Friday, 11 May 2012

Adventure sailing; my next steps.

A few years ago I toyed with the idea of buying a Wayfarer sailing dinghy. I'd started to dabble in kayaking and liked the idea of being able to camp from a small boat. Whilst a sea kayak allows that it's restricted to carrying one person and obviously requires paddle power to propel it. A Wayfarer would have allowed me to take along a companion (or possibly two) and having done a fair bit of windsurfing I fancied a sailing boat. The downsides were that a Wayfarer is a fairly large dinghy and would require storage and launching facilities. I briefly entertained buying one as a joint venture with a friend at the time (who had the facility to store a dinghy at her house). That plan disintegrated as the other potential partner started to turn more towards the idea of us buying a small yacht which didn't align with my vision. At the time I was disappointed however with hindsight this was a blessing in disguise. Around the same time I made a new friend who actually owned a Wayfarer (albeit his was a wooden boat and I only considered buying a GRP version). I'd hoped to get out crewing for Tom regularly however as things transpired only managed one brief sail but this was enough for me to get a feel for what would be involved with rigging, launching, sailing and recovering a Wayfarer.It was pretty obvious to me that it wasn't a one man task and so the whole idea was put on the backburner.
If you've read my blogs you'll know that canoe sailing has really filled the role that I envisioned for the Wayfarer. I've been amazed that a converted canoe will cope with conditions up to a sustained Force 5 whilst being easy to sail single handed and able to be carried to and from the water by myself, launched virtually anywhere and stored in the garden!
Last year I sold my motorbike and so am in the fortunate position of being able to add to my canoe sailing fleet. I mentioned last year that I'd asked Solway Dory to build me one of their new evolution Shearwater decked canoes and I'm pleased to be able to say that they recently started construction (the hull and gunwales are done and they've started work on the beams that support the deck). It'll still be a good while before the canoe's ready as they're building my boat and one for fellow OCSG member Andy at the same time but Dave (from Solway Dory), myself and Andy had a chat at the Resipole meet two weeks ago about what spec the boats would have. We decided to go with plastic proprietry watertight hatches to access the storage space in the side tanks and bow tank (access to the rear tank is via a large hatch made by SD and will be the main storage space) and to have a self bailer fitted to allow the canoe to sail itself dry after a capsize and to get rid of any spray that gets past the decks and coaming. I must admit that I had some doubts about the wisdom of fitting a self bailer having experienced a very leaky one in the Topper my Dad owned when I was younger but I was reassured by Dave and Andy (and by the experiences of other club members) that a modern self bailer should be watertight when it's closed. 
Another matter that's been on my mind has been coming up with a fitting name for my new boat (I haven't bothered naming my existing canoe as it's a mass produced boat but it seems fitting to name a boat that is being built specifically for me). Initially I thought I'd call her Northern Light (an idea which was strengthened after reading Rolf Bjelke and Deborah Shapiro's account of overwintering in the Antarctic in their yacht which is coincidentally named Northern Light) but I wanted something a little more unusual and "ethnic" than that. I tried finding a gaelic name for the Northern Lights but it's a little too complex for a boat name (it's Na Fir Chlis) so I continued looking. One gaelic translation that jumped out at me was Rhoswen which can be translated as "White Rose". This seemed appropriate as it combined a gaelic name in honour of my long term residence in Scotland with the white rose which symbolised my Yorkshire origins (the white rose is the symbol of Yorkshire) however further research revealed the name's origins as being from Welsh gaelic and so having no connections with Wales I've scrapped that idea as well. My third and possibly final choice is a Native American name (my wife Val is a Native American, albeit the name is not in her tribes language). It's also a name that has a celtic ring to it and has a nice fitting meaning. The name is "Aylen" which is a female Mapuche Indian name meaning happiness. I like it!

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