In the Beginning…The Founding of the Jolly Sailors Dinghy Cruising Club

By Bill Macham- Joint Founding Member

2021 Marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Jolly Sailors Dinghy Cruising Club , so it seems an appropriate time to look back to how it all started.

 I will begin with a short outline of the events that led up to the foundation.

I started sailing in the mid 1970’s. In 1976 I undertook an RYA Elementary Dinghy Sailing course at Upton Warren Sailing Centre. A fellow pupil was Dave Franks, who, years later, became a Joint Founder of the Club.

I also joined the Camping and Caravanning Club Boating Group and over the next 15 years I gained useful experience of camping and sailing on large inland waters such as Lake Bala, Ullswater and Rutland Water as well as coastal sailing at Poole and  Chichester harbours and the Welsh and Cornish Coast

In addition I organised some camping and sailing weekends.

By 1991 Dave and I had become qualified RYA Senior Instructors  and we were employed part time at Upton Warren, teaching RYQ Level 1, 2 and 3 Courses

In those heady days we had class sizes of up to twenty pupils!

During the mid session  coffee breaks Dave  and I were chatting with the Group about our experiences. It turned out that some already were campers or caravanners and some already owned boats. They were very interested in our experiences and wished to take it further.

So the Germ of an Idea  was born… Why not form a small, local group similar to the Camping Club Boating Group but simpler and much cheaper?

We held our first meeting in March 1991 at Upton Warren. It was all very informal and we agreed to meet once a month to exchange idea, share experiences and plan camping and sailing weekends.

 By about the third meeting, the idea had taken off so we felt that a little more formality to our structure was required to run the Group properly.

I was appointed Commodore, Dave Franks became Vice Commodore and Tony Flynn became our first and only Treasurer, a position he still holds today. Dave’s wife, Jean became our first Secretary. This was very fortuitous as Jean worked in the Reprographic Dept at North East Worcester  College ( Bromsgrove) which meant that  she could print off our Newletters which were sent to all members.

 We still needed a name for our Group. We noticed that wherever we went- particularly around the Coast there was often a pub called “The Jolly Sailor” this seemed a good name for a group of people who enjoyed sailing as well as the occasional tipple and so it was adopted.

To the uninitiated, sailing can be perceived as a somewhat elitish and expensive sport. The ethos of the Jolly Sailors was to try to dispel this myth. We stressed that all were welcome. It as not necessary to own a boat to join. There were, and there remains,  ample opportunities to crew for newcomers. Equipment such as buoyance aids could be borrowed. So here was a chance to try sailing in a non-competitive but safe environment.

What’s not to like about that?

Nowadays, in addition to the Sailing the Group enjoy a good social scene with Barbecues as well as pub meals and an Annual Dinner- at which we have no Prizes and definitely no speeches. What we do enjoy is good company.

Over the subsequent years our membership has waxed and waned but the original aim of the Group remains unchanged.

 ALL are still welcome and Long May it Last!!

 Bill Macham

Jan 2021