Tuesday 19 November 2019

of two gigs, a cold, a drift and an overrun

Friday 15th & Saturday 16th: two gigs. Feeling distinctly under the weather, so skipped karate Saturday morning. The worry with a cold isn't the discomfort or fatigue, just that if it goes to my chest and develops into a cough, it strips out my voice. An hour of heavy exercise always seems to encourage that, even if I'll otherwise feel better for it afterwards, so I stayed home Saturday morning instead and lazed around the house until it was time to head down to Bristol for the second gig.

Sunday 17th: sailing. Two races, crewing for Barry in his Albacore. It was an absolute drift when I arrived. The lake was still mirror smooth when we launched. And then, as if by magic, the wind filled in. Not by much, but enough to keep us moving. 24 boats on the line for the first race, and we botched the start, getting caught over and having to go back around the Committee Boat. We were saved by an early tack onto port towards an empty right hand side of the course and clean air, and clawed our way back through the fleet to finish a credible 4th.

Only 20 boats for the second race, but we got a much better start, leading the fleet around the windward mark, and extending our lead to finish 1st, beating the second boat, another Albacore, by 7 seconds. That was our best result so far, and might be the last time I sail with Barry for a while as I'm racing at Frampton next Sunday (or will be away with Dad and Calstar) and the Sunday after am travelling down to Lyme Regis with Amanda to look at an Albacore we're thinking of buying for ourselves.

I got home Sunday afternoon to find our daughter Tash had decided to pay us a visit. Nik had a short shift at the shop that evening, so it fell to me to cook supper for us all. The only complaint was that I should've cooked more. Apparently it's not enough to simply double up when the recipe is for two and you've got to feed four. Appropriate portion sizes are not my family's strong point.

Tuesday 19th: as of now, at home waiting for the fitter to arrive to start on our bathroom. His last job has over-run and so we've so far lost a day and a half. He said this morning he'd be here for around lunch time. Which is about now. Of the dogs, Boo (the blond, slightly anxious fur-child) was dropped off at my in-laws this morning; they're dog-sitting him this week and next and, surprisingly, seemed utterly delighted when I dropped him off. The other two are with me and I've promised them a walk, but we can't go till the fitter has got here and we've settled him in.

Lilly and Jack are not impressed.

Friday 15 November 2019

of first snow & a lazy Friday

Yesterday. It fell overnight on the hills, but the temperature had warmed back up above zero by the time I drove into the office around 0800, and the snow had turned to heavy rain washing it all away. Winter is nipping at our heels.

It was a cold, wet gloaming of a late autumn morning. The forecast suggests it will dry up for the weekend, windy tonight and tomorrow morning, then calm for Sunday. When, of course, I go sailing. Typical.

I have today off work so I'm sat at my desk at home drinking a leisurely cup of tea at 0730 when I'd normally be hustling to get out the door and on the way to the office. It's not unpleasant.

The excuse, if one is needed: delivery of a new bathroom that's getting fitted next week this morning, an early gig over in Cheltenham later this afternoon. Could've just gone in late and snuck out early, but seemed simpler and more honest to take the day as a holiday.

Monday 11 November 2019

Calstar: June 2018

Note that the post that follows was written in June 2018, and has been languishing in my "Drafts" folder ever since. Why I never finished or published it I don't know; too many other distractions I imagine.

I was just going to delete it, but reading through put a smile on my face, and in two days time Calstar will have been ours for five years; we bought her 13th November 2014.

Time has flown. We've had a few good trips out with her this year, but not as many as I'd wanted. Band commitments, more than anything else, really get in the way. By the end of this year we will have done 41 gigs; a little down on 2018 and 2017, but not by much. I guess the real difference is that she's now two and a half hours down the motorway in Plymouth. A five or six hour round trip does limit the day sailing opportunities somewhat.

There is always a small temptation to bring her back to Cardiff or Portishead. But then we wouldn't have adventures like the Fowey and Falmouth I write about below. Another reason to share an old, unpublished post, instead of just hitting the delete button.

Ten days away on a boat and only four days sailing is a little bit shocking by my usual standards, but is about the pace we usually end up setting when Nik joins us, and admittedly is a pace Dad's really very comfortable with these days.

Remember what I said about journeys and destinations?

It was always our intention to loiter in Fowey for the first weekend. It was the 8th annual British Moth "Sea Championships". That has to be taken a little bit tongue-in-cheek. The Moths have always been an easy going, humorous fleet, at least those I've associated with, and the British Moth being a definite inland boat originally intended to catch the light, fickle airs between the high-sided banks of a river, a salt water event is always going to be amusing.

I'm not sure it's actually a part of their official calendar, though I might be wrong.

In any case, I raced at the first, those many years ago, and have been to each since, with the exception of two. So the intention was always to make this one and catch up with old friends.

In return for taking him out for a a crash course in asymmetrics with his Topper 14 on Saturday, New Boy even lent me his Moth so I could  join in with the racing on Sunday afternoon whilst Nik "went shopping". I didn't do too badly, all things considered. And it was a great reminder of what I love about these boats; close racing, fun to sail, and they try to kill you if it gets too windy.

I might even have managed to secure the loan of a boat for their Nationals later this year. But we'll see, much as I'd dearly love the chance to race at the Nationals again, I won't hold Gary to that.

We ate ashore at the Fowey Gallants on Friday night, had the skinniest grilled mackerel in the world at The Galleon on Saturday night; my favourite Fowey pub, beer and view highly recommended, food not so much.

Friday night we spent on the pontoon at Berril's Yard. Easy access to the shore, and (and this was the clincher for Dad) shore power available for £2.50 a night, the theory is you're not supposed to be on the pontoon before 1600 and off again by 1000. So Saturday 1000 we duly moved off and over to one of the floating island pontoons on the other side of the river, intending move back later in the afternoon.

By lunchtime somebody had beaten us to it, with another yacht rafted up to them, and everybody settled in for the night. The two hour restriction that's supposed to apply between 0800 and 1800 isn't particularly enforced by the Harbour Master (as one of the harbour patrol cheerfully confirmed to us the following morning). The deal seems to be get on as soon as you can, and if you're willing to pay the extra for a shore-connected pontoon, stay there.

Dad elected to relax aboard Saturday, so I ferried Nik to shore in the tender. We timed our return to the boat later that afternoon disastrously, the heavens opened and she and I got an absolute soaking.

To avoid the perils of my ferrying both Dad and Nik back to the boat drunk and in the dark on Saturday night, we forked out a fiver each for the Water Taxi to ferry us across and back. We ate (in my case the afore mentioned skinny mackerel) on the patio of the Galleon and, just as we finished our food, the wind suddenly started whipping down the harbour, heavens opened up once again, and we were treated to the unexpected twenty minute spectacle of an almighty thunder storm battering Fowey.

And better to watch it from the pub than the boat, we all agreed.

The following evening, the boat back on the shore power on the Berril's Yard Pontoon, we ate with the Moths at the Rashliegh Arms looking over the beach at Polkerris. A lovely pub in a lovely setting with lovely company. And lovely food and lovely beer.

It was a still, hazy evening. Would've been perfect for sailing around and anchoring off for the night. A note to keep that in mind for the next time.

The passage from Fowey to Falmouth, and perhaps the lunchtime meal and beer we awarded ourselves with at a harbour-side pub on arrival, wiped Dad out. So Monday evening, Nik and I left him snoozing on the boat and snuck up to Falmouth town for romantic meal for two. I can't remember the last time we did that. After some time spent walking and down the main street trying to decide where to eat, we settled on a South African restaurant called Amanzi. The food was delicious.

On Tuesday, Dad suggested we revisit an old favourite for lunch, The Pandora Inn in Restrongeut. Whilst I was still pondering over tide tables, trying to decide where to drop anchor and ferry the crew in by tender, Dad summarily cut through the logistics and booked the Falmouth Water Taxi to take us.

We enjoyed a couple of hours, and a couple of pints or so, on the pontoon outside the pub before the taxi returned to ferry us back.

Tuesday evening we ate at a restaurant called The Bosuns Mate. One of the specials was a hand made steak burger plus a pint for a mere £7. I don't really do burgers if I have any choice so opted for the fish, but did volunteer to take care of the pint for Nikki. At that price, I wasn't expecting much of the burger (a beer alone was £4.50) but was, hands down, very impressed at what actually turned up on Nik's plate.

Mind you, the fish I'd opted for was also good.

Wednesday was a rain day. We stayed on the boat and read. It really wasn't such a bad deal at all, very relaxing. I got a lot of reading done this holiday, working my way through most of Bernard Cornwall's Warlord Chronicles.

Thursday back in Fowey, Dad, Nik and I ate at Sams. There was an hour's wait to get seated at that time of the evening, but the beer made waiting at the bar a not unpleasant experience, as did the wit of the proprietor, serving behind the bar and managing his staff and customers with flair and good humour. I had bouillabaisse, a rich fish stew, and it was delicious.

After eating, both Nik and Dad retired to the boat whilst I headed over to the Galleon to catch up with New Boy, Olga and the die hard Moths that hadn't yet gone home for the last night of their week away in Fowey. We spent the evening on the pub's patio veranda, overlooking the harbour, slightly damp because of the light rain, but not cold.

Good company, and we drank rather a lot.

[11/11/2019: And the rest remains unrecorded]

Snapshots of a weekend

Friday 8th: Nik finished work late, so I cooked supper. Found a bottle of red wine in the kitchen that had, somehow, escaped my attention since last Christmas. They don't tend to survive more than twenty-four hours in this house.

Saturday 9th: Canvassing in Gloucester in the pouring rain and howling winds. There is a reason winter elections are not common. Given how I often spend my spare time, you can imagine I'm not a stranger to being cold and wet. I can't say I've never been as cold and as wet as we got on Saturday, but I can say not often, and not for a while. Saturday night, by contrast, was a warm affair. A lively, fun gig at the White Swan in Downend, Bristol.

Sunday 10th: Was, of course, spent racing. Albacores at South Cerney. More than twenty boats out on the water, various classes. I've decided this is the way to go for next year, so am now looking for an Albacore of my own. Amanda has joined South Cerney with me, so I have my regular crew once we get a boat. It's not going to be a wooden one.

Monday 4 November 2019

In precis of the weekend

This is as political as I will get on this site; the world is a broad church and whilst I feel very invested in the result of the upcoming general election on 12th December, politics seems to suffice every other aspect and avenue of our lives at the moment.

I know I have friends of many and diverse political opinions, some right to my way of thinking and some really quite wrong. But we'll still be friends long after the 12th is over, and would save my arguments with them for more appropriate forums.

This is not a political blog (not that I'm sure it has any coherent, consistent theme at all) and I've no wish to alienate anybody here.

But I did really like the above photo, and it was what I was doing with my Saturday afternoon.

The lady centre frame is Ash Sarkar, one of a few guest speakers at our local parliamentary candidate's campaign launch. Another of the guest speakers is sat in a blue shirt frame right, a couple of rows in front of me, next to our candidate herself.

After the campaign rally I went home and cooked supper for Nikki and Sam.

I am fond of cooking with wine, although hard won, occasionally painful and sometimes quite bloody experience has taught me to try and make it a rule not to open the bottle until I've finished all the cutting and chopping.

Of course, rules were made to be broken. And I still have all my fingers intact, so no harm, no foul.

Sunday was my turn at Frampton as race officer.

It was the last set of the nine Club Championship races at Frampton. A lovely day to be sat on the committee boat, even if the conditions did make it a little challenging to set an appropriate course over the three races of the day.

The weather did pick up as the day progressed however.

The Championship at Frampton is now over. The reigning champion Pete Dalton convincingly held on to his title. Mike Crowley squeezed in clear by one point into 2nd place, and Rob Cyphus took 3rd. Despite a strong start at the beginning of the year, I failed to keep it consistent, and so Rob beat me quite convincingly into 4th place by two points.

I'm especially pleased that Mike beat me. I've frustrated him quite enough in various other matches over the last season. I find it's good to keep him on his toes, I think he enjoys it really.

So I'm not discontent. Despite the ups and downs and nagging, persistent injury to my shoulder and arm, racing the Laser this year has been really very good fun. 4th place in the Club Championship is, I think, my best result yet, and I've picked up the odd good result or two in the various other of the club series to earn a respectable piece of glassware again for myself once this season is finally over.

And hopefully, I can give that damned Capsize Trophy back!