AMYC Cruise to Sonning 28th-31st July 2023
Following last year’s successful cruise to Sonning’s Mill Theatre, it had been decided to make this an annual fixture. So it was that six boats met up at Sonning on Saturday 29th July.
Three boats (Ginista, Zephyr and Beatrice Rose) set out together from PH on Friday 28th July. The crews had gathered on Ginista the evening before for drinks. Sally, Geoff and daughter Helen then ate aboard Zephyr, while Tony & Sharon and Robbie and Gill adjourned to PHYC for a pleasant supper meal. The three boats made a prompt start next morning for the gentle cruise to Bray. All responded to the VHF “cast off” message, but only Ginista and Zephyr arrived at PH lock. Where was Beatrice Rose? Surely Robbie couldn’t get lost already? He appeared 5 minutes later, rather sheepishly admitting that he had pulled away from the pontoon without disconnecting his shore power (we’ve all done it at some time!) Cable issue sorted out, the three boats then took it gently to Bray, where moorings had been reserved for us. Robbie’s usual luck held, as he got a place right outside the Mediterranevm restaurant After a wash and brush-up the crews gathered for drinks on Zephyr. Sally produced a strange (but tasty) selection of hors d’oevres, including cheese for Tony (Sharon having forgotten to bring any – arrrgh!) We then tottered the few steps to the restaurant, where we enjoyed a very good (if expensive) supper.
We made another prompt start on Saturday morning for the rather longer leg of the cruise to Sonning. The three boats became four when we were joined by Blue Dimension (Russ and Mary) at Henley. For future reference, this leg took approximately seven hours. Moorings had been reserved at the stretch run by Sonning Boats and Launches. This is on the towpath on the right (upriver) side, below Sonning bridge We arrived to find that Chris and Lin (aboard Enterprise ) and Terry and Mandy ( aboard Lady Farrington ) had beaten us to it, both having already been up river. Enterprise and Lady Farrington had found moorings on the opposite bank, outside the Coppas pub. Ginista, Zephyr and Beatrice Rose moored on the Sonning Boats side (Robbie actually grounded and had to deploy his passarelle to get ashore) while Blue Dimension slotted in behind Lady Farrington. We thus ended up with half the club boats on one side of the river and half on the other. Notwithstanding, we met for drinks on Enterprise. (Lin makes a great Pimm’s, and even had a potted mint plant for that authentic touch!) We were joined on Enterprise by David and Linda and Les and Margaret who had both made the journey by car.
After a break to wash and change, we met up at the bar in the Mill Theatre for drinks, followed by an excellent buffet meal in the restaurant, all included in the ticket price. We were then treated to a fantastic show, entitled “Dazzling Divas” performed by Issy van Randwyck and her backing musicians. This relates the lives and legendary music of Billie Holiday, Marilyn Monroe, Patsy Cline, Janis Joplin, Karen Carpenter, Mamma Cass and Dusty Springfield. Issy van Randwyck was not a name familiar to any of us, but she put on a tour de force performance, seamlessly integrating some of their best-known songs into the (mostly tragic) life stories of these great artistes. She received a very well-deserved standing ovation at the end of the show. We returned to our boats and hotel still buzzing with enjoyment.
The two-way split in the Albany fleet continued next morning as Ginista, Zephyr and Beatrice Rose set off back to PH (not before Robbie had managed to unground) while Lady Farrington and Blue Dimension headed further up river, and Enterprise returned to Henley. Zephyr moored at Cookham for the night (surprisingly, there were quite a few mooring spots all along the route) while Ginista and Beatrice Rose pushed on to Bray just as the rain started. Ginista must drop her radar arch for a number of bridges, including that at the entry to Bray Marina. This involves unzipping the rear canopy – no problem in the dry, but a recipe for a soaking when the rain falls, as it did, just as we were mooring up. Zips also become stubbornly recalcitrant just when you don’t want them to. The result was that Sharon looked as if she had fallen in! We eventually made her (Ginista, that is, not Sharon) watertight and adjourned for a well-earned dink and a meal aboard.
We made our separate ways back to PH on Monday morning. Ginista had to time her departure to take advantage of a lull in the rain to avoid a further soaking but managed to keep dry throughout the trip. All was going smoothly until we arrived at Bell Weir lock. There was much activity as we arrived, with a team of divers setting up their equipment. We were ushered into the lock but were then told that there would be a delay while the divers went down. This turned out to be about 40 minutes. Just as well there was the final day of the Ashes test series on the radio for entertainment. (What a game and what a series!) The delay allowed Zephyr to catch up and we then cruised on to PH.
All in all, a very successful cruise, with the high spot, definitely, the great show at the Mill Theatre. Thank you, Albany, for such a good turnout and for your excellent company. We will certainly repeat the fixture next season.