The Knitting Sailor

Looking cool….
April 17, 2012, 7:00 pm
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , , , ,

So I know you must be dying to know what happened on my seamanship course….

Arriving at the lake bright and early I was thrilled to be greeted by requisite RYA course weather – drizzle, freezing cold and blowing a hoolie.  So it was with great joy we changed into our sailing gear (and no, to my disappointment no-one was wearing an Arran jumper or had a parrot with them – not even the instructors) and made for the classroom.  Now my favourite bit of our classroom is that it has no heating, extra uncomfortable seats and no kettle – although it does have a whiteboard – so some consolation there.

After a bit of an introduction we boldly ventured out to undertake the first exercise – man over board.  Now I am always surprised by the accuracy of this exercise – I’ve never known a woman fall out of a boat….

As we were short of club Wayfarers I had offered to use my husband’s boat.  This is a high honour indeed as he is actually grand chief poobah of the club – a position in which he is colloquially known as the NSC… None Sailing Commodore.  In fact this is such a well-known fact we have even had problems hiring boats abroad before around this very title.  However his recently souped up (by this I mean he has stripped out all the seats and put slippy paint on the floor to speed movement around the boat) Wayfarer was now my very own for the day.

So off we went to rig ‘British Racing Beige’ (as it’s known).  And then I had a moment of clarity.  Its rear sheeted.  We all know what happens to me in rear sheeted boats…..

Wayfarers at dawn - the three minutes it wasn't raining.

Off we went to rescue a milk bottle on a buoy.  I get the theory.  I just can’t do it.   Having mown down said milk bottle a couple of times I finally managed to haul it aboard, fortunately unhurt by its recent misadventures.

At least by this time I had started to get back into how the boat was rigged and that any sudden movements with your feet were liable to leave you in a heap on the floor as your feet slid towards the other side of the boat due to the racing paint.  If only he had realised it was meant to go on the outside.

It turned out that this was just the first in a series of things that I was just not very good at.  Anchoring for example.  You know I mentioned about how deep the reservoir is?  So this means you need to anchor quite close to shore, which turns out to be harder than you would think as by the time you have deployed the anchor you have drifted right onto the shore and might as well just have beached. Don’t think I’ll use this one.

So to be fair at the end of the first day things weren’t looking too hot.  In fact it was still raining as it had on and off all day, so a beer and the cast on of a new knitting project was just the cure.

Isn’t it pretty?  It’s going to be a tank top which will take only five balls of wool (let’s not mention a certain cardie – 19 balls and counting and I’ve had to send for more ‘very- hard-to-source-discontinued-wool’ for which I have almost had to sell body parts to afford).

Day two was definitely a better start – a little better weather (I mean it was raining marginally less) and I was starting to feel like I’d got my eye in.

The absolute highlight was learning to sail backwards.  Who knew that the main reason for learning this is actually just so that you can look really cool.  And I looked cool – and went for miles, and will now be using it (unnecessarily) at every opportunity just to show off.

This was closely followed by rudderless sailing which me and my crew nowhere near mastered, but spent 45 mins just throwing ourselves around the boat, hauling on sheets and alternating between fear and giggling hysteria as the boat careened about the course.

Last part of the course was the Inversion Capsize.  I was really cold by now – so couldn’t make up my mind whether I was pleased or not when told I didn’t have to do it ‘as they had seen me do it plenty of times before’.  Hmmm.

The upshot? I passed – so I am now an official able seaperson!

I guess what this proves is that really when it comes down to it sailing is more about looking cool (first time for everything) and having a laugh than anything else, making some friends and picking up some skills on the way.

And look what my husband bought me.

Perfect Parott

Parrot not included
March 29, 2012, 7:05 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I had to share – I have just got my sign up instructions for the seamanship course I am doing at Easter.  I felt this might be a wise thing to do for when I sail in the sea (I don’t intend to – but you never know), wear Arran jumpers (I will never do this – do you know how much knitting there is in one of those things??) or smoke a pipe (obviously a health no-no).

So it was with great excitement I opened the email inviting me to the course.

Apparently –

“We will be using Wayfarers for the course which will include a full inversion capsize, lee shore leaving and landing, man overboard, sailing backwards, rudderless sailing, coming alongside, picking up moorings, anchoring, being towed and reefing afloat.”


  1.  “full inversion capsize” – e.g. swimming beside an upside down boat – that’s fine – lots of practice a this one.
  2. “lee shore leaving and landing” – not too concerned – given where I sail I think I have done this lots without the fancy name.  So now I shall be able to discuss it with aplomb.
  3. “man overboard” – falling in – giant tick.
  4. “sailing backwards” – I have quite literally no idea of what this is.  I can’t even guess.  I have been sat here 5 minutes….
  5. “rudderless sailing” – surely this is actually known as ‘drifting’?  I wasn’t aware there was a professional way of doing this, so I am afraid I may well have picked up a number of bad habits already…
  6. “coming alongside” – another one I can do!  Fortunately they didn’t say ‘coming alongside and then stopping in a controlled fashion’.  When I do this I like to call it ‘crashing’.  Usually the boat I come alongside calls it this too.  And the insurance company.
  7. “picking up moorings” – Hmmm…. think this may be ‘coming alongside and then stopping in a controlled fashion’…. I’m checking my new insurance docs right now just to ensure I’ve still got this one covered.  Yes… explains the rise in premium however.
  8. “anchoring” – I sail an RS Vareo on the deepest reservoir in Northern Europe – trust me – I’m not going to be managing an anchor on that long a chain on such a little boat.  Unless a tattoo is compulsory to pass the course?
  9. “being towed” – definitely been towed before so I should pass this bit – although more usually its ‘boat being towed with me sat in the patrol boat’, but sure it won’t be that much different.
  10. “reefing afloat” – just one thing… I’ll say it slowly…. FULLY BATTERNED SAIL.  If I could reef afloat I wouldn’t need to know about points 1, 3, 5, 6, 7 or 9.

I don’t see parrot-balancing on the list!!  It’s the only REAL reason for me doing this and I would have thought would have been fundamental to this type of course.

Fortunately my beard-cultivation is coming on well.


Captain Birdseye - the Consummate Seaman and Parrot Balancer extraordinare


%d bloggers like this: