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George Raine's Story

Clubhouse in 1953
Painting of the clubhouse as it was in about 1953

In the late 1950's (George joined the club in either the autumn of 1958 or early in 1959) the club's activities on the water 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 over the fireplace except that the veranda had been added on the front. Bill Steele was the club secretary. Other people who were around in those early times were Sid Nicholls, Bill Finch, Ken Leech and Spud Mitchell.

The cruising element was comparatively small with a number of boats on drying-out moorings in the old artificial harbour and others on a small group of four or five swinging moorings off the Cockham Woods dinghy park. These moorings were either laid and maintained by the boat owners or laid by Geoffrey Dutson (who was then the manager of Marina Services at Hoo) and subsequently maintained by the boat owner. A mooring laid by Geoffrey Dutson cost just £15 and the club membership fees were £4 a year. The Medway Conservancy fee was then only 10 shillings (fifty pence!) per year.

The people involved in these early cruising activities included Sid Nicholls, Jack Tritton, Bob Cherry, Eric Plumbridge and George Raine himself.

Eric Plumbridge had a hard chine marine ply sloop about 19 feet long called Nimrod. Jack Tritton had a Bell Plywood Seagull sloop and then Tamarisk II, a 22 foot Snapdragon which is still on the river at Medway Yacht Club. Bob Cherry had an old Dragon called Xyxomma. This had an ancient Seagull outboard engine which had never been known to run. Sid Nicholls had a Silhouette called Nikki. George's own boat was a Caprice called Water Whimsey. This was followed by an ex-Broads boat called Wild Rose and then his present boat Dolphin which is a Wing 25.

Geoffrey Dutson had an MFV called Sunfish in the artificial harbour. She was moored close to John Mason's MFV the Girl Prudence (hence the Prudence Cup). There was a big old "Brixham" (trawler? fishing smack?) called Good Intent. She had a lethal bowsprit nearly as long as some of her neighbouring boats. There was also a rather splendid early GRP boat on her own solitary mooring about halfway between the swinging moorings and the artificial harbour. This subsequently moved away, possibly to Scotland. The average length of most cruising boats in those days was about 20 feet. It was unusual to see anything over 25 feet.

The club used the big dinghy park and the concrete slipway now occupied by the Wilsonian Sailing Club until the Wilsonians themselves arrived and anchored their big black barge off Cockham Point as their clubhouse (was this barge the Glencoe that was there in 1989 when I arrived at Hoo?). The HNYC members then had to move their boats to the smaller present tender park alongside the Wilsonian Sailing club grounds. HNYC also had to start paying rent for the use of the ground, a formality not previously observed.

At this time the small piece of ground beyond the present Dutch Barge business and the gas pipeline was used as the car park for the sailing activities.

The cruising boats were lifted out by an elderly wooden tripod crane on the corner of the wharf near the present gangway down to Hoo marina. They were then lowered on to a trolley and towed away by tractor to their winter quarters. On one occasion Eric Plumbridge's Nimrod was being lowered onto the trolley when disaster struck. The slings slipped when she was a few feet above the trolley which then appeared through the plywood bottom. Eric was somewhat less than impressed!

The Marina Services yard foreman was Eric Scoole. He lived in a house, long demolished, near the entrance to the caravan park.

In 1967 various classes of bonds were issued to club members to raise funds. The annual membership subscription (£4 per year at the time) could be paid by a £100 bond. Similarly there were deep water mooring bonds at £200 and interest bearing bonds (£20 - 6%). As subscriptions and mooring fees rose these bonds became very attractive to members, but expensive for the club. As a result there was a sustained campaign to progressively re-pay the bonds. They were all repaid by about 1970.

In 1968 the club changed its name from The Marina Yacht club to Hoo Ness Yacht Club because by then there were more and more marinas opening and the name was no longer distinctive.

In 1983 there was extensive reclamation work carried out on the foreshore outside the clubhouse involving the laying of "gabion" walls to retain the reclaimed ground.

Martin Richards
December 2000

Date Published 27th Jun 2011