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 "Golden Gaffe" Award

Every year, the Penguin Cruising Club committee select a Penguin to receive the “Golden Gaffe’ Award - for an event, in that cruising year, that could best be described as “one that provided amusement to the fleet and (possible) embarrassment to the member whilst cruising”

Why the Golden Gaffe?

The story is often distorted by the mists of time (this is the oldest award made by the Penguins) but it can be traced back to the last century (OK - that was only 18 years ago!) when a cruise was organised to the lovely Greek Ionian islands.

Five yachts were chartered by the Penguins in June 1999 from Lefkas, Western Greece and some gentle cruising was made, around the islands of Meganisi, Cephalonia, Ithaca, Atoko and Kalamos - to name but a few!

In true Mediterranean fashion, the fleet moored stern-to the quay at Kioni - on the island of Ithaca - on a Thursday night. There were no lazy lines so each yacht had to have their bower anchor out ahead to hold the yacht perpendicular to the quay - this was the fashion for all visiting yachts at Kioni.

After a great night ashore, the following morning there was (inevitably) a breeze blowing broadside on to the yachts, making departure something of a challenge.

First to leave was a Frenchman, who manoeuvred competently out from his berth, only to be caught by the broadside-on breeze once he was clear of the Penguin fleet (moored downwind - of course!). The resulting effect was that Monsieur Matelot was then dragging his bower anchor over the line of the Penguin fleet’s anchor chains.

Quelle Horreur! The Frenchman’s anchor picked up our Penguin chartered yacht Hermes’ anchor chain and our friend (single handed - from la Rochelle) made an accusation that WE PENGUINS HAD FOULED HIS CHAIN!

It was politely rebuffed and our friend proceeded to use his boat hook to lift the fouled chain, but with the wind and anchor holding his yacht - he was clearly struggling. We suggested that he pass a line around the chain, but he clearly had other ideas - still heaving on his boat hook, it was clear that was going to do himself an injury and, despite imploring him to drop the boat hook, he started using his best French abuse available to berate the whole Penguin fleet! Luckily, one of our number was fluent in the language and gave as good as he got (our hero!) - with a verbal broadside to the surprise of our friend.

He promptly dropped the boat hook and managed to escape - much to the amusement (and relief) of the Penguin fleet.

The mate of yacht Hermes, having spied that the Frenchman’s boat hook was now on the seabed, decided that a souvenir of this encounter should be procured - he dived over the side and recovered said boat hook (and somehow smuggled this 3 metre metal boathook back to the UK as a trophy - obviously, airline security (or at least the Greek version of it) was lax in those days).

The Frenchman’s boat hook is now in the ownership of the Penguin Cruising Club and been christened The Golden Gaffe - awarded at the AGM each year.