It was a dark and stormy night…….well, it wasn’t, actually, but Saturday 4th July 2020 was still a grey, overcast and windy day when the Club reopened after the enforced shutdown since late March.
The last reopening after an enforced complete shutdown was a hundred years ago, after the closure for World War One, and so there was no living memory to draw on and everything had to be worked out for the first time.
Dressed overall, externally redecorated, and cleaned and sanitised within an inch of its life, our Yacht Club waited for the first members to try the new systems set up to minimise contact, reduce opportunity for ‘virus spread’ and most importantly of all, keep members safe and comfortable whilst retaining as much as possible the old familiar atmosphere of our Club.
John Munns, Rear Commodore House, Linda Kent, and other members of the House Committee, had spent days and days working with Bar Manager Anna and Chef Ben as to how the new systems were to be set up, measuring, organising, brainstorming and planning every detail in order to comply with Government guidelines for the safe restart of the hospitality industry. Table allocation and contact tracing details taken on arrival, contactless ordering by mobile phone, only card top ups at the bar and all seated service with no standing at the bar, and payment only by Club card or bank card. Everything possible had been done to follow the rules but at the same time to maintain as much as was possible the famous WMYC welcome. Would it all work?
Everyone confessed to being a bit apprehensive as the first members started to arrive………but it worked wonderfully! The Club was busy but not overrun, service was fast, members seemed to embrace the system – Peter Pangbourne very quickly came up with a brilliantly simple idea to improve the ordering system, simply put your Club card on the order form when you photo it – why didn’t we think of that? which just proves the old adage that when you are completely immersed in something, it’s fatally easy to ‘lose sight of the whole wood through counting the rings on every tree’.
About 1.00 pm the club bell was rung and the Commodore welcomed everybody back to the Club, passing on Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s comment that morning to ‘eat out to help out’ , but as the Commodore pointed out, the Chancellor forgot to add ‘ and make sure you do it at the Yacht Club’ and so he had to do that for him.
Peter Pangbourne also took some great photos of the activity of reopening day, which are attached.
Do come and see the Yacht Club in its superbly well planned – but hopefully still only temporary! – new state, set up to keep members safe. The normal friendly bar and food service is still there and the new contactless ordering system is working well. It’s also, in my opinion, good to have table service and not to have to queue up at the bar. Reminds me of going to a German Gasthof. Now, if we only served Flensburger Pilsener on draft……..
Every good wish
The Commodore with Adrienne enjoying one of the first pints……