Maiden Voyage.

It’s taken me 5 weeks, and so much more trouble than I ever anticipated, but yesterday I finally got my boat on the water. It took me ages to work out how to rig it. The ones at the club already have all the lines (ropes), blocks, and fittings attached, it’s just a matter of putting it all together. I got mine out from under it’s boat cover and it was a bare mast, boom, and a bag of different lines. I finally got it together (not quite right, it turns out, but enough to work.) When it’s all at rest it looks fine, it’s not until you examine every inch of it closely, by assembling it, that you notice the flaws.

The sail is shot. It’s old, old, old, (which I knew, and was OK with, it’s only for learning) but when I put it on the mast I saw the sleeve that fits over the mast is ripped. Two 3″ rips, quite close together, so it’s only a matter of time before the middle bit rips and then it’s a huge tear. That’s annoying. I’d previously read that because they are a one design boat, if you get a seaworthy Laser of any age and put a new sail on it you will have a boat that’s at least 95% as good as any top of the range new one. So, it was on my to-do list, if I liked the boat and stuck with it. The state of the sail has forced my hand a little early.

Some of the lines are a state. One is the wrong size, most are tired, some fraying at the ends, or in the case of the bungee type line (shockcord) that holds the daggerboard (the small keel thing that you can raise or lower to suit) the outer has totally separated and it only has the internal strands of elastic holding it together. Less than ideal.

Also the tiller has a wooden handle (I think it’s from a different boat) which is too long, so the tiller extension fouls the mainsheet.

Then for the real test. Is the hull any good?

I asked if I was OK to sail as they were having a race of some fancy boats. I said I just wanted to pootle about to test my ratty old Laser to check it wasn’t going to sink. It was a joke, they are literally unsinkable because they have that much buoyancy built in, but the guy took me seriously and said all new boats should do a buoyancy test. So before I could start I had to wade out then tip my boat on its side for ten minutes, then turn it over and try to sink the other side. It didn’t sink. Yay!

I took it out for a spin. The sail wasn’t acting right (old, and I hadn’t fitted the rigging right) and the mast seemed to be bending (turns out the mast sections have to be assembled a particular way). The tiller extension was getting in the way. And I was rubbish, obviously. There is a real skill to angling your sail to the wind, one I don’t yet have.

I took it back to shore and put it on the trailer. Then dragged it out of the water. It seemed a lot heavier. That was when I really got worried. A new sail and lines is one thing, if the hull wasn’t watertight I might as well just bin the boat. Well,no actually, apparently it’s a relatively easy job to apply some plastic paste stuff which hardens and repairs the hull, but come on. Sail, lines, tiller and hull? That’s virtually a boat.

I looked over the boat and right at the back is a screw-in, bung type thing. I asked one of the salty sea dogs as I wasn’t sure if that was to drain water from the cockpit or the hull. It was for draining the hull. I took it out and tipped the boat right up. Not a drop. Excellent. The rest is do-able.

As I was writing that I realised that the bank slopes down into the lake. Of course it’s going to feel heavier dragging it out. Idiot.

I told the salty sea dog that I was just testing the boat out, and already I had to buy a new sail. He said to just buy a generic one. Apparently if you want to race other Lasers, at proper Laser events, you have to have everything brand Laser. To keep it level playing field. And to gouge you twice as much for the same bit of kit. For racing at the club any old sail will do. And that isn’t my goal anyway, I want to get out on lochs and lakes and in the sea. It will take me a long time before I’m good enough to be thinking of entering a proper Laser class event. By then I’ll know if I want to buy a rip-off sail. I think by the time I’m that good I’ll probably be in a different class of boat anyway. Either a faster, more modern one for racing, or a bigger, slower one for leisurely cruising with Wendy.

I’ve found a sail kit online. It’s the more modern design of sail (only £20 dearer than the inferior, early design) the batons (sticks in the sail to help it hold its shape) and the big sail numbers to stick on.

Then I was looking at line kits. For the brand name, modern kit, it was nearly £300! You get the pulleys and such with it, but basically £300 for a bunch of lines. Then I found a video on how to rig a “classic” (old) Laser. It turns out they are different than the new ones, which is part of the reason I couldn’t rig mine by just following the online instructions. It was from an American firm trying to flog you lines, so they did a breakdown of every length and diameter of line and how to rig it. Perfect. Being American it was all “11 feet of 5 millimeter line” hahaha.

I noted everything down, added the lengths together and ordered it from a British supplier (sorry guys).

I was just going to get the lines that were shot, but what the hey, I might as well do the whole thing. £47 for all the lines for a completely fresh new boat. I’ve ordered some whipping twine so I can tidy up the ends when I cut it all to length. I’ve read you don’t actually need to as you can just melt the ends of modern plastic-ey ropes, but it will look neater and more sailor-ey.

First image I could find. Just imagine the line ending on one side of the twine.

So, when my sail and lines get here I should be set with a proper decent boat. Then I can’t blame the tools anymore. I’ll give it a few more Sundays (when the rescue boat is out, how they like noobs to sail) then I can start going on Mondays when there’s nobody there. I’ll have the whole lake to myself then.

In other news, I’ve started my recovery rest period from running. My foot doesn’t feel smashed after my recent escapades so I’m hoping the recovery will be quicker and hopefully actually stick this time.

I read a very interesting piece on woman beating men on ultra long distance events.

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It’s well worth a read just to marvel at what some of them have achieved. For me though, the second half was a revelation. I’ve read similar in the past. “Women are better at handling pain, they have more stamina” etc. This went further by saying what’s wrong with men. They said women have less ego, so while men are all “I can take the pain, I’ve hardly trained but I’m going to smash it!” a woman at the same race wouldn’t turn up unless she was damned sure she was good for it. She’d have trained for the distance, the course, the pace and was ready for it. Men try to wing it, don’t put in the consistent work, go out too fast and burn out. To answer the question of my last blog, *THAT* is what just happened. My Manchester marathon DNF, through that lense, isn’t a mystery. It’s stupid, but obvious. I’ve always done it but never thought about it. I’ve always got away with it before. Now I know. When I get back to running I am going to be so much better thanks to that article.

To maintain some run fitness and build bike fitness I’ve got back on the Sufferfest. Getting started is a bit daunting because your first ride is an hour long beasting to set your fitness levels. Well, it’s not. It’s warm up, 5 second sprint x2, easy ride, 5 minutes flat out, easy ride, 20 minutes flat out, easy ride, then 1 minute flat out. It’s a fiendish test because each hard section saps your legs for the next one. Anyway, I got it done. Which is a double victory, one for just doing it, and two because I’ve had massive issues trying to get my trainer and Sufferfest to be compatible. This latest attempt seems to have worked. I’ve got a fortnight’s free trial of Sufferfest so I can see if it works for the training sessions as well. If so, crack on!

Wendy got her car back, so she’s delighted. It seems they hadn’t screwed the engine cover thing on . (That big stiff sheet thing under the car that keeps road muck off the engine.) The screws had shaken out, but rather than them possibly taking the car away again (if that was caused by the accident) I just cable tied it down. It seem fine. Next time it has to go in the garage we can see if they can fit it properly.

I only got two shifts last week so I’ve been doing a lot of reading. A woman on twitter suggested ‘The Ship Who Sang’ as a classic sc-fi book.

Read this for a first page:

Page 2 was “that’s all fine and dandy, now lets set off for jolly space romps”.

I’ve read some books in my time, and some go out of their way to paint a nasty villain, but I’ve never read one that takes the most distilled pure evil of nazi eugenics and cheerfully extols it as premise for an uplifting book.

A society where disabled kids are killed or have their body’s growth stunted, are encased in a steel shell, never to touch the outside world, nor to eat, breath, or even see except through a machine. Then they are brainwashed and forced into indentured servitude/ slavery until they’ve paid for the privilege.

It is pure evil. The rest of the book should be about destroying the ship programme and eradicating the nazi scum society that engendered it with extreme prejudice. It’s not. It’s about one woman’s fun space adventures.

I was genuinely horrified. The unconscious assumption behind the book, that that is acceptable.

Rant over. Just wow, though.

I had another horrifying glimpse of the future thanks to to Tory brexit. I went on to the new, online doctor’s thing, called Push Doctor. Check out the first thing that shows up.

But the Tories are totally not privitising the NHS. They are the caring face of fascism.

Right, bit of twitter and I’m done.

William Shatner (James T Kirk) got shot into space for real this week. He’s 90!