The Knitting Sailor

No longer sailing the world
January 17, 2013, 6:56 am
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At first I thought it was a great idea – a way to sail through the worst of weather, cosy from my sofa, fire ablaze and gin in hand. But it’s kind of not like that.  So here we go with the reasons why I am not sailing in the virtual Vendee Globe any more.

  • Because I have already ran aground once.  I mean how do you run aground in virtual reality?
  • I keep getting blocked out by crappy media ads.
  • It took me weeks and weeks just to make my boat go pink.
  • I missed the start, so it wasn’t like I was ever going to win.
  • Because of the wind direction I am sure you could be pretty successful just by pointing the boat in the one direction and then letting it sort itself out – with three course changes only over the many months of sailing (down, right, up) it would be interesting to see how high up the rankings you could actually get with this approach.
  • It seems to be vast amounts of just sitting on the same course not really doing a lot.  I think some people do get up at random times of the night and stuff to change course – I can’t stir the enthusiasm to set the alarm just to go and drag a little arrow around by a minute amount.  I have a low attention span and I’m a bit bored now – there have been no sea monsters, pirates or having to drink your own urine – all of which I thought were part of a circumnavigation.  I had my cutlass all ready and everything.

As I can’t get in at moment (because of the crappy media ads) I am unable to withdraw, so in several years if you come across a wrecked and battered virtual boat in pink – you’ll know it’s mine…..

Happy Christmas!
December 25, 2012, 9:19 am
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It’s the most festive boat in the world!

Note the amazing Christmas Tree - so much better than mine!

Note the amazing Christmas Tree – so much better than mine!

I hope everyone is having a fantastic day!

(Photo taken Scarborough Marina)

Bonfire Night
November 5, 2012, 8:19 pm
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Today is the day that here in England we celebrate the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot.  We do this by burning effigies, letting off fireworks and eating bonfire toffee.  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions on that one.

So here are a couple of really poor photos  from my phone of the big event on the seafront this year – the light displays on the Spanish City Dome (yes – that the one made ‘famous’ by the Dire Straits ‘Tunnel of Love‘ track) and the somewhat dissapointing fireworks.  Never mind.  Sure they saved us a fortune in Council Tax….

Don’t you feel like you were actually there?!

How to win friends and influence people…
October 25, 2012, 9:39 pm
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… at a wedding.

  • Tell everyone who comments on your feather fascinator your technique for getting a bird of the right colour to fly into your hair specially.  Feel guilty when someone actually believes you, but not enough to tell them you were making it up.


  • Comment on how great it is they have colour co-ordinated the bridesmaids to the wallpaper.


  • Spend more time photographing the sheep in a neighbouring field than the bride and groom.

What no wedding finery?


  • Turn up with hand knit baby socks to accompany the wedding gift…. Only to start to worry if they are inappropriate half way through the service – and AFTER having given them to the best man to add to the present pile.


  • Tell all of your husband’s work colleagues that you really want an Angora rabbit or an Alpaca to keep in your back garden and that you don’t understand why he won’t let you have one.  Discuss house rabbits at length.


  • Steal all of the best sweets out of the favours on the table before anyone notices – only realising later you might have got away with it if it wasn’t for the chocolate smeared down one side of your mouth.


  • Mention that you are going to have fondue night on Saturday despite the fact you don’t own a fondue set… only to adopt one from another guest that has one in the boot of their car for no discernible reason.


  • Talk to a volunteer special policewoman, only to feel inexplicably guilty about the afore mentioned stolen sweets.


  • Kiss the groom who you don’t know that well on the way out then panic it was inappropriate.


  • Leave early to drive to Bristol for a stupid early appointment – plenty of time to contemplate how you managed all of the above without even having a drink.


What to do with a punctured tyre
October 3, 2012, 9:19 am
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Friday night a contingent of the knit group from work I go to went to a crafty / sewey / other stuff workshop at the Shipley Art Gallery. It’s the first time I’ve been to something like this and it was great fun.  There were loads of people making braided cords, embellished buttons, jewellery out of inner tubes, darning and lots of other stuff. Out of the seven workshops I made this.

It’s a brooch – not a broach

Other people made braidy things and necklaces out of inner tubes.

Too difficult for me

I then got a bit tired so spent the rest of the night drinking wine and looking at this woman.

Don’t you love the British aristocracy?

This was a fantastic idea as I then had the opportunity to learn how to taste wine. This wasn’t part of the night, just someone in the group who knows how to taste wine. I was quite excited.  So I swilled it around and did some smelling of it.

Smelt like wine to me.

Put a little bit in my mouth and breathed in – WITHOUT spitting it out or choking on it.  My mother would be proud.

Tasted like wine too.

Tried the rest of the bottle with the same result.

It was a great night.

Genuine art crafty-ness made specially for the wine tasting bottle


I’m not doing it for fun
September 15, 2012, 7:22 pm
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Tomorrow is the big day.  55,000 of us will be running the 13 miles of the Great North Run.  I have to admit that I am not feeling great about this at the moment.

I got my pack through about a month ago and having opened it and seen what it was my immediate reaction was to go ‘I’ll just look at that later…’ and then put it in a pending pile.  I don’t actually have a pending pile.  It’s just a pile where I put things that I just hope will go away.

Turns out it didn’t go away.  I was finally forced to read it last night.  Turns out it includes things that you should do from a month prior in the run up to the event.  None of these were to drink wine or eat cake otherwise I would have been onto a winner.

To be fair, I have actually been training – I’ve got up to about 11.5 miles, so I may actually manage to finish, but it has become incredibly obvious that this is a serious race for serious runners – the pack had a number in it and everything.  It also had an invitation to a Pasta Party taking place today.  My initial thoughts were that this was an opportunity to go to a party dressed as spaghetti, but actually its about eating pasta and ‘carb loading’ whatever that means.  Like I said – it’s all a bit serious.  You need to put medical info on the back of your number.  There is a sweeper bus and if you fall behind it you are out of the race.  Drop out points are from 8.5 miles onwards for those who can’t continue.  You have to put a microchip on your shoes.  I’m not starting from the back of the pack, but in the middle-ish – how the heck did that happen?

Among others I know who are doing it there is much talk of motivational playlists.  I’m a bit worried about this one as well as I had anticipated getting through on the podcasts I’m currently listening too – The Knitmore Girls, The H2O Show and The Knit Wits.  There’s nothing like hearing about how someone’s jumpers going to cheer you up.  But now I’m thinking I should be lining up something more motivational as everyone has told me this won’t be enough – maybe I should see if I can find a really hardcore podcast – one where they bring up the sheep, spin its wool, knit a jumper and then wear it in a really reckless way.  Like near a fire or something.  Or maybe wash it with no reference to the washing instructions.

When it comes to what to wear, we are of course at the mercy of the flighty North East weather – but at least I have some proper kit now – who knew trainers wore out?  And the RNLI have helpfully provided a ‘subtle’ bright yellow top.

I can’t lie – I am terrified and feed a bit sick every time I think about it.

And I still hate running.

Something to write home about
August 29, 2012, 8:54 pm
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So this weekend was packed at the sailing club – we had visiting T15 windsurfers, cruising, racing, BBQing and the clubs Little Americas Cup on Monday.  It was probably the busiest weekend the club has seen for a while – despite appalling weather – veering from no wind and sunshine, to torrential rain with anything from no wind to really strong gusts coming in.

Now the Little Americas Cup is one of my favourite events – in homage to the original yacht racing in which our Olympic Gold Medal winner Ben Ainslie is competing at the moment.  Sorry – promised I would drop the Olympics didn’t I.

You’ll notice I said ‘Little’.  So don’t think this

think this

It’s a one day series ran in those infamous Toppers…… yep we’re back to those again… and the whole club match races against each other in these tiny craft, all on the same course in back to back races ran really close to shore for maximum jeering.  It can be a long day as you need to race everyone in your group and then there are semi’s between your group and the other groups and then up to a finals.

Having not done enough sailing this year I really felt this would be a great idea – especially in the sheeting rain with promises of big winds and gusts of up to 38 knots.  What I actually thought was ‘what the hell, I’m always knocked out early doors and at least I’ll have shown willing and with any luck I’ll be able to justify some cake if I’ve been sailing’.

So after an evening of preparing in the bar we were all ready to go.

Race preparation well under way

Following my recent posts about Ood’ing it’s also a really complicated one to run.  This year our Rear Commodore was back in the chair having ran this for a number of years.  And he did something I have never seen before.  Set up a course with a running start.

What this means is that the start line is DOWNWIND, round a P course and then a beat UPWIND to the finish.  I only worked out what this meant as I wasn’t in the first race, so I could watch how to do it, but the course looked a little like this –

I’ll have a P please Bob

Actually the wind and rain were a bit more wonky than that, but you get the gist!

So the clubs six Toppers were rigged and tied to the jetty and the racing began.  Each race is between two people from a group – and three of these races take place on each start.  So you get a hoot to start the countdown – which is two minutes and at the end of this two minutes the first pair set off, followed a minute later by the next pair, and the third pair go a minute after that!  Added to which to keep it fair you must change boat every race – so that there is no tactical advantage from one of the very high quality boats being set up better than another (i.e. having all its bits in working order).  The boat to avoid has usually been Jester – with a slow leak, but after some remedial work prior to last years race he went from zero to hero becoming the most favoured boat due to his racing orange colouring.

It’s not confusing at all.

On top of this watching the adults trying to climb onto these ridiculously light boats from the jetty is a sport all of its own… I wasn’t the only one who had my only capsize while trying to swap boats between races.

But the unusual course and start were not the only oddity.  This year we had the tightest racing the club has seen in at least my time.  People were doing tactical maneuvers, ‘covering’ people on the upwind leg, positioning themselves for mark overlaps, stealing wind on the downwind and generally doing things you would not expect to see.  And as its so far into shore and ran from the jetty – there are always lots of spectators waiting for their next race – cheering – and it turns out… taking notes.

So what started as a few people who had worked out some tactics, became a few more people who had also got tactics, followed by lots of people who had tactics and the tightest racing we have seen for ages.  Both the semi finals and finals all went to sail-off’s the results were so close.

Watch and learn

So why am I telling you all this?

Well firstly because I thought you would be interested in what is in our club an unusual and fun event, secondly to tell you about an exciting downwind start, thirdly to share what a great way of running racing this is for raising the standard of racing across your club and get more people involved, and lastly

Thunderous applause from the crowd

I actually came third in a proper race event.

I still don’t believe it.

I promise no more Olympics…..
August 20, 2012, 6:06 pm
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…once you have watched this.





August 16, 2012, 11:45 am
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This strange race is much misunderstood.  Unattractive, with a tentacled face, gleaming red eyes and requiring an interpreter they do however speak with one voice, based around their low-level telepathic field, which also allows them to project through time and space.

This is what I did at the weekend.  No really – ood stands for Officer of the day.  So on this day, once a year I have to be calm, consistent, organised, encyclopaedic about RYA rules and beyond reproach.

(OK, OK, the club changed the duty last year from ood – splitting it into to ROD and COD (race officer of the day and committee on duty) – but to me we’ll always be ood’s – there’s nothing like pushing through a lunch que declaring ‘ood coming through’ while waggling your hand in front of your face.)

It’s normally a disaster.  Last year I got shouted at for running all the timings wrong in the Stern Chase (I wasn’t – they were right – no consolation), had to check who won with the two lead boats as I wasn’t sure from the angle they finished at and didn’t manage to log finishes at all in the Ramblers series.  Fortunately the competitors were all pretty forgiving – especially when one of them twigged I had gone to hide in the race office and cry.

But it’s a really stressful day, allot to cope with on your own, and as our duties tend to be on the same day each year I always get the same challenging mix of races – two short back to backs ran on the water in the morning, followed by a one hour shore start Stern Chase (often with half a dozen and more different classes all with a different time start) with an on the water finish followed by one long race usually started and finished from the shore.

Phew.  We run handicap racing at the club too – so following all of these you then need to be able to work the race program on the club abacus computer to get a result.

After last year I swore never again.

I’ll tell you what happened tomorrow.

Who knew I won Gold?
August 13, 2012, 4:13 pm
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So the Olympics are finished and life can get back to normal.  So what does that mean?  Well for a start we can all stop watching sport at every available moment – I even found myself actively engaging in a bout of jumping earlier last week – trust me – put Olympics in the title and I was quite literally watching anything.  Turned out we are good at jumping and got Gold in it – who knew??

We can also stop being a little smug about our medal haul – none of us are actually smug – we are just trying to cover how totally amazed we are with how well we have done.  And in who has achieved – allot of our ‘nailed on’ medals didn’t come off, or didn’t do as well as we would have hoped, while in other areas (dancing horses anyone?) we have surprised everyone.

I can finally put my flags away – they came out for the Jubilee and have taken up residence since – and I have never owned a flag prior to this.

The London transport system can stop emailing me thanking me for not using it – I’ve never seen a business so pleased that I have avoided it and chose other modes of transport instead (primarily, not going to London, and walking when I had to go, or even on one occasion going in an Olympic Lane in a taxi – I was so excited…).

For special people only

But what I am most excited about is how much of a medal I have won.  Obviously by being a taxpayer and buying lottery tickets all the athletes funding has actually come from me (and the rest of the British public).  So based on the 63,600,000 people there are in Britain (well, the UK), I calculate that I have personal possession of 0.00000102201 of one of our 65 medals.  I’m so proud.

If you try and work out how much of a gold medal I have won however calculators start doing funny things – mine tells me I have won 4.55974843e-7 of one of our Gold medals.  That’s maths too hard for me, so I’ll stick with ‘some’ of a gold medal is mine….!

They are made from gen-u-ine gold

So for a little wincey country I think we have done pretty good – and it’s just been announced that on the back of our success kids will be doing more sport at school, increased spending will be available for continued investment in sport both at community and elite level, and we will all be taking an increased interest in Handball and Taekwondo.

Net gain in sailing club members over this time?  Nil.

Drastic action is required to capitalise on Olympic enthusiasm.  Watch this space.

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