Brian became a member of Castle Cove Sailing Club after the war, which ended when he was 10 years old.
Mrs. Wingfield Digby was the commodore during the war, a lady in her 70’s who lived in Ranleigh House in Sherborne. She owned a small sailing boat called Fortunette. Brian sailed with her on several occasions. At the age of around 20, they sailed to Fowey and Salcombe. The boat was very small and there was not enough room for them both to sleep on it. She agreed that she would pay for him to sleep somewhere ashore, whilst she remained on the boat. Brian however made acquaintances with the author, Daphne Du Maurier’s boat keeper, who gave him permission to sleep aboard her yacht. On another cruise, Brian took the box of matches from Fortunette ashore with him to light a cigarette, and left her without the means to boil water to make a cup of tea! Apparently she was rather cross about it at the time but had to forgive Brian as he was her only crew.
Brian played a part in moving the wooden clubhouse from its former position below the Old Castle to the land above Castle Cove, which has recently suffered from a landslide. As a youngster Brian helped Pop Winzar rent deckchairs on the beach, giving him the opportunity to be on hand for any sailing opportunities. Brian’s sister Rosemary was a Sea Ranger with Joan, so they too had an opportunity to try sailing. Brian and Joan started dating and purchased a boat in kit form to build. Together they built Seahawk an albacore in a room which is now Pilgrim House, in Hope Square. It was in their boat that Brian proposed to Joan a few years later, before the beginning of a race, which they won!
Brian and Joan were married in Holy Trinity Church and crossed the harbour in a small boat to their wedding reception at the Weymouth Pavilion. They moved into Woodbine Cottage in Old Castle Rd.
Brian also built Bonaventure a catamaran which he sailed with Mike Venning. This was the first catamaran in Weymouth and gave the young men the thrills of sailing at speed. Brian sailed with Mike and Aurthur Meech, and you can read more about these adventures in Brian’s own words in the stories tab of this website.
Brian had tea with Bob Bruce which led to him and Arthur Meech meeting wealthy yachting enthusiasts, Lord & Lady Craigmile, and then becoming crew aboard 12-meter yachts that were preparing for the 1964 America’s Cup Challenge. The Craigmile’s paid for Brian to travel to Newport Rhode Island (New York) where the challenge was being held that year. They sailed in the race training program on a yacht called Norsaga against Sovereign who became the chosen challenger. Brian was the foredeck crew, hoisting and trimming the large spinnaker. Joan went to America too, to support the sailing. The newspaper articles about this event are linked in the ‘In the News’ tab.
Brian took part in the 1967 Fastnet race sailing with Dave Thomas aboard Chevalier and he always enjoyed telling everyone that when his black Breton hat was knocked from his head into the sea, the skipper Dave shouted ‘man overboard’ and they rescued it despite having to take down the spinnaker to retrieve it. The hat remained one of Brian’s most prized possessions.
Brian purchased Tiger-Cat a wooden spitfire class yacht that he raced at CCSC. This boat then became Brian and Joan’s daughter’s introduction to sailing when they were born. Tiger-Cat was used for short cruises to Lulworth, Mupe Bay, where the family would often sleep aboard at weekends.
Brian also became a joint owner of a motorboat, that he purchased with his father, so they could both go fishing. This boat was called Lollipop, getting the name from the Shirley Temple song ‘The Good Ship Lollipop’.
Unfortunately, Brian became very unwell with tuberculosis infection and approached CCSC member Dr. Frank Turner for help when he was not happy with the advice given by his GP. Dr. Turner arranged for Brian to be admitted to Hammersmith Hospital in London, where he had a kidney removed. Whilst recovering from his surgery, Brian convinced his nurse that she should try sailing and invited her to come to Weymouth when he was recovered. Annette came to stay at Woodbine Cottage and was given her first sailing experiences as promised! Brian always claimed that Dr. Turner had saved his life.
Brian was keen to get his daughter’s sailing independently as soon as they were old enough, so he purchased an Optimist sailing dinghy kit. Together with his good friend Arthur Meech they built it in Arthur’s dining room during the evenings. There was some concern about how they would get the boat out of the room once it had been built, but it did come out and Sandra and Andrea named their boat Popsie. An Optimist sailing class had begun at the Weymouth sailing club on Saturday mornings, so it was decided that Brian with help of fellow CCSC member Terry Newman would tow a small number of dinghies from Castle Cove, using Lollipop to join the class in the harbour. The other children involved in this were Andrew Mursell, Ed Guilliver, Sally Patrick, and Robin Spicer. Shortly afterwards it was decided that Castle Cove should have their own class as towing the boats became too time-consuming. A fleet of optimist sailing dinghies then flourished and the numbers of children getting the opportunity to learn to sail increased. Brian became an advocate for cadet sailing in the club, always encouraging young people to get on the water.
Brian decided to upgrade his wooden boat Tiger-Cat to a fibreglass Achilles 24. He purchased another basic hull kit, which needed to be finished, so he took with him friend Spike Patrick to collect it from Wales, and Spike who was an excellent carpenter and boatbuilder finished the woodwork for him. This boat was named Sandrea, which caused dreadful confusion to many friends, having combined both of his daughter’s christian names. Brian took his family on cruises further afield in Sandrea, to Alderney and to Cherbourg, the West Country and the Solent. The boat was also raced regularly at CCSC, with various crew members, but always including the children.
Brian took the opportunity to sail with friends who had larger boats than him. He spent many days cruising the French coast with George Holland in Penzephr and with Bill Ludlow in Cellardore.
Brian saw an opportunity in raising money for CCSC when the World Sailing Speed Trials were looking to base their event in Portland Harbour. He invited the sponsors to make full use of the sailing club, negotiating a good financial contribution. These sponsors such as Smirnoff Vodka, John Player cigarettes and Jonnie Walker Whiskey also provided products for the sailing club bar which Brian saw as a win-win situation, as he was able to experience record-breaking speed sailing and a well-stocked bar in his beloved sailing club! The event continued for many years, with one of the first windsurfers arriving at the event and being given permission camping on sailing club property so that they could compete. A surfboard with a sail was a new invention then. The event continued for many years leading to Portland Harbour becoming such a popular water sports venue.
Brian upgraded Sandrea to Kupia, a T27 design. He was not sure he liked the name but decided not to change it as thought it unlucky. Kupia was a solid heavy boat, and when purchased was in need of some TLC. Joan helped Brian get it shipshape and it was soon his pride and joy. Kupia became renowned for sailing well in windy conditions, and on club race evenings, competitors would know it would be a challenge to beat Kupia. Brian always took part in sailing club racing several times a week. He raced Kupia with his family, his good friend Andy Williams and anyone who would crew for him. He always ensured he had plenty of competition by using Lollipop to ferry other crew members to their boats supporting the busy ferry boat. He took great delight in cramming in as many as he thought he could transport, with the boat’s gunnels low in the water, Lollipop was well known by members! Brian sailed Kupia to many locations with his family and he loved her stability and great confidence in the boat’s ability to keep everyone safe in all conditions. He would often spend summer evenings staying aboard late, making sure that visiting yachts did not pick up any member’s moorings whilst they were away. Brian was hugely defensive of CCSC member’s property and would tell anyone (loudly) where they should moor. Having put them in their place he would then offer them a lift to shore, always offering a kind welcome, but ensuring they knew the club rules with regards to the mooring!
He was a bit sad to sell Kupia, but approaching retirement he wanted a boat that he would be able to cruise in further afield with Joan. He purchased Avalon of Chor, a bilge keel Hunter Horizon 32 yacht, which surprised many other members as it was not built for sailing speed, that Brian had previously considered being an important factor. He wanted a more luxurious boating experience that ensured Joan would still want to accompany him. Avalon was collected from Bangor in Wales with the help of Authur Meech, Jesse (his nephew) and Jim Hutchings. Brian took Avalon to Holland several times, exploring the inland waterways and lived aboard with Joan for several summers.
Avalon became Brian’s pride and joy in his later years and when he realised he was finding getting out to his boat more difficult he rented a pontoon berth in Weymouth’s inner harbour. This meant that he could access the boat more easily and spend as much time as possible aboard, often sleeping there at any opportunity.
In 2003 Brian decided he wanted to go on an adventure in Lollipop. He planned to motor the coast from Weymouth to Warsash, Southampton. He planned for several weeks what he would need to make this journey in a small open boat and waited for the right weather conditions to set off. He made it but suffered for a few days from sunburned legs.
Close family attended Brian’s funeral at Weymouth crematorium on 22nd May 2020.
Thank you so much to everyone who turned out to stand in silence, clap, sing, ring bells and swing football rattles as Brian made his journey to the crematorium – he would have loved it all!!