History was in the making at the historic docks in Liverpool, both with the arrival of the vessels which had taken part in the Clipper 2017-18 round the world yacht race and a lodge meeting aboard ‘The Floating Grace’ on the same evening.
Both of these events were first’s, with Wendy Tuck being the first woman to skipper and win a round the world yacht race and as far as can be ascertained, Aigburth Lodge No 4103, the first to hold a fully authorised onboard lodge meeting upon the River Mersey.
The Floating Grace, operates from the Salthouse Quay, and for this occasion was captained by a member of another Liverpool lodge based at Hope Street. With everyone welcomed aboard, the outer guard positioned ashore and the curtains drawn, the vessel left its berth and headed out of the dock. Ken O’Hare took position as inner guard, knowing any knock at the door would either be imaginary or we had been hijacked by pirates.
First item of business was the reading of the dispensation for the meeting by secretary Alan Parkinson, after which the WM John McKenzie, thanked all for their support, enthusiasm and attendance. John then gave a Masonic lecture, which gave a brief history of Freemasonry and the voyage through improvement and learning which is undertaken. With many references in keeping with the nautical theme of the evening, it was thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated.
Fraternal greetings were given by Geoff Cuthill on behalf of the WM and members of Woolton Lodge No 6448, but in particular from James Derek Brear who had tendered an apology for not being able to attend. That afternoon, Derek, as he prefers to be called, had celebrated his 100th birthday up river at Crosby and as a Freemason for 77 years, wanted to be aboard for the evening, unfortunately his age and health precluded this.
John McKenzie requested that the good wishes of himself and all present be taken back to Derek and this was met by warm applause and acclamation. John then closed the lodge with the assistance of his two wardens Tom Buchanan and John Smith, with director of ceremonies Richard Wilson also acting as chaplain.
The vessel returned to Salthouse Quay to take onboard the guests who would be attending the festive board. With a fully equipped bar and a whiff of excellent cooking emanating from the galley, who could wish for more.
Leaving the quayside, The Floating Grace entered the Albert Dock, which allowed for a number of photographs to be taken of the ‘clippers’ lined up in finishing order, before entering into the Canning Half Tide Dock, followed by Canning Dock itself. This gave a fascinating vista, with the new and iconic Mann Island building proudly standing alongside the historic buildings in the area.
Having picked up the passengers, The Floating Grace set sail and made its way through the historic docks complex and down to the Marina and Brunswick, whilst everyone settled down to enjoy their meal, to the accompaniment of outstanding vocalist Samantha.
As the night skies enveloped the evening, it showed a different aspect to the waterfront, with dockside apartments lit up and commercial premises, such as bars and restaurants, bathed in coloured light. So, it was with a sigh that the evening came to an end, as The Floating Grace returned to the quay. A marvelous time had been had by all, with some deciding to extend their evening with a shore-based adventure.