Rallies don’t just happen
Our participation and enjoyment of Homebuilt boat Rallies is dependant on somebody organising them. As we are a non group with no Management structure this task falls on a ‘willing’ volunteer, usually living near the Rally site. So if you think it would be a good idea to have a Rally in your neck of the woods it’s no good waiting for the chap next door to do it, he is also waiting for the chap next door, so it really is up to you. As you will see from what follows it isn’t that demanding a burden and quite a few of us have managed it.
The purposes of our Rallies are to talk boatbuilding, mess about in other builders’ boats and socialise in the evening.
The best venues are water sports or sailing centres with a nice big frontage on a river, lake or coast. The essential elements are:
An expanse of sheltered water so the smaller and more experimental boats can join in;
A slipway or beach for launching; and
A campsite with facilities (and it is always good if there are some nice B&Bs close by for more luxury-loving attendees).
Successful venues have included a lake in the Cotswolds, the Norfolk Broads, Chichester Harbour and the River Thames.
When considering a HBBR rally the likely variety of boats attending should be considered – we have everything from substantial sea-going displacement boats to very small canoes with limited freeboard.
Everybody attends at their own risk and while everyone looks out for everyone else, no formal safety boat provision is made.
The way a Rally happens is something along these lines :-
A suitable site is identified and overtures made to the owner/manager. Having established the terms and conditions a stab is made at a suitable date, avoiding a clash with any previously arranged meets or major Boat Shows (i.e. Beale). It is worth checking if any other events are planned for the same date in the locality – Music Gigs can be disruptive of campers sleep! Some locations might also be hosting athletics events affecting the water which can reduce access or have an early start, again disturbing for laid back sailors. It is even possible that both kinds of disruption happen on the same night/morning! It might be worth posting your proposal on the forum before booking but don’t let a lack of response put you off – as a group we tend to leave individual decisions fairly late. Once satisfied a ‘firm’ booking is made with the site.
An announcement is then made via the Forum.
That is all there is to it, then you just sit back wondering if anybody will turn up – past experience shows that one to two dozen boats will usually show. It can be useful to start a roll call on the Forum about a month before the event but not mandatory. Above all – don’t panic!
If the event is planned far enough in advance (more than four months) it is worth letting the media know so that we get into their calendar of events. This will bring in a few interested people who may not have heard of us, either with boats or just out of curiosity. Once the Rally has been publicised in the media it would be out-of-order for it to be cancelled in other than extreme weather conditions. It is surprising how many people turn up either to play or just out of interest who have been attracted by the publicity.
Once the Rally is over it has been the practice to provide a write up of the event with lots of photos, 1024 pixels on the long side is a good size, for the past events section of the Website. We have been fortunate in having a receptive Editor at Watercraft Magazine willing to report on our exploits – send him a few of the best snaps along with your prose offering and you never know . . . .
In summary the Rally site should :-
- already be used for watersports.
- have reasonable road access – some members will travel substantial distances to attend
- be a reasonable stretch of water with good depth, more than 6ft over most of the area.
- have launching facilities for trailered boats. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a constructed slip – at the CWP we manage with a shelving hard sand beach.
- accept pets, the forum has a number of nautical dogs!
- have camping facilities on site or very local.
- provide BBQ facilities, the availability of covered accommodation for the social side of things helps.