In the winter working period of 1979 we enlarged the car park up to a new extended boundary generously agreed by the Water Company, but come the beginning of the season, old habits prevailed and the extension reverted to bush. We also tried to solve the problem of leaks between the skins of the rescue dory by filling the space with expanding polystyrene foam. At the same time we filled the pontoon drums in the hope that we should have less trouble with leaks and instability. Halfway through the operation we had a change of mind and added an extension to the south jetty instead, leaving us in the new season with the need for only one pontoon – north of the north landing slip for use in northerly winds.
Before the season started we got the south slipway concreted and the block and tackle set up. We bought some wineglasses and the rabbits ate the wallflowers and had to be kept at bay with wire netting.
During the season we tried team racing against other clubs for the first time. We established the Rollesby Broad Challenge Trophy and invited the Norwich Frostbites and Hickling to bring along some Enterprises and sail against us. They did and the Frostbites won the trophy and then forgot all about it! We eventually wrote and asked for it back at the end of 1981. In the summer of 1979 there was an increase in class racing to the point where we occasionally had difficulty in raising three boats for the Allcomers.
But perhaps the most interesting increase was in Saturday sailing. There were nearly as many boats on the water on Saturdays as on Sundays. It seemed desirable to do something for the comfort of these members, who did not enjoy sitting outside a locked Clubhouse especially in the rain, and to do something more about safety since the main rescue boat was only available on racing days.
The first problem was solved by issuing keys to two regular Saturday sailors, and the second by the purchase of a small fibreglass dinghy ‘Rescue II’ and later a 5 HP Seagull for her. At the same time an emergency telephone was installed outside the north wall of the Clubhouse to accept 999 calls only. With Syd Sharrock continuing to provide back-up facilities with his own launch on weekdays, the committee felt that they had done what they could. They have always emphasised, of course, that the safety of boats and crews is the responsibility of the master, who should not go afloat in conditions he cannot handle, or when there is no one else on the bank to help if he does get into trouble.
In 1979 we joined the RYA and one of the first results was that we abandoned our attempts at buoyancy testing all boats by officers of the club. This had never worked satisfactorily, less than half the boats ever having been tested in anyone season and we were advised that in the event of an accident we might find we had incurred some legal liability if we did the testing as a club. The decision was taken to require a buoyancy and insurance affidavit from every member annually. This has removed liability from the club; whether it has led to buoyancy being better maintained is another question.
1979 was also the year of the Yogisgang mystery. Yogisgang was an Enterprise and when she disappeared from the site we were unable to trace her owner. The boat, we discovered, was sold at Oulton Boat Sale. The moral was obviously that our boat register was inadequately maintained and a form was designed to give the secretary information annually about all the boats owned by members.
The Evinrude outboard on the rescue boat gave rather a lot of trouble and we replaced it with a Mercury, more suitable for our purposes because it will idle without oiling up its plugs.
During 1979 we ran out of copies of the club rules and before they were reduplicated the opportunity was taken to bring them up to date by including committee decisions taken since they were drafted.
Towards the end of 1979 discussions started about the possibility of a new starting box. David Phillips was consulted and produced an attractive plan, if we could find some way of paying for it.
At the first committee meeting in 1980 we took a deep breath and authorised expenditure up to £4,000 on the starting box. We immediately appealed to members for interest-free loans to help to finance the project. By the AGM a fortnight later the first contributions had been received and by the summer we knew that our faith had been justified.
The main winter work in 1980 was the construction of the new north jetty, christened the Norwich jetty because of the amount of work done on it by our Norwich and Norwich Union members. The same team built the final extension on the south jetty and we were thankfully able to say goodbye to the pontoons.
Our very junior members had gradually over the years been excavating themselves a sandpit beside the old starting hut. We reinforced their efforts a little that winter.
During the season Brian Hurren built us a clock that records in seconds and simplifies the time keeping by making it possible to work out handicaps on a calculator instead of by arithmetic and the Langstone tables.
The Committee ruled that we would not accept sailboards. We played host to the Norfolk 14′ OD Dinghy Championship.
The Sailing Secretary became ex-officio a member of the general committee.
By the autumn of 1980 all the necessary planning permissions had been obtained and Ron Pearce was able to start on the erection of the new starter’s box. The foundations were laid. Then there was difficulty getting the girders.