I left home at 9:30am on Friday morning and drove down the new M74 extension for the first time (which knocks a significant amount of time off the journey south). After stopping off at Happendon Services (to drop off some motorbike bits to the guy who bought my bike last week) and Carlisle (to buy some canoe gear from a shop there), I finally arrived at Ullswater Yacht Club at lunchtime. I'd taken my tent with me but as it looked like rain preferred the option of sleeping in my van (which saved some time setting up camp).
It was nice to meet up with familiar faces from Loch Ken and some new faces too. Stephen (my regular sailing partner) arrived a little while after me and others were arriving all the time. One person I'd not met before (Walter) had forgotten his outrigger spars, boom and tiller. He toiled away (borrowing some of the tools I'd brought to fit my new bits) making replacements from stuff he'd reclaimed out of a skip in Pooley Bridge!
After chatting and having a bite to eat, myself Graham and Andy decided to get out on the water as there was a light breeze blowing. We sailed a little way north on the lake then the wind dropped completely.
After drifting about for a while chatting and waiting to see if the wind would come back we admitted defeat and paddled back. By the time we arrived back at the campsite more folks had arrived and Dave Stubbs was there with the new bits for my boat (I felt like a little kid at Christmas!)
I cooked my dinner then headed to the clubhouse for the evening which passed in a whirl of chat, laughter and drinks! We all retired to our respective beds once the bar closed around midnight.
Saturday morning dawned sunny and breezy and after breakfast I strolled down to the lake for the safety brief/meeting. I wasn't the only one to be feeling a little worse for wear after the previous evenings festivities!
There was loads going on and apparently there were twenty five canoes and thirty seven people in attendance.
Julie (left) up to no good and Dave (kneeling) being helpful.
After lunch I was itching to get out and try my canoe with it's new additions. The wind had picked up quite a lot and the regular UYC racing fleet were charging up and down the lake. I thought I'd picked a lull in the racing to make my way from our launching spot over to the far side of the lake to wait for Stephen to join me. Unfortunately I misjudged the speed that the approaching can bashers were sailing at and before I knew it I was surrounded by 49ers, RS800s and Musto Skiffs! After a few sketchy moments when I intended turning one way only to do the opposite (thanks to not being used to a push/pull tiller) I decided to just go head to wind and let them all fly past. Not ideal conditions for learning a new skill then! Eventually I managed to get across the course without ruining anyones race and Stephen joined me (timing his crossing far better). We set off down the lake in glorious sunshine and ever increasing wind. Just as I was starting to get to grips with my steering I heard Stephen shout that he'd lost his leeboard. I immediately thought about starting to zig zag and search for it in the water but then he shouted again and held up the board which had come off but hadn't fallen in. There was nothing for it but head back and carry out repairs. Fortunately with my tools and some spare stainless bolts I'd brought along just in case I needed them Stephen was able to make a decent repair. When we got back down to the lake the wind had got pretty strong and Stephen (who's confidence had been temporarily shaken by his kit failure) decided to call it a day. I reefed my sail and went back out to practice and things really started to fall into place. The wind actually started to moderate again and I could have sailed with my full rig up but the smaller sail was no bad thing as I was feeling my way a bit. After a good sail about near the Yacht Club I called it a day too and hung about to chat to the cruisers who were arriving back from their trips down the lake. There were a few tales of dodgy moments and at least one person ended up taking an involuntary swim.
We all loafed about chatting about the days exploits and enjoying the early evening sunshine (and in some cases a pre-dinner drink!)
The journey back took a fraction of the time it'd taken to sail south and with hindsight we could have easily made Aira Point. Ah well, next time!
Once we got back we had a quick lunch in the clubhouse then Stephen packed up and headed for home. I went back out for another quick sail as conditions were so good. I spoke to a few OCSG members who said they didn't want to go home because it was so nice!
Eventually I packed up my canoe and said cheerio to the folks who were still there before making my way back up the M74 home. It was a fantastic weekend with great sailing, great hospitality by UYC and great company from the OCSG crew. They really are a friendly and sociable bunch. I can't wait for my next chance to attend a meet.