Now we are going sailing - talks start again in the Autumn...

Looking forward to the next club rally at Yarmouth on 11th June.


56th Annual General Meeting

Wednesday 16th March 2022 at 8.15pm

Colston Hall – The Memorial Centre, East Common, Gerrards Cross


  •   Chairman’s welcome
  •   Minutes of March 2021 AGM
  •   Treasurer’s review
  •   Membership fees for 2022/23
  •   Independent Examiner Appointment
  •   Chairman’s review of the 2021/22 year
  •   Election of Officers and Committee
  •   Zoom at future meetings
  •   Paper communication costs
  •   Any Other Business

Break, followed by

  •  A look forward to forthcoming events and rallies in 2022
  •  Voting for Peter Batterley Award





Wednesday 9th March

 Mark Darley

Lloyd's Register


After his early career as a marine surveyor, Mark is now Global Marine and Offshore Director at Lloyd’s Register’s Marine and Offshore business. He will tell us about the history of Lloyd’s Register and how they help companies to improve design, safety and environmental impact of shipping.



Wednesday 2nd March

 Richard Sutton

Three Men in a Nauticat Boat 


A talk covering the trials and tribulations of a delivery trip of a 37ft sailing boat across the Bay of Biscay from Santander to Portsmouth in September 2020. It all began with a remark over a beer: “If you need any help bringing your boat back from Spain, give me a call.” Several months later I was in Santander staring at a boat that wasn’t ready to sail in the harbour, let alone cross Biscay.



Wednesday 23rd February

Jon Holt




Jon founded the Scaramouche Sailing Trust and leads outdoor education at a London City Academy. With small boats and their 45ft Admiral’s Cup boat, Scaramouche, he has led young sailors to compete successfully in major races, including the Round the Island and Fastnet. In 2020, Jon was the winner of the Yachting Journalists Association MS Amlin International Sailor of the Decade Award, which recognises the achievements of those who have had the greatest positive impact on sailing.



Wednesday 16th February

John Apps

The Big Tow 

Minke without rudder being towed by Good Report on a beam reach


John successfully completed the 2021 Jester Azores Challenge, sailing single handed to the Azores. Unusually for the Jester Challenge, all the boats that crossed the start line finished (but not all under their own sail power..).

This Jester Challenge posed a number of questions. Should you abandon a perfectly good boat in the middle of the North Atlantic just because she has lost her rudder? How far can you sail a boat without a rudder? How far can you tow a boat under sail? What do you do when you can’t find the boat you are trying to rescue? Why do Frenchmen keep crossing the finish first? Can cows win a war? Why is Azores beef thrice blessed? These are some of the questions that John Apps will answer in his illustrated talk.



Wednesday 9th February

Paul Barnett

The Penlee Lifeboat 

 This talk will be on Zoom only



On Saturday 19th December 1981 the 'Solomon Browne', a 47ft wooden Watson class motor lifeboat, was launched from its boat house near Mousehole into hurricane conditions to go to the aid of the MV Union Star, which had reported engine failure and was being swept towards the southern coast of Cornwall. After the Solomon Browne had managed to rescue 4 people, radio contact was lost. Sadly both vessels were wrecked, resulting in a total of 16 people losing their lives. This is their story...

Click here for link to YouTube video on Penlee lifeboat mentioned in the talk.



Wednesday 2nd February

Graham Scholey

Wildlife and Ecology of the Thames 

 This talk will be on Zoom only

Picture with permission of D. Cousins

Graham Scholey has a Biodiversity Technical Specialist role with the Environment Agency (Thames area) and was made MBE for his work in 2004. He will explain how the wildlife (above and below the surface) and ecology of the Thames fit in with historic changes to the river and its management.

Graham is involved in a broad range of issues and initiatives including river and wetland restoration, ecological impacts of abstraction and strategic water resource supply, and flood risk management policy and practice. He chairs the UK Otter Biodiversity Action Plan Steering Group and is a member of the IUCN (World Conservation Union) Otter Specialist Group.



Wednesday 26th January

Alan Watson

HMS Medusa 

 This talk will be on Zoom only

HMS Medusa is the last original, seaworthy example of 464 Harbour Defence Motor Launch vessels built for the WW2 Royal Navy. Her story starts in 1943 with a critical role at Omaha beach on D Day through to taking the surrender of Ijmuiden in Holland, then post war as a survey vessel and a new civilian life from 1968 to the present.   Alan Watson OBE, who has been with her for 25 years and her skipper for 9, will tell the story of this brave and lucky little ship.

More details can be found at



Wednesday 19th January

James Littlewood

Cruising through Life, BC to the Hanson Cup

 This talk will be on Zoom only 

James receiving the Hanson Trophy from Mike Golding

James returns to reflect, in his usual entertaining style, on his sailing career and tell us about his cruising on the coastal and inland waterways of Northwest Europe. He recently won the prestigious Cruising Association Hanson Trophy for his 2020 log of his travels “Escape from Covid”.

The first part of his talk will cover his sailing from May 1979, when he took delivery of an Achilles 24 (23ft 9 inches), to his present boat - a 13m Dutch Steel motorboat Paddington V. He will talk about the Stockholm Archipelago, the eastern Baltic, the Norwegian Arctic Circle, and the change from sail to power. He might mention being arrested on arrival in Ijmuiden and being chased and hounded by a Russian destroyer. In the second part he will talk about his 2020 cruise to the Netherlands and his following the route of H M Doughty who sailed there in 1889.



Wednesday 12th January

Bob Shepton

Antarctica, Old and New 

 This talk will be on Zoom only

Accomplished sailor, mountaineer and Arctic explorer, Reverend Bob Shepton will tell us about his sailing in the 1990s between the Falklands and Antarctica (partly under jury rig) and more recently on Novara from the Falklands to South Georgia in 2017. The two voyages illustrate the very different degree of regulation on Antarctic expeditions 25 years apart.

Bob Shepton has received many awards, including the Piolets d'Or 2011 (mountaineering), the Blue Water Medal, Tilman Medal (twice), Yachtsman of the Year UK 2013 and a Lifetime Achievment Award in 2020. He has published two successful books: Addicted to Adventure  and High Latitude Sailing. 

Northumberland Island, Greenland 



Because of concerns about coronavirus, it has now been decided to hold Cast Off online

There will be no Cast Off meeting in Colston Hall


Wednesday 15th December

Cast Off for Christmas (online)

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

There will be short talks, a quiz, the photo competition and much fun!...

The Zoom invitation will be sent to all members a few days before


Photo Competition 

Photos must be submitted in advance

Deadline Monday 13th December

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
  • Did your Christmas seeds ever flower?

To submit photos, log in to the GXSA website and you will see a link in the Events menu.

No more than 1 picture per member in each category, please


Spring 2022 programme will start on Wednesday 12th January



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.