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A tribute to George Raine

When I first met George Raine he was already well into his eighties. Wearing his bobble hat he looked like a little gnome and was helping with the car park marshalling at the Hoo Freezer. The years went by and finally, in March 2019 George passed away, having reached the grand old age of 101. When I was engaged in writing bits of the Club history back in 2000, I had an opportunity to ask George about his time at Hoo and how he was involved with the Club. Most of what follows comes from the article I wrote at that time.

George joined the club in either the autumn of 1958 or possibly early in 1959. The Club's activities on the water at that time consisted mainly of dinghy racing. There would be nearly 50 Mirrors and Enterprises sailing most weekends. When George arrived the clubhouse looked like it does in the picture of the sailing barges in the corner by the bar except that a veranda had been added on the front. Club membership fees were £4 a year and the Conservancy fee was only 10 shillings (fifty pence!) per year.

The Club’s cruising element was comparatively small with a few boats on drying-out moorings in the old artificial harbour, now Port Werburgh, and others on a group of four or five swinging moorings off the WSC dinghy park. George's first boat was a Caprice called Water Whimsey. The average length of most cruising boats in those days was about 20 feet. Apparently it was unusual to see anything over 25 feet in length. This first boat was followed by an ex-Broads boat called Wild Rose and then his last boat Dolphin, a Wing 25, still at the Club and now owned by his very longstanding friend, Ken Waller. George sailed Dolphin extensively around the East Coast and she was his pride and joy.

In 1967 George as Club Treasurer devised a scheme whereby various classes of bonds were issued to Club members to raise funds to purchase the freehold of the Club. This was achieved in 1968 and the Club changed its name from The Marina Yacht Club to Hoo Ness Yacht Club. The name change was agreed because by then there were more and more marinas opening and the name was no longer distinctive.

As subscriptions and mooring fees rose these bonds became very attractive to members, but expensive for the Club. There was therefore a sustained campaign to re-pay the bonds and this was achieved by about 1970. As a result, George is credited with delivering the Club free of debt for which we are all now very grateful.

George had a mischievous sense of humour and was known for diving off boats and swimming around, well into his later years. He continued sailing into his nineties until his failing eyesight caused him to lay himself up. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

Martin Richards
June 2019