Testing Times

After the first morning of my sailing training, and capsizing 5 times, things got a bit better. The second day there was hardly any wind, so we were basically practicing the drills in slo-mo. Then it got so becalmed we couldn’t even return to shore and the motorboat had to tow us back in. It was a very frustrating day, but it meant that when we got some decent wind on the third day I had an idea what I was doing.

There were some full-on blasts that kept blowing up, so you had to lean right out of the boat to stop it getting blown over. Which also meant it felt like you were going really fast. I enjoyed that bit a lot. The thing is, when you are sailing away from the wind you want the sail out at 90 degrees to the boat, which means you have to let out a ton of the rope (mainsheet) that controls the sail. Then when you turn it around to sail towards the wind you have to pull the sail in tight. What kept happening with me was all that loose mainsheet kept getting caught around my transom (rear of boat). On several occasions this meant I was suddenly flying along, sail fully powered up, boat tipping over, with no way of letting the sail out. So seconds away from another capsize. Happily I’d learnt enough to throw the rudder over and steer fully into the wind to depower the sail. Then you have to lay over the boat and free the mainsheet, in doing so lose the tiller so the sail swings around again, duck under the boom, grab the tiller, and the mainsheet had caught on my transom again! AAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH!

I ended up spinning round twice, which is ducking under the boom 4 times, before I had a working mainsheet and tiller. This was while the boat was heeling over from side to side, trying to capsize.

So that was fun. For anyone watching, at least. Once I’d finally regained control I was happy that I’d learnt enough not to have been swimming again, but it was a close call.

I’ve passed the level 1 and 2 now, so I can rent the club Lasers on a Sunday (when there is motorboat rescue running) for a tenner a day. I’ve put my name down for one next Sunday, I’ll see how I get on. There was some interesting theory on sailing. I’ve always assumed a sail was a big sheet for catching the wind. Not so. On a dead run, with the sail at 90 degrees to the boat and flat to the wind, that is what it’s doing, but then you can only possibly go as fast as the wind. The genius of the sail design is it acts like a wing, so the air flowing over it creates “lift”, so you get the wind speed and the “lift” so you can actually sail faster than the wind blowing you. Also I thought a jib (the smaller sail on the front of the mast) was just more area to catch wind. Nope. It acts like a funnel to force air over the mainsail faster, creating more “lift”. That’s probably not that interesting, but it was a revelation to me. Also I’ve seen those dramatic pictures of boats heeled right over, a sailor heeling right over the boat, and thought that must be the fastest thing going.

Again no. You’re ruining the boat’s hydrodynamic properties, and making it steer into the wind, necessitating corrective rudder position, which is drag and slows the boat down. A flat boat is a fast boat. Not sure how I feel about that. I like the drama. (Apparently, when you are really good, you can use it on purpose to get the boat to turn without using the rudder.)

Although, flat doesn’t have to be boring.

Anyway, I’ll see how I get on with the club Laser on Sunday on my own.

Really I want my own boat so I can take it on holiday. It would be great to sail on the Scottish Lochs. I’ve looked online and I can’t see anyone renting sailing dinghies for the day. I’m wary of my motivation though (prob just manufacturing a deadline so I can shop). And I don’t know enough to know what to look for in a second hand boat. Even though I could get a cheap Laser for £375 with a trailer, then I’ve got to buy a car to tow it, and get insurance. Because I’ve been a named driver on Wendy’s insurance for a couple of years I’ve lost about 10 years no claims bonus, so that would be steep.


I’ll wait.

Wisdom like patience.

It sucks. I want everything and I want it yesterday. Bah.

I didn’t get to run while I was sailing. By the time I got home I was tired, hungry and lazy. I was mocking (in my head) the other lads on the course saying they just got in and went to bed. And that they were stiff and sore. Then, after the third day, when the wind got up so I was leaning right out off the boat, I got up after the course and I was done in! The small of my back was sore, my stomach was sore, and my quads were ruined. I was walking around stiff legged for two days waiting for them to heal. I’ll have to do some core exercises if I want to enjoy this sailing lark. Anyway, I was looking at the holiday dates (while searching for boat hire) and I realised it was only 37 days until the Loch Ness marathon! Eek!

In the last 10 weeks I’ve done 15 x 1 hour runs, 3x 10 miles and two half marathons (13.1 miles). That’s it. The rest of the time I’ve either been working, struck down with plague weakness, sailing, or being fat and lazy. Mostly the latter. I thought I’d better see if I had anything in my legs. I decided to do an impromptu marathon today (day off).

The last bunch of times I’ve tried to do a marathon it’s been so terrible that I just wasn’t sure I was even going to finish. The biggest battle today was forcing myself out to do it. I woke up already making deals on defeat. “Maybe just do 20 miles”, “See how I get on”, etc.

No. Commit to the distance. I needed to know what I was like over the full marathon.

I got my kit on and noticed my new top give the impression of a plunging neckline into my ample man decolletage. Super.

I set off with 4 gels and my 1.5 litre vest bladder so I’d be self sufficient and not face the quitting temptation you get if you come back home for fresh water bottles.

I set a few arbitrary goals:

1: Don’t die

2: Run a marathon.

I don’t know if it was the extra weight but I was really slow. After 4 miles I was on 37.21. I did a quick bit of dodgy mental maths and realised that was over 4 hours. (About 4.05)

On the hoof amendment:

3: Sub 4 hours

I worked it out if I could keep it at 9 m/m for the rest of the run I’d be sub 4. Hmm:

4: Drag it back to an average of sub 9 m/m.

That meant I had to run every set of 4 miles, including miles 22-26, faster than my first, fresh, 4 miles! OK, challenge accepted!

I did it! Achieved all 4 of my goals.

Considering where I am, with limited training and bouts of weakness, I was quite chuffed with that.

I got back and was done in, just sat leaning against the bin. Wendy came out and looked really worried. I asked her if she was alright (she’s so much better, but still not 100%) and she said she was worried about me because I was weak before I started and I’d been gone so long. I’d told her I was running a marathon before I went out. “Yes, but I thought you’d be back in 3½ hours.”

Everyone’s a critic, lol.

Snap of the new tory (toll) Runcorn bridge from my run. With bonus magpie I didn’t notice when I took the picture. Stop. Snap. Run.

Wendy’s back to work for full days tomorrow. Her doctor didn’t give her the three days she wanted, but said to try two full days a week, then review it with her after a month. Which seems a very reasonable position. Wendy’s works have been bending over backwards to accommodate her. They know she *is* the debt team and without her they lose all their funding. As Wendy said today, it’s a pity they had to drive her insane before they were willing to treat her right.

Some Twitter and I’m done.

Parenting skills