The last few years have been a steep learning curve for all of us involved with the website, whether users or developers. The initial redevelopment was thanks to the tenacity of Chris Smith backed by rear commodore membership and marketing Kate Newman. Chris brought a huge amount of IT knowledge to the project and had the foresight to champion Drupal and CiviCRM - two open source systems (ie free). This has meant the Club has a website delivering a high level of functionality at a fraction of the cost of a bespoke system.
A light breeze skimming over the waves, a tiny swell as the oars creak in their rowlocks, with a rhythmic splash as they enter the blue sea - different to the river, bigger, but a perfect morning as the two crews of Team Mums Away embark on their Channel Row, Friday 26 July 2013. The White Cliffs slowly reducing in size as the big Spring tide pushes us towards Folkestone, the boat taking an angle at odds to our minds as we follow the pilot boats navigating a course to the Colbart North cardinal buoy on the border of French territorial waters, which we're still not allowed to cross into.
This time tomorrow we hope to have finished the Channel Rowing Challenge that Team Mums Away have been working towards since January. The team is well prepared, the forecast could not be better, and we are hoping for a smooth row out to mid-Channel and back to finish at Dover. We've had two practice rows of 22 miles each, the final one has been condensed into this 2 minute video
Last week I went down to Gosport boatyard to do the final pack up of 6X, the Trapper 300 which has been part of our family life for nearly 30 years. My Dad, "the Admiral", decided at the end of last year that it was time to let someone else take on the responsibility for the boat. He is 79 this August and was starting to find the maintenance and upkeep too much of a chore.
The Little Ship Club provided the perfect setting for the Mums Away Best of Bond fundraising night on Friday 28 June raising money for The AHOY Centre, Deptford which raised £20,000 after costs. With the team riding the crest of their fundraising wave, this week saw them bought down to earth with the news that the French authorities have imposed a blanket ban on all 'unconventional crossings' which puts the row to France in doubt.
Windhover heading back to Gosport on a grey, cold Sunday morning
I drove to Southsea marina along the M27 on Friday night in dense fog, crawling my way off the motorway slip road down into Portsmouth. What is it that Tom Cunliffe says about sailing in fog? "Don't do it". Was this going to be another weekend of wishing that winter sailing had never been invented I wondered?
What was it the weather forecast said? Rain all day on Saturday, 8 knots of wind from the north west. Both bits were wrong, luckily in the case of the rain and unluckily in the case of the wind (although the strength was about right). It's a strange phenomenon of sailing that when you decide to head to Lymington from the Gosport area, the wind is nearly always from the South West and on the nose. Particularly if there is a strong tide running.