Having joined the Open Canoe Sailing Group last month I attended my first club meet recently. It was held at Galloway Activity Centre on Loch Ken in Dumfries and Galloway.
I drove down on Friday morning and consequently managed to avoid most of the royal wedding (yay!) I arrived at GAC at about two in the afternoon and set up my the awning next to the van in case it rained over the course of the weekend then I rushed to get my canoe rigged up and ready for action and met a few OCSG members who were already there. Stephen had got there about an hour ahead of me and was deep in conversation with Dave Stubbs of Solway Dory (the company who made my sailing rig). It was really cool to meet Dave S (and his partners in Solway Dory Dave and Jan Poskitt) in person.
The wind was forecast to be very strong and gusty all weekend so I made the most of the chance to get out for a quick sail. The conditions were pretty challenging and I didn't stay out for long as I'm pretty sure I'd have ended up swimming if I'd persevered.
The evening saw more folks arriving and a communal barbeque which was a great chance to meet folks over some food and a few drinks. Everyone was friendly and made myself (and fellow newbie Stephen) very welcome.
The folks who'd set out on the ill-fated trip to the end of the loch decided to stay in the vicinity of the centre as they'd have the added security of the GAC safety boat (access to which was included in the launching fee we'd all paid). A sensible decision in the circumstances.
I had a lazy day basking in the sun, watching the action on the water and chatting. The wind didn't drop at all so I didn't venture out in my canoe but I did have a quick go in a Solway Dory Shearwater decked sailing canoe which was great.
In the evening everyone went to a local hotel for dinner which was really nice then some of us sat around chatting until bedtime.
Sunday morning saw lighter winds so Stephen and I rushed out for a sail. I sailed backwards and forwards across the loch but staying close to the centre in case the wind picked up again as forecast. Other folks were heading off on trips to either ends of Loch Ken and hoping for more luck with the conditions than the previous day. After a while I felt the wind starting to build again with some fierce gusts blowing through. Time to get off the water for me then! I set about packing up my camping gear as I had to head home on Sunday evening but left my canoe on the shore ready to go in case the wind moderated again.
By mid afternoon the wind was still blowing really strongly so I decided to pack up my canoe as well. I wanted to wait for the Solway Dory guys to get back from their trips though so that we could discuss them modifying my sail by adding some reefing points to it.
Eventually the group who'd set off for the northern end of the loch (which included Dave Stubbs from SD) came back into sight tacking back up the loch against a ferocious headwind.
I had a really interesting chat with the two Daves and gave them my rig to carry out the modifications I wanted (they would post it back to me on completion). It only remained to say my farewells before hitting the road to drive home. It had been a great weekend despite the limited amount of time I spent sailing. I learned loads whilst chatting to various OCSG members and looking at their canoes and it was good to meet some new people and puts some faces to names. I look forward to the next OCSG meet I'm able to attend.