Laying Up Service Celebrates An Extraordinary Season

The joint BSC/CYC Laying Up Service was held at St James’ Church, Brightlingsea on Sunday 26 October with the BOD Fleet’s own Reverend Anne Howson leading the service.

The church had been beautifully decorated with a spinnaker suspended overhead and signal flags draped all around the church to give a wonderfully nautical feeling.  The service included various readings, poetry, hymns and prayers as well as musical contributions from The Motley Crew and St James’ Singers and the atmosphere was so convivial that almost the entire congregation stayed on after the service to enjoy a glass of wine and a good end of season chat.

For those of you who weren’t able to attend here is a transcript of Anne’s contribution to the service which not only had some lovely references to her BOD sailing, but also  sums up perfectly the joy that so many of us find in a life that involves sailing and the sea.

Laying Up Talk 2014 – The Reverend Anne Howson

This evening we are here to give thanks for the gift of life, and most particularly for the gift of the sea. Somehow the sea seems to feed both our outer and inner lives, and we have a deep connectedness to the water.

Alice [Davis – BSC Commodore] read an extract from the America’s Cup speech, when JFK declared that “we are tied to the ocean”. I did a little research, and found that his science was rather flawed. Sadly we don’t have the same percentage of salt in our blood as the sea. However, I do rather like the poetic idea, because I think it captures something of the mystery that we call the ‘pull of the sea’. I must down to the seas again.. says Masefield in his poem.

Last year at this service, I talked of the ‘sheer joy’ and tranquility that I have found sailing. This year the joy has continued, however the tranquility, now that’s another story..

As many of you know, Eddie & I crew for Mike on BOD C18, Gelasma. Apparently we’re known as The Revs! [Eddie & I – not Mike!]

2014 was my first season of racing, and back in the spring, I attended a Brightlingsea One Design dinner, and was referred to as “crew”. As I was so very new, I didn’t feel worthy of the elevated title!

However, not that many weeks later, I found myself taking part in the Wivenhoe Regatta.

In front of the huge crowd lining the quayside, the wind caught the spinnaker. At the same time coming in behind us, I heard Bob in Panic yell to his crew “get the ******spinnaker in NOW!

As we broached, I heard the crowd cheer – and there I was in the bottom of the boat on my knees, and up to my chest in water, hauling in the spinnaker for all I was worth…

Once ashore, someone asked me if I was praying whilst on my knees in the water – I think I replied that I was more intent on getting the spinnaker in! On reflection, I would imagine that somewhere in my subterranean depths, I was indeed praying!

I do enjoy the exhilaration, excitement and the unpredictability of sailing. I also love the deep peace of the water and the call of the Curlew at sunset. I feel close to God on, in, and next to the water, I feel part of the mystery that is our inter-connected life. I find rest here.

St Augustine has written many wise and beautiful things; one such quotation is this;

“Lord you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you”

When I sit on the Yacht club jetty to pray, or a bench past Batemans’ Tower, the physical surroundings help me connect to the mystery that is God. And as the Sailor’s version of the 23rd Psalm says:

The One who is our Pilot, lights our passage across dark channels

This connectedness to unknown “mystery” that is God, can be known in a very personal way through his Son, Jesus Christ.

It is in knowing Christ, in the deep place of our being, that gives us peace and hope beyond our human understanding – or to put it another way, it is the ‘Rest’ in a restless world’ that St Augustine talks about..

This is another mystery… and the church calls it GRACE, Amazing Grace. 

Hymn: Amazing Grace

Click here to view the full Order of Service.

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