Andy Dare and friends miss out on Solent cricket match but make up for it with swift banquet before tide came in

Having sailed in the Solent now for 20 years I have actually spent most of my life along with everyone one else who has sailed in these waters, hoping never to be caught anywhere near Brambles Bank.

I often tell the story to newcomers in the Solent, of how there is a game of cricket played on it once a year, yet actually I am actually quite amazed, as I have never actually seen the Brambles Bank – ever!

Having heard that this year’s cricket match was going to be on the 21August, I thought it was high time I took a visit and persuaded a few friends along too. I wanted it to be a memorable occasion, so I figured that if they can play cricket there, then we too could go along in suitable attire, so invites were sent out and preparations were started.

We motored up the Solent slightly late, at 1845 to just see the finish of the game, which was a bit of a blow. By all accounts it was a hectic, yet short game between the Island Sailing Club from Cowes and the Royal Southern Yacht Club from Hamble but in the end it was the boys from the bigger Island, usually called the mainland, who won the match.

When we arrived there was about 40 yachts and boats anchored off the southern end of the bank and scores of ribs beached or anchored mostly to the southern side of the bank, where it shelves quite steeply.

The crowds heads started turning, as we drove through the mass of spectator boats and we beached ourselves on the quieter north-east side of the bank, as all the boys wearing blazers and dickie bows and the girls – well of course they were dressed in their posh frocks too. We jumped on to the bank and set up our tables and chairs ready for our evening banquet.

Each of us had made something, from smoked salmon to cucumber sandwiches (with the crusts cut off of course) to canapés and strawberries and cream. There was plenty to drink too with Champagne and Pimms, proper glasses and even a candelabra as the centerpiece of our table. To finish off the setting and just to bring a bit of colour to the beach, I brought along two of my more adventurous pot plants from home, and so far they seem to be surviving well considering the amount of salt water that they drunk that night!

We gathered quite an audience during or half hour of rapid eating and made many new friends who came to admire our banquet and admire our choice of clothing. Obviously they did not receive the same standard of instructions as ours, as there was no mention of Gore-Tex or neoprene in our invitations.

A quality evening was had by all and already preparations are in hand for next year’s event, which by the sound of the talk I have heard so far, will out-class this year’s event by miles. We have also booked back into school to recap our Yachtmaster tidal prediction lessons, as we obviously all must have been looking out the window instead of paying attention. Then at least we can have a bit longer on the beach and avoid the indigestion-fuelled hectic pace that we had this year.