26 April 2008

Little Dragon pursued by a pirate boat

Saturday and a new crew - Theresa, Martin, Max and Lewis Bail. They reported for duty promptly at 9 am to a dead calm - not a ripple on the water. We made the best of it in our own ways, Lewis jumped into the kayak and the adults brewed a strong coffee.

As soon as a light breeze got up it was really simple to get underway as the boat was afloat and rigged. So Martin, Max, Lewis and I were off. Theresa opted to stay ashore and relax after several overnight shifts at work. However Theresa can't have relaxed completely as lunch was spread out when we returned to shore.

The light airs meant that my new crew were all able to take a turn at the helm and learn how to tack the boat as well as how to handle the jib. They caught on quickly - well done. I was surprised and impressed by Lewis demonstrating that he had read and remembered port and starboard from the book on sailing I had given them ages ago.

I took this photo of the Bails more than 2 years ago so please mentally add 2 year's growth to both Max and Lewis (I doubt Theresa and Martin want you to add any extra to them).

While we were having lunch John Woods showed up with his green Hartley 16. After lunch there was a fine sailing breeze. John Woods launched (wow I wish I could get organised that quickly) and we followed not long after, eager to hone our skills.

The green boat was tacking backwards and forwards in front of the clubhouse waiting for us - seeming to want a playmate and to check out our sail trim. As Little Dragon still didn't have a vang or downhall the mainsail wasn't setting all that well and John pointed out that our jib traveller was set too far forward for the conditions. I really welcomed this well intended and much needed advice.

I was soon having to give urgent training on "starboard tack has right of way" and "port tack gives way". Then asking the crew "which tack are we on?" It took a while before all the Bails were confident which was starboard tack and which port tack. In the meantime the green boat was zooming up to us and going about at the last minute or forcing me to do so when it was on starboard - quite alarming for crew who were out under sail for the first time ever.

Soon Martin and Max were egging me on to "Go Pam, race them!" Max wanted to make toilet paper bombs to throw at them (Pam was a spoilsport and said NO). Martin just doesn't know how to curb his competitive spirit. Lewis must have read too many books about pirates and he was convinced that the green boat was about to ram us and thought that our best tactic was to escape - as far and as fast as possible!

I decided to back Lewis and run for it - downriver - so that rather than Pam at the helm ducking and weaving with the "green pirate boat" we could get back to all taking turns at the helm. I think Max and Lewis were extremely chuffed that they did as well at the helm as their father.

After the rather miserable conditions the day before we had the good fortune to enjoy a warm sunny day and we were all sad when it was time to come ashore.

Sailing makes one hungry so we all went off for a fish dinner at a renowned fish and chip shop in Maclean before the Bails drove home and I returned to my bunk for a second night.

Theresa took this photo from the shore of Little Dragon and the "green pirate boat".

John, I am serious when I say that I have no plans to race next season and if I did I know that you can beat me. I have just read an article comparing Hartley 16s with Farr 5000s and the Hartley 16s are faster.
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