Monday 28 February 2011

A night out

I left the beach at midday ready for a night out and having packed all the important things including fresh mussels, prawns, fish stock, garlic and parsley. I pointed the bow towards Vilanova, fifteen miles northeast.
In the gusty northwesterly wind I reefed, unreefed, double reefed, reefed, unreefed, double reefed again rather more tidily. And sailed large at 2 to 8 knots.
A large swell rolled up and OB surfed into the low teens. I’ve rarely had the boat howling along so and, due to our speed, Vilanova turned up far earlier than was decent or proper.
The Guardia Civil hailed me at the port entrance and I broke a thole pin pretending that I was in control rowing downwind in 16 knots. The harbour master welcomed me but it was a struggle to reach the dock and shake his hand.
After an afternoon drinking beer in the company of sailors I abseiled back down to the boat and rowed off, singing to lower quay. Here I hoisted the boat tent and got down to business. First I fried some prawns with a goodly amount of garlic and chilli, then I set them aside while I added a goodly amount of white wine to the pot along with the fish stock and a few handfuls of rice.
I ate the prawns while the broth simmered then added the mussels and a goodly amount of parsley.
And the light shone down upon the fish soup.
Nursing a sweet hangover I packed up, tidied and made breakfast. While eating I had perhaps the most profound thought of my entire exisistence.
‘What would life be without bacon and eggs.’
I said goodbye to my ostentatious nieghbour but was unable to compliment him on his taste.
I rowed round to the beach and negotiating the remains of the swell hauled out at the ramp. Here I met two hobie cat sailors who’d sailed nearly the same route as myself at the same time yesterday. They told me a tale of 20 knot winds and three metre waves that ended with a nasty pitchpoling and them limping in, cold and tired as darkness fell. Without wanting to sound too smug I commented that sometimes a versatile boat makes all the difference.

Lessons learnt:
Cruising is possible in February.
OB is an easy boat to sail, comfortable in surprisingly harsh conditions. In fact the more I sail this boat the more she rises to each occasion.
Rowing downhill in strong winds is not her forte, she wants to turn side on. I need a scrap of sail somewhere to keep her heading straight.
The Guardia Civil are a pain in the nuts.
Each half of a mussel shell makes the most exquisitely designed spoon, perfect for shovelling in rice and silky soup.
OB is a fine cruising boat. But it’s important to stay supple. And probably better if you don’t have to rely on too much sleep.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Onawind Blue in Children’s literature

You know how badly represented boats often are in children’s books. Backwards rigs on unstayed masts, inconsistent wind direction. We’ve all had a good laugh, or cry, over them. So it was not only an honour to have my little boat immortalised on the page but also nice to see that the wind and rig are in harmony.

The illustrator is Elena Val and the book, with original text in Catalan by Teresa Duran, is called ‘Banyeta’ meaning 'little horn', more or less. The Spanish edition is titled ‘Diablote’—‘little devil’ and the English version, avoiding all religious overtones, plumps for ‘Benedict’. ‘Benedict is published solely in Canada by Groundwood Books / House of Anasi Press of Toronto, Ontario.

Without wanting to spoil the story for prospective readers it’s about a little devil who leaves his firey underworld in search of a more clement atmosphere only to find that other places—the north pole, the desert, the jungle—also have a fairly inhospitable, monotonous climates. And then he discovers the sea...

This is Elena’s first published book and the first step in carving herself a well-deserved niche as an illustrator of children’s books. She is also part of the creative team that has designed ‘Posa’t un conte’ an educational tool for young children that explores creative ways of exploring and solving emotional and communicative issues. Elena loves the sea and has been sailing for about two years. She’s always game for a sail or row in Onawind Blue.

Elena Val rowing Onawind Blue.