Dell Quay Sailing Club





1925 – 2015

Celebrating 90 years of DQSC



Peter Still

I started sailing at Dell Quay when I was seven years old - my father hated going to the doctors, but probably encouraged by my mother eventually went to see him one day when his hay fever was bad . Dr Coltart was a wonderful family doctor at the Summersdale practice in Chichester. He was a very keen sailor and member of the Bosham Yacht Club. My father gave his symptoms and was given a verbal prescription: Go sailing! I was introduced to the world of messing about in boats.

During so many years, enjoying being on the water in all sorts of boats, I have been very lucky to have had incredible experiences and to have known many interesting people.  One summer holiday, I was a sailing instructor with the Selsey Sailing School, based at Itchenor and mainly using Wayfarers. Later I was Head of Care at the Arethusa, a four-masted, 3,000 ton steel Barque built in 1911, based near Rochester. She was used as a residential school, afloat, for teenagers. The ship was huge with plenty of space for activity both on the ship and ashore, where there were playing fields and a swimming pool. I was lucky to be given enough money to buy a fleet of sailing dinghies including Mirrors and a GP 14, to add to an already diverse number of boats, which included sailing/pulling whalers and an assortment of dinghies and a workboat with an unusual steering system. It used the ‘Kitchener Gear’, which is a steering system used on some old boats and takes the place of a conventional rudder. It took me a time to master the way it worked. Basically one had a small wheel with a projecting leaver to both wind the wheel and also establish the direction. Adjacent to the propeller are two ‘buckets’ and these move as the wheel is turned to alter the flow of water and therefore the direction, providing steerage.      They also had a Fairy Duckling, with sails and so this was to be the second time I was able to have fun with this great little boat.

I have encouraged many young people to learn to sail and simply messing about in boats and I have also enjoyed inland waterways and canoeing.  I once built a fleet of six canoes, using stretched canvas.

We joined Dell Quay Sailing Club in about 1955 and our first boat was a clinker sailing dinghy about 9 feet long. I remember we spent many happy summer afternoons sailing backwards past the quay towards Fishbourne. We couldn't possibly go sailing when the tide was dropping, we might get sucked out into an unknown and very dangerous world! Opposite the quay and towards the spit, a little south, was a small beach with a lot of clay and a nice place to sit out of the sun on the bank under trees, a good spot to have a picnic and it felt like a big adventure crossing the water to a new land, I used to make things with the clay and explore the tide line.  

Sailing clubs always have characters and kindly people willing to help novice sailors and Dell Quay had plenty. We met a wonderful lady called Mrs Isles (This may not be the way her name was spelt), she gave us a lot of help and encouragement as we tried to learn to sail, she would have been about sixty years old and owned a beautiful little West White Scow.

Near the Dell Quay fresh water tap, there used to be a weighbridge with small building and opposite, on the edge of the launching slope was a hut. A kindly white-haired local man used to run a business here. He may have rented out moorings and completed repairs to boats, I am not quite sure and he may have been a sort of Harbourmaster, I think it is very likely that he had worked at Dell Quay for many years and would have known the Quay when small coasters used to visit to unload coal. I wish I could remember the name of this man and more of his history. I'm sure he would have had a lot of tales to tell. He was very much a fixture and part of Dell Quay and would always give me a warm smile. I was sad when his little hut/come store was taken down and the new building for Whyche Marine was put in its place. Progress but we had lost a piece of history. I think it was Roger Fouchon, who set up a business there and I think he built a number of fireballs, amongst other craft.

By the time of our second season we were more experienced and dad bought a bigger boat, which was about 13 foot in length. It had a mast stepped on the bow and was over canvassed, the boat was clinker built and had a lovely curve to its full bow. I understand it had been built for a person to use on the Broads. It felt like a huge boat to me and we had a lot of fun with it, although when the wind got up my father found it difficult to handle; we had an excellent seagull outboard, which would come into its own and save the day. Our confidence grew and we went further afield, past the spit at Copperas Point and down to the “Bowling Green”, which is opposite Birdham. I don't know if this name is still used, but to us it was a wonderful place and on a high spring tide, the water would rise over the top of this flat grassy area, a grand place to have picnics and swim from. Many families enjoyed the area and the shelter just inside the tree line. It was a favourite beach of Mrs Isles and she would regularly do a mile swim there. Having had her swim she would glide off, back, in her Scow and settle in the bottom of the boat making it look as if no one was sailing her. One day, at the Bowling Green it became very cold in the afternoon and the wind had risen, it was raining and my father, who had poor circulation found it difficult getting the penny out of his purse to undo the air valve on the top of the Seagull tank, he managed it but dropped the purse into the water and couldn't find it. Some weeks later on a beautiful sunny afternoon, I had completely forgotten about the incident, we arrived at the Bowling Green, had a picnic and I noticed my father get up and walk along the shoreline near to where another family was sitting. He bent down, picked up his purse and carried on walking as if it was quite the normal thing to do. When the tide was high, I sometimes managed to get my small boat right up through little channels in the mud, only a few feet wide within the “Bowling Green”.  

As we became more proficient, we became bold and had wonderful days at East Head. We bought our sailing clothing gear from Rockall, at the boat yard at Bosham. Rockall produced excellent cotton jackets, which were waterproof; my mothers was a pale blue, my fathers, a bright lemon yellow and mine, bright red. Many times we set off very early in the morning when the tide was right and sailed down to East Head. We would anchor the boat carefully and head off in our bright clothes, in time for the church service at West Wittering, I seem to remember being a bit embarrassed, but nobody seemed to mind and people probably thought it was a novel way to get to church! I enjoyed the adventure of it. I remember the vicar and his wife were lovely friendly people and the vicar had an unusual collection of brightly coloured paint sticks, held in a large earthenware jar. I do the same and always have a good stick to use when needed, though the colours these days are not as bright or varied; I think the variety was due to the number of wooden boats in the harbour.

One day at East Head we noticed a family: mum, Dad and two small children. They had decided to take a short cut and were due east of the end of East Head, north of Snowhill creek. Not a problem when they started and we watched with interest as they started their half-mile trek. About half way across it was clearly difficult and they obviously could not see that they would also have to get across the creek! They kept going but when they got near to the creek the mud became deep. Because the children were light and able to keep moving they reached the creek. But mum & dad were getting more and more covered in mud as they tried to keep up and then they reached the dangerous area of mud, which can be very deep. Since they seemed to be doing quite well we had not taken any action but as soon as my dad realised they were stuck, he set off in our boat for the other side of the creek. He put the anchor out and took out our very long sweep oars, put them on the mud and crawled to the parents, having put the children in the boat. By the time he reached them the dad was up to his waste and the mother to her knees – she was holding onto the pushchair, which gave her support! He pulled them out and brought the muddy family back to shore – I felt very proud of him.             

My grandfather was the manager of Bishops, the shoe shop at 69 South Street, Chichester; they owned a Victorian railway coach with guards van and little extensions, at East Wittering. It was called Kimberly and there was a flint stone barn and one other property between Kimberly and the sea. The barn is now a select block of flats. The family rented Kimberly out at times during the summer and we also used it a lot. When my grandmother wanted to get down to it, she would set off on a three wheeler tricycle for the 7 mile trip carrying my father and his sister on the bike together, it must have been quite a sight and a good way to keep fit. Many families had wonderful times in the beach huts nearby and people would spend much of their free time there. My father told me of one beach hut, which was built on a metal turntable so that in the morning, one had the sun rising and by turning it during the day you could see the sun setting in the evening. Our railway coach was amazing and could sleep eight, much of my early childhood was spent there and we often pretended it was still on a railway line and moving! I remember walking along the beach with my father collecting firewood for the fire in the little sitting-room and putting out “long lines” to catch fish. Kimberly has been replaced with a house but the original carriage next door is still there.

We probably only kept our big clinker dinghy, Amander, for two seasons,  I was sad to see her go, however, my parents had really taken to sailing and they bought a beautiful little sloop about 18 to 19 feet long, carvel built and called a Beacon. They bought it from the yard in Emsworth; she slept two and had a large cotton tent awning in the cockpit, which was a good place for me to sleep. To me the best was that she came with a little clinker tender of about 8 feet, with a blunt bow, and slot for a dagger board. One day we stopped off at Itchenor. I was inquisitive and going into the  sail/spar loft area of the boat builders at the back of the harbour conservancy building, I saw lots of old sales and spars. I asked my parents if they could possibly talk to them to see if they had anything that may fit the little tender. They had a look round and came up with a perfect size mast and a very odd looking loose footed, very light, brown cotton sail, with instructions printed on it and a mainsheet stitched into it. We tried it on the tender and it fitted perfectly. I was away. I had my very own boat and couldn't have been happier. I was told the sail had come from a wartime RAF life raft. I had many adventures in this little boat and often sailed to East Head on my own and with friends. I couldn't very well race this little clinker Dinghy but occasionally I used to follow the club race. The boat was poor when trying to tack against the wind and the rudder was not very responsive. There was no proper way of holding the sheet, which was simply held by a turn on a brass rod under each corner of the transom. But, downwind on a reach with a good wind, she went very well indeed. With the sail acting more like a spinnaker, I found the powerful class sailing dinghies racing ahead of me would take some time to lose me. I remember on one day at Easter time I was following a race, going north past the quay and just as the fleet was turning, the wind got up and it started to hail. I was well out in the channel but the tide was dropping and when I tried to go about the tiller had no effect and I found myself hurtling towards the sharp Flintstones on the shore. I had let go of the sheet but the sail billowing out, was trapped by the shroud and I could do nothing; I was doomed but at the last moment, the mast gave way and went over the side. I had a cold row back to the club and arrived as the racing set were on their way home. I was too embarrassed to talk about my little event but was pleased the boat was ok.

I kept my dinghy upside down on the hard just at the eastern end of the Appledram  fishing club huts. We lived in Parklands, Chichester at the time and it didn't take me long to cycle down to Dell Quay. I used to wear my navy blue kapok lifejacket, the easiest way of carrying it, and I can remember one day I was cycling down and just before I reached the sewerage works, a car came very fast and close to me, without warning. I jammed my brakes on and flew straight over the handlebars landing comfortably on my lifejacket but had put a foot through my front spokes, no sailing that day!

The club was brilliantly set up for sailing when I was young, it was so simple for me. I think that there was a key somewhere that I used to collect from the club to unlock the sail loft where I kept all my sail, spas and oars etc. The club also had a small launching trolley for use by members. It had some yellow and red paint to show that it was the club trolley. The club also had the two superbly placed club dinghies. They were alloy and one was larger than the other and they seemed to last for ever. I remember one evening I went out for a little row in one of the dinghies with a friend and was swiftly told off by, I think, the commodore, who made it quite clear that the dinghies were not to be used for pleasure trips; I was suitably embarrassed. Just underneath the club jetty and by the hard area leading to the dinghies, was a galvanised water tank, which was perfect for cleaning off our muddy feet and shoes. One always got very muddy when the tide was low and the mud in those days seemed to be quite black, probably caused by the many years of unloading coal. It's amazing how different the foreshore below the Anchor pub looks these days, with the sand/stone quite clean; you could never launch from here. I think some gravel/stone was put down too, which helped.

We used a mooring, which was quite close to the club but when we bought the Beacon, we needed a deeper mooring and I helped my father put the mooring in, which is now the DP 17 C3 mooring. There has always been good bait and cockles too at Dell Quay and my father chose the slightly raised Flint area, which was used by the bait diggers as a way out and it made it a little easier to get out to the mooring. I don't know if some of the mud has gone, but it seems less deep. I remember it was very hard to dig out the hole for the substantial galvanised water tank, with a plate, for the mooring, which lasted until the Harbour Conservancy put in the new sinkers.  More recently when I put in new anchors, I found the western end very hard with flint. On the shore near the mooring, the bank used to be much higher and there was more in the way of small trees. I can remember that I used to see the remains of a metal keel and lots of bricks and had been told that someone used to live there on a boat. This reminds me of the old boat supported on concrete beams well north of the Quay. I was told that an elderly lady used to live on this boat and when I was very young I can remember the black bitumen of the sides of the boat. I think at some point in the late 50s, there had been a fire there, and I seem to recall some of the items left to disintegrate around the boat. It must've been a wonderful place to live, not too far to walk into Chichester and looking out onto beautiful sunsets, even in recent times there have been people that I've noticed probably living in house boats. I have a small photo of a very fine boat with a funnel, which was beached for many years a little closer to Dell Quay. The boat had a large saloon area on deck and could have been about 50 feet long. It may have been in the mid 60’s that she was taken away. I wonder what happened to her? When I was young I used to dream of getting on board and finding people to help get her working again and sailing off on adventures.

I think it was in the mid sixties that the owner or senior person from the boat yard at Dell Quay, was going out to a mooring north of the Quay and I was told he had been standing in his dinghy, when he fell overboard. I understood that he was wearing long boots and he tragically drowned. Since then I have always told people to take their Wellington boots off or be well tied up.

I've never really raced boats much, I never had the right type of boat, but I did have a race one-day against Peter Milne. I was in my little tender going quite well, with Peter rowing alongside in his tender and keeping up with a little model – one of his new designs – he probably won. Peter too was kindly and gave good advice and encouragement as I was learning. Another memorable race at the club was with the son of the education officer, I can’t remember his name but he was a very proficient sailor and he had the amazing Fairy Duckling Dinghy. They are about 9 feet long and there are only a few of these little cold moulded boats left today. I was crew and we entered the handicap club open race. I had to work the jib – about the size of a pocket-handkerchief and I did my best to control this! Of course, we came in last, but we won, I was absolutely amazed when my skipper went up to the roof above the club to collect his prize. In those days, senior officers of the club in particular were all very smartly dressed wearing blazers and the clubhouse was absolutely full. When he came back to me, he showed me a most excellent stop-watch and my eyes were wide. I do wonder if others racing had felt a bit hard done by!

I was always very envious of the education officer's boat, which was a beautiful quarterdeck clinker built boat of about 17 feet. It had a very tall mast and was always painted deep blue. He kept it on a mooring in the little channel on the far side opposite the Quay and whenever the weather was good, I would see him setting off in the morning, going down with the tide and coming back in the early evening. It was a fast boat and must've been wonderful to sail. I felt very sad when I saw the boat at Bosham in a poor state and in need of urgent attention. This was in the early 70s and I desperately wished I had had the time and money to find out who owned her and to try to buy her. Equally I felt very sad when I found Mrs Isles boat at Cobnor in an even worse state. It is so sad when you know how boats have been enjoyed and such great boats to sail being left to rot. Both owners had truly loved their boats. I remember one day at Dell Quay when Mrs Isles let me go out in her boat on my own – the only time I did but I have never forgotten it. It was so different to my clumsy little tender.

I remember once seeing a new old boat on a mooring just north of the Quay, it was very wide and quite low to the waterline and with a small cabin. I asked the man on board what it was since it looked so different to any other boat I had seen. The owner told me that it had been one of the lifeboats that survived the sinking of the Lusitania. I was able to clamber on board and it was fascinating to see around, the boat had been converted in a simple way and I think it had a centreboard.

The club had a good number of different class dinghies, which raced and one year my cousin John arranged for me to crew with a leading Fireball helm. It was rather different to the Gull I was sailing in my teens! I did my best but we didn’t do too well! A great experience though to sail such an amazing boat. The club also had a fleet of Sharpies. I can remember an open club day when children could go out in member’s boats and the gaff rigged (I think) ply sharpie was fantastic. I think they had flat bottoms and a tiller with three spokes as tillers to hold in a fan shape. The stern was decked so the tiller came over the long deck. I can remember getting into the boat in the bow and how exciting it was just to sit and experience the speed and sound of the water slapping the sides. I wonder if there are any of these still afloat. I have what I think is a photo of one but it is at a distance and too hard to see.

I was teaching a friend to sail one day, when the club was holding and open event. It was a lovely sunny day with a perfect wind. Lots of dinghies were tied up on the east side of the jetty and the club was full. As a young teenager, this was the perfect time to show off and let people see what an exceptional skilled sailor I was and my friend would be very impressed. I came in fast in an Enterprise dinghy to the jetty and worked out the perfect spot to nudge in, between the boats and put the helm over hard, at the last moment. Nothing, the second or two that I had was not enough, though it seemed like an age to me. I had instructed my crew that when coming in you have to pull the centreboard up so you can get out. Yes but not when at full speed and with no steerage. The lessons learnt as the Practical Boat Owner says: be sure to communicate clearly with your crew, exactly what they need to do and when. Do not show off and especially in front of the club when it is full of experienced sailors who can legitimately shake their heads and say: that will teach you! I managed to gather up a number of boats and bring them all together on their painters, with a bit of a knock. Fortunately no damage was done – just to me.           

I think it was when I was 13 years old. My parents bought a new Gull from Small Craft, Brockley, near Southampton. She was to be an amazing boat for me and I sailed her in all my spare time. I only raced her at the club once and that was with my mother as crew. It was a windy day and the Gull needs these conditions to go well, especially on the reach, partly due to the gaff rig. We did very well and it was nice to have a good positive write-up in the Chichester Observer. By this time we had sold the Beacon and my parents didn’t sail so much, so the boat was mainly for me to use. They had also bought a new Evinrude outboard from Bailey's at Itchenor. It was a folding shaft engine and not only fitted into the boot of the mini but also inside the Gull, out of the way. A great engine and I haven’t seen a folding one since.

I taught many of my friends to sail and I can remember one-day when I was out, off Dell Quay. It was a lovely sunny day, as usual, and the tide high. We saw a beautiful very large modern fibreglass boat appear and suddenly over the stern of the boat we saw large boxes of Quavers crisps being emptied out as the boat sailed away. They were filming at the time. My friend and I simply couldn't resist tacking back and forth across their wake, collecting armfuls of Quavers crisps, not the normal sort of experience you expected at Dell Quay and a great one for teenagers; they didn’t seem to mind, perhaps we were a part of the advert! Once when I was at East head, I saw a film set there too.

Many times I used to set off early from Dell Quay to get the wind with me all the way down to East Head and then in the evening all the way behind me – bliss to sit in the bottom of the boat and glide home as the sea breeze eased. I would often arrive too early at the “spit” and would walk the dinghy to the Quay. The Gull only needs about six inches so it wasn’t hard and the water would be warm. I needed my “jellies” though because the bottom was/is mainly covered in sharp cockle shells! Arriving at the hard, I would often be the only one there and it felt that Dell Quay was all there just for me, since I would usually be on my own too when I left early in the morning.

As a teenager my parents would spend their holidays in France in their camper van and I would much prefer to stay at home and sail. I can’t remember how it happened but one year, my parents had gone to France and had not taken the Gull down to Dell Quay, I don’t think we had a space there and used to trail it; I may have been away from home. Anyway, I was desperate to go sailing and decided I would have to get the boat to the water. We lived in Summersdale, Chichester, then and I left home at about six in the morning with the Gull, which was on a Bramber road trailer, with all the gear and my cycle. I pushed the dinghy back on the trailer so that it was easily balanced. I went straight through the centre of Chichester and at Stockbridge came across the postman, which gave me a target, trying to keep up with him. It was an amazing feeling, when I arrived at Dell Quay, still quite early and lunched the boat!          

I frequently used to put my little army desert tent into the Gull, which had pockets for sand instead of pegs and set off for East Head were I used to pitch the tent near the high water mark and close to the boat. You would not be allowed to do this today, I am sure. As the sea breeze got up there was always plenty of exciting sailing between East Head and Hayling Island, where the yacht club had good facilities and food. If I wasn’t going over to Hayling, it was a long walk with my gallon plastic water can to get water from the car park at West Wittering!

I can’t remember when the club decided to clear the sail loft and use the space for other purposes. Just before they did, I went up there to see what it was like and took a photo of it. Many of the sails and gear were still there and untouched as they had been for years. We had sold the Beacon some years before and it had been sold on again and I wanted to see if the old gear for the little tender was still there and it was. I suppose that new owners had no interest in it. The lovely little rudder was missing but the spars, sail and dagger board were just as I had left them – I could not resist picking them up to put them in a safe place. Perhaps not the right thing to do but I felt that they were really mine still. Some years later, when working with young people, we had a go cart but someone had put sand into the engine. I couldn’t fix the engine but I could have some fun with the youngsters sailing the go-cart and we took it to the old wartime runway in the New Forest, where I taught them how to sail it and tack against the wind too! I still have the sail today and think I will see how it goes on the Gull!     

The Gull was designed by Ian Proctor to teach his children how to sail and exactly the same as the Wayfarer, but only 11 foot, she is incredibly stable and I used to take her out into the Solent with confidence. I could feel superior when I used to glide past the Heron and Mirror dinghies! The Gull was not able to compete on price with the brilliant Mirror dinghy, however it is still going and is now called the Gull Spirit, she is certainly very versatile, still with a good following and people even put tents on so they can be used for camping. I bought a wooden one recently and have been restoring it, hoping one day our grandson will be able to enjoy the boat as I did.

I think my parents sold the Gull when I was 20 and unknown to me, on my 21st birthday, had bought me a new West Wight Potter, 14 feet, from Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight.  At that time I knew nothing about the boat or its designer Stanley Smith. It is still an amazing boat and has a huge following in the USA. We kept the boat on the mooring at Dell Quay and I found her great to sail. Even though she is very small she has two six foot three inch berths and she loves a strong wind. She only draws some six inches, due to her nearly flat bottom. Once, when I was entering Portsmouth harbour against the tide, many boats were trying to come in and had their engines flat out but they weren’t really moving. For me I was slowly gliding in just a few feet from the bank. I was towing my fibreglass coracle, which was a good simple dinghy for my miniature boat, it only draws an inch or so and does not drag. I had the gel coat in orange so that it would show up! Once, when I was in Gosport and wanted to get over to Portsmouth, I set off in the coracle – it must have been quite a site, such a tiny orange blob with a six foot person seemingly sitting on the water with a paddle. It is very easy to propel the coracle and quite fast. You put the paddle to the side, slice it on an angle to the middle ahead of you, draw back, slide the paddle to the side again and so on. I often use this approach in a dinghy to move a boat sideways; you are basically pulling yourself forwards.   I think the coracle is easy to use partly due to the very low wetted area and it is not really affected by tide. Some years later we had a Bradwell 18 and were anchored just off East Head. We could have swam in but we decided to all get into the coracle for the short trip: Mum, Dad, two children and a Labrador puppy! Life jackets were worn and we did cause some amusement ashore, again, the site of a group of people, a dog and a paddle, simply sitting on the water!

In the summer of 1967, my parents had gone to France and so did not know quite what I would be up to and I decided on a little adventure - I wanted to see my girlfriend. One evening, I was met by Denny Desoutter on my way out to Pippa, my West Wight Potter, in the club dinghy, I think he was going out to his boat, he asked me if I was going off somewhere, seeing the dinghy full of gear. I said yes I am off to Falmouth. He wished me a good trip. I had a brilliant sail down and it took me seven days, staying close to shore and waving a red washing up bowl as I passed coast guard lookout stations and ringing in each day to report safe arrival. At Fowey Royal Yacht Club, I stopped  to get a shower but had lost my shoes over the side and was told that I should not be in the members lounge with bare feet. The carpet, I remember, felt so soft and plush. I think I was too embarrassed to say much and said that I was a member of Dell Quay sailing club and on a voyage and needed a shower. They showed me to an amazingly large bath and gave me a fresh towel to use. That hospitality was really good to feel at that time. Crossing Lyme Bay from Portland, I got frightened as the light was beginning to go, I was out of site of land heading directly for Dartmouth. I decided to head north and came in to Beer, where I was offered a mooring just off the beech. I swam in with a towel holding my clothes above my head to keep them dry. I needed a drink and I remember the locals were really friendly. When I set off for the return trip, the weather had turned poor and the wind was strong. I realised I would not get back in time to return for work and decided I needed to hitch a lift. I often used to hitch but never with a boat before! I was told that there could be boats at Hayle and so hitched there to see if any were coming to Falmouth. No luck but it was suggested I try Par, so I did and set off. The wind was awful as I got out to sea and the sheets of water were hitting the bow and coming right over to the stern. I made it to Par but felt I had had enough. When I had sorted myself out, I went to a local shop and a Battenburg cake and a bottle of lemonade. I was starving and out of money and these were my favourite cakes. I then went to talk to the first coaster tied up and loaded with china clay. The captain came out and looked at my boat, listened to my story and said yes! I was so lucky. I am sure Health and Safety regulations would prevent this today. They tied down one of their lifeboats and hauled me up. They were leaving immediately and off we went. The chef had prepared a good hearty meal and I then wished I had not just stuffed down a whole  cake. I worked hard, cleaning the heads as a way of saying thank you for the lift and then got some sleep in the captains’ lounge. It was fascinating too being on the bridge at night. I had a problem with the Evinrude outboard, which I was still using and I couldn’t get it to start. The engineer fixed it and another seaman gave me some flip-flops. They dropped me off at the Nap lighthouse and with the engine fixed I bid farewell and headed for Chichester harbour in a light wind. Back at Dell Quay, Denny Desoutter saw me coming in and asked me how I had got on. I told him of my adventures and how I had hitched a lift. I didn’t know it at the time but later when I bought the Practical Boat Owner, there was the write up and it included the drawing of Dell Quay with what might have been my little gaff rigged boat and a dinghy being rowed nearby. This drawing was used for some time in the “Waiting for the Tide” articles.  In my time, I have owned three West Wight Potters and have had great fun in them all.

After Pippa, I bought a plywood Caprice from the old boatyard off Smugglers Lane, Bosham, the creek opposite Itchenor. Expensive houses have now been built where this wonderful old yard used to be.  I had wanted more space and the Caprice was an excellent boat; she had been owned by a mast builder in the Percuile, near St Mawes, Falmouth and amazingly a picture of my Pippa was taken there with the same Caprice on her mooring. She was very well built and when I did some work on the deck I found that every nail had a stamp print of an anchor on it – a bit of detail you could find in the 60’s. I sold her to sort out my finances before I got married! After this came the Bradwell 18; a Seafly dinghy – fast and fun, especially surf reaching from Keyhaven and back, from Yarmouth.  The next boat was another Small Craft boat, the Shipmate Senior and yet another fantastic boat to sail. These were all sailed in Chichester harbour. We had to sell The Shipmate Senior to help finance our house purchase and I could easily seek out another today, they are such fun and simple boats. Our two sons began their sailing in a Mirror and one day just south of the Quay we were enjoying a good sail, when a spitfire came down low and when just directly above us, tipped his/her wings. How memorable is that for a good days sailing at Dell Quay. Our older son has really enjoyed his sailing and has already owned a number of boats that he has restored including a Merlin Rocket, which he did a beautiful job on.  

I still have my coracle and the last boat we bought, was from Hayling Island, a Westerly Konsort, which we love and keep in Falmouth. We had a significant amount of work done to the Konsort, including the engine but on the first time out, just after launch we had decided to stop at East Head to anchor for the night before setting off for Falmouth, we put her out of gear, into neutral and nothing happened. No response from the Morse control leaver at all – we couldn’t stop! We were lucky to have our older son on board, who is brilliant in difficult mechanical and sailing situations. He leapt into the locker and managed to deal with the linkage manually.  Later he turned the cam upside down to get it working; it was completely worn out.
Many other wonderful boats have come and gone over the years and what a feast of magical lifetime memories of happy times on and near the water with family, friends, and the always friendly sailing people you find everywhere and on my own too. Dell Quay has been such an important part of my life as I am sure it is and has been to thousands of others.

Peter Still
26th April 2012