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Association Award winners from the East Coast, 2022

Several Members of the East Coast Gaffers were nominated for National Awards, presented at the AGM in Portsmouth, 14 January 2023.

Poppy Curtis: Alan Hidden Memorial Trophy for best outstanding performance for an under 25-year-old
Firstly, there is a huge lack of young female skippers, so when there is one, they stand out. This young woman caught my eye as she was skippering the wonderful ‘Gladys’ through the fleet at the East Coast Race. Not one for being up the front, she helmed her with great confidence and she was going like a train despite not being the usual skipper onboard, her helming style was one of an experienced bawley sailor – not as a novice at the helm. This same skipper took her to the Excelsior celebrations up with Lowestoft. Bawleys don’t like rough weather. It was very rough when the race was underway. This skipper took the bawley out and did extremely well, sadly the results didn’t quite reflect the reality of what happened on the water but she was up there in the leader-board. They have cruised extensively around the East Coast and is one of the only bawleys now to attend many events. Sailed by the family, lightly crewed but always smiling. 

So I would like to nominate Poppy Curtis, for someone who is very modest about their ability but shows great promise that the future of skilfully sailing bawleys is in safe hands. It’s not easy getting a bawley to sail well, especially in adverse weather conditions, but Poppy seems to do it with effortless ease and long may it continue. 

Elly Rule: Gaffers Tales Award for best contribution to Gaffers Log with complementary online content 
The Tales of Sail Award was first presented in 2018, the 55th Anniversary year of the OGA, to recognise the increase in high quality articles submitted to Gaffers Log, often complemented by online content. ‘Tales of Sail’ is awarded for a contribution to Gaffers Log with direct complementary, extended content online. The purpose of the Award is to encourage promotion of the OGA across print and online media. In 2022 the Award goes to Elly Rule, in recognition of her sterling work as online Editor for the Association since 2020. She has managed the OGA website and developed a large following on Instagram and Facebook, as well as contributing to Gaffers Log. Her writing and use of social media bring to life the true spirit of ’sailing gaffers’ and what the OGA stands for whether it’s stowboating on an Essex smack, racing on the East Coast rivers, sharing experiences with other skippers and crews or just having great fun out on the water. 

Steve & Beverley Daley-Yates: Gaffers Tales Award for best contribution to Gaffers Log 
One which stands out to me is the tale of ‘Cachalot’ by Steve and Beverley Yates. Indeed, Beverley’s constance (and indeed patience) in helping me to get the article to print, stood out in itself. What they have accomplished with ‘Cachalot’ is impressive. Having the tenacity to keep going and save her from a watery grave, after sinking. Pulling through what must have been a fairly testing restoration and becoming a proactive member of the East Coast fleet once again. 

Gus Curtis: for a President’s Commendation to recognise any act, achievement or contribution worthy of note and congratulation. 
After a fantastic sail to the Swale, the crew onboard the Essex Smack ‘ADC’ had asked a fellow smack friend to reserve a buoy for their late arrival. Knowing they would miss the skippers’ briefing and the thought of putting down the anchor suitable for any cruise ship, was daunting. Alas, the pub called and we moored her onto the buoy and placed our friends alongside. After a brief spell ashore, a call was made and it was our friend’s dad. He was out in the Swale onboard his bawley when he managed to catch quite a lot more than he bargained for. Our buoy had dragged, and as we rowed out in double quick time, we saw he had managed to catch them both as they slipped past him at anchor. Embarrassingly for us, I jumped aboard, gave an almighty thankful hug (much to his surprise I hasten to add) and we picked up the buoy, put it back where it belonged and then proceeded to drop the anchor, which we should have done originally, and spent the night onboard safely in the knowledge we were more likely to drag Sheppey into the channel than drag our anchor. Lesson learned there. But this tale doesn’t end there. 

As we got home at low water to drop the crew off for deadlines, both skippers on the smacks had to await the tide to get back into their tidal mud berth at the Aldous Heritage dock in Brightlingsea. A late night was ahead, and first in was ‘ADC’. Sadly, whilst manoeuvring her engine cut out. In the darkness, there he was again. The owner of the bawley was there holding her head in his tender whilst we mucked around with filters and alarms. Her engine turned over and luckily for him, he got away quickly in his tender so he missed out on another “I’m ever so eternally grateful” hug. In one weekend, Gus and the lovely bawley ‘Gladys’ caught us twice. He was so modest about what he had done but he had definitely saved my bacon. Without him, the ending of these stories could’ve been very different.