Friday 30 March 2012


Thank Crunchy.

Gig tonight, then refuel the car, load in the luggage, dogs and kids, and head down to Cornwall in the morning. Mustn't forget the wife!

Tonight's gig is a new venue, so could go either way. Looks promising so fingers crossed.

Next week is all about chilling in good company, with good scotch, and, if we can pull it off, good sailing.

Two trips I'd especially like to  manage; Fowey around Gribbin Head to Polkeris for lunch and back, and the stretch across from Falmouth to Helford and back.

We shall see what the week brings.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Three more nights... my own bed. Then we head off to Cornwall for the week. Can't wait.

Dad is bringing the lugger, although realistically it's hard to see how much sailing we'll get done as we're not on the waterfront this year and will have to trail and sail. Okay, it's only 15 minutes from the front door of the cottage to the public slip at Fowey, so not much of a trail. But to get there  we'd have to slip by the women, dogs and children, so it's an escape that will need to be planned with both tact and precision.

Even so, still can't wait.

The forecast is suggesting the weather is going to take a more seasonal turn next week. Pitty, as the sunshine has looked gorgeous through my office window all this week.

Even so, don't really care. Still can't wait.

Three more nights and we're Cornwall-bound!

Monday 26 March 2012

Just making the startline appears to be the hardest part

Sunday dawned foggy & still, an hour earlier than the day before on account of the arrival of British Summer Time.

By lunchtime conditions were ideal for H's first race, and mindful on last week's series of blunders, we were early on the startline. Then a family emergency caused us to have to abandon the race and rush back in.

Won't bother with the details here. Suffice to say it was unfortunate but unavoidable; nobody died, all turned out well in the end, and I returned to the Club (this time with youngest son in tow) in time for
the second race. The only real casualty was H, who will now have to wait until we get back from Cornwall in mid-April before she can take the helm for her series. I haven't metioned this to her yet, but I think this might have cost us qualifying.

By the time I got back, the wind had picked up to a shifty F2, veering persistently as the afternoon wore on. We sent Sammy (afore mentioned youngest son) out to amuse himself with a friend on her Topper, re-rigged the Ent and set out for the race.

A shift put such a starboard bias on the startline as to make it all but a reaching start. We spotted it, as did one of the other Ents in the fleet, but most just queued up at the committee boat end as per normal, so pandemonium ensued as they found themselves blocked out to windward by us. A lot of (reletively good-natured) growling and shouting later and we were in the top five around the windward mark.

Despite the reasonable start, we didn't quite get the separation we needed, so got caught up with the back half of the fleet for the first half of the race. We eventually wiped them off on a capsized Laser at the windward mark which let us break free, but by then the front runners had pulled too far ahead to catch. We finally finished in 6th, beating everybody we ought to beat, but missing out on a few that I want to.

But in any case, it was a lovely day for a sail.

Friday 23 March 2012

Swapping Shirts

1400hrs Sunday sees our first race in the Spring Class Series at Frampton, having missed the start of the series a couple of weeks ago because Penny was still laid up for repairs. Really looking forward to it, despite the forecast being an easterly drift.

Probably just as well, as it means that we won't do too much damage to anyone we bash into.

My crew and I are swapping seats for this series.

Playing with plastic boats earlier this month whilst Penny was laid up

The idea is for H to take the helm for the Spring H/C Class, to give her the chance to improve her boat handling and confidence, whilst I get to play crew. The temptation to chase the silverware and helm the race myself is strong; the class fleets are smaller than the general handicap so I usually get a shot at a decent placing. That said, I typically bungle it at the last moment anyway, so I'm really just saving myself the disappointment this time around.

Bottom line is that H needs the experience and we've practiced for this all through the winter which is why the refit and maintenance of Penny got left so late and caused us to miss the start of the series. All that practice is going to pay off. She'll do fine, and I'm really looking forward to it.

In any case, I love crewing and get the chance to do it so rarely, so this is worth the investment. And our main focus this year is on the Club Championship and the Enterprise Severnside Dragon Series so giving up the Spring Class is really a small price to pay for the benefit it'll give.

It's been an uncharacteristically sunny, calm start to spring so far this year. Whilst one side of me is railing at the lack of wind, the other side is really hoping it'll all hold out till Easter. We're away to Cornwall for the first week of April, and if we get weather anything like this, it's going to be gorgeous.

The blur on the lens is proof I can capsize in any conditions!

Monday 19 March 2012

Dog Days

Despite the best intentions of an early start to fetch Penny from the garage, trail her to the Club and rig and launch in time for the noon gun, my gig the night before and the crew's compulsory attendance at the Club's fitting out supper were always going to make the odds of realising such intentions long.

The forecast was suggesting light & shifty, so the day was going to be more about simply getting the Ent back on the water. Such conditions require a deftness and precision that we frequently lack in our enthusiasm, so we entertained no huge hope or ambition for the day's racing.

In the event, we did arrive and were rigged and afloat in time for the first race, but were a minute late on the line. Left struggling through the dirty air of twenty odd other boats, it was a frustrating race that left us with 15th place out of 24 and a cockpit full of water from where, in our rush to get afloat, I'd forgotten to check the  auto-bailers were both closed.

Half hour break back on shore, we bailed the lake back out of cockpit and, a couple of cups of tea later, set out for the start line again and the second race; a pursuit with a timed start. I honestly thought we'd be there with ten minutes to spare, but on arrival behind the line were rudely awakened by the realisation that we had less than thirty seconds.

Confusion reigned, and disbelieving my own senses I muddled about trying to decide if I'd somehow got the numbers wrong. The other Enterprises lined up and crossed the line on the gun and, still befuddled, confused and totally out of sorts, we inexcusably straggled along behind them, a good twenty seconds late on the line. The Lasers started a mere ten seconds later and made short, short work of us.

Not my most glorious of moments.

We then compounded our misery by kicking open the starboard autobailer during a rolltack, and the lake puddled around our feet once more. We finished 15th place out of 26th, possibly better than we deserved, but still frustrating.

Once more ashore, we mopped the lake back out of the boat again, then consoled ourselves with more tea, shared a mircowaved Ginsters "Meat Feast" slice for lunch and refuelled with a Snickers each (we do SO know how to live!) promising ourselves we'd be absolutely certain to be on time for the third and final race.

In between munching on our late lunch, I rigged up a cunningham with some nice "honey bee" yellow 4mm Excel Control line that I picked up at the Dinghy Show a couple of weeks ago (I've been meaning to rig up the cunningham for months now) and checked the jibsheet leads. They were far to far foward (this tightens the leech; not so good in light airs) so I shifted them back a fair few notches.

We then got on the water early, keen not to be caught napping a third time. The wind had veered significantly through north and dropped to a mere drift. About halfway out to the line, to our horror and dismay we heard the four minute gun. About half the fleet were still behind us and ashore, the other half sitting quite smug behind the line and ready. In something of a panic I belatedly set and started my watch's timer, and sync'd it in with the two minute gun, finally ducking behind the line with about a minute to spare.

A quick check suggested a heavy port bias favoured a pin-end start, but the fleet seemed to be stacking up on each other at the committee boat end. We ignored them and did our own thing, and hit the line bang on and moving with the gun, a conservative couple of boat lengths in from the pin and in clean air. It paid in riches, and we were first around the windward mark by close to half a leg.

I could wax lyrical about the chase that followed. Everything just seemed to work and everything felt just right. We slowly drew away from the rest of the fleet, dogged and threatened only by another Enterprise that seemed to close up whenever we were off the wind. Enough to keep us awake and on our toes, but Penny climbed away again everytime we turned back onto a beat, restoring and consolidating our lead.

So we redeemed the day, and out of the 19 boats that set out for that final race, we placed 1st. Our first win ever with Penny. I guess after my wife spent Thursday afternoon lovingly painting the boat's name onto her hull for us, it was only right that we give the rest of the fleet the length of a race to admire her artwork on Penny's transom!

Friday 16 March 2012

Things I've Learnt This Week

That what I originally thought was a horse is in fact a bridle! Easy mistake I say.

Learnt to splice dynema.

Discovered I suck at varnishing. Cut back our last aborted final coat on the foredeck last night and tried again. Haven't been told the result yet, but when I left the garage last night it  looked like I'd dolloped too much of the stuff on this time, do am expecting to discover it has run in sheets.

Don't care. As long as she's water tight we're relaunching and racing on Sunday. Might have another go at the varnish later in the year when we repaint the hull.

Refix the fittings tonight. Then were done and ready to refloat!

Can't wait to sail. Please, please, please send me some wind (-8

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Lead a horse to water......

not THAT kind of horse!
In the end, spent most of Saturday on the water on a Laser. Doesn't seem to matter how much you sail, a different class of boat from the usual is always new bruises and new aches and pains after! Was fun though.

Just as well that I got my fix Saturday however. Sunday was varnishing instead of racing. Trouble is, what was intended as the final coat is looking most unsatisfactory now it's dry. Will have to put another coat on the foredeck Thursday evening.

But one thing is damn certain. We ARE going to race this Sunday.

Replacing the knackered old traveller track with a dynema horse, so got to teach myself how to splice dynema yesterday evening. We shall have to see if my efforts come good under load on Sunday.
So, only thing left to sort now is a bit of wind to race in please!

Think I'm going to have to reduce the size of those terminating loops. They don't need to be that big and smaller loops will mean less chafing. A job for after karate tonight, I guess.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Stalled Start to the Season

Weekend is closing in fast, and whilst repairs to the Ent are going well, we're now about a week behind, with the final coat of varnish not due on till Monday.

Which sucks. Especially after all the work and practice H has put in to be ready to take the helm for the Spring Class series which starts on Sunday.

I could sail the Europe this Sunday instead but it feels wrong to abandon my crew and anyway, there's next to no wind forecast and sailing the Europe through a drift is akin to sailing through glue!

Am supposed to be doing the racing endorsement for my instructor's ticket on Saturday, so will get a weekend sailing fix anyway [update: or perhaps not. Seems there was some confusion over my availability, so name isn't down. Might be I'm back instructing on the powerboat course as originally planned, might be I'm relegated to dog walking and garden duty?]

Garden is over growing. Maybe I should settle for dealing with that on Sunday and perhaps put the final coat of varnish on then instead of waiting till Monday?

Friday 2 March 2012

Weekend Creeping Closer

First gig of the year tonight, so it's been something of a slow start. Second gig of the year tomorrow, so the pace is picking up.

There new songs to fit in the set, so plenty of room to screw up!

Then the RYA Dinghy Show at Alexandra Palace in London on Sunday, so it's promising to be a not dull weekend :)

Thursday 1 March 2012

The Secret to Wooden Boat Maintenance

Is to keep a garage and a couple of girls with a sandpaper fetish handy at all times!

Hopefully we'll have the Ent back on the water for the start of the Spring series a week on Sunday, but it's looking dodgy.

The price of sailing her through the winter instead of laying her up and giving her a little TLC. She was fine until the recent brief freeze, but the ice has caused her varnish to lift badly just in time for the start of the season.

Hopefully a little sacrifice now will give us a full year's play to come however. RYA Dinghy Show this weekend so there wouldn't have been any sailing anyway.