16 March 2008

Big River Sailing Club, Harwood

Once the fitting out was underway I turned my attention to where to sail - a pretty vital matter.

Non-sailing friends asked if I planned to launch at Byron Bay. My sailing friends realised that launching off the beach into the surf and then out into a Pacific swell was a total non-starter.

The Richmond River at Ballina was a possibility but its estuary is very tidal and launching at the sailing club problematic.

I looked at Manly on the Gold Coast and it wasn't my scene at all.

Then I found the Big River Sailing Club at Harwood on the Clarence River and it felt just right - the only downside being the 2 hour drive to get there.

It's a low key place nestled behind the cane fields and near the sugar refinery but it comes alive every Saturday in season. It runs a sailability program, teaches sailing as well as racing from juniors in sabots up to seniors in trailer sailers. The river is wide and looks pretty safe - good for novices.

I checked it out during the annual regatta on the 15/16 March and watched all the trailer sailers getting winched out of the water at the end of the day. Part of my huge learning curve was to find out how it was done. One experienced owner (who had better remain anonymous) caught his mast on a branch of the tree (the tree in photo 1) and that was the end of his racing for the weekend. Whilst sorry for him in a strange way it gave me confidence - if I come to grief I won't be alone! I spoke to several owners and they were all happy to hear that I planned to join their trailer sailer fleet - although I don't think they believed me when I said I did not intend to race.

The photos were taken a few weeks later when we launched (post on 4 shielas launching coming soon). Photo one shows the area open grassed park-like area where one can camp and prk trailers. Reg was guiding me (very patiently) while I reversed down to the ramp to winch Little Dragon out.

Photo 2 shown both John Woods and Reg advising me on how to tilt the trailer so I can winch Little Dragon onto the trailer.

Photo 3 shows the broad Clarence River at Harwood and John still giving a hand.

The trailer sailors of Big River Sailing Club have been great - thanks to all of you for your help and encouragment.

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