Keith had picked up that this was in the offing and had booked with the campsite; we, on the other hand, left phoning the campsite until the evening of the first day of the meet. We arrived at a very wet campsite on the Saturday morning to find most people had already left en route to the cafe at Aira Force. We followed, beating up the lake into strong winds only to arrive just as everybody was leaving, but they did have the decency to pass on the devastating news that there was no soup left!
The weather had cheered up a lot by the time we had drunk our tea and eaten our sandwiches so we continued up the lake for a bit and were treated to the sight of the biggest flock of geese that we have ever seen.
Back at the campsite, Njuzu excited quite a bit of interest, not from paddlers though, although a few people did comment on her looks, but from a group of Scout sailing instructors from Leicestershire. They had set off from the next field to the campsite, in an assortment of boats including cats and Solos, at about the same time as we did and we sailed in company for a while. They seemed quite impressed that we had been able to keep up so well. This indicates to me some reluctance on the part of paddlers to even contemplate sailing a canoe, unless it involves an umbrella of course. This also seems to apply to their canoes. I did not see anything that was not plastic, except for fellow canoe sailors, of course. I had been looking forward to seeing some wood and canvas jobs, for instance, but my disappointment may well be due to people with unusual and interesting canoes not being attracted by the SOTP ethos.
There followed an evening in the beer tent, which was very convivial, although there was not a great deal of socialising between the canoe sailors and the paddlers. Keith offered sailing taster trips for the following morning when there would also be paddling coaching, bow making and a variety of other activities on offer.
On Sunday, several people went for a sail with Keith, but again nobody showed interest in Njuzu, clearly too far removed from the sort of boat they were used to. DaveS took out a couple of people to demonstrate the Solway Dory Expedition Rig. It was clear that it was far superior to anything that the paddlers had and Dave demonstrated it was possible to make quite respectable progress upwind.
I also had a go and found it rather unnerving at first, particularly throwing over the throw-over leeboard while making substantial leeway. This has a dramatic effect that was amplified by the slippery bottom of the Solway Dory demonstration canoe, which meant it was virtually impossible to avoid shooting off to leeward as the board locked into place. Although interesting, challenging and fun for a short while, it is nothing like real sailing. It would however, be the ideal thing for expeditions where there is a mix of river paddling, lakes and portages, such as are involved in a coast to coast crossing of Scotland. Having once taken Njuzu down a river on an OCSG trip, even I can see advantages to a plastic canoe for bouncing down rapids.
While I don't think we made many converts to canoe sailing, I think we all had an enjoyable time and I would certainly go to the next one, which is already being planned.
Group Website (JeffB)
DaveS reports that the website designers have started work and are completing the bones of the site with the content to be transferred across in the next week or two. This will only be the start of revitalising our 'web presence'; we will need new stuff to put on it! Hopefully some of this will be not only new, but different. If you have any ideas, photos or articles to contribute, please get in touch with him. One idea is to have a FAQ section, so if there are any questions you would like to ask now, or would like to have had answered when you were starting out in canoe sailing, please send them in.
Five Lochs Expedition - Day 3 (DaveM)
Extract from DaveM's report, abbreviated and annotated by JeffB
(Continued from August's 'Gossip')
Another beautiful sunny day with little sign of the promised F5-6 gusts - in fact the Firth of Clyde looked very peaceful. I felt better after washing my hair and a shave (using sea water and then rinsing off with a couple of mugs of fresh water). There was still not a breath of wind when we set off just after 10:30 a.m., so we paddled around Rosneath Peninsula towards Rhu Narrows, the entrance to Gareloch, [where the] Faslane Base, which services the Royal Navy's Trident submarine fleet, is located.