Wednesday, 16 January 2008
Tea and toast
I thought I might have been able to sail through the winter months wearing a selection of old clothes, bobble hats, and anoraks but then I discovered that my anorak was just a grotty cagoule with a large tear and that however careful I was the clothes got wet and I got cold. I tried my windsurfing wet suit but apart from being too tight (I looked like Blackpudding Man) it gets rather sweaty, and OB’s cockpit is not the place for rubber-clad men anyway.
In the interests of prolonged, comfortable and safe winter sailing I spent some money on some decent gear.
Some little neoprene booties, some waterproof, lined dungarees, and a waterproof smock with Velcro cuffs and neck. I geared up with plenty of underclothes and, toasty warm, went sailing.
Under an overcast sky a force three wind kicked up the odd white cap and Onawind blue bowled along. I went broad and soon the GPS was marking speeds of 4 and 5 knots. I sailed 3 miles offshore before tacking and sailing a more upwind course back towards the beach. As I neared the coast I bore away hoping to mark a healthy max speed. I gybed and headed back out then looked at the GPS. At some moment we’d hit 6.3 knots.
I sailed a windward course out to sea again. I’ve abandoned my method of sailing with the rudder raised. It may be comfortable but the GPS shows that I neither sail as straight nor as fast a course as with the rudder down. So now I tied off the rudder amidships, balanced the sails and found that OB sailed herself very well indeed.
I dug out my food bag and discovered that I’d absentmindedly packed bananas. I scoffed them down before any misfortune could befall us and pulled out another new piece of kit—a thermos flask.
Sitting on the forward thwart gazing at the empty horizon to weather sipping piping hot tea I ran into that common problem of not wanting to turn round. But eventually I did. Again after a long beat towards the beach I went broad. There was slightly more wind now and at 5 knots the sole was vibrating under my feet. I cured it by raising the centreboard and our speed increased. Watching the waves coming at our stern quarter I tried to eek out an extra knot. Then, getting very close to the beach, I went for a gybe just as a larger wave loomed behind us. OB accelerated down the wave but didn’t plane and we came round smoothly and charged out to sea again. This time we’d hit 7.4 knots.
I celebrated with more tea.
I sailed home broad always going for speed but never topping 7.4. Arriving at my launch spot without mishap it rapidly became apparent that the thermos of tea was now in my bladder.
The only way I could relieve the pressure was by hopping up and down but this was untenable for more than a few minutes. Jogging stiff-leggedly towards the dunes it became evident that the dunes were unreachable. My hands groped for my fly. I couldn’t find it. The dungarees had no fly. I pulled off my anorak, my jumper, my shirt, my tee shirt. Why had I put the trousers on first? And eventually peeled down the dungarees and opened the floodgates in the middle of the beach. Shuddering with relief I realised that but for the dungarees round my ankles I was naked and that the old couple coming towards me walking their dog were faced with a social dilemma.