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The GOSSIP

Number 201 / August 2008

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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We grounded gently on the soft silt and leapt out to pull the boats up. As we were doing so the water was noticably getting deeper. We were still one hour off local high water.

It had taken a shade over 1 hours from Morecambe and we had hung about a short while at the entrance to the estuary. A bit of a miscalculation!! However, it had been a brilliant sail and one we shall almost certainly do again.

Jan went off with my wife in our car back to Morecambe to collect their car and trailer and Dave, Oliver and I stayed to sort out the boats. In this we were much hampered by curious bystanders who inspected the boats and asked all sorts of questions. Oh well, I suppose it is good publicity for canoe sailing.

Monkeying (JeffB)

On a windless morning at a recent meet Jan had the idea of getting people to talk about their boats, which was a brilliant stroke of genius. In fact our facilitator, Keith, had quite a job keeping things moving by tactfully suggesting that we move on the next boat and all the members who participated listened with rapt attention to the likes and opportunities for improvements as they were expounded by the proud owners.

JeffB and AlbertH at Ullswater. Photo DaveM

We started with DaveM's Raptor, a high tech affair, which he has now had to equip with a low-tech wooden daggerboard, having broken several of the high tech variety. He has put a mark on the sail so that he can reef to 4 square metres for racing, it will be very interesting to see how he gets on against the rest of the fleet as the season progresses. Wally then explained how he has modified one of the early Solway Dory trimarans by cutting down the beam and increasing the buoyancy of the outrigger floats.

JohnS has a new boat with a high aspect ratio sail and sponsons (detachable floats fixed to the hull just below the gunnels). John seems to be about the only person in the club at present that advocates their use. They were in fact very popular on wood and canvas canoes in N America during the height of the canoeing craze in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Several members had converted production canoes in various stages of development. This is one of the many boating options I am tempted by as it would make it possible to use the boat to try some of the river routes paddled and catalogued in his excellent book by EddieP. Steve extolled the virtues of having the ability to reef while sailing upwind.

Jan's attachment to her boat, Petrel, was evident as she described its features and touched on her antipathy to outriggers. Dave has fitted some now, but I suspect that Jan doesn't really approve. Graham was particularly happy with his low-aspect ketch rig which perfectly suits his sailing style.

Several people were able to talk about the Shearwater, the latest Solway Dory design, as unveiled at the Winter Meet. Gavin, having just taken delivery that weekend, had been experimenting with his rowing setup, which looked very neat. In competition with a double bladed paddle, there did not seem to be much in it, but Gavin is convinced that rowing is more ergonomically sound.

Paul showed off his fleet of three boats that were all on the beach. He demonstrated the very ingenious seat back that flips up to become a high level seat which is one of the many clever seating arrangements devised by the Daves. The two sliding seats at different levels on the Shearwater are more versatile, but that backrest looks so comfortable.

I was able to show off my launching trolley cum seat, which has the unfortunate effect of giving you a wet bottom when setting off. It also lacks the luxury of a backrest, but I can lean on the mizzen mast when rigged that way for two handed sailing.

All in all it was a most enjoyable activity which has completely restored my faith in the OCSG as a haven for people with a broad range of interests and the continued fascination of its members with what J D Hayward in his book Canoeing describes as 'monkeying'. Not a particularly athletic style of sailing, but tinkering with things in the vain hope that eventually, one day, everything can be made 'just right'.

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