The Knitting Sailor


“So cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a fox…”
June 3, 2013, 10:41 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , , , ,

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.

Its not a car, its a boat.  Honest.

0 to 60 in not very much time



Rumpelstiltskin
May 29, 2013, 6:05 pm
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , , ,

So in the fairytale, the beautiful princess was locked in a dungeon (/ tower/ cellar /pick your own inconvenient place to be imprisoned) and made to spin straw into gold.  It is so obvious this fairytale is built on fact – because trust me the stuff I am spinning is worth more than gold.  It is, in fact, as the American Express advert says, priceless.  This is because of the time it takes.

But I am so totally proud of it that I have taken to carrying bobbins of it around in my handbag to show people.

From Shetland sheep

Turns out people aren’t interested.

Even the dog is a bit bored and would rather go sniff the sheep fleeces.

IMG_1515
I get it, it’s from an alpaca. Can I have a sausage now please??

Actually, that isn’t true.  Lots of knitty people are interested, and I can totally get kudos when I explain that the purple stuff is all the way from the Shetlands (bought last year at Woolfest) and the rest is Alpaca.

I’ve kind of fouled up with the Alpaca however.  Look at it.

It's Alpaca
It’s Alpaca

It’s not just pretty its also soft and warm and totally beautiful.  And I made a foolish promise.  My brothers fiance wanted to create a felted Alpaca bag.  Alpaca yarn is very expensive, so when we were at another wool event (I know – there are more than one, but I didn’t admit to it in case you judged me…) I foolishly promised to spin her the wool myself.  reasoning that it would save loads of money, and be fun and could be her Christmas present.

It wasn’t finished for Christmas, so I bought her lama wool to use instead.  It didn’t cut it…..

And now I have my first spun Alpaca finished.   I don’t think I can give it to her.  To be felted.  Do you think she would take my firstborn instead?



Damp days
May 20, 2013, 8:13 pm
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , , ,

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.

 



Unhealthy Obsession?
May 16, 2013, 8:31 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin

I have realised something.

I like racing.  Like quite a lot.  More than I thought I did.

I like racing and not being last more.  In fact I love not being last.  It’s probably why I like racing.

I like racing against other boats the same as me where I can practice not being last.  By copying what they do really well.  I am a grand chief copier.

 

This is a bit of a problem as I am sailing a friendless boat.  It is a Vareo-free zone.  I have no ones secret tips and trick to share.  If you can’t copy you can’t learn.  Well you probably can, but reading a book and stuff has never really done it for me.  And copying’s quicker.

So I think I have come to a decision.  The boat has got to go.

Despite her sparkly deck, perky spinnaker, sensational storm sail and some pink rope, I need to sail something I can have a good old race in.  With another boat the same.

So the boat is for sale.

Boat

For sale, some careful owners. Pink rope at no extra cost.

 

I’m a little distraught.

 



Traitorous
May 15, 2013, 6:09 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , ,

As I’ve said before, the best place in the world to sail is obviously Kielder.

But as part of my commitment to 3LT, (Look, learn, listen, travel, turn up and take part!) I started the year at an open event at a much more local club, sailing in the mouth of the Tyne.  It ended up that despite turning up a lot, I only got to sail once.  However it was such a lovely sun kissed, steady breezes, beautiful and scenic sail I did something a little foolish.

I joined the club.

I do have a plan and in essence it’s a good one. South Shields sailing club is only 8 miles from where I work. And they race on a Wednesday. So my genius master plan is to race there on a Wednesday night in my Vareo and do more cruising at Kielder.  This makes perfect sense when you analyse that my very favourite Kielder sailing involves puttering up the lake to the pub for a pint and a bowl of chips – something that can be achieved in a particularly civilised manner in our Wayfarer.

I am as yet uncertain as to how this will go down with my compatriots at Kielder. So far it’s been very quiet. Particularly when I have extolled the virtues of the sailing area and the fact that you can swing a very large cat in the ladies changing rooms.  The only downside so far seems to be that I’m the only one in there.

IMG_1250

Hellloooooo!!!! Are any of you girls???

So I’m waiting for the horse’s head or a black spot to appear.
Note to self, 3LT is all well and good, but you aren’t meant to join every sailing club you visit….



Fun with Fleece
May 14, 2013, 7:24 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , , ,

Do you remember these?

Trust me - they look bigger in real life

Full of sheep

I got them with one of my spinning wheels.  I have had no idea what to do with them, so they have sat in my house for some time now.  So I did what I usually do, cry for help!  And my distress call was totally answered by Julie from Crafty Recycling who I sail with.  Julies philosophy is that you can re-use everything – and she has been processing fleeces into wool for all sorts of things for years.  Most importantly she wasn’t afraid to open the boxes….

So a couple of weeks ago I rocked up at hers with my boxes.  And we opened them.  And this is what we found.

IMG_1409

There are a lot of sheep here…

I know – look at all those sheepy piles!  Even unpacking them was exciting as we had no idea what we would find – fortunately no dead bodies.  In fact we even had royalty (well aristocracy) – the label on the mushroom coloured fleece in front of the nearest box had a tag on declaring it ‘the Countess of Swinton‘ – although I suspect this may be from the countess’s farm, I prefer to think it was a very special sheep.

The black ones are Hebridean and have exciting golden tips, the beige ones were Shetlands, with some ‘mules’ which are mixed breed fleeces.  Overall the fleeces were all in good condition if a little dry.  The things you are looking for is how dry it is, if it’s really matted or if it’s felted.  In any of these situations then you might as well not waste your time.  We chucked one, but all of the rest were still good to go.  So I still had a herd.  My house just isn’t that big…

So what do you do with a pile of sheep like this?  Well you get a sheep dog to help you – Molly was most enthusiastic to help us herd one of the fleeces into the bath to start to clean the fleece ready for working with it.

IMG_1423

I love sheep me. Can I put one in my mouth please?

This appears to be the easy bit – you basically put it in a bath with soda crystals and then go and drink tea.

Manky fleece

Manky fleece

I know, it’s not a good look.  There are lots of different ways to do this and if you look on the tinterweb then there is lots of different advice, but this seems to be a pretty no-nonsense approach.  This was also a chance to see what you can do next.  Julie has a drum carder, and having washed the fleece will then pull it apart and comb it out with a pet comb and then put it through the carder which looks like a giant machine of torture!  It actually combs out the wool ready to use.  This is where it really takes some time – every last bit needs to be combed through by hand to work out any last bits of plant material or anything else.  I suggest a hot tip would be to not let your sheep anywhere near anything that might go in its fleece.  Like grass, or plants, or poo.  Or you could wrap it in cling film or something.  Because I can see this bit taking AGES.  Sigh.  But nothing is wasted, anything you comb out can then be used for toy stuffing, or put on your garden as mulch, or put in a little feeder for birds to make nests out of.

Once the fleece had had a bath, we were ready to give it a final rinse and get it dry.  Because the water that came off it was very brown looking and had definitely been attached to a very muddy and happy sheep!

Yes that’s right, it’s a fleece in a pillowcase that’s going in the washing machine.  Visions of felting were floating around by this point.

IMG_1420

Gulp!

Key thing with all of this is to make sure that you are using cold water and then this isn’t a problem.

So what does it look like when you have finished?

IMG_1421

Very much cleaner

The bit hanging down at the back is its tail!   Apparently its really good to have it still look like a sheep as it makes it easier to handle.  I just think its more exciting looking.  But look how not-brown it looks!

So once its dry this sheep is off to be carded and spun.  Have to say, all this work is starting to make buying yarn a cheap occupation when you see all the work that goes into it.

One down – 47,000 other fleeces to go.  Should be finished for Christmas.

 

 

 

2048



Somethings got to give…
May 6, 2013, 7:15 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: ,

So I’ve bitten the bullet and stepped down as membership secretary. I feel pretty bad about this, but time was becoming too much of a pressure, and sailing was starting to stop being about sailing and only being about shouting – at people to pay!

So here’s where we need your help.

We have a in-house system that one of our members put together, but our big plan is now to sort a new system. With this we’d like to be able to do online payment’s (PayPal?) our E-News, membership and boat park spaces. Ideally we’d like it online so that more than one person can use it – and possibly interface with the website so that members can keep their own details up to date.  It should also be really easy so that as peoples roles change its simple to pick up and learn for those new to the job.

Oh yes, and we’d like it to be free…(ok, ok, cheap…!)

What do you think?
What do you use at your club?
Any recommendations?



What I did on my holidays
April 25, 2013, 11:12 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , , , , , ,

So its been a while!

Since I last posted I’ve been to Ecobuild – great fun as always, and I even got to get there on the new Emirates cable car – its amazing so go visit if you get the chance!

Wooden

You too could live in a house like this

He was there again... a true celebrity he didn't give autographs

Meet the Dulux dog

There was a sheep as well

It spelt ‘WOOL’!

Scary!

Arriving by cable car

I survived the dual of the gennakers at the Spring Splash, primarily because I never got mine up.  The third week at South Shields was glorious. The sun was out, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky -in fact it turned out the weather was so good there wasn’t enough wind to sail against the tide. Racing abandoned. So we all tinkered instead!

It was hot too.....

Apparently no wind and tide are a bad combination

I fitted my new thinner main sheet, an extension to my outhaul and in a final touch of knitterly excellence some fine laceweight camel hair yarn to my shrouds – excellent tell tales and super attractive. I discussed this as I was doing it with my rival Vareo sailor. He seemed a little disinterested….

In pink of course

New outhaul for actual sail adjustment

Not pink.  The man in the shop was unimpressed when I stated this as a purchasing requirement.

Thinner main

Also not pink.  I don't understand why I bought it in blue.

Blue camels donated this beautiful tell tale

After a cup of tea I emerged from the clubhouse to identify why. HE WAS LEAVING!  I literally chased after him only to discover that he was finished and heading back to his home club – despite there being another 3 races.

I was – quite literally gutted. And therein lies a lesson. Don’t tell people how you are making your boat better – you will only scare them off.

The week after, everything changed – the wind howled, it rained, it was freezing.  Racing was abandoned.

Week 5 I couldn’t go as I was at Kielder for a committee meeting, and sailing did take place – damn!

Week 6, well between the snow and the sub zero tempratures and the artic wind… racing abandoned.

So effectively I sailed two races. On the plus side? I beat a topper!
On the downside? Everything else beat me!

So not a roaring success, but holding up there with last years significant development (not being last).

You might be wondering what hardy geordies are doing wimping out of sailing in too much wind. Honestly – the weather has been horrific. It’s been across from Siberia and basically meant everyone is sitting in their house eating chocolate (ok, maybe that last bits just me…)

In other news, the NSRC (Non Sailing Rear Commodore) has bought a boat.

He’s even sailed it (once!)

His next plan is to race me in it.

It’s a Supernova. Think he thought it came with champagne.

We went on holiday in the middle of the worst weather for as long as we can remember to north Northumberland.  It snowed every day at least a little and we used the time to tour lots of castles.  We came to the conclusion that not building these any more was why Britain is not so great anymore.  Couple of castles would sort it out.

Only one of lots of castles on the coast round here

Lindisfarne – so much colder than it looks here

Should we have an identify that castle competition?  I've loads more photos....

Bamburgh

So we stopped with the castles and started with these... all downhill from there...

Tank Defences

I also did some knitting, finished a shrug, knit a headband to keep the wind off and knit and then pulled out a hat.  I don’t want to talk about this too much though as you will identify that they are essentially all scarves that I have sewed together….!

What every good knitter needs

My own design and everything

There’s a lot of other stuff gone on in the world, the Boston marathon, factories collapsing in Bangledesh, earthquakes in Sichuan.  I’m not qualified to talk about any of that stuff, other than to say that it makes you appreciate what you’ve got.

So I’m off to reknit that hat, and polish my boat ready for the May Open.  It won’t change the world, but it makes me happy – and life’s too short to not be.

 



Nine and a bit seconds
March 3, 2013, 8:14 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , , , ,

It was the second week of the Spring Splash.  It was snowing.  It was cold.  I didn’t want to get out of bed. But I forced myself and having pontificated about, got my arse in gear and found myself launching my boat with the snow full in my face.

The wind was behind me so it was an easy get out this week, and I headed out for the start line!  There was another Vareo waiting for me – along with a few familiar faces from last week.  The wind was steady at around 12 knots – with huge swell coming in from between the piers.   If only the snow would stop.

Miraculously – it did.  And then the sun came out – and more importantly stayed out.  South Shields obviously has magic weather.

I worked out where the start line was based on where everyone else was sailing (turns out I was nowhere near the only one who had no idea what the course was – it was set on the back of the power boat in letters, but I think most of the visitors were guestimating around the buoys the patrol boat had dropped) and I even got my watch sorted to do a race countdown.  I had listened to my own advice this week and put on my SMALL sail.  And I could already tell that it was making a huge difference to me on the boat – my handling was much better than last week and I was definitely feeling more confident in the boat.  The whistle went and the countdown began!

Now – in a total aside – what is all this about a 5 minute countdown?  All the club racing we do is three minutes.  That is at all of the clubs who had people there (Kielder, Derwent and South Shields).  But because it is an ‘open’ we move to a five minute start.  I can understand this if there is a huge fleet which needs more time to get positioned etc, but this seems a little crazy otherwise – is it just me?  I bet someone will go all RYA on me and tell me why I’m wrong……!

My aim for this race was to get round the course and get a finish – but I generally reckon that you can lose a race on your start.  So I was underwhelmed when the whistle went and I had a Topper to Winward stopping me from pointing up – poor positioning on my part and I hadn’t been keeping a close enough eye on where everyone was – it was also a good reminder of why transits are a good idea – I was obviously a country mile off the line if there was room for a Topper between me and it!

So I tacked round the back and started to work my way up the course.  The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day and me and DiagoNelly were getting along famously!  After my first tentative lap I suddenly realised I was in front of the other Vareo – or rather had been as it smoothly overtook me on the winward beat.  Now I had my little sail on and he had a big sail, but there is no difference in PY.  My sail shape was horrible as my outhaul was too short – so I had no adjustment in this area at all.  And I obviously wasn’t paying proper attention as I hadn’t even realised I was ahead.

I felt sick.  With adrenalin and excitement in a good way.  No way was I going to let that pass, and I made a little time back on the downwind leg.  It was still close but on the last lap there were three of us at the mark – myself, the other Vareo and a Laser.  To say I had a poor mark rounding would be an understatement and I mournfully watched them sail off into the distance as I untied the mainsheet from my toe straps.

I finished sixth.  That’s actually out of a field of eight, so not too bad…. BUT BEHIND THE OTHER VAREO.  In fact I had watched him over the line and worked out based on my finish I was about 9 and a bit seconds behind him per lap.  That’s huge.

Second race they moved the course – I had of course only just got used to the first one, but this time I got a good start as one of the first over the line.  I was however heading for the wrong buoy.  I corrected but lost some of my early advantage.  My mantra was keep it simple.  Keep the boat flat, use your sail settings quickly and get tight to the marks.  It seemed to be working as I got round the course, but I was fighting neck and neck with the other Vareo.  He got the inside line on a mark at the beginning of the second lap and I found myself behind him for the rest of the race.  Not by much.  Shouting distance (we shouted!  In a friendly way obviously!).  And by the last beat up to the finish line I knew he was ahead.  I took a different path up towards the finish line – and must have got an advantage – as we came up to the finish line neck and neck….. and he beat me by 2 seconds.  2 SECONDS!!!!!!!

There’s only one thing for it.  This means war.  In a nice way.  Kind of.

You will notice there has been no mention here of our gennakers.  This is because neither of us used them.  I have wanted to focus on getting my elf back in my boat, sailing on the sea etc etc without worrying about this one too.  But it has become obvious that the next round could be won by whoever gets up the nerve to do this first.

I am also getting my outhaul extended so that I can correctly set my sail, and replacing my main sheet, which is a bit ‘sticky’ – it seems to be too thick.

It all feels a bit OK Corral.  And I’m liking it!  It’s great to actually have another boat to class race against and I really enjoyed racing, for which I have to say my enthusiasm had waned – there’s only so long being last is appealing for.

Roll on next weekend – and watch out – I’m coming to get you!



How many people does it take to sail an open?
February 24, 2013, 7:36 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , ,

 

So last time I posted it was with the disaster that my boat was missing vital equipment  (something to steer it with).  But I didn’t give you a full post – sorry – and I’m really impressed with the detective work (DEREK!).   Turns out you can find out anything on the internet…..

So to get to the South Shields six week event, the Boatfixer had brought my boat back from Kielder.  This had then been follower with the Mr helping me get the boat from Newcastle to our place and spending Saturday re-rigging to make sure everything was A-OK.

So Sunday came.  It was a perfect sailing day – actually better than pretty much all the sailing from last year which had been cold wet and miserable.  My boat was quickly rigged, and there were lots of other enthusiastic people about.  The boat was ready – and so was everyone else’s – easily a dozen of mixed class… and there was another Vareo!  Wow – someone to copy off learn from!

It was 14 degrees, the sun was shining and me and the winter cake layer had even ventured forth in my wetsuit!  At the briefing we found out about things like shipping, tide, the channel, rocks on the entrance / exit to the club and big floaty things to mark the channel – which you could sail round as well.  I had no idea what the course was, but that’s never a problem as I just follow everyone else anyway.

And we were off.  Everyone dashed down the sand to get launched.  Except me.  Who was missing a tiller extension.

I don’t know how I had left it – I hadn’t put it on the boat the day before as it just flicks around and gets in the way when you are doing other stuff.  I couldn’t believe it.  Everyone else left.  I sulked a bit.

There were some other people about the club so I asked about spare extensions (I know – any other ideas!?!?) – and we found a couple… but none with the right attachment.

It was about this time at the point of maximum peed off-ness that my brother arrived.  He had come to watch.  (or mock – I uncharitable thought at the time).  And the next thing I knew he had jumped back in his car and sped off back to my garage to pick up the tiller extension!

I stopped huffing about now and instead felt guilty that I had doubted his motives.  I also realised I was going to have to give him the £3.20 for the Tyne Tunnel toll.

So I spent the time taking a few photos and trying to identify the course (no joy).

Mouth of the Tyne inside the harbour walls

Committee boat wondering why they are a boat short

IMG_1248

Even a topper made it!

 

By the time my brother got back the second race was well underway.  But I didn’t care.  I fixed my tiller and boldly marched my boat into the water.  And after much to-ing and fro-ing got out of the club (I only ran into the underwater rocks once).  I was sailing on the sea!!!  In the sun!!!

I headed up to the area within the harbour that everyone was sailing in and sailed about a bit.  I felt a bit like one of those baby lambs when they have just been born – I was wobbling a lot and totally overreacting to movement on the boat – who says sailing isn’t like the Hokey Cokey?  There were what I originally was calling waves but apparently were swell and you could go whizzing along with them.  There were birds sometimes coming and shouting at you and the views were amazing.

I was completely tentative and I wasn’t out long before everyone was heading for home.  But had I enjoyed it?  Totally.  And my little bro even took a few pics to prove it.

You know you have the best brother in the world when you end up able to sail

So this was a very different experience to my previous sea sailing – and there are definite advantages in how ‘solid’ the wind is – Kielder is a myriad of shifts, puffs, shadows and gusts around a hilly and diverse landscape – whereas I really felt that once I had figured out the other stuff the level of consistency that you can get from this would be of real benefit.

I also need to remember to use my SMALL sail all the time – I am always tempted to put my BIG sail on for the POWER.  The power is no doubt great, but far too much for me to handle.  And no – I didn’t get the kite up!

 

So – only another 5 weeks to go.  My goal for next week?  Find out what the course is.  Turn up with all the correct equipment.  Start a race.

 

Oh, and pay my brother that £3.20.




%d bloggers like this: