideal, at least for the Saturday, being warm with a gentle breeze and we all made good time on the rising tide into the marina. The cruise up the Orwell is interesting as it passes Harwich and Felixstowe ports, the latter being one of the largest Container ports in the UK and a constant hive of activity by day and night.

Unusually for a rally the Berthing Master had reserved berths that were in close proximity so Orion B, Pepsand, Amazon Countess and Novella were within yards of each other, although the beamy nature of Countess Boats meant that we did not have a lot of spare space once we were in.
We started the rally on board Novella with 16 of us catching up on the adventures and mishaps of our fellow members since we had last met, fortunately nothing serious was reported.

The Haven Ports Lightship is the home to the Marina Restaurant and we all moved to this historic venue for drinks and a meal. The service and the meal were excellent and we spent the evening in the good company of fellow members, one of the joys of the Countess Owners Association. It is surprising how many boat problems get discussed and solved at such a gathering.
The next morning was bright and sunny, just like the previous few days so we all left anticipating an easy sail home. Unfortunately, there was no free Wi-Fi in the marina so we did not get a current forecast but left in sunshine and good visibility expecting a nice easy trip home. All was well until we left Felixstowe and turned towards Harwich when a blanket of thick fog rolled in and we could no longer see the bow of the boat, a challenging state of affairs as the Harwich Breakwater projects across our course and is a rather solid object.

Fortunately, GPS came to our aid and we used waypoints which we all had previously recorded to skirt the obstacles and we all made it home eventually. Three of us had a reasonably short journey to cover but Pepsand, ably skippered by our Chairman Robin Traves had a considerable journey to Kent which required covering the busy shipping lanes down the East Coast and into the Medway in thick fog. Well done Robin for such skill in overcoming such a challenge!

Many of us access our moorings down winding creeks which we know like the back of our hands in good visibility. With fog, darkness and driving rain our visibility is greatly reduced, so adding this route on our Chart Plotter can make our homecoming in bad conditions easier.

Countess Owners East Coast Rally Sep 2018

Our destination for the rally was Bradwell Marina on the pretty River Blackwater, a distance of about 30 miles from our marina. The weather when we left was ideal with a slight breeze and a tide in our favour for the duration of the passage. We arrived at about 16.15 to be greeted by a goodly number of those attending the rally which made mooring easy. The marina had allocated us a hammerhead which we shared with Pepsand, the space being useful as there were 22 COA members expected which gave us space to move around. Once Orion B was berthed we all piled on board and Denis and Lynda served drinks and nibbles. Initial attempt to raise the battle flag left a wayward halyard half way up the mast so Richard “volunteered”, being the youngest (by a country mile at the time), leanest and fittest, to be hoisted up the mast to retrieve it.

Seven boats were originally promised. On the day Amazon Countess was still having her bottom treated and Novella had to come overland. The Countesses that arrived were Orion B (Denis and Lynda Bennett), Pepsand (Robin Traves and Richard), Playpen (Colin and Diane Campbell), Lady Louise (Derek and Trish Ovenden) and prospective new member Katrina (Ryder Dean). This is still the best turnout for several years.

It is amazing how many guests you can get on a Countess 37 on a fine day, with us spread around the cockpit and the deck. Also joining us were our Founder, Robert and Prue Jones, Jim and Bev Gould, Tony and Pam Kerry and Peter Coy who updated us on his trip to Greece on-board Island Drifter with Mike and Helen Norris, a trip that he won at the last COA AGM.

It was nice meeting up with fellow COA members and discussing the adventures of the summer and getting advice on any current technical problems.

Having nearly exhausted the resources of Orion B we adjourned to the Green Man, the local pub where we enjoyed a good meal and more ‘getting to know you’ conversation.

Unusually, the next morning proved bright with a reasonable breeze and all the boats returned to their bases having had another enjoyable sail.

Tony Kerry – Novella