The Knitting Sailor


Now we are One

It turns out that it was a year ago today I posted my first entry on this site.  It was a bit random and primarily in response to ‘I couldn’t do that – could I?’.  Well so far it’s been a lot of fun – I think!  And looking back over the year, it turns out there are lots of things that I couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of this!

Things I have learnt from this year

  • Everyone hates running (apart from Tillerman – but I don’t actually believe him)
  • That the inventor of the Crow’s Nest was born in Whitby
  • That I DON’T NEED TO KNIT CARDIGANS
  • Spinning is really hard
  • How to taste wine (sort of – it all still tastes like wine really though)
  • Trying to teach kids anything without the benefit of chocolate is basically a waste of time
  • You actually can buy ANYTHING on E-Bay
  • How to be a better OOD!
  • We all like Dinosaurs (maybe I imagined this?)
  • Woolfest is awesome
  • Not every 50p is worth 50p
  • The Internet definitely thinks I should get a sheep

Amazing things that happened this year

  • I ran the Great North Run– who knew?!?
  • I came third in an actual proper sailing race – and got a prize to prove it
  • It was the Mr’s last year as Commodore
  • I learnt to spin
  • The dog qualified to drive a powerboat
  • We didn’t move to the country
  • I met a real life alpaca and fed it a carrot
  • I got a spinning wheel AND a knitting machine called Jeremy
  • The Olympics and the Jubilee!  Go Britain!
  • I qualified as a Dinghy Instructor
  • The Solstice at Stonehenge – kind of amazing
  • I learnt how to felt… OK it was by mistake – but let’s take it as a positive!
  • I wasn’t last at an open event

I also found some amazing people and blogs out there in the ether of the Internet – I have added a new page so if you would like to go and visit some of them then check this out.  Be warned – some of these people actually know what they are talking about!

But most of all it’s been fun to chat with you all – so thanks for dropping by…. it’s appreciated!

So what about this year?

Well I have a plan.  I need to get better at sailing and knitting.  I also need to delete the email suggesting that I take part in the Sunderland Half Marathon in April.  This is a foolish idea and no amount of looking at the email is going to get rid of the cake and beer induced wobble prior to April.

So I am going to be doing 3LT – this is the name for my new recipe for success.  Every idea needs a good marketing slogan.  And maybe a logo.

Look, Learn, Listen; Turn up, Take part and TRAVEL!

That sounds really exciting doesn’t it?



Five go Sailing
May 16, 2012, 7:51 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , , ,

I don’t have kids, but I spent Saturday with other peoples. That’s right five of them.  Just me and a rib driver. And they were all going to be in boats. On the lake.
As I was teaching  RYA stage three this means that at least they could all sail – and I even knew some of them (advantage – I know their names / disadvantage they all know me too and are wondering what exactly I am doing teaching them to sail).  My issues started before I even left the clubhouse as on getting changed I realised I had brought my husband’s dry suit – so was going to have to wear my wetsuit.  It felt a little like gym class at school where if you forgot your kit you had to do PE in your vest and pants. Especially as some of my students helpfully pointed out the couple of holes in my funky attire as we walked down the foreshore – nothing like a confidence boost to start the day.

So this was where I encountered my first problem.  To start the day I had thought we would have a little chat (and I mean little – tiny in fact – I was planning it would go ‘what is your name and what have you sailed before’).  This took almost twenty minutes.  This was because five kids all with a limited attention span, distracted by other groups around us messing on with other boats, a bit of wind and a lack of interest in the chatting.  But this is good!  Less chat more sailing I thought – so off we went onto the water – first group out despite the torturous amount of time it seemed to take to rig the boats (Toppers). I thought I had briefed where we were going to be sailing very carefully.  As five kids set off in five different directions….

I reiterate – I don’t have kids, so I can’t tell you how surprised I was when this happened.  And Kielder is a big place for what suddenly seemed like very small children on their own in little boats.  I have to admit to a moment of blind panic.  Literally.  I just stood in the rib wondering what the hell I was meant to do.

At least I finally came up with an answer.  Count the sails. Four and a half.  Ok – so despite having spent longer than I thought possible on rigging boats, one of the sails has actually fallen down.  Fortunately with a sailor who quickly got that probably the best idea was just sitting there while we went and got her.  All the while frantically trying to keep an eye on the other four kids and checking they are ok.  The number of things I am now worrying about for these childers is getting terrifyingly long.

  • That they fall out of their boat and I don’t see
  • That they fall out of their boat and are eaten by a monster
  • That they fall out of their boat and I forget they are even there and we all go home missing one child
  • That they all fall out of their boats at the same time and I don’t know which to go after first
  • That they fall out of their boat, I go to rescue them and make things worse (for example the noise of the rib attracts the monster I am subconsciously sure lives in the reservoir which then eats the child)

I don’t know how I am going to explain any of this to the parents.

Having unceremoniously dumped the topper and sailor back on the jetty we dashed back out – just in time to catch up with one of the boats as it capsized.  Good news though… I saw it, we are on our way and there appears to be no monster about (sorry I get that it is highly unlikely that a prehistoric Nessie-like monster that eats people is living in a manmade reservoir in Northumberland.  I also have a blind irrational moment every time I hit the water that says otherwise however.  Admit it – I bet I’m not the only one….).

So this is where my training kicks in – and something I have lots of experience in.  Unfortunately the small person I have been trusted with not drowning (henceforth known as SPIHBTWND) involved doesn’t.  Nor much inclination to get in the water and right the boat.  Fortunately due to the mast head floats (phew – did something right!) the boat has not inverted.  So having yelled gently encouraged the SPIHBTWND into the water and round the back of the boat it quickly becomes obvious that there is no way this boat is coming back up with the VERY VERY SPIHBTWND on the centreboard.  After two attempts at picking up the mast to right the boat from the rib have failed, said SPIHBTWND now at risk of hyperthermia rather than drowning I am getting a little worried.  So I jumped in.

Well to be fair, I got the boat righted, child back in it and myself back onto the rib.   This now means every single time I have been sailing this year I have ended up in the water – even when I haven’t been sailing myself.  It’s not getting any warmer.  Fortunately the monster hadn’t seen me.

Well after this high drama and a bit more sailing about it was time for lunch.  I got ashore and all I could think was “I still have a whole afternoon”!  I don’t know what to do.  Like at all.  Mind completely blank.  And so far it’s been a shambles of random sailing around without them learning anything.  And they are all at different levels – some are out of their depth, others are bored – I would be bored – WHAT DO I DO!

Over a luxury lunch of a tin of Pea and Ham soup I came up with the answer.  Competition and chocolate.

Well we seem to have the same attention span, so maybe we have the same motivators as well?

We had THE BEST afternoon.  We discussed the sailing area and why it’s important in about 3 seconds – and then we scrapped all the boring theory (they are as bored with it as I am – its turning out me + kids with limited attention span = perfect match!) and shot back out to do a tacking competition.

It was glorious!  All of a sudden there was some real focus and motivation.  There was earnest concentration.  There was sailing where they were meant to sail.  There was no woosing out.  Those who weren’t so great improved immeasurably, those who were more experience were entertained and working harder to be successful than in the morning.  I actually did some half decent coaching!  And they had big sailing smiles.

They enjoyed it so much that when the wind came up we even got though some boring theory (sorry – really useful, relevant and improving your sailing theory) at the end of the day when other groups had given up.  And of course a ‘Britain’s got Talent’ style award of a chocolate bar for the winner of the competition.  It was great.  I loved it.  They loved it.  When asked how they had found the day one of the girls said “It was really good.  It wasn’t like a course though”.  At this point a note of fear and dread struck me as I dared to ask why.  “It was more fun” she said.

You know what – I’ll take it.  So it might have been a bit disorganised and they might have spent more time sailing about enjoying themselves than doing some of the things that we should have been covered, but surely the point is to improve their skills and keep them engaged?  Well I managed that for at least some of the day.  I have two Saturdays left – and I am planning FUN.  And I reckon if they are enjoying themselves then maybe they might just learn something along the way.

I was flushed with success.  Until somebody asked me – “Did you check they didn’t have a nut allergy and were allowed chocolate?”

Crap.



I have a confession to make
April 30, 2012, 6:51 pm
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve been holding out on you.  It’s not that I don’t like you, or trust you not to mock, I just wasn’t sure how to tell you.

You may have noticed I have not been doing much knitting of late.  You may also have found it strange that I have been doing a few courses recently.  This is not usual, but is actually indicative of the run up to the course I completed last week… a Dinghy Instructors course.

I await you re-joining me having climbed back onto the chair you have just fallen off.

Back with me?

I have been an Assistant Instructor for a little while now and last year had a great time teaching small childers to sail (the ones that made it through the first day – I managed a 50% success rate – who knew children could cry that much?) and running some Level 2 sessions (and finding out when back ashore that capsizing with learners is sort of frowned on.   I thought I was helpfully showing them how to put theory into practice).  So when it was suggested I took this next step I was a little, shall we say concerned?

But the Principle seemed to think it was a good idea and surely he knows best?  Right?

I have spent the last six months racked with fear.  Fear of not being a good enough sailor.  Fear of not being dependable enough (all of the other trainers in the club are like grown up responsible people you would trust your {dog / child / house / insert other prized possession here} with).  Fear of really complicated stuff I would need to actually know about.  Basic Aerodynamic theory anyone?  And please just don’t mention airplane wings…..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerodynamics

So how was it?

Highlights

  • Being able to use my backwards sailing on a regular basis
  • Learning what Gradient wind is (go on, ask me a question – 3 ½ hours it took and I am so proud of myself…)
  • Land Drills – who knew sailing was easier without wind and water?
And then you just trip over the mainsheet...

"And then you just trip over the mainsheet..."

  • Showing off with knots
  • Meeting some fab new friends from other clubs
  • Getting to see some of the fantastic presentations done by others on the team – and learning heaps from them (Apparent Wind!  I kind of get that too!  It’s all about vectors … and …. bikes … and … stuff… )
  • Getting to wear all of my hats all at once due to the cold and wind and rain
  • Teaching everyone the 5 essentials song
  • Getting on with my tank top and beer in the evenings

Beer and Knitting

  • Successfully driving and anchoring a powerboat on my own (!!!! I know!!!!!)

Lowlights

  • Getting frozen into my camper van
  • Becoming completely unable to sail when under pressure (Literally.  Just sitting there looking blankly at the instructors in a powerboat)
  • Having to admit the boat floating away from the jetty due to being ineptly tied on was mine
  • The pre-course questionnaire.  Knew that Aerodynamic theory would come into it somewhere
  • Initially thinking that VARK was a type of alien
  • Trying to teach Trigger Pull starts based on only the theory I had learnt the night before…. in no wind.
  • Looking out of the van in the morning only to see this

Really?

  • Taking quite literally no suitable food with me (tea one night was someone else’s left over potatoes and a bowl of popcorn.  This is not the hallmark of a responsible adult)
  • Let’s not talk about my man overboard…….

It was an amazing experience.  And I take my first group of students as a qualified instructor on the 12th of May.

Gulp.



Be afraid, be very afraid….
April 23, 2012, 7:46 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , ,

Flushed with success, Able Seaman Knitting Sailor (doesn’t really work does it?) has gone straight to the next challenge – driving a powerboat!

I have never driven a powerboat before as I think they are scary dangerous things and what’s the point as they don’t have a sail.  But I started a proper course to learn how to zoom around our stretch of water.

I’m not a very good driver in a car and this kind of persisted with the powerboat.  I thought I was doing really well until it was pointed out that closing my eyes every time I got above 3mph maybe wasn’t the best approach.  But I persevered and look what I won!

That’s right – a licence to drive a powerboat when accompanied by my small brown princessly dog.




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