Serendipitous Sail

I was out walking in Bourne End last week while in the UK, and I was surprised to see a clutch of OK dinghies – 4m sailing dinghies – sitting on the grass by the Thames. This is a boat I used to sail when I was a teenager in New Zealand. It’s a single-hander, quite challenging, and lots of fun. Standing around were a group of people with name tags. It turns out this was the official 50th birthday party of the boat!

I gate-crashed the party, and secured an invitation to sail in an informal race as a result of the kindness of one of the sailors there. After rushing away and borrowing some clothes I came back and with some trepidation launched myself into the river. The thing about these boats is that the boom comes very low – in my old boat it would actually touch the deck. The implication of this is that you need to be flexible and quick to avoid cracking yourself with the boom, or getting it caught on your head or life jacket – usually with disastrous consequences.

I discovered that while I could still sail the boat, I am far from competitive, and made a rash of mistakes that led to a less than stellar result in the race. Still, I beat a number of people, including a few who sail those boats regularly at that club, so not too bad, I guess. And I should mention perhaps that a few of the sailors are in the top 100 worldwide, so I think I did OK. To my chagrin I found that after the race was over, and the boat returned to its owner, I was so stiff and sore I could hardly walk! But it was well worth it, and a serendipitous pleasure on the last day of my trip to the UK.

…I should point out that the picture above is not of me…but I may be somewhere in this one which was taken on the day, prior to the rather messy start of our race.

Sailing in the Bay

Merit 25After a busy week we all went up to Redwood City and spent a couple of hours out on the water in a Merit 25. The boat is apparently based on the J24, but has better accomodation and is more of a cruiser. The boys enjoyed taking the helm and helping with the rigging, and of course sitting on the bow getting wet as we surfed down the waves!

It was surprisingly warm, with moderate winds and waves. Nice to be out on the water again, even if in a very tender monohull (half-cat). Two hours really only gives enough time to go out and come back – tacking out, running back – although the wind changed a bit on the way back in and we ended up close-hauled for a while and had to tack up the channel.

The affair was organized by Spinnaker Sailing – they offer Friday night sails as well as club memberships, bareboating, classes etc.