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The GOSSIP

Number 199 / June 2008

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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Calm & Sunny Coniston (WalterG)

At last we could soak up the sun instead of getting soaked. A lot of members turned up on the Friday, with leisurely setting up of camp and boats, but mainly chatting in the sunshine. In the evening, members gathered in small groups with much pleasant small talk overlaid with the sound of clinking glasses and the pssst of cans being opened.

On Saturday morning more members turned up so there was quite a crowd of us at the 10- o'clock briefing. DaveP opened by asking if we would introduce ourselves as there were a number of new members. JimG had bought MalcolmC's Little Pete; MikeW and his wife Chris with their son paddled a 14ft Discovery canoe and PaulL, Stuart's friend.

He also mentioned that members might prefer to spend the evening together as we used to, instead of going off to the pub or for a meal and to that end if those who wanted to would gather at the Dave and Jan's wigwam just bringing a chair and some drink. There was a murmur of agreement to this. He then called upon SteveR to explain the recent, one off sheet for signing on and off the water, description of your boat, where you were going, and who you were buddying up with. Keith then pointed out the main watering holes about the lake, those being the Bluebird Caf, Brantwood House, and a guarantee of an ice cream van in a lay-by opposite Peel Island. Dave mentioned a picnic spot in a bay south of Peel Island that would accommodate a good number of canoes.

With these three venues to tempt us, boats were launched and buddied up. A nice wind force 2 sent a party on its way towards Peel Island but the buddy system went a bit awry as some buddies wanted to sail to one place while their other buddy wanted to go to Peel Island, so a loose bunch of buddies sailed after the main group. How many buddies were buddied up was hard to tell, with the boats all over the buddy place but everyone got there without incident except one member who went in search of a nonexistent ice cream van having forgotten to bring lunch. The picnic spot was a lovely place, much more accommodating than Peel Island and much quieter as the island was covered with very noisy children, bless them! It was very pleasant picnicking under the trees with the sun dappling shadows over us and a wonderful view across the lake.

The wind which had been dying, died so the trip back was going to be mainly under paddle. This was tackled by some with great gusto, with others in a more desultory fashion and Gavin was trying out his oars. After some time he started going in the right direction and soon caught up with the steadier paddlers. One member who couldn't find an ice cream van to save his life and in a weakened state, tried sailing in the odd zephyr but was obliged to paddle in a very desultory fashion for the last half mile (and who might that be? - Ed.). There were thoughts in his mind that to buddy up you should tie the boats together.

After the evening meal, members gathered in front of the wigwam, Chief Dave then produced a large bag of wood and a tin can and said he would show us how to burn wood, everyone thought that they all knew how to do this already, but this was a high tech way and, reminiscent of a conjurer (Tommy Cooper perhaps) he filled the can with little blocks of wood and then sprayed something like shaving foam on top. It just needed a cherry on top to look quite tasty, but this was inflammable. He plugged a battery lead into the can that powered a fan in the bottom, which pushed air up through the flames much like a blacksmith's forge. It was quite hot, said one chap who put his hand over it and promptly went to get some burn ointment. It's also smokeless said Dave, but two people down wind disagreed vehemently. Jan the ever-practical organiser, sent bottles of wine round the group and the evening slipped into a pleasant haze of forgettable chat.

Sunday
At the 10-o'clock briefing it was decided to abandon racing due to light or non-existent winds. Instead, members gathered round each other's boats where the captain of the vessel extolled its most important virtues. There was more than this discussed and skippers struggled to keep to 5 main points. The standard ones were; internal buoyancy i.e. type and position; external buoyancy i.e. floats & sponsons; adjustable seating arrangements; ease of reefing (including reefing whilst still sailing); ease of paddling or rowing(?) Gavin had purchased a Shearwater sailing canoe - a beautiful fibreglass canoe, the latest from Solway Dory's stable, which had strap-on oarlock extensions. (Will we see more of these?) There were many other ideas- all at one time well covered in the Gossip or copied from dinghies. Almost every boat owner was in the middle of some modification.

Lunchtime saw most canoeists out on the water and drifting or paddling in the light breeze towards

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