I thought Finmows was going to give us a few sailing tips.
That’s the thing with boating or sailing;
with a motorcycle you can find a good road, have some fun, then barring rain, snow or a Pandemic you can go there again on any Sunday to do it all over again!
Now with boats I can only boast one memorable days sailing in all my 61 years!
We were on a family cruising holiday on the Norfolk Broads in 1976. As well as the 30 ft 5 berth cruiser we hired a dingy. Apart from using it as a tender to row ashore occasionally we didn’t get the chance to raise the sail until we got to Hickling Broad, which is a nice big spread of water to sail on.
One afternoon everyone else had gone on a walk or something and I recall having most of the broad to myself and our dingy. The sun was shining and there was a gentle but steady breeze from the east, perfect. Our boat was larger than average at 14ft with a Scandinavian ‘lugg rig’. That’s a spar at the top of the main sail as well as a boom, which gives a lot of sail without the need for a tall mast. You can also drop the mainsail quickly in an emergency. Some say the lug rig doesn’t tack as well as a plain triangular sail, but it went everywhere l wanted and it wasn’t a race anyway.
In spite of being a Holbrook boy, I was a complete novice at this, but l found that sitting low down near the rear on my life jacket
l could control the jib sail with my left hand while handling the main boom and tiller with my right.
Hickling broad had big timber marker posts lining the main channel towards the pub and moorings at the west end. I found these posts made a great slalom course to sail around as l tacked up the broad. I could tack against the wind zig zagging towards the east entrance to the broad then turn back to the west, let the boom out fully and just breeze back down the main channel to do it all again.
In those two and a bit hours l had the time and space to experiment with the jib, centre board and boom to get optimum sail power, make fast turns and sail as close to the wind as l could. I was amazed at how close you could sail against the wind coming in the opposite direction. Some clever buggers designed all those features in days of yore.
Wind is great in providing power for free!
As l got braver, l dared myself to turn as close to the marker posts as l could, actually rubbing the side (gunwhale?) of the boat against a post on one turn.
Yes, I’ve done other forms of messing about on boats, windsurfing, rafting, canoeing, but l never forget that sunny summer day under sail.