SEGAS Sailing Club – A brief history…

The club is situated at The Strand, Gillingham.

Originally, the site belonged to the South Eastern Gas Company who manufactured, stored and distributed coal gas throughout the South-East region. With the advent of natural gas, the coking plant became redundant and was demolished, the ground roughly levelled and left fallow. The storage and distribution facilities for natural gas remain.
The Gas Company managed the gas supply for the whole country through regional centres and, as with many large employers at the time, each centre enjoyed subsidised sports facilities. With a production site adjacent to the river, this was an ideal place for sailing activities to be founded for employees. The club became known as the SEGAS Sailing Club which remains the name today.
The club was allowed to use the land to provide dinghy storage and a single-story stud wall clubhouse with showers and a lounge area was constructed. Fire destroyed the clubhouse in 1982, however, a two-storey brick clubhouse was built as a replacement and opened in 1985. This present facility comprises a galley, lounge and a small licensed bar with spectacular views of the river on the first floor, with male and female shower/toilet facilities on the ground floor.

Some years ago environmental legislation necessitated the removal of the contaminated topsoil to a depth of several feet. This was replaced, with vapour barriers topped with a sand and gravel mix and the whole area capped with high quality brick pavers. This forms the yard which we have today and is considered to be second-to-none of any club on the Medway.

In the mid ‘90s, the gas board was required to cut costs and the subsidies to sports clubs were terminated. Many of these clubs, ours included, formed private associations and membership extended to the general public. The land was leased back from the company and the clubs became responsible for paying the lease to the landlords and rates to the local council.

Over time, the gas industry has seen several re-organisations with subsequent parent company name changes and the term ‘gas company’ or ‘board’ has been used to cover all these changes. The simple facts are that the site is owned by the gas company and the club leases it from them.

The club negotiated a new 10 year lease in 2017, which was signed in January 2018 .

Creek Moorings

Designed to unload coal barges years ago, the creek is sheet-piled and has been converted into a mooring facility with 26 berths, accessed by a number of steel ladders. Mooring poles and sliding rings allow craft to rise and fall with the tide without having to alter lines. These berths are fully occupied, much in demand and are allocated from a waiting list.

The creek dries at 3m height of tide and the boats lie in soft mud between tides. Tide height in the river ranges from 6.2m on high springs to 4.5m at lowest neaps. There is approx. 1m of water in the creek 1.5 – 2 hours either side of high water.

Deep Water Moorings

All our deep water moorings comprise heavy ground-chain with large anchors at each end. Risers are attached to the ground chain and connect with mooring buoys which have swivel links on the air side of the buoy. We refer to these moorings as trots but they are all swinging moorings.
We have 3 separate trots of buoys.

  • One set comprises 5 buoys spaced 70ft apart. These are opposite the club on the North bank of the river and are used by boats up to 28ft.
  • A second line of 6 buoys, laid 90ft South of the above, are spaced at 90ft pitch. These buoys are in slightly deeper water.
  • A much longer trot exists further downriver, also on the North bank, and has 20 mooring buoys on it. These are also at 90ft pitch. These have proven adequate to moor boats up to 10m (32ft) overall length without hazard. The length limit on the moorings has been increased and can now consider boats up to 11m (36ft). The heaviest boat currently on the moorings is 9 tonnes but the more usual displacement is 5 tonnes. These moorings can accept boats of 1.8m draft without grounding.

Storage ashore

The Club mooring fee includes club lift-in at the start of the season and lift-out at the end of each season. The dates for these lifts are set by the club and no refund or credit is given for not taking a lift. Boats are lifted by a hired 50 tonne crane. Club-owned 10m slings and extenders are used which are examined and certificated for use for each lift – spreader beams are not used.

Boats are lifted from the creek side and stored in two rows on the paved area. Boats up to 5.5 tonnes must have wheeled steerable cradles so that craft can get pushed into the back row. These cradles must be constructed of ‘H’ or ‘L’ section beams.  Box section steel must not be used as it cannot be adequately monitored for corrosion. Wheels must be at least 14 “ dia and have solid rubber or pneumatic tyres. Castors or steel wheels are not acceptable and one axle set must be steerable. These requirements are appropriate because all boats are pushed manually around the site. Wheeled cradles allow us to exploit the whole area of the site and accommodate more members.

Typically boats are stored 6 months ashore with 6 months afloat. However if a member wishes to be ashore for the whole year this can be accommodated without extra charge. Likewise if they wish to remain afloat for the whole year the same applies. At no time can a temporary structure be built in the yard to allow the construction or maintenance of a craft.

All boats must be fully insured and, as all help is given voluntarily, no member shall pursue another member for redress should damage or an accident occur. A mast lift can be arranged at lift-in or lift-out for a small additional cost. Other minor lifts, taking no more than 15 minutes of crane time will attract a similar charge. A key point is that all lifts are undertaken at owners risk and managed by volunteers. Members are able to take a private lift in their own time and at their own expense should they wish to do so. Any lift performed by a crane company needs to be fully insured and the crane should bring all the necessary slings to do the job as part of their contract. This should ensure full compliance with Health and Safety requirements and provides continuity of responsibility.

Other details

We have around 90 members in the Club. In a typical year we lift-in and lift-out about 50 boats. This is carried out over two consecutive days. There are a number of trailed fishing boats, canoes and sailing dinghies. Within the membership there are a number of owners who are also members of a Marina or another sailing club, where they prefer to sail from in the summer months. They consider the storage we offer to be worth the price of being members of two clubs.  We have cruiser races for those interested in such matters, and a popular cruising programme for longer trips, usually up the East Coast and/or across the Channel. Our social programme celebrates such events as Burn’s Night, Lift-in supper, Lift-out supper, Bonfire supper and are well-attended.

Power points are available on the eastern side of the creek wall and water points are distributed around the creek side.  A small pillar drill and workbench are available in a small workshop as part of the clubhouse.

Site Security

The premises have good security. The East wall of the site has a concrete wall which on the club side is 4ft above the ground but on the public side is 8ft above the ground. On top of this wall is a 4ft high mesh panel capped by razor wire. The front of the club, looking North over the river, has a sea wall which, from the club side, has capping about 3ft above the ground level. However, on the public side the river frontage drops away rapidly giving distances of 6 to 10ft to the top of the capping. We have robust steel paling security fencing 2.4. m long , cut with anti-intruder spikes at the top which oversails the capping, making it impossible to scale the fence. The sea wall gate in this fence is heavy steeled frames with robust half-inch bars, formed into spikes at the top and also capped with razor wire. The creek is the weakest point as we cannot stop access to the site by sea. Access is discouraged when the tide is out by danger from the deep mud. The South perimeter is very secure as it forms part of the access road to the gas board site which is in daily use and is also flanked by strong, high steel fencing. Site security is the responsibility of every owner. On becoming a member you will be given two keys. One opens every padlock on site and the other only opens the clubhouse. The golden rule is that whatever you unlock you lock-up.

What do you get for your money

  • A beautiful flat and clean site.
  • Storage for your tender and launching trolley
  • Deep water moorings serviced by contractor.
  • Access to the galley area to cook yourself a meal or brew tea / coffee etc. An honesty box system exists but you must take your rubbish home as we have no refuse collection service.
  • Use of a tidal scrubbing pad and a high-powered jet washer
  • Freshwater rinse tank for your outboard
  • Outboard motor storage in a secure container.
  • Access to the public causeway to launch a tender for the deep water moorings
  • Access to a large data base of knowledge about boats, boating and maintenance, whether you asked for it or not!


Segas Sailing Club, Registered in England No. 3314545.      Limited by guarantee.
Registered Office: 30 Star Hill Rochester Kent ME1 1XB.

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