In connection with a weeklong event sponsored by the British Marine Federation, PMY senior editor Capt. Bill Pike recently spent a few days at the Royal London Yacht Club in Cowes on England's Isle of Wight. Upon checking in for his stay, Pike bumped up against a rather large and formidable doorstop-a cannon (see top photo) with a plate affixed proclaiming said cannon to be the former property of one Lord Nelson, the famous Brit who was killed during the Battle of Trafalgar. "Is that thing authentic?" Pike exclaimed, a question that promptly elicited a hearty affirmative from the commodore, as well as the information that the Royal London Yacht Club has been in existence since 1838. Thenceforth, while snoozing in his upstairs room, Pike was wont to wonder what prestigious personages might have previously snoozed in the very same spot? The Duke of Edinburgh? Winston Churchill? John Lennon? Warren Zevon?

Age and tradition aren't the only things the Royal London Yacht Club has going for it, however. While Pike found the rooms and public spaces to be both atmospheric and comfy, he came across some fun-loving aspects here and there. For example, there were the three small cannons that are used to start maritime racing events on the Solent. When a few years ago, the townsfolk of Cowes began complaining about the loudness of the cannons, James Grazebrook (see middle photo), British Marine Federation president and managing director of Halyard Limited-the company that manufactures exhaust systems for powerboat builders like Sunseeker, Fairline, and Princess-was called in for a consultation. Halyard subsequently designed a system of sound deflectors on the roof of the yacht club into which the starting guns could be fired. This system of deflectors "more keenly and usefully directs the noise of the guns offshore," Grazebrook told Pike, while showing him a few of the cannons on the roof. "And this has quite nicely solved the problem, you see. No towns folk keeling over from fright and that sort of thing on race days."

A second fun feature of the club was the wheelhouse-like Observation Room (see bottom photo) at its very top. Pike spent a few moments there, imagining himself back working aboard ships, a pleasant interlude enhanced not only by the presence of a numerous items of nautical paraphernalia, but also by the view of the Solent and the ferries that traverse Cowes Harbor.

This article originally appeared in the July 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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