Dreams of Easy Sailing

The roads to the coast were covered in a thin layer of black ice due to the heavy rain during the night. The back wheel slipped and skidded up hills and over the roads, while I kept the front wheel straight and tried to turn by using my body weight. Luckily I had no accidents, but it was unexpected and it took me longer to get to the boat. When I did I saw the tide was already creeping round the harbour wall and I had about 10 minutes to get inside and check the bilges for water (a little in the bottom) and sponge it out. Then I checked the plastic covering over the boat and making it more secure with more rocks to keep the wind from blowing the edges away from the hull. The sun came out and the wind died down, the sea was calm and I wanted to raise the mast and sail. The raising of the mast takes quite a bit of effort and planning, it can be quite a task to haul it up; it is not a task that takes a few minutes so preparation is needed if one wants to sail. I stood enjoying the good weather and looking at the boat visualizing how I can make the process of sailing easier and quicker. The main problem was erecting the mast, but if I changed the sail and had a smaller mast I could erect it by myself and without stays and less halyards, I could have it ready to sail in a comfortable time. I have just completed designing a mast and sail for my kayak by using a Lateen rig (1 short mast, 1 triangular sail, no boom, no stays) and this design could also be used for the boat by using the existing mast and boom and mainsail. The boom could become the mast and the existing mast could be the yard that supports the sail. All I needed to do was to make a support so the boom could be made secure to the top of the cabin. By this time the sun had melted the ice and the roads were better, I got home with a glaring sun in my eyes all the way, and the odd sheep dog barking at my wheels.

In the afternoon I played Border pipes practising tunes and working on the reed. I noticed that the edge of the reed was cracked. This could be the end of the reed but I have had such problems with my Northumbrian pipes many years ago and I glued it together. I dropped a bit of glue over the cracked edge and continued with the tuning. In the end I admitted defeat, I could not get a perfect “A” (440c) chanter, it was flat somewhere between a G# and A. But it was in tune and if I did not play with others it was fine. I tuned the drones to the chanter and enjoyed playing and memorizing tunes from the Border repertoire.

Later I got a phone call from BBC Radio Cumbria arranging a date for recording a programme for them for Burns’ night.


Covering the Boat

The other day I cycled to the boat to see if there had been any damage after the hard frost we have had. The last time I was there, there was at least 1.5inches of frost resting on the ropes, hull and mast, a beautiful sight, picturesque but destructive. When I got there this time there was no ice to be seen, the cover that covered the cockpit was dry all frost had melted away. I had brought with me a very large piece of plastic to cover the top part of the boat. It was a farmers covering for hay and it had been dumped at the side of the road forgotten and left to rot, a pity as it was messing up the countryside and it was nearly intact. I bundled it onto my small trolley and pulled it by bike to the boat. I had to stop lots of times and the trolley tipped over. I got there after the tide had ebbed and stretch out the plastic on the sea bed, I placed one end into the cockpit and snaked the length around the side of the hull and over the cabin and foredeck and round the other side, it fitted perfectly and overlapped on the cabin roof. I crisscrossed rope to keep it held down over the windows and the foredeck (my main source of intake of water) and then placed rocks on the top to keep it firm against the elements. There was water in the bilges but not as much as I feared, I think it was melted snow/frost as it was clear. I sponged it out and checked the rest of the boat, no damage except for the paint that had been scraped off the hull with the passing ice. It all needed a good clean inside and a fresh coat of paint, also the little bit of wood decoration along side of the hull was looking very damaged and shabby, it either needs a lot of cleaning and preserving or to just paint over it to protect it for the future. I wish I could erect the mast and sail away it is always hard to leave it as it is just sitting there, not in use and waiting for the weather to change, at least enough not to freeze. Over head loud cries of passing geese were flying east wither it was too cold for them or to warm…here is hoping!