Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Sailing correspondent

This is the lovely Snap (dragon) boat, the subject of my deep devotion...

How life moves in mysterious ways. As from last Thursday, I am now sailing correspondent for Cornwall Today. How about that?! We’re launching the sailing page with an interview I did with a fascinating man who helped Mylor Yacht Harbour become successful.

It was a really interesting interview – also because he reminded me of my little brother in his enthusiasm and manner of speech. Yet he is called Jonathan, the name of my late husband and older brother. So, it was like interviewing my two brothers and Pip rolled into one. Whereas I usually find I can keep up with most people, this man has incredible drive, enthusiasm and stamina. Get the September issue of Cornwall Today and you’ll see what I mean.

So that’s very exciting. Mr B is convinced that the turnaround in my fortunes is due to his absence, but even I couldn’t contrive that one. (Or could I?) It’s odd how in life you can throw as much as you can out there and nothing happens, and just when you’re about to give up, things start happening.

I had a great test sail with Alan in his lovely Dragon, Snap, on Saturday, though I was more than a little unnerved when, just as we left the pontoon, he said, “I’m not happy with the mainsail. Can you steer, Sue?”

Now, getting out of Mylor Harbour is like weaving through an assault course, there are so many boats moored up. I thought, what is he DOING asking me to steer out of HERE? Where is Mr B when I need him? Why is he putting me in charge of this beautiful, valuable, classic boat? But I squeaked, “OK.” And for the next ten minutes I concentrated so hard I nearly went cross eyed.

But I got out! And I didn’t hit anything! I was so overcome that we sailed over to the opposite shore and I gybed instead of tacked (went in the opposite direction to the one I should have), but luckily that didn’t matter. Mind you, it didn’t half throw me. Just when I thought I was doing so well…

Luckily it didn’t seem to throw Alan who was very stressed after a horrible two weeks’ work. I told him a sail would do him good, and it seemed to – even with me at the helm. I did suggest he should take over but he refused. Said he was having a lovely relaxing time. Though I’m glad to say he did bring us in. That was the REALLY tricky bit.

And before I go, I must remind you all to tune in to BBC Radio Cornwall (103.9, 95.2 and 96 FM, DAB) on Thursday at 3pm. For those of you who don’t live in Cornwall, you can listen online and I think there’s a play again facility.

I’m going to be interviewed about a place called Carn Marth and will take Tiffany (the presenter) on a walk there in the morning. I can at least publicise the current walks book and give the next one a plug.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

An upturn

This was me at the helm, one sunlit evening not so long ago. Happy sigh...

I have been reprimanded. “Your last few blogs have been sad,” said Mr B. “I was sad,” I pointed out - about work. But as there has been an about turn on that front, I promised to write a happy post. The good news is that I’m to start writing about sailing as of next year which is very exciting and I am really looking forward to. So all this sailing is actually work, and of course being a dedicated journalist, I have to do as much research and preparation as possible.

I had a wonderful day out sailing with my dear friend Michael in his catamaran Doublet last week – a much bigger boat than anything I’ve ever sailed before. So many sails! So many sheets! (ropes). So many instruments! (GPS, Echo sounder etc etc). Two hulls instead of one! (You can sail closer to the wind in a mono hull.) A galley – with plates, a cooker, kettle and stuff. Heads! (a toilet). A wheel! (instead of a tiller). I found helming on a wheel much more difficult. A dinghy – and dragons – are so responsive, with a tiller, that they are completely different to sail. I was quite overwhelmed by such mod cons.

So it was all a very steep learning curve and I felt woefully aware of my ignorance. But you’ve got so start somewhere, and here’s a good place to start, with some excellent tutors: I am extremely fortunate in having several men who are all helping to provide my sailing education.

Last Monday, as Mr B is away, my mate John took me out in our dinghy. The heatwave is over, and there wasn’t much wind, so John had to paddle out a bit, but then the wind got up and we started flying over the waves. There’s such a wonderful sense of space and freedom on the water – and I am very fond of our little boat. She may be a fibre glass tub, but she can certainly move when she wants to, and she looks after us very well.

I had been invited out on Doublet again on Tuesday, but couldn’t find anyone to look after Moll. But Alan, who owns the gorgeous dragon, is returning at the end of this week, and has invited me for another test sail, and I hope to go out in the dinghy again soon. I had figured that if I could get just one sail a week, I would keep my sailing addiction to a manageable level. But having enjoyed it so much last night, I just want to go out again. So I guess I'm hopelessly addicted.

Oh, and another bit of good news (happy, Mr B?) is that I’m to take part in a programme on Thursday 1st August on BBC Radio Cornwall to do with my walks book. It will be in the afternoon – more information when I have it.

So work (and I can now count sailing as that) is looking up. I just need my sailing/adventuring partner back, and all will be well. We can then hang out the bunting.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting here surrounded by the joyous smell of sweet peas - a very lovely present.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

In love with a dragon

This was taken on a sunlit evening at Mylor Creek about a month ago having had a drink at the Pandora, and dropped some friends off at Mylor Quay.

Work has recently taken a nosedive – apart from finishing my walks book – which has been a real blow to my confidence. Having written walks for over 5 years, it’s a real shock not to be doing them any more, and the walks have also become part of my identity. I feel rather as if someone has set me loose in an unknown boat and said, “Off you go,” when I don’t know where I’m going, nor do I have a great deal of confidence in how to handle a strange boat.

But my life has ever been thus – just when I think I’m going along a well beaten track, someone pulls the rug from under my feet and I fall flat on my face.

But in this case, I am sailing as much as possible and learning as much as I can about it all, absorbing it like a sponge. I had a terrific day out last week crewing on a Dragon boat which was amazing.

I was so nervous to start with - we didn’t know the owner at all, and I could feel adrenaline rushing round my veins for several hours. You know, that kind of stomach in a rushing lift feeling? And my legs shook as I concentrated so hard I thought I might fall over. I was so nervous I refused to take the helm at first, then after a few hours thought, no I will have a go.

And once I’d taken the helm I was in love. She is the most incredible boat to sail – she just wants to take off, and as soon as I had that tiller in my hand, all my nerves disappeared and she flew through the water like a dream. We had a drink afterwards, all got on so well and were asked if we’d like to crew again. Even better, the owner’s asked for crew for Falmouth Regatta Week.

I was in a state of shock and awe the next day. It had been so magical, I felt as if I’d dreamt it. And sailing with people you really get on well with is something very special.

So while work might have a lot of question marks over it at the moment, it seems that life is saying, “Go sailing!”

So I am. And loving it.

Monday, 8 July 2013

More Downs and Ups

Life has been very quiet on the work front recently which has been a real blow. I’m still waiting news from a meeting a month ago but the life of a freelance is ever thus, unfortunately.

On the brighter side, although there’s no money coming in, I’ve had a few days in Shaldon with my dear friend Av at Potters Mooring B&B which I would thoroughly recommend. Such a friendly place with excellent food, and a wonderful place to revisit, as I’d gained my sailing legs on the Shaldon to Teignmouth ferry at the age of 18 months. I was a very bad sleeper which meant my poor mum didn’t get much sleep either, so the ferryman allegedly said, “Give Curly to me,” so mum could get some kip for the day and I had a brilliant time going backwards and forwards on the ferry. Nowadays, of course, he would have been arrested and I would have been taken into care, but that just shows what the nanny state does for you.

Then last week I went to review Northcote Manor Farm near Barnstaple and, despite rain on the Tuesday, and covering a fair few miles, we felt really rested afterwards. It’s good to go somewhere different, even if only for a few days. Moll wasn’t quite so keen – I think she felt that two trips away in as many weeks were a bit much so she was very glad to get home.

We’ve been out in the boat(s) recently and had a few adventures. Friday evening’s trip took rather longer than anticipated, and ending up beating back and forth for four hours as night fell. The main concern, other than getting back to shore, was would the pub be open? Thankfully it was…. And through a chance meeting in Mylor the other day, there’s the possibility of crewing on a Dragon yacht: a prospect that terrifies and excites me in equal measures.

On Saturday Paul’s having another of his parties which I will be singing at, and we’ve got a gig on Sunday at Carn Marth. So much for my quiet life….