Sign up your free travel blog today!
Username: Password:
Our Blog Our Photos Our Diary Our Movies Our Map Message Board
Buy Gift Voucher

The Filthy Lucre Tour
Aborted barbecue
24th Apr 2006
How Not To Go Dinghy Sailing

About a year ago, Kiki and I attended level one (of four) of the RYA's Dinghy Sailing Course, at Stoke Newington Reservoir. We had a super time, but then somehow failed to find enough weekends to do level two and it all rather fell by the wayside. Imagine my joy when a query to 82ASK (text message 82275 a question and they'll answer it for you, for a quid - more useful than you'd think when you are rather internet connectionless) revealed that we could hire a dinghy in Coniston, just a couple of minutes from our camp site. Kiki politely declined this chance of a lifetime, but Marcroft and I were thrilled to discover that actually every single dinghy was available for hire, and there was a smashing breeze to give us a turn of speed.

As Kiki sat down with a coffee and (sadly) the camera at the lakeside cafe, Marcroft and I leapt enthusiastically into our dinghy. I didn't remember quite as much about dinghy sailing as I thought I might, and after briefly crashing into the ferry about three feet after pushing off, I realised that one important part of sailing a boat is holding onto the tiller. A few seconds later, though, we were off and making reasonably good speed across the lake. And getting faster, in fact. I let out some sail and steered a little more into the wind, reducing our speed to what felt like about thirty knots as I wondered how in the name of christ we were going to get back to the jetty we'd just started at. We got to the other side of the lake, executed a tack that would have been improved by my holding the rope with the sail attached to it all the way through the turn, and not having the tiller under my leg once we'd turned around. An even faster ride back across the lake resulted in a tack so close to capsize that I am stil largely unaware of what happened. What I hadn't realised was that Marcroft, somehow, had been under the impression that my cries of expletives and plaitive mumbles about not being as easy as I remembered it were all bravado, and actually I was in complete control of the entire unfolding disaster. As we approached Mach 1 back across the lake, the enormous waves ripping over the bow of the boat as I lay on my front trying to untangle the sail-rope-thing from the steering bit at the back, Marcroft chortled heartily and heaved even harder on the jib thing, which I'm thinking now was perhaps making us go even faster. As I wondered whether swimming back to the jetty was actually impossible or just ludicrously dangerous, fortune finally favoured us. Our forth tack resulted in us facing directly into the wind, sitting on opposing sides of the boat, the tiller somewhere up my trouser leg and the rope thing wrapped around my midrift, the whole setup zooming at a great speed towards a rocky beach on the far shore. We ran aground at a mere seventy miles per hour or so and to my delight appeared to be completely stuck. The force eleven gale was flapping the sails so loudly that we could barely talk and the wind even on the side of the boat was enough to make us feel it was about to be pushed over. We felt the best plan would be to put the sails away completely (they just didn't seem to be our thing) and try to paddle the boat back to shore with the two canoe paddles we'd helpfully been left in the boat. As we tried to get the sails down, a nice man from the boat hire place in a speedboat turned up and, after a not inconsiderable amount of difficulty, managed to get down the sails, tow us off the beach and take us back to the jetty. The owner of the ferry we crashed into appeared to find the whole incident really rather amusing, and toasted our bravado at taking out a dingy in such hilarious weather, when nobody else would dare. I decided against asking for a refund for the remainder of our two hour boat hire fee (we'd used nearly an hour, though perhaps only twenty five minutes of what might pass for sailing). The chap who towed us back suggested that next time we might like to rent a motor launch, as it seemed more our sort of thing.

Once back on dry land, we took the awning down again - I reckon it's going to be a good thing to have in warmer countries, as it's surprising how handy having some of your own outside space is. We failed to get the barbecue going yesterday, and I failed to buy the necessary connector today. Hopefully we'll get one in Edinburgh, and then we can start cooking outside a bit.

Next: Two new sports in a day
Previous: Coniston Old Man (It's a Mountain, Not a Medical Condition)

Diary Photos

Aborted barbecue

Sailors` briefing

Sailors` departure

Sailors` first tack

Sailors` return under tow

Evening on Coniston, below campsite

Sailors` halt

Sailors` rescue

893 Words | This page has been read 117 timesView Printable Version