The Knitting Sailor

‘Zebra Boat’!
May 24, 2012, 2:43 pm
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , , , ,

Saturday is my last session of teaching childers and I am feeling a little sad already.  None of them have drown, they can all sail better than when we started and I feel like I have been at least a little responsible for that.  I wonder if they will remember any of this when they get older and become Olympic Sailors, Sailing Instructors themselves, or even just Sales Managers that sail on a weekend.

When I was little I remember learning lots of skills and they have all played some role in who I am today.

My first experience of the water was learning to Windsurf.  Unsurprisingly I wasn’t much cop, but my Dad used to take myself and my brother to the Lake District for a week every summer, during which it rained torrentially and I spent more time paddling the board round than Windsurfing.  I loved those holidays and remember even now the life skills I learnt from them.  These included valuable things like ‘don’t touch the wall of the tent when it’s raining as the water will come through’ (nope – three summers on I would still do it and just get wet for the rest of the night), ‘fishing’s great as long as you don’t catch anything‘ (how scary is something wriggly on the end of your line – I stopped even using bait after a while) and ‘don’t wee in the lake – it’s your dinner‘ (Pot Noodle, lake water and a primus stove being key to our diet at the time – I later discovered my brother had never heeded this advice).

I also remember learning to knit – actually with my Nana – although my Mum used to knit too.  This was on weekends spent at their bungalow and I remember having worked through a mound of brightly coloured acrylic finally producing a small stuffed clown.  It had taken what seemed like forever, and I was really proud of it, but I can’t even remember what happened to it once I finished it – did I keep it?  Give it away?  No idea – I just remember the sense of achievement I had on finally completing it.  But I don’t remember ever knitting again following this until I was a lot older and started a new job and made a knitting friend who got me hooked.

At this point I guess I should round up by saying ‘and I remember when I started selling stuff’ – no such luck – and no doubt why it is a more hard-won skill – as it has its roots in nothing I learnt when I was young.

So whatever they go on to do I guess I can take some small pride in the hope that one day they will fondly remember sailing round and round a patrol boat trying to come up with a sailing term beginning with ‘z’…..

And I still have this Saturday…..


Summer Attire
May 23, 2012, 12:20 pm
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , ,

It’s definitely the start of the summer – for the first time I wore a wetsuit by choice this weekend.  This time I only got wet by jumping into 8ft of water while attempting a lee shore landing (I was like a foot away from the bank!  Why oh why….).  That lake has it in for me.

Today the sun is shining and people are smiling, the summer wardrobes have been broken open and I’m even wearing white trousers.  So it seems like an ideal time to finish what I started inspired by the Yarn Harlot. That’s right – my cardie is finished.

Just when it has become unwearable I have finally had a last spurt and it’s done.  Here it is blocking.

Marvel at the ‘mazing pattern.

Admire the adorable hood.

Gaze at the georgeous snugglyness of it.

Wonder why it took me 21 balls of wool (pattern called for 13 – don’t mention the g word…).

Laugh your head of at the aran winter weight of it as the temp soars.

Expect to see me wearing it from now on in.

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?”


May Open – a knitting triumph!
May 6, 2012, 10:27 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , ,

So the KWSC May Open event takes place across the 5th and 6th of May.  I have been very excited about it as it was going to be an opportunity for me to sail my own boat for once – only the second time this year with everything else that has been going on.  And as an instructor, victory would surely be mine!

The wind has been, shall we say, light.

Overenthusiastic wind forecast

What the lake actually looks like is this.

Howling Wind

It’s a knitting triumph.

A busy weekends sailing


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