Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Sailing a laser

Was a new experience....well not quite new but an extremely long time ago.
I have become sedentary in Arwen. Clearly!
Oh my! It was like stepping into a Ferrari! 

Picture the scene. A lovely gently sweeping broad bay, some fifteen miles of golden sandy beaches from one headland around to the next. A vast bay. Onshore breezes, blowing at around force four. The biggest dinghy sailing beach operation in the med and a team of beach crew who are all outstanding in their respective fields. 

Waves out in the bay, some breaking at their tops. Waves breaking onto the beach in regular lines. The beach slopes and suddenly drops a few feet just inside the breaker catches the unwary. The waves come directly onshore in regular lines. They aren't high but they do give tremendous 'surfing' potential for lasers because you are approaching the beach directly downwind!!! You have to turn at the last moment into a beam reach and then pull up dagger board, steer immediately head to wind, release rudder down haul and jump out on the windward side. If all goes well, your laser is pointing head to wind and the breaking wave actually carries it stern first up the beach for you.

Now I am not one to gloat. Honest. But I have to say I was over come with smugness as I watched the advanced laser class come in and five of them manage to capsize onto the beach causing pandemonium for the beach recovery crews.  Whilst they were standing around, the capsized advanced class, feelings somewhat sheepish, I managed to do a textbook landing. It was impressive, it looked good and I have to confess it was sheer blind luck not skill. But as one of the beach crew said...." There is no need to tell the advanced class that!"

I did capsize twice. Mental note to oneself....never, I repeat never, try and gybe as a wave rolls under you! Lesson learned hard way made funnier by the fact that the dagger board fell out and so trying to right the boat became comical but I managed to sort and do it in under a minute which the safety boat said was impressive.  I say desperate men can do amazing things when pushed to extremes!

And all that main sheet stuff sloshing around your feet? Yep it caused the second capsize. I went to dump the mainsail when caught in a vicious gust and was somewhat dismayed to find my foot and leg going with it through the ratchet block, so to speak.........spectacular capsize.  Ever skimmed stones across a pond? Ever seen a human replicate a skimming stone? But, I did hold onto the main sheet even though I was some ten feet away from the boat. They need to trim their main sheets that's all I have to say on the matter.

As a teacher it is always a joy to see young people, from tot's to those in their early twenties, enjoying themselves, learning new things and just having fun. It is what keeps teachers young at heart.  I know what possessed me to get into a laser...the fact that in my head I am still thinking like when I was twenty seven, only with more wisdom and experience. The body, of course, reminds me frequently that actually I am fifty two, short, fat and unfit!

I cannot begin to describe how much fun I had today on the water. I think I have done over a hundred sit ups today trying to keep the boat balanced and trimmed. I genuinely can't move and will pay a huge price tomorrow. If I drop a fork in the restaurant tomorrow morning, I'm in BIG trouble!

The scenery is classic Mediterranean. The mountains on the eastern end of the bay are huge. And they come right down to the shore, their slopes a mix of rock and dry yellows soil and bleached vegetation scrub. between those mountains and the very high hill at the other end of the bay is a large flat plain of farmland, right down to the beach edge. Broken up by olive groves, farmhouses, and some areas of woodland, irrigation is a must. Each little Greek house has trees around it to provide it with shade, all are fruit trees of some form. A little vegetable plot next to that and then the endless fields, all strip farming.

The Greek staff are just as lovely and welcoming as the English Neilson team. I chatted briefly to some of the estates team this morning...broken English between us.......I have no idea what they were trying to tell me about the land either side of the hotel but there were lots of smiles from what must have been a sixty plus man. His skin was nut brown, his hair grey flecked with white. His smile was dazzling and his eyes twinkly and full of warmth and humour. This man was wise, fun and clearly well respected.

My fingers are ceasing up, not the only bit of me to feel this effect I have to confess. My Royal Marine colleague in school is often wont to remind me "remember steve.........'no pain no gain'". And his favourite "remember steve its all mind over matter......I don't mind and you don't matter"
Goodnight everyone sleep tight...and if your time zone is somewhat different to mind......morning folks and have a great day


Rik said...

Vroeeeemmm... Great post Steve.

steve said...

Thanks Rik
Certainly was fun when the wind got to or e here or so