The Knitting Sailor


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.

 

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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.

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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….



Nine and a bit seconds
March 3, 2013, 8:14 am
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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

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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.



Quiz Question
February 17, 2013, 2:47 pm
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: ,

Boat

Anyone see what’s wrong with this?



UH OH!
February 16, 2013, 6:19 pm
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So essentially I’m pretty much all out of excuses.

This is my boat.

Home Sweet Home

That’s right a combination of the BOATFIXER and my Mr has got it down from the Lake and delivered it to my drive.  Friends are all you need.

The weather is looking totally reasonable.  It doesn’t even look like it’s going to rain.

Untitled

Hmmm. No easy out there then.

I’ve checked my boat over and only found one small issue (a hole in the deck – I fixed it with some Pritt stick.  To be fair it’s not actually fixed.  Pritt stick doesn’t actually fix boats) – but it’s good enough to sail tomorrow.

The screw thing has come out of the hole thing and now wont go back in the hole thing as the hole thing is now to big for the screw thing.

My kit is in a heap in the kitchen.  It’s all there.

I have had Facebook advice.

“Suss out the tide before you launch, STAY UP TIDE before the start, when sailing to a mark look behind as much as forward or take a good transit and STAY UP TIDE of that line, when nearing a mark STAY UP TIDE until you are clear or you will hit it. It’s easy to dive down tide but takes forever to claw back up.”

I love this the helm of Frakka… how do I admit I don’t understand it???  I know it will be wise advice – this is from someone who goes to Europeans and all sorts.  Tide?  Really?  Oh dear.

Turns out no one else I know is going.  So my first travel of the year is solo – although it’s also only 20 miles away.

My aim tomorrow?  Turn up.  Rig the boat.  Get round without drowning.

So thank you (I think) for making sure I have no excuses!

So wish me luck – Fingers crossed I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.



South Shields Splash preparation
February 15, 2013, 7:37 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , , , ,

 

Things I have done in preparation for going sailing on Sunday

• Asked on facebook if anybody else is going

• Thought about it a bit

• Checked the weather forecast from my desk – this involved both checking a website and looking out of the window, so a lot of time went into this.

• Done sit ups at least twice to get myself in peak physical condition

• Eaten some cake to make sure I am warm on the water with my extra layer of winter cake fat

 

Things I haven’t done in preparation for going sailing on Sunday

• De-grot and chase mice out of my boat

• Collect said boat from the lake

• Work out how to fix the tyre on the road trailer that has got broken over the winter so that I can collect my boat from the lake.

• Check over and re-rig my boat with kite etc.

• Pulled out my sails and inspected to ensure they are nice and sparkly

• Worked out how to get to the sailing club involved.

• Entered the regatta

• Read the sailing instructions

• Gone through and sorted out my sailing gear

 

So I am obviously SOOOO prepared!

Anything I’ve forgotten?

 

South Shields Splash



Windshift
February 4, 2013, 6:27 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , , ,

There’s that moment when you finally get everything right, your boat is running smoothly up on the plane, you have a good line, enough room from others to think and your boat is flat and you’re working hard enough to know and to feel the water hit your face and your legs are straining, but you have it and its perfect.

And then you see it.

The grey wind shadow moving down the lake which you can’t quite see from your angle over the side.  But you know the terrain, you’ve been here before and you know that any minute now it’s going to slap into you’re boat and you will have to react, you don’t know how – it might be something or nothing, but every part if you is poised for it, ready to make a move, haul in or jump back in the boat, knowing that even then it might not be enough.

I can see that shadow right now. Between work, sailing and personal I can feel my hand tightening on that sheet already and I’m holding my breath. There is so much about to hit this week – I have team meetings which I am not fully prepared for due to a number of unexpected gusts of other things that have popped up on the work front, I’m away in London the end of the week and then have two days on a safety boat course over the weekend.  I know it will be fine, but I’m panicking a little about fitting everything in and managing anything successfully.

Worry about this is the first sign of needing to get back out on a proper boat, where actually it is as easy as just trying not to fall in.  So my boat is coming back with me next weekend and I am going sailing at South Shields in their Spring event the weekend after.  Definitely.  Without fail.  Regardless of weather and the fact it’s on the sea.  And I don’t know anyone.  And I haven’t sailed for ages so I’m setting myself up to be embarrassed in front of strangers who will then think I am incompetent.

Strange – this week isn’t looking so scary all of a sudden….



No longer sailing the world
January 17, 2013, 6:56 am
Filed under: the Captains Cabin | Tags: , , ,

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…..



Now we are One

It turns out that it was a year ago today I posted my first entry on this site.  It was a bit random and primarily in response to ‘I couldn’t do that – could I?’.  Well so far it’s been a lot of fun – I think!  And looking back over the year, it turns out there are lots of things that I couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of this!

Things I have learnt from this year

  • Everyone hates running (apart from Tillerman – but I don’t actually believe him)
  • That the inventor of the Crow’s Nest was born in Whitby
  • That I DON’T NEED TO KNIT CARDIGANS
  • Spinning is really hard
  • How to taste wine (sort of – it all still tastes like wine really though)
  • Trying to teach kids anything without the benefit of chocolate is basically a waste of time
  • You actually can buy ANYTHING on E-Bay
  • How to be a better OOD!
  • We all like Dinosaurs (maybe I imagined this?)
  • Woolfest is awesome
  • Not every 50p is worth 50p
  • The Internet definitely thinks I should get a sheep

Amazing things that happened this year

  • I ran the Great North Run– who knew?!?
  • I came third in an actual proper sailing race – and got a prize to prove it
  • It was the Mr’s last year as Commodore
  • I learnt to spin
  • The dog qualified to drive a powerboat
  • We didn’t move to the country
  • I met a real life alpaca and fed it a carrot
  • I got a spinning wheel AND a knitting machine called Jeremy
  • The Olympics and the Jubilee!  Go Britain!
  • I qualified as a Dinghy Instructor
  • The Solstice at Stonehenge – kind of amazing
  • I learnt how to felt… OK it was by mistake – but let’s take it as a positive!
  • I wasn’t last at an open event

I also found some amazing people and blogs out there in the ether of the Internet – I have added a new page so if you would like to go and visit some of them then check this out.  Be warned – some of these people actually know what they are talking about!

But most of all it’s been fun to chat with you all – so thanks for dropping by…. it’s appreciated!

So what about this year?

Well I have a plan.  I need to get better at sailing and knitting.  I also need to delete the email suggesting that I take part in the Sunderland Half Marathon in April.  This is a foolish idea and no amount of looking at the email is going to get rid of the cake and beer induced wobble prior to April.

So I am going to be doing 3LT – this is the name for my new recipe for success.  Every idea needs a good marketing slogan.  And maybe a logo.

Look, Learn, Listen; Turn up, Take part and TRAVEL!

That sounds really exciting doesn’t it?




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