It’s taken me a while to write this post because in some ways it has nothing to do with this blog – in others – it has everything to do with it.
So many of us are treading a fine line and trying to find a ‘work / life balance’. I’ve never really been sure about that – I mean surely your work is part of your life too? And for a little while I have been feeling that maybe some of the makeup of my life is wrong. Not in any evil, crimebaron, serial killer type way, just, wrong. It’s felt uncomfortable and itchy, something I can’t quite put my finger on, and the more I have tried to ignore it the more it seems that certain events have happened to thrust it in my face.
So I handed in my notice and as of last week I no longer have a job. If you say it really quick it’s fine!
I’m not really sure what that means – I am now completely outside every frame of reference I have. I’ve had a job since I was 13 – and I understand delivering the papers isn’t running a multinational, but the disciplines that go with that have been consistent ever since. Equally I think so much of our self image and values about who we are is tied up in our job – but possibly that was the itchy feeling?
My new plan is to work for myself. Now while there are inherent advantages in this – I know how my boss takes her coffee, what she’s going to moan about and I can get an answer to any important question immediately – there are also disadvantages – turns out high expectations and a lack of taking no for an answer just being the start of them!
Everyone else thinks this is a genius plan. I, on the other hand, feel a bit like a kid who has just had the stabilizers taken off her bike. Wobbly, scared and sure that I am going to end up with scabby knees down the line , but with people behind me who can see exactly how it can work and know it’s just a wobble and then it will be fine.
In the meantime, I think there might be more knitting. And sailing. And possibly, if you’re really unlucky there might even be more blogging about it. Thanks for reading x
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: capsize, jellyfish, Laser, race, sailing, South Shields, Tynemouth Sailing
That’s what I did last night. In fact its possibly an insult to dogs.
So back at the Wednesday sailing at South Shields with my nameless Laser. Since my boat had arrived a few weeks ago I have sailed every one of these and did a couple before I sold the Vareo at the beginning of the season. But I had a goal. A mission. I was going to both START and FINISH a race. So far I have not managed that one with the Laser at least, so I felt this would be a great achievement. It was light winds – lighter than forecast, so in a fit of over ambition I popped the full rig on rather than my pretty Radial.
Sallying forth off the shore I got myself settled at the front of the deck and faffed on with setting things nice and lose for the light wind. Brilliant – I was making good progress up into the bay, and nearly looked like I knew what I was doing.
Then a giant jellyfish swam past.
I thought it looked quite pretty.
Up to the start line and with a bit of sailing around the flag for the laser class went up. I was very impressed that I had identified this and actually had my watch started at nearly the right time. There were lots of other boats. And other Lasers. In fact as I looked around there were many others (in Geordie that means 4 or above – a couple = 2, a few = 3, many = 4 +, millions = 10 and above). the start line had a bias and as we got down to the last 20 seconds I was right in the thick of it. How the hell did that happen. And I have a boat on each side and a boom in my face and I’m trying to keep in between the two boats without hitting anyone and I really wanted to close my eyes as the start horn went and … I sailed straight into the committee boat.
I had been so busy worrying about the sailing boats I really hadn’t seen that coming.
Well I pulled off with as much dignity as I could manage and sailed off up the course – there was a little wind and as it came over the course I did my penalty turns to ensure that I had shown the proper contrition.
I wasn’t last to the Winward mark – SCORE!
It was a run down to the Channel marker now and off I went – board up, sail filled I was thinking I could turn this around.
The wind came up. From nowhere. I know this as the boat lurched up onto the plane and I watched the boats ahead of me hit the mark. It was a gybe point. It wasn’t looking very pretty. Ok – I needed a plan. First thing, I needed to look at the light wind setup on my boat. Crap. I have no XD kit and pretty much might as well forget that. Now I need to think about gybing at the mark. The boat in front of me capsizes trying that. OK – I’m tacking – my tiny confidence now totally gone.
It’s a bit messy, but I got the boat round, managed a little on the outhaul and kicker and headed up to the next mark. By this time I have also realised that one of the first things I should have spent time on with the boat is setting up the toestraps. Hiking is an interesting experience without anything that you can hook into. And I can’t stop thinking about the formerly attractive jellyfish.
I am sailing like a total idiot. Jumping all over the place because I am scared of the jellyfish, don’t trust my toestraps as they are hanging limply out of the other side of the boat and am still trying to get any extra kicker on. It turns out I am now sailing tight to the mark at the end of the start line to get down to the Groin. It’s tight but I make the mark… and capsize on it.
I am now in the water with a jellyfish that is going to eat me. I have never righted a boat so fast in my life. If there are jellyfish then there are probably other things that could eat me too. Like Sharks. Or Seals. Or Lobsters.
Fortunately the patrol boat have seen all of this and come over to shout some friendly encouragement. Like ‘why are you going round that mark?’. Turns out I was going round this mark for no good reason.
There were another two laps to go and I manfully got my arse round them – on the last lap the Groin even put on it’s pretty red light to encourage me. By this time the patrol boat was also offering occasional shouts of encouragement. I think they thought I was a little inept. No idea why.
I finished. Last out of all the Lasers. If nothing else I am consistent….
I had a lovely time – but I couldn’t help but feel I was on the walk of shame as I pulled my boat back up the beach.
But I had achieved! I had started and finished a race! I had capsized the boat for the first time and got it straight back up! I had met some new people on the committee boat!
And ONE DAY those people will see me NOT BE LAST.
I have just horrified myself even more by trying to find a photo of the evil jellyfish on the internet for this post.
This has confirmed that not only is this a very dangerous jellyfish but also that it can grow up to 40 METERS (Lions Mane – the info is here). And it normally swims with friends. I’m never going in the water again.
Remember to help me come up with a name for my boat and I’ll knit you something. Probably not a jumper.
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: boat, kielder, sailing, South Shields, wind
Over the last few weeks sailing has gone from one extreme to the other.
From glorious light wind, sunny sailing at South Shields
To blowing crazy amounts of wind at Kielder.
I’ve not actually finished a race at South Shields in the new Laser – this is primarily due to things like not starting the race, not completing even one one lap of the race (we all got towed back) and spending too long tinkering – so far the new boat has been the lucky recipient of a new (*ahem* E-Bay special) tiller and tiller extension, some new rope and a clew strap. She is feeling very loved.
She is sailing very nicely, but I have yet to have her knocked over to have a go at capsize, and haven’t really had enough wind to feel like I am really getting to grips with her. I was however deeply gratified when a club member commented how well looked after she was based on her shiny hull – that four hours polishing was obviously not a waste….
I’m also getting to know a few more people – when I was out on the water I have had comments about my pre-loved boat and also from a fellow sailor form Tynemouth who obviously reads the blog – Hello Chris!
Up in Kielder its been a totally different picture.
This was the start line for the Dam to Dam. I love this race series as it takes you from one end of the lake to the other – but it wasn’t to be.
It was so windy when I tried to put my sail up my boat actually blew off my trolley. I decided this was therefore possibly not the best time to sail. Alec the mad Engineer decided to press on.
I even sat on his boat to try and keep it in one place while he finished rigging it. There is a photo. I’m not showing you as I look like a house in it.
He eventually got out, but after much swearing came back. He wasn’t the only one – out of the three boats that started one came back like this.
The mast had been ripped out, smashed in two and holed the boat. It’s the Boatfixers, so we all feel super bad as he is so busy with other peoples boats goodness knows when he will have a chance to fix it.
I was however very proud of myself to have even had the bravado to rig the Supernova.
And I have had her out a bit more properly this weekend – she is a lovely boat and goes like a crazy thing on any sort of a reach – there are some extra things to think about in the mast rake, and pointing is going to take a little practice (common thing for newbies apparently), but when you are screaming along to the next mark on the plane you really don’t care about the next beat anyhow!
So two beautiful boats, two fabulous locations – what could be more perfect? Well neither of these boats have names. And I can’t just keep calling them ‘boat’ forever…. so tomorrow I will be opening the Nelly Name Challenge. There will be prizes so watch this space!
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: kielder, Laser, sailing, South Shields
That my blue laser was being polished at Kielder. Not South Shields.
So this left one last piece of the puzzle – to get the boat to South Shields. We pondered this. It had a road trailer which the Mr was convinced we would never get out if the ‘stacking’ system in the trailer park – apparently it would take at least half a day.
Twenty minutes later the road trailer was out at the expenses of only several bruises, nettle stings over most of my feet (sandals really aren’t a good sartorial choice) and a couple of gratuitous oil stains on hands, legs and skirt (skirt?!?! What was I thinking).
And we had brought out beautiful van to tow it! Hooray!!
Only not quite.
Apparently the bearings were shot. All I know is that it involves grease and is not good. I suggested we get more grease. I don’t actually know where the local grease retailer is up by Kielder, but it couldn’t be that far… Could it?
I suggested we asked some other people at the club if they had grease. This was not an option primarily due to it being a man who was dealing with the grease and as everyone knows you can’t ask for help when a man is already doing the job. That’s insulting their man-ness. And it didn’t matter anyhow as the suspension was broken. I didn’t even know that trailers had suspension.
I did moot the point that as we only needed to move the boat once, did it really matter?
From the silence this received I assume the answer was yes.
This then led to protracted discussion amongst the club about how we could fix it. New wheel units from eBay, using the trailer from a different boat, kicking the tyres a bit, car topping it. This looked like it was going to take some time. Several hours later talk had moved to coming back and looking at it some more next week.
I went away and sent a quick email.
This is my boat being delivered to South Shields by the Boatfixer (and family) as well as tangible proof of why women should rule the world.
I’ll worry about the trailer later – and tonight? Well tonight I’m going sailing.
So the holiday was amazing. Sailed, windsurfed (badly), water skied (terribly), drank beer (like a professional).
Only one thing. The false advertising.
There wasn’t a lobster in it.
So here are five reasons why sailing the midweek regatta is not such a good idea.
1. Its sunny, so a force 5 looks TOTALLY do-able. Its a force 5 – of course its not. Especially when you are sailing with your husband from whom you had a sailing divorce some years ago.
2. Having put this aside – after a capsize and a blood injury the honourable thing to do was to retire gracefully.
3. Hearing the phrase ‘I can’t move as fast as you can talk’…. Well yes, but that just means that you need to move faster…
4. Realising that the second best thing about sailing is retiring to watch sailing with this.
5. And being able to nod sagely and talk about it when everyone else is doing this.
And being recovered in bits by the safety boat.
Sometimes the better part of valour… is retiring and talking about it!
So everyone runs these competitions. Where am I?
Well I don’t think many people will get this, but I am here –
And look at this!!!
Mwahahahaha!!!! I can do little other than cackle at the moment.
(there is no point to this post other than to let burglars know we aren’t at home… but just for the record my tall, muscular brother is dog-sitting at ours – good luck…!)
This Sunday I went sailing with my Dad. As I’ve mentioned before, my Dad windsurfed rather than sailed, and did his best to encourage me in this pursuit. I never got far, preferring to use the board as a canoe for exploring the lake.
Recently I gave it another go, but found that as I have no coordination or balance this wasn’t as easy as it looks. Essentially I spent short periods of time wobbling on a board, followed by much longer periods of flying through the air and landing in the water.
So a few years ago when my Dad started to sail and come up to the lake it was really nice to have something we could all talk about and share.
This year for the first time we are doing a series together – him helming and me crewing. I’m not bad crew usually, the ‘bottom of ballast’ is a key advantage in a boat like my Dads (Flying Fifteen) and at key moments I do indeed deploy the bottom to tactical advantage. Pass me another pie.
So this was the first race – and the weather was lovely – really hot with a 3 with a few gusty bits in it, so it was always going to be a slower race with plenty of time to chat and pontificate about how much better than the rest of the boats we were doing. Well we could dream…
But as the countdown came to an end and we got over the line we weren’t doing badly following Ernie (the fastest milkman in the west) on the beat up the course. The wind was patchy, but we had headed for the right hand side of the course where there was definitely a little more wind. Our first concern was where the first mark was – we had a vague idea but with some of the recent weather the marks are all over the place – and as we overtook Ernie it became increasingly important we worked out where it was. We sighted it and got on a good line – just as a couple of bothersome future-Olympiads in a Laser 2000 called starboard on us. We tacked and had to follow them round the mark – our only consolation being that we were still holding position in second. Catching the wind as we headed off across the lake we sailed straight for the next buoy. I don’t mind telling you we were a little stressed – we were second – ahead of four other boats (I know – poor turnout. A lot of people weren’t back from the away cruise at Tighnabruaich) – and we realised there was only one way to keep our position – get to the gybe point and get the kite up!
Little nervous about this – last time we’d done it I’d ended up spending slot of time crawling around on the foredeck in windy weather.
But against all expectations we got it up smoothly enough, and without me braining my Dad with the spinnaker pole, and with a bit if tinkering the boat took off – closely followed by Ernie and Rob (the newly incumbent sailing commodore) in a race rigged Wayfarer who had also managed to cleanly hoist and were bearing down on us!
But we made it to the bottom of the run, and with only one adventure on the foredeck got the spinnaker down, hardened up and tacked up through the gate, beating back up the course.
At this point we remembered to breathe and looked at each other going “Really?!? We’re still in second?!?! “
We lost some water on the way up to the mark, but were heartened to see the children swimming rather than sailing around the mark – but the Wayfarer was gaining – we pointed up and made the mark as the Laser 2000 took back off across the lake. With a bit of wind we were pulling away – only to find ourselves being overtaken to leeward by a bright pink Dart 18 which was steaming past in our dirty air – and glancing back Ernie and Rob were hoisting the kite – that’s right they were going to reach across and then gybe it round the mark.
With one thought my Dad and I prepared the ropes and… didn’t hoist as we plainly knew there was no way we would get it through a gybe – and besides we were nearly there – we came round the mark a little enthusiastically and did a perfect hoist at which the boat lurched up onto the plane – I was just hanging on to those sheets as we held the line right down the lake, brought it down, rounded the mark and made it through the gate in third.
We both looked at each other and started to breathe again – while being vaguely hysterical as we watched Ernie, my brother and the boat fixer finish. We even did a cool hand like we were down with the kids!
We knew we would be reshuffled with handicap, but it felt good – it tasted like victory.
And you know what? Even with handicap we came third – 32 corrected seconds behind the fastest milkman in the west and the sailing commodore – with those irksome kids in first.
So if we can just learn to gybe with that kite up….!
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: boat, eBay, kielder, sailing, Supernova, Vareo
If you remember my cunning genius plan was to sell my Vareo and buy a new boat – and currently it’s well underway. Its getting picked up at the weekend, having been sold on eBay. Some people can be a bit sniffy about this but the bottom line is you get your boat sold quickly for what the market is prepared to pay for it, so you can get on with the rest of your sailing season.
So I went to look at a new boat this weekend. This didn’t go so well in that this quickly changed to touching new boat, stroking new boat and identifying that new boat and I were always meant to be together, swiftly followed by buying new boat.
It’s on my drive. I am very excited.
I am just as excited as I am suddenly ‘one of the gang’ people with the same boat are excited about it too and discussing when we are all going to go sailing together and how we are only one boat off our own class start. We are messaging exciting news about the boats and our sailing, texting and facebooking.
I’ve never been one of any gang, ever! We are all going to a coaching day next Sunday and going to inspect each others boats and do tinkering! We are going to stand around and talk about it all together! We might even get them wet! It’s we and not I!!
So far so good. Only problem is, I’ve bought a boat to sail with a fleet at… Kielder! Looks like I’m back racing there again! So I am still on the lookout for a cheap boat (for cheap boat read floating wreck based on the pennies I have left…!) to join a Wednesday fleet at South Shields.
And the boat? Well someone has to encourage the Mr onto the water – I’ve bought a Supernova, the same as him.
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: capsize, children, Eurovision, kielder, sailing
So what did I do on the weekend? I did magic things. I taught Childers to sail. How old? About 4ft.
They were all boys and I am starting to get a little paranoid – I feel like starting a ‘your sex needs you!’ campaign to get more girls and women involved – although ironically the majority of the instructors (in fact all bar one!) on the day were women.
This course has not had a good run – we have been down on Oppies, waiting for new ones so for the first two days of the course we ran the session in Wayfarers and in pretty strong wind.
You’ve never seen the fear and exhilaration on a little persons face as when you give them the helm on a boat with two other kids and an instructor in it and tell everyone else to lean out to balance the boat. Small fists grab the tiller extension and knuckles whiten as the wind gusts into the reefed small sail.
I decided to stop if one of them cried.
None of them did, but there were a few wobbly bottom lips, and a degree of peer pressure coming into play!
The weather for Saturday had not looked much better throughout last week, blowing 18 gusting through 38 – with rain all day. I had visions of theory all day. So the surprise was arriving at Kielder having driven through torrential rain (a months worth fell on the North-east in the one day) and finding mist, drizzle and … No wind.
It was about the only thing I hadn’t planned. Well when I say planned, I mean thought about with a
glass of wine cup of tea during the preceding week.
There were however brand new Oppies to unpack we actually unwrapped them from the plastic!
I would love to say they were quickly rigged, but of course they weren’t – not helped by myself and the AI actually having only vague ideas on this – note to self – really need a crib sheet. But we were finally ready to go with boats lined up, helmets on and a lot of shivering – it was freezing, still damp and really overcast.
So we started on sending them out like little ducks one after the other pushing of boats towards a patrol boat – asking them to tack (or in childers speak ‘push the stick away and duck)’. Some got the hang of it quicker than others, but with expert coaching from the patrol boat we soon had the whole group rotating through the boats. Some kids had got the hang so well they went round and round and round for some time.
The only problem with this was the direction of the wind. There wasn’t much, so there was a lot of sitting around, it was also an onshore wind which meant that we had to send them across the foreshore to keep them on a reach – with the added complication of trying to stop small enthusiastic not-very-good-at-steering boys from running the brand new boats aground or clipping the foils by coming in too close to the shore.
The thing with seven small boys as well is that the second your back is turned they are off doing something you don’t want them to do. Like swimming in the lake, checking what holds up the jetty, playing ‘splash the other kids and only by mistake the instructors’. I was a little unamused.
Got my own back by explaining to everyone we would need to do capsize before we finished for the day. Apparently the lake was cold. I really hadn’t noticed having spent the day up to my chest in it catching and returning boats.
As always they delivered the goods and they went to get changed having had ‘the best’ day.
They were happy. I was cold. And wet. Turns out my drysuit had a leak. I drove home with no socks and recovered in front of Eurovision.
Bonnie Tyler was our entry – famous of course for ‘Turn Around‘ – maybe she had spent a lot of time up to her chest screaming at kids to push the stick as well.