The season of 1914 was brutally curtailed by the declaration of war on the eve of Cowes Week. Many owners and paid hands belonged to the Royal Naval Reserve and those who didn’t hastened to volunteer. For the paid hands and their families this represented a great pecuniary sacrifice as they were just going into the most lucrative part of the season. Early in the war, the R.Y.A. gave its blessing to limited local racing but, although many yachtsmen were either too old to join the services or in reserved Government occupations they had severe qualms of conscience about indulging in a luxury sport whilst others were at the Front.
Some of the larger yachts were used by the Navy, requisitioned or on voluntary loan. Others were laid up as there were no paid hands available. In any case, only the innermost reaches of waterways and estuaries were, to some extent, safe. The Crouch, for example, was mined just below the junction with the Roach (BURNHAM & NEIGHBOURHOOD H.L.S.). Further out, greater dangers lurked and movement was restricted to those with permits. Mr. J. W. Booths CATERAN was in commission and, from her visitors log, we learn that he made her available to the Southend and District Automobile Club for the entertainment of parties of servicemen from the various military hospitals in Southend. This continued until she was sold for use as a houseboat in February, 1918, and must have been a source of great pleasure to men from as far afield as Canada and Australia. Otherwise, yachting on the Crouch had virtually ceased and it reflects great credit upon the committee, some of whom were now in uniform, and the Board of Directors, that in spite of wartime restrictions and shortages, the Club remained viable and the premises were kept in a good state of repair.
Income was reduced by the waiving of subscriptions for members on active service, the loss of racing fees and an increase in the cost of living. Some revenue from bar receipts came from officers of the Army and Navy stationed in the district, who used the Club as an unofficial mess, but this was limited by lack of supplies. Even shortfalls in the bar takings over the years, probably from inefficiency rather than dishonesty, were taken in their stride. The bar stewards portion of the Stewards Fund was withheld to make up some of the deficit, a somewhat high-handed proceeding at a time when staff were at a premium. The war ended in November, 1918, but it was some time before serving members, their number sadly depleted, returned home. Much had changed but, thanks to the devotion of those left at home, the Club was still there, ready and waiting to arrange more seasons of racing when the boats were taken out of moth balls and returned to the river.