Monday, September 03, 2007

Cobnor (Day Six)

Wednesday, 26th August was a day of strong winds, at times reaching near gale force 8, as forecast. For ‘Faith’ this meant being on anchor at her ‘acquired’ spot. The ground was good for holding, since it was thick black mud. Transits showed the boat was secure.

I never cease to be amazed at human activity because of audaciousness or because of ignorance or foolishness on the part of the doer. Without being judgemental or having a sense of superiority I wonder if a few people are plain obdurate. An example of such a person, who incidentally may be reading this, decided he would launch his Avon Redstart pneumatic dinghy and row it to his craft at a mooring. There was a near gale. As he held the inflatable at arm’s length it waved around in the air like a kite. When he reached the water’s edge without taking off he realised he did not have the oars. It dawned on him that he could not leave the dinghy on the pebbly beach because it would be whipped away with the wind. Unable to find a means of securing the dinghy he carried it back up the beach to the slipway where he grabbed his oars. Like a cartoon character he repeated the journey to the water’s edge and by leaning into the wind he managed not to be blown along the beach. With force and determination he restrained the dinghy so that it floated in shallow water then smartly jumped into it, whereupon the dinghy was immediately blown onto the beach. Embarking from the dinghy, he waded into deeper water, jumped aboard and rowed like a madman with no success at making headway, again ending up on the beach. Undaunted he repeated the exercise so as to be blown back to the beach. Only then, did he acknowledge defeat, retreating with his head hung low as the dinghy gyrated in the air at arm’s length.

While at anchor, time passed surprisingly quickly because there was always free entertainment especially provided by the Activities Centre. First thing in the morning instead of sailing their dinghies the youngsters were ushered into open canoes that had been lashed together in pairs. They paddled with all their might to stay in the upper reaches of the Bosham Channel. After morning break they were taken in the ribs by their instructors to explore other parts of Chichester Harbour. Each person wore a lifejacket. On returning, one of the ribs was towed by another; presumably the engine of the one being towed had failed. After lunch the wind had moderated, although still rather boisterous with intermittent squalls. The trainees were out sailing the Bosun dinghies, the Picos and the Lazers.

When the dinghies sailed to the northern end of the Chichester Channel where the wind was less strong because of the lee provided by Cobnor Point I turned with some difficulty to reading ‘Survive the Savage Sea’ because I had to use the magnifying glass. While engrossed with the incredible account I made use of the strong wind by drying one of my sweaters.

At mid afternoon I observed an adoration party gathered around Al’s ‘Little Jim’, which was always a source of wonderment for passers-by. I take my hat off to him because of his exuberant enthusiasm. Had it not been for him I would never have built ‘Faith’. He kindly let me visit his home twice and sail his boat twice, besides giving me plenty of advice and help while building my Paradox.

Late afternoon Cliff returned from sailing his heavily reefed Mirror dinghy. He approached the beach with much forethought, first making his way well to windward before lowering sail; then as the boat drifted downwind he used the rudder to edge across the incoming tide so as to nudge the bow on the beach at the very moment of raising the rudder, the daggerboard having already been removed.

The evening meal over, I listened to music on Radio 3 while I read more of the Robertson family’s epic survival in the Pacific ocean adrift in their dinghy after abandoning their worn-out life raft. The sky being heavily covered with cloud, darkness came early before I made a non-alcoholic nightcap and turned in with hopes for a sail the next day.

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