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The GOSSIP

Number 220 / June 2010

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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Bala In The Springtime (RodL)

What a difference a day makes. Tents needed a few extra pegs for the Saturday when a cold wind relentlessly kept at the 20-odd mph mark all day, along with a few interesting gusts. In the morning I arranged a sail derigging/paddling/rigging exercise, which suited the conditions well. A paddled boat was standing by and turned out to be required when a caught sheet caused a capsize. This uncovered/confirmed the need for sufficient buoyancy as there was no way of bailing or boarding without rolling and re-swamping. Fortunately, proper dress for the occasion was being worn and cold didn't set in too quickly. Thanks to Mike for his additional assistance. In a similar vein, signing out and buddying up for outings on the water was insisted upon and one who didn't was later in need of escorting back after a breakage. I think the day claimed 2 masts, which reinforced my leanings that all masts should be made of wood (I've even heard that wood floats) and that the number of hulls on a canoe shouldn't exceed one (catamaran meets are every other weekend). Quite a fair number of comrades managed to partake of the delights of the cafe at the north end and because of the unusual north wind, which we'd been enjoying for the previous month, getting back wasn't half fast.

The night saw most of us at the Eagle Inn, learning Welsh, and the night sky at the campsite was a wonder to behold - quite a rarity for such as me who live within 10 miles of a town. Big binoculars are a must for these get-togethers.

The best word to describe Sunday was... perfect. With a steady wind around 12 mph we had a good race in relative safety - not as cold and mostly sunny. Not wanting to inconvenience anyone, we started ourselves on the water and the winners (a certain Ann & KeithM coalition) then had the privilege of timing the rest of us (some of whom mistook a buoy, which wasted 5 min going back when I finally sighted it). Congrats to all who managed the course.

A short sailing/paddling race, which involved both rigging and de-rigging, sorted out the men from the liberals (what have I said? - the word Cameron wants us to forget) and uncovered a few things to remember when trying to persuade your boat to go fast and in one direction under paddle. This time it was a well-deserved victory for AndyW. I can't emphasise too much the usefulness of such races. We all know we need to derig and paddle at some point and the less confident you feel, the more need you have to join in. Take all afternoon if you want - the finishing position doesn't matter.

Finally, the last memories I take away from Bala are of two of the best-behaved dogs I've seen and one stupid lamb that made the most of a hole in the fence into the campsite all weekend.

 

Another Bala Meet Report (KeithM)

Like the lake itself, the Bala meet was small but beautifully formed. We didn't get a massive turnout, possibly due to the rather cold northerly breezes both forecast and experienced, but also due to several of our stalwarts, being in the late stages of preparation for their various Scottish expeditions, heading off the weekend after the Bala meet. The Solway Dory Daves were still putting the finishing touches to their new trimarans and successful maiden voyages happened on the Sunday but in the Lakes. AndyW was due to leave for the 5 Lochs jaunt with JohnS and DaveM but still managed to make the Bala meet and seemed to find it useful, not least to trial his shiny new bent-shaft paddle, which solves the issue of paddling his canoe with its stern deck-mounted outriggers in place.

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Noel trying out his rig for the first time.

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Declan getting ready to run back home.

It was good to see three newcomers and their boats and rigs. DeclanM, from Walton-on-Thames, had rigged his 15 foot Coleman with an Optimist rig and some homemade leeboard and rudder fittings, which he sailed very effectively. He said the weekend was very enlightening and has plans for further improvements - sounds familiar...!

NoelE, from near Welshpool, had just about finished rigging his Royalex We-No-Nah Prospector, also with an Optimist sail/spars, homemade leeboard and side-mounted rudder. He had heard about the group's meet via the Song of the Paddle web forum (for all things canoe related) and being so far, at his own admittance, more of a paddler and less of a sailor, he had come along for advice and guidance, which Jeff and Keith were able to provide to help him set the rig up, including fitting cleats for some of the control lines.

Noel was very game and keen to give it all a good try, even in the cold and challenging fresh breezes of Saturday and managed to make it to the far end of the lake, catching up with a café crowd of Keith, Jeff and Declan just as they were relaunching to return. Unfortunately he then suffered two breakages in fairly rapid succession; his wooden tiller extension bar failed right at

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