Reciprocal Club Visits

Reciprocal Club Visits

Words and photos: John and Sue Costello
(members since 1978)

Since we sold our yacht “Spitali” and retired from Hong Kong in 2008, we have only done a little sailing; a charter in Turkey and sailing with friends in Cyprus and New Zealand. However, we remembered our experiences with Reciprocal Clubs, having sailed in events in Manila, Vancouver, and Thailand and we sailed in Singapore through Reciprocal clubs there, so we thought that we would expand our horizons somewhat in that respect. In the last 12 months we have done some serious travelling and along the way have visited a number of Yacht Clubs (several of them Royal Clubs). We have done a lot of cruising (ships, not yachts!) and have therefore been able to visit a lot of ports.

In September 2014 we visited Athens for a short break (Sue’s birthday) and our visit included two trips to the Yacht Club of Greece, in Piraeus, the port area of Athens.  The club has an active sailing centre based in Microlimani, an almost circular harbour with direct access to the Aegean Sea.  We wandered in to the waterfront bar and restaurant at the sailing centre, on the harbour side of the club from where we could see the yachts coming and going, and where the public are allowed to eat and drink as it is a franchised restaurant facility (see right). 

We had a very pleasant lunch there, and spent a couple of hours relaxing by the water. For our next visit, we phoned ahead and booked a dinner at the main clubhouse, on the restaurant terrace facing out to sea (see below).   

 
 
 

 

 

We presented our introduction letter and were very hospitably received.  The clubhouse is a grand old build ing straddling the headland at the entrance to the harbour, and we ate on the terrace with a glorious view over the sea. Naturally several of the member’s tables were occupied by members of the Greek shipping community, whose limos and drivers were in the car park below, and whose motor yachts were mainly over in the main marina, since some were so big they had 40-foot power boats tucked inside the hulls as tenders!  The visit was extremely pleasant and the club is to be recommended as a watering hole for visiting RHKYC Members.
 

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In February this year went to South America, starting with a visit to Buenos Aries (and the Iguazu Falls) and then joining a cruise up to Rio De Janeiro and on to Barbados.  Again, we paid a visit to the Buenos Aries Yacht Club (Yacht Club Argentino) to see what it had to offer.  It is located in the Marina district with its own harbour off the River Plate. 
 
The Club office is a nice traditional old building covered in ivy (see right), but when you enter the club premises you are faced with an amazing old structure with a history of use as a lighthouse and coast guard base. 
 
You can still climb most of the way to the top of the lighthouse, but major renovation works were in progress, so we could not get all the way to the top on our visit (see below). 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
They even have old masts as flagpoles and signal guns (see below left) as well as ancient ex-navy cranes for small craft (see below right - familiar?).
 

 

The main restaurant (circular, like the Compass Room at Kellett Island) was being renovated, but the photo below shows one of the restored dining areas.


There is a sailing centre on the side of the club’s mooring harbour, with a very pleasant food & beverage outlet, where we stopped for a beer or two. The view is superb (below left), which shows the historic main clubhouse with its lighthouse and curved roof, and below right, showing the beer!

 



There are several fleets of yachts and some grand old cruisers in the marina, and the Club has two other sailing centres, one further upstream as a training base and one downstream with access to the Plate Estuary.  Our visit to this club’s pleasant oasis of calm and waterside facilities made a welcome change from the bustle of the big city of between 3 and 10 million souls (depending whether the urban inland sprawl of Greater Buenos Aries is included.).

Again, we were made very welcome and look forward to another visit when the renovation of the old building is complete - a meal there overlooking the harbour would be spectacular.
 

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After Buenos Aries we joined a cruise to Rio for Carnivale, which was a fantastic spectacle, but brought Rio to a standstill, as most businesses, including restaurants, were closed for the general holiday.  This meant that our visit to the Iate Club do Rio De Janeiro was on a day where the main restaurant was closed for the holiday.  However, we were once again welcomed in, and we toured the facilities and had drinks and snacks in the sailing centre (very reminiscent of Shelter Cove). 

The club is huge, sprawling along the waterfront – from the restaurant terrace you can see the Christ the Redeemer statue over the top of the palm trees (see photos below - which also shows the old and new Committee boats). 


 

 

They also have adopted the habit of using old shipyard cranes for the small craft – see below! 

There is a very large yacht cruising membership, and the hard standing extends for a couple of kilometres along the waterfront.  The sailing centre was large, and the staff was happy to organise food and drink for us – it was surprising how many of the members there were conversing in English.

We will definitely go back to Rio to see the city in its normal (non-Carnivale) state, and spend some more time at this pleasant club.

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In May this year we visited Mumbai, prior to joining a cruise to Istanbul.  We stayed for few nights at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, on Mumbai’s old waterfront, and one of India’s top hotels, built in 1903.  We were pleased to discover that the building next door, a large one, occupying a whole city block, was the Royal Bombay Yacht Club.  The hotel looked out over the Arabian Sea and the moorings of the Yacht Club (see below). 

 

 

 

The club has a number of fleets including the venerable old Seabird class, designed and built locally (as were the Club’s sampans – see below!) – still sailing regularly.



The clubhouse is huge, a great colonial building with several floors of accommodation (mainly for the staff – see below). 

The original building was erected in the 1880’s, and the club held its first regatta in 1830.  The club was formally founded in 1846 and is full of sailing memorabilia going back to its founding, including a Royal Warrant issued by Queen Victoria in 1876 and in 1894 it was granted a Blue Ensign.  A plaque commemorating the Royal Warrant stands proudly at the entrance (below).

We were warmly welcomed and given temporary membership for our stay in Mumbai and deposited cash (refundable) at the desk to cover our drinks and meals.  The Club’s bar and restaurant are magnificent, bedecked with sailing trophies, (see below left) and we had a relaxing afternoon in the bar (below right) and a wonderful curry dinner.  The service was impeccable and we were treated respectfully and courteously as Members by the staff, some of whom have been with the Club all their working lives!

 

 


 

 

Unfortunately we missed out on a visit to the Istanbul Sailing Club (another reciprocal Club) when we arrived in Istanbul due to shortage of time, but as we live in Cyprus it is only an hours’ flying time away, so we will be going back for a visit in the near future.

Our next overseas trip in August will take us to Malta, where we intend to visit the Royal Malta Yacht Club in Ta’xbiex (if we can pronounce it!).   It all goes to show that it is possible to visit many places and be treated as a welcome guest through the Reciprocal Membership arrangements set up by previous RHKYC Committee Members, for whose efforts all RHKYC members should be very grateful.  These allow Members to enjoy the benefits of membership of a sailing fraternity almost anywhere in the world, and have added a new dimension to our retirement.