Posted: Tuesday, 18th October 2022
EAORA has been deeply saddened by the untimely death of Chuffy Merewether, one of the organisation’s most long-standing and active supporters.
Chuffy was christened Anita Meryl Green, but her nickname apparently dated from before she was born and stuck for life. She was introduced to sailing at about seven or eight years old on her father’s 24 ft clinker-built, gaff-rigged yacht, named Christina after her brother Christopher and Anita. Neither her mother nor brother were really interested in sailing so Chuffy went off with her father from Pin Mill and sailed the Orwell, Stour and Walton Backwaters in the footsteps of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons.
She did her first EAORA race in 1966 aged 11 and enjoyed holidays in Holland with friends on a large motorboat, Rosinante. She lived in Holland for a time, working for Shell, and there she owned and campaigned a Dart catamaran, including sailing in the Round Texel Race.
Chuffy was racing in Burnham Week in 1979 when she met Tony Merewether, also racing there on a class one yacht. They were married in 1982 and raced offshore and cruised together for 40 years.
When Chuffy started racing offshore there were very few women taking part. Many owners didn’t want women crew, and she really had to earn the respect of a skipper before being welcomed aboard. In those days women were not allowed to be full members of many yacht clubs, including West Mersea YC.
From 1981 to 2003 Chuffy and Tony sailed with David Chatterton on numerous yachts, mainly called Sensor, with Chuffy organising all the food, ensuring that the race crew was well fed, as well as sail trimming. In 1999 she sailed in the Fastnet Race on board Sensor.
Chuffy’s sailing exploits encouraged more women to join the sport as there were always two or three other females onboard with her. She also competed on board Harmony in the Macnamara Bowl, a national event for all-female crews.
In 2003 Chuffy and Tony bought their first racing yacht, a Jeanneau Sunfast 32 named Amazon, followed by a second Amazon (Jeanneau Sunfast 3200) six years later. They continued to race offshore with great success – with class and overall wins in EAORA too numerous to mention - until 2017 when together they bought the third Amazon, a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 389, with retirement cruising in mind.
Tony served as Chairman of EAORA as well as Commodore of Crouch YC and Chuffy was always there by his side, backing him at every event, afloat and ashore, in a perfect partnership.
In retirement Chuffy and Tony cruised to the West Country, Holland and the Friesian islands, Brittany and the Bay of Biscay and the Isles of Scilly. This summer, only a month before she went into hospital, Chuffy and Tony enjoyed a circumnavigation of the Thames Estuary via Chatham, Ramsgate and Woodbridge with friends Naomi and Erik Ellis. Sadly, it was to be her final sail.
Chuffy will be remembered as always smiling, maintaining her irrepressible good humour in even the foulest sailing weather. She never complained even when she became seriously ill. She will be very sadly missed by us all.