Sunday, 3 May 2009
I'm always excited about trying new things, and I love the water, so it's frankly amazing I've managed to reach my current age without learning to sail. It's been on my 'must do' list for quite some time.
So, when a couple of our friends phoned up and asked whether we'd like to join them at their sailing club yesterday, it was obvious what the answer was going to be. We got up early, dressed in clothes deemed suitable for falling in the water, and drove north. I took my old camera - I knew there'd still be times when a waterproof camera would come in handy.
When we arrived there was no wind, so we went for a walk along the river in the opposite direction to where we'd later be sailing.
Then, after a light picnic lunch, the wind was still patchy so I asked for an explanation of how sailing actually works. Barry drew me a diagram:
As he was sketching he explained about the wind on the sails creating a Bernoulli effect, and we talked about resolving vectors and the use of the centreboard and rudder. He noted that it was much easier to explain to someone who understood physics (the whole conversation took about two minutes), and for my part it seemed a good enough explanation so that I'd understand why we were doing different things on the boat.
Then it was time to put the sails up. There was still very little wind, but we decided to give it a go.
Look at the big orange bucket, there for bailing "just in case":
I started off at the front of the boat with my husband, and we each had one side of the rope to control the jib sail (that's the little one at the front).
We pottered along the river trying to work out where the wind was coming from (it's harder when it's only a very light breeze). I found out that that there are little pieces of string tied on to the ropes & sails, which blow around and give you some indication of wind direction, and they're called tell tales. Or possibly tell tails, since they're somewhat tail-like. I'm very taken with the name, anyway.
A bit further down the river, Barry suggested I should try steering, though I wouldn't let him leave me alone at the back of the boat - what if I'd got it wrong?! But after a few minutes' practical tuition (and now that way - no, that's too far!... etc.) I was happily in control. Then the wind picked up, I got a bit panicked for a moment, and then I really started to enjoy it.
The wind kept going for us until we were on our way back - then it dropped so much that we eventually had to paddle a little way just to keep the boat moving. So that was another thing I learnt - luckily, with four of us on board, two of us could paddle while someone else kept us on course by steering.
Back at the sailing club we had hotdogs and pizza, and some very chocolatey dessert, before making our way home for the night.