East Coast


RIP Lena Reekie

Lena Reekie celebrates her 70th birthday, EC Classics, 2008
©Beverley Yates

East Coast Gaffers are sad to announce that  Lena Reekie died on Saturday 19th January 2019 after a cruel second attack by cancer. A service in her memory was held at Iron Wharf Batyard, Sat 9th March.

Lena had been a well known character on the East Coast gaffer scene for many years - longer than many of the current committee can remember. Always with her own little gaffer "Linnaea" (Dauntless 20) and latterly also with her partner Bob Berk on "Crow".

Lena was a key figure in Kentish Sail for many years and many would agree that she ran the East Coast's biggest traditional sailing event "The Swale Match" almost single-handed. Lena & Bob were great supporters of EC Gaffer events, Crow making regular appearances whatever the weather or season.  It was commonplace for Crow to arrive at even our winter events, such as the Burnham Dinner in early March, when the remainder and less hardy of us travelled by road.

Lena's energy, enthusiasm and cheerful persona were combined with more than a touch of Swedish glamour which makes it all the more difficult for those who saw her even quite recently to believe that she was 80 years old, and to comprehend now that she has passed away. 

Best wishes go to her family and especially to Bob Berk her partner. Memories and stories about Lena (and pictures) will be added to this page - if you'd like to contribute please email Lorna Hill ecsec [at] oga [dot] org [dot] uk

A quiet private cremation has already been held and there was a service in memory of Lena at Iron Wharf Boatyard, Faversham.

From EC member Trevor Rawlinson (our main man in the Crouch)

I remember Lena arriving at one of the very early Shotley Classics, it could have even been the first one. She arrived in the lock on the Sunday single handed cold and wet whereon (gaffer ladies) 'Fred' Rawlinson and Brenda Jago took her ashore to get warm and dry whilst the boat was looked after by numerous male volunteers...

From EC member Pete "the Knife" Elliston (our main man in the Stour)

I first met Lena in 1994 in June on the Orwell on Good Intent on my birthday as she had baked a cake for me!! I was introduced to her and I was most impressed by “the Swedish blonde” (as that was the introducing/opening line from Don Windley) as she was wearing a yellow ski suit which was almost open to the waist!!

From EC member Nigel Bishop (our man in the Roach)

Very uspset to hear of dear Lena's loss. I sailed to Hollowshore once when very ill and Lena was very comforting, producing a friendly nurse, and a shopping bag bag full of wine (including glasses). I forgot my pain except when laughing, a lot!

From Dutch Member Rik Homan

Bob phoned me to bring the sad, but not unexpected news of Lena’s death.

I met her the first time I was sailing in England with my 18’open boat Elisabeth at the Shotley event in 1993. Lena made us very welcome and I returned year after year, not only to sail the East Coast, but also to meet her in Faversham.

In October 1995 she sailed over to Holland with Linnæa, a very adventurous voyage. On the way to Reeuwijk she moored in darkness along several other yachts. In the morning she was awakened by noises on deck; when she opened the hatch her boat was already being hoisted ashore as the other yachts for winter storage. Imagine the amazed workman seeing this blond lady in her nightdress appearing from the hatch, using wild sign-language to put her boat back down in the water!

The next spring she cruised in Holland and Friesland and joined the famous “Sloepenrace” at Terschelling, Frisian Islands,

In summer she sailed back to Faversham and was towed-in by the Whitstable lifeboat at such a speed that from the centreboard case water sprayed up to the cabin roof, wetting everything inside. However next day she sailed on, reaching Faversham after drying out once more on the Whitstable flats.

Another story of her adventures is when she was anchored in nasty weather, her Stuart engine would run, but as soon as engaged in forward, the engine stopped. After trying this several times she picked up her VHF and asked advice. A friend proposed a rope in the propeller and indeed as she dived overboard (it was April) she could free the shaft.

Happy she let her friend know that is was now OK, but not realising there were more listeners, she added that her nipples were now like raspberry’s, which was received by all gaffers around with much appreciation.

During all that 25 years we kept close contact and sailed together in several East Coast East Coast Races, Swale match, sloepenraces and even she came several times to the Reeuwijk Raid.

I will remember this courageous woman always, especially when sailing on the East coast or at the Swale.

25 Jan 2019