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THE FIRST SOUTHAMPTON MARITIME FESTIVAL (SMF)
Monday 6 May 2013

Display of Silver Ghosts
Magnificent Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts dominated the display of motor cars.

In the autumn of 2012 we were asked by Section member Donald Longmore (DL) if we would support the Dunkirk Little Ships by attending the celebration of the completion of the restoration of the Steam Tug Challenge in 2013. At a meeting in Southampton Docks we discovered that the event was to be expanded under the auspices of the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology. We were allocated the whole of the, open but undercover, area of the Docks Ocean Terminal. The event was planned for the Sunday and Monday of the Bank Holiday weekend and our participation was then programmed for the Monday.

The Silver Ghost Register Spring Break was also timed to include the Monday at Southampton. DL enhanced the event by arranging for a Jenny boat to take a party across to Cowes for lunch at the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS). Additionally the Battle of Britain Memorial Lancaster, which was due to fly over Southampton Docks, was 'persuaded' to fly over the RYS as well.

On the day we had 131 members and fifty-five Club motor cars including a Phantom from Rolls-Royce Motor Cars (RRMC). On arrival we found some of our allocated display space was occupied by the AA display of vehicles, most of whom were 'persuaded' to move as we needed all of this area for our Club motor cars.

There were lots to see around Ocean Terminal, numerous Dunkirk Little Ships, ST Challenge, SS Shieldhall, MTB 102, bands, pipers and many other attractions.


Cowes Sea Cadets   Lancaster
Cowes Sea Cadets.   The Lancaster flypast.

Those who had pre-booked to go to the Isle of Wight were due to leave the dockside at 11.45 but unfortunately our Jenny boat was waiting at Ocean Village instead of Ocean Terminal. After a few concerned telephone calls and a long wait the Jenny boat was redirected and arrived to pick up over eighty members. We sped across the Solent and tied up at the Haven (the RYS private marina) to be piped ashore by the local Sea Cadets. Lunch was waiting for us in the RYS Pavilion but had to be interrupted after the first course so that we could all step outside onto the lawn to watch the Lancaster flypast(s), the last of which appeared so low it might have taken a chimney pot with it. It was a magnificent sight gleaming in the sunshine and 'cocking' its wings to give us a better view along with the enthralling sound of those four Merlin engines. After lunch there was the naming ceremony of DL's new Thames River Launch by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and a medley of tunes from the Cowes Sea Cadets.

We sailed back to Ocean Terminal just as the SMF was coming to a close. Our thanks to the 'Minders' who kept an eye on the motor cars while some of us were away and also to Morris and Peter of RRMC who assisted with the positioning of our motor cars in our allocated display areas.

With the financial surplus of the event we have been able to make a substantial donation to the Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust, the Cowes Sea Cadets and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Welfare Fund.

Ted Meachem - Section Secretary

  Andy Courtney and Robin Know-Johnston
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (right) with Andy Courtney about to 'eat his hat'! A highly amusing interlude, when
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston presented BW Andrew Courtney with a hat made of cake. Apparently Andy had bet Prof Donald Longmore
some time ago, that to transform his sailing yacht into a Thames River launch was impossible and if achieved Andy would eat his hat! He did!
Photos: Chris Tween