Washing Up Round Britain. The Sailing Diary.

Chapter 1 . The Honeymoon. February 27th-1st August 2010. 

So here we have it: a new hobby which could go horribly wrong. To be sure, the new club member rigging his bright red Mirror Dinghy (£100 on the club noticeboard), caused quite a splash! My new friend Colin Newton made a couple of wry comments at the time which were to set the scene for the rest of my dingy sailing enterprises. "It's customary to drop the dagger-board before hoisting the sails" and "We'll be seeing you for the races soon won't we?".

Point taken. It's important to think through what you're doing, and in which order. Also, as I discovered, there is no better learning environment that the race track!

Second trip out and I persuade Jenny to join me. "Had a lovely time" refers to me, not her. This was the day that my solo sailing career started.  

It does get more interesting from now on. However, two new themes emerged: The wild claims about 'learning all your life' and the eating of Mars Bars for Sunday Lunch. Five years later I'm still hooked on sailing, but I've exchanged 30p Mars Bars for expensive visits to the dentist.

I bet you didn't bother to read all this stuff! To summarise, I started a race, failed to tack but changed sides in the boat, capsized, was rescued and lived to tell the tail. I'm learning the hard way about gusts, wind-shifts and cold water. The next page in the diary, in case you can't be bothered to read it is about my adult beginners course on a pond by the station at Westbury. Apparently it was dug to provide a reserve of water for the steam engines and became popular with the train drivers for sailing and fishing. It is now so silted up that you can strand up in most of it. Perfect! 

Another theme emerges; Gabriel, my son is a better sailor than I am - and that's without all the practice I'm putting in. A Natural! 

Sailing day 13 (below) was a highpoint as I start to climb off the bottom place in the races and exploit a 20% novice handicap and a favourable slow boat handicap to the surprise of everyone, including me. This is the Honeymoon period and it can't last!

I can't get over my luck: With my handicap, if I sail round the course twice while the rest of the fleet sail round it three times, then I win! At the risk of being boring, (surely not?) I'm enjoying this sailing thing immensely. I go to the adult course on Fridays a and to the club to race on Sundays, and to the club any other time if the weather looks nice. Tuesday evening races are about to start too AND I've won a Kinder Egg.

Don't bother reading the next pages. They're trying to be a bit technical, especially the term 'Lycra Boys' used to describe anyone with a flashy Laser, a trendier wetsuit than mine and a will to win.

The Lycra Boys are about to eat socks. Barnesy gets a first in the first RLNI race, a 10/11 (more like it) and a 2/6. Then comes a Tuesday 1st and then a windy sail with Gabriel's mate Fynn. 

So, you were best to skim through that, and don't bother reading the stuff below either; it charts my messing up recording the all important boat timings on a duty, a lovely sail in the Smith's Wayfarer at Orford, more 2nd, 3rd and 5th places in a race at Shearwater and my first experience of planing* in a mirror. I may have touched 6 or 7 mph! Planing*, is the term used when the boat lifts onto the water and the reduced drag causes the boat speed to increase, giving a sensation similar to being on a pony when it goes from a trot to a canter. I did that once, but that's another story...

The sailing committee strike 10% off my personal handicap and still I get another 1st place. Don't bother reading it...or the next pages...it's mostly about me trying to work out how to sail up wind better...

The next two double page spreads record another 1st, a 5th, the purchase of a Laser called Fred and a family holiday to do, you've guessed it, some sailing and camping. My favourites. Poor Jenny. 

Below, the first indication that I'm interested in small cabin cruisers. 5 years later I become proud owner of a £500 example of the genre and camp it Cowes in it - as well as doing the washing up over the side.

Chapter 2, coming shortly, is about a collision, Laser sailing and more exciting stuff. The pictures get better...They could hardly get worse.

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