Wednesday 15th December

Cast Off for Christmas



Wednesday 8th December

Norma and Phil Heaton

Cruising in Indonesia 


Norma and Phil Heaton retired early and in 2009 embarked on a seven years circumnavigation in ‘Minnie B’, an OVNI 395: an aluminium, semi-custom sloop with a lifting keel and folding rudder. In 2014 they spent three months cruising in Indonesia from Timor and Alor in the south-east via Lombok, Bali and Kalimantan to Belitung and the Riau Islands, and on to Malaysia.  They returned the following year to sail south to Java and on to Cocos Keeling via Krakatoa.  In 2018, they sailed from the Caribbean back to Europe and their boat is currently in the Mediterranean having completed nearly 70,000 miles.  Their talk will cover weather, anchorages, culture, people, provisioning, landscapes and hazards....



Wednesday 1st December

Brett Phaneuf

Mayflower Autonomous Ship 

With no human captain or onboard crew, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) uses Artificial Intelligence and energy from the sun to travel further and reveal more about the ocean. ProMare is a Marine Research and Exploration non-profit company based in Connecticut, USA.  They will tell us about some of the innovative projects undertaken since their foundation in 2001.  Their latest project is named Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS400) and is supported by IBM as the lead technology and science partner. MAS400 is designed to travel the oceans collecting data about the state of our oceans.  Learn how the ship was conceived, designed, built, tested and managed.  In part two, ProMare will tell us about some of their Global Exploration and Marine Archaeology projects, including shipwreck excavations.



Wednesday 24th November

Jane Bowden-Dan

Resurrecting Dr John Snipe

Nelson reboarded his flagship Victory (100) on 14th September 1805 at Portsmouth and sailed to retake command of the British Mediterranean Fleet blockading Cadiz, prior to the Battle of Trafalgar.  But before leaving his home at Merton on 13th September, he wrote to the Admiralty to commend the services of Dr John Snipe, Physician to the Fleet, who had died following an illness contracted whilst visiting Messina, Sicily, in order to negotiate the supply of lemon juice for the Navy.

A study of the ‘Nelson Papers’, found deposited at Merton after the Admiral’s death, which comprise official reports to him by officers on the administration of the Fleet during the periods 1796-8 and 1803-5, confirm that Snipe was a popular and conscientious physician.  He also enjoyed Nelson’s confidence and contributed to the Mediterranean Fleet’s success.



Wednesday 13th October

Brian Deacon

Cruising Chesapeake Bay


Recovering Crashed Aircraft 

Sailing in Chesapeake Bay was on Brian’s bucket list, and he managed to cross this off in 2017.  Separately, his career in aviation led him into aircraft recovery; not what he planned but an interesting subject.  Don’t worry if you are not a keen flyer, nor is he!



Wednesday 10th November

Graham Horn

The Isle of Wight, England in Miniature 


Graham (a blue badge guide) visits the island frequently and has an extensive knowledge of its attractions, history and geography. Some of us know the island well and the talk will bring back memories, but most people listening also say “Well, I didn’t know that.”



Wednesday 3rd November

Philip Beale

The Phoenicians were in America before Columbus 



Adventurer and Sailor, Philip Beale FRGS, will describe his journey sailing a Phoenician galley, the Phoenicia, on a 6000 mile voyage from Carthage to the Americas in 2019-20. This is one of the most interesting and important historic replica ship voyages of recent times.



Wednesday 27th October

Jill Rogers

Round Britain in Vela 

Jill is a serving Army Officer who decided to take a break from “green camouflage” for 6 months and sail her Sadler 25 - Vela around Britain in 2019, doing most of it single-handed. Prior to the trip, she had only sailed alone occasionally…



Wednesday 20th October

Joe Startin

The Saxon Ship Project 



The ship burial at Sutton Hoo, 100 feet above the River Deben in Suffolk, took place in 624 or 625 AD. The treasures found there in 1939 are now in the British Museum and are world-renowned. The ship was hurriedly surveyed in 1939, and the site re-investigated in the 1960s. There is sufficient information to make a reconstruction of the ship worthwhile. A charity, the Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company, is charged with this project, working by the river Deben at Woodbridge. The talk will explain why this ship is of such interest in North European maritime history, and how a digital reconstruction has already been done. The physical reconstruction is following principles of experimental archaeology, and the trials will cover some of the purposes to which we believe the ship may have been put.



Wednesday 17th November

Tony Ayton and Isabel van der Ven

Rowing the Thames 



Join Tony, Isabel and their double sculled, hand-crafted boat Papillon as they rowed 125 miles down the Thames from Lechdale to Teddington Lock in 2018. They will tell us about their boat (which they plan to bring with them!..) and what they enjoyed.


See Events 2021 page for details of GXSA 2021 sailing rallies and summer events.


Next Talk



Wednesday 10th March

Annual General Meeting



Wednesday 3rd March

Jenny Crickmore-Thompson and John Franklin

The Right Knots for Red Knickers - and - The South Africa Route


John and Jenny are members of GXSA but live in South Africa for part of the year. Some years ago, having never sailed before, Jenny replied to a skipper’s advert for crew and now she is married to him. Jenny has been Rear Commodore for the Ocean Cruising Club and received the 2019 OCC award. She will tell us about some of their recent sailing experiences (from her point of view…). 

As part of their OCC roles (John has been Commodore), they  kept contact with ocean sailors, particularly those crossing the Indian Ocean. John will describe traditional and recent routeing options for circumnavigating boats crossing the Indian Ocean and heading for the Caribbean, USA and Europe, and the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on cruising yachtsmen in 2020. Remarkably, a small group of ocean sailors were able to influence the South African government to allow access to foreign yachts on humanitarian grounds - John will tell us how.



Wednesday 24th February

David and Andrea McKay

Circumnavigation of New Zealand 



Diomedea in the tradewinds - Pacific Circuit Rally © David McKay


David and Andrea McKay, s/v Diomedea, take us on a journey around New Zealand in their steel Van De Stadt Tasman 48. Their voyage took place in 2013-2014. This will be a film presentation.



Wednesday 17th February

Rob Johnstone

Boat Building in Bucks



Unlike many of us, GXSA member Rob Johnstone has something to show from Lockdowns 1 and 2. He will tell us about trials and tribulations of creating the design, establishing a workshop space, building and (almost) finishing a 15ft lug sail dinghy. Her maiden voyage is imminent.



Wednesday 10th February

Graham Thomas

Passage Planning, Pilotage and Yacht Delivery in the Med



In October 2016, Graham helped in crewing and navigating a move of two sailing school yachts from Trapani in Sicily to San Miguel in Tenerife. The journey of approximately 2000nm takes between 4-5 weeks and includes long passage planning, offshore sailing and coping with inclement weather, gear failure and being in close confines for long periods. Graham will tell us about this most interesting voyage;  the second part of the talk has a special focus on passage planning and preparation.

Graham is a Trustee and Treasurer for Bury Lake Young Mariners in Rickmansworth, a charity focused on promoting dinghy sailing for juniors and people with disabilities. He has been an RYA Dinghy Instructor there since 2014. He is also a member at Broadwater Sailing Club in Harefield where he enjoys the weekly racing events sailing his Laser.




Wednesday 10th February

Ray Prowse

Edward Allcard: Sailor, Adventurer


Sea Wanderer, courtesy of Clare Allcard

Edward Allcard was an English naval architect, marine surveyor, yachtsman and author. Born in 1914, he pushed the boundaries and knowledge of small yacht, trans-ocean sailing, initially using his 34ft ketch to become the first person to cross the Atlantic single-handed in both directions.  He wrote books about his pioneering sailing adventures, which included the coasts of South America, rounding Cape Horn and a leisurely global circumnavigation in his 36ft ketch Sea Wanderer. After another circumnavigation, he retired to the Pyrenees and took up downhill skiing in 2006, aged 90. A life well lived…



Wednesday 3rd February

Clive Woodman

Nordic Odyssey


For the first 30 years of his sailing career Clive Woodman was a keen offshore racing yachtsman, competing in 5 Fastnets, 2 Sydney Hobarts, and one Round Britain Race, along with 40,000 miles of other assorted RORC and JOG racing.  Over the past 15 years he has completed cruises and sailing/climbing expeditions to South Georgia, the Antarctic peninsula, Arctic Norway, Spitsbergen and most recently NW Greenland. When not sailing he manages an IT company and keeps fit by rowing and cross country skiing.

In 2004 Clive completed a ski traverse in the arctic winter of the whole length of Norway, from Telemark to Finnmark and then sailed south from Nord Cap along the whole Norwegian coast in his 19ft Cornish Shrimper (yes, 19ft…). Clive will join us from Germany to tell us about this remarkable story.



Wednesday 27th January

Stuart Gaunt

Do we really need all those Instruments?



"I maintain that I was taken hostage by an idea...Sailing back [to New Jersey, USA] from the Azores, the light on the compass kept failing, and the windvane steering got broken. We sailed at night using the Pole Star for direction. Then I got to wondering if it would be possible to steer without instruments in the daytime....".  

In 1984 Marvin Creamer became the first and only person known to have sailed around the world without instruments.  30,000 miles. 18 months.  No Chart Plotter. No Decca. No RDF. No Sextant.  No Astrolabe, No Clock, No Watch.  What made him do it?  How did he do it and how successful was his trip?



Wednesday 20th January

Robert Smith

Shipwrecks of the Thames 



With so many ships visiting London, it is hardly surprising that there have been thousands of shipwrecks in the Thames. This talk by Footprints of London guide Rob Smith  tells the story of 12 ships that have sunk in the Thames, from a Roman cargo ship, to a mysterious sinking in the Cold War. Rob will show you pictures and maps to accompany the talk and he will give you some suggestions of places to visit to find out more about ships like the 17th century ship whose sinking shocked Samuel Pepys, or the ship full of explosives that still sits at the bottom of the Thames Estuary.



Wednesday 13th January

Will Stirling

Building and Arctic Sailing a Traditional Boat 



Stirling and Son Ltd are based in Devon and specialise in restoring and building wooden boats of all descriptions. Will Stirling will tell us about constructing his own impressive 43ft Gentleman’s Cutter and an exciting expedition in it to Jan Mayen and East Greenland.



Wednesday 6th January

Jeremy Batch

All Shipshape and Blackwall-fashion



As you sail past the O2 “Dome” or fly over it on the cable-car, look to the opposite bank and you will see the site of the largest private dock in Europe, the birthplaces of the hydraulic crane and the modern lighthouse, the yards where “bad buoys were made good” and HMS Warrior was launched, and the wharf where Brunel’s first steamship had her engine installed.  You will be passing the departure point of fleets (great and small) which set-up the first permanent English-speaking colony in the New World, established the most powerful multinational corporation that has ever existed, and towed the floating harbours that made the D-Day landings possible.  Here the Cutty Sark unloaded tea and wool, and here many of her sisters were built. What is the connection between the local Majestic Wine Warehouse and Captain James Cook's first ship? Jeremy will explain all of this in his usual entertaining style.




Cast Off for Christmas

Wednesday December 9th


GXSA Members and their guests are warmly invited to the entertainment at this year's Cast Off for Christmas. 

There will be short talks and a quiz and as much fun as you can have online..  


Photo Competition (there will be prizes !)

Please email jpg files of your entries by 12 noon on Wednesday to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

No more than 1 picture per household in each category.


For each photo, say which category it is entered for and provide a short title. In your email please include the statement:

"I am the copyright owner for this work.  I license Gerrards Cross Sailing Association to use the image(s) on the GXSA website, and in relevant publications."


There will be 4 categories this year

  • Boats and Sailing - anything to do with boating, probably with a boat in it, but its up to you!
  • Scenic
  • Humorous
  • What I achieved in lockdown - ie not sailing; the photo should provide a strong hint of what you did.

All pictures will be displayed at the same size for members to rank on the evening.


Spring 2021 programme will start on Wednesday 6th January



Wednesday 2nd December

Knut Arne Gjertsen

Sørlandet Tall Ship

Sørlandet is the world's oldest and most authentic fully-rigged ship still in active service and is operated by a non-profit foundation in Norway. Knut will tell us about the history of Sørlandet, her cruises, the management of Sailing Ventures, and the opportunities to join Sørlandet for voyages.