As we drove towards Rutland Sailing Club on Friday 17 May 2019, it was wet, very wet for us all and the trees were moving a lot in the wind – will we get a sail? Was it worth the journey for Mark from Milton Keynes and Dave and Andy from the Peterborough area?
Andy arrived first and it was still raining. Dave arrived a few minutes later and we immediately came up with a cunning plan. Let’s go in the clubhouse and have a coffee and see how it goes. Now there are drinks machines in the club house, it is no longer just a huge and comfortable place to sit and wait, when the cafe is closed.
We weren’t there long before ‘Alan’, a RSC cruiser fleet member, walked in muttering “I give up” and promptly sat down with us. He pulled out a large shackle and the sailing stories started. Apparently trying to use his dinghy to get out his boat on a mooring, the wind and the waves had picked up his dingy and promptly plopped it on the pontoon, stripping off part of the side stripping on the dinghy. ” I tried to screw it back on but with the pontoon going up and down, I decided to give up and come in calm down” – “wise man”.
Shortly afterwards Mark joined us and having heard Alan’s story and looked out the window at the ‘sea’ and rolling waves Andy came up with another cunning plan. “Anyone fancy another coffee?” Without hesitation he received a positive response.
Sometimes, often, its good to Stop, Reflect and Ponder
Turns out Alan was ex RAF and Dave with having served 23 years in the Army the banter and stories were soon being swapped and we all laughed – the weather already felt better …. from inside the comfort of the club house.
But wait, what’s that? We saw a laser out there on the water. The wind had dropped from a F5 down to a F3 gusting a high F4 . So we decided to launch. Mark is already a very experience dinghy sailor and in the process of doing conversion to sailing keel bats with a two man crew, learning the launching and recovery processes. Andy joined the club and went on to get is RYA and became a RCSSC Approved Helm last year. It was agreed that Dave would be the tractor and leave the guys to it and get ‘hands on’. RCSSC has three boats and 20 members so we have developed best practice for launching so its easy to sail with different members. With very little input from Dave, they guys rigged and launched Squib Satyr into the breezy wind, first time. Turning the boat round the put her in a perfect spot to leave the pontoon. We agreed Mark (also known as Alan since Andy got mixed up LOL!) would helm out, Andy crew and Dave would take the bowline and push out. Neatley using a stern loop on the cleat, with a good shove from Dave we were off and after a gaining speed put in a very quick tack and headed off into wind to check out the rigging before heading off to explore the lake – which we virtually had to ourselves.
We had all decided to wear our Winter gear – even though it felt warm enough on land. This proved to be very wise pre-planning especially for Andy who was on the jib and taking the brunt of the water as Satyr cut into the waves the wind was making having crossed the lake and built up, We were having a great time and the stories, conversation flowed (don’t worry John CW Boat Husband, the bungs were in!) We headed off towards Whitwell (and yes we had the phone number for the bosun and RSC Office if any serious problems arose. which they didn’t). All the inflatables and slides are up at Whitwell and they are ready for the Summer. Boats moored not their jetty and later we saw the Rutland Belle plowing up the south leg of Rutland Water with some brave tourists enjoying the ride and giving us a wave.
We left Whitwell Creek and headed out on a broad reach and turn left towards the dam, with Andy on the helm with a very big smile. Andy has a busy successful business he runs and a family, so has to plan his sailing well ahead and he was lapping up the conditions which were enough to make it interesting, but well with everyones skills. We sailed passed the dam and back towards “Rutland by the Sea” a man made beach close to the dam which looks great fun for families, with a marked off area for them to paddle and swim. We headed of and the wind changed direction slightly, enabling a a beam reach to take us down the northern leg.
We did have some company – windsurfers foiling past at speed, nonchalantly waving back to us.
We had launched late and we agreed we should stay out and make the best of these wonderful conditions – we even saw the sun a few times and it did brighten up.
We sailed by the water tower and showed Mark the boundary of sailing – marked by a line of small round red bouys. Go on Dave have a go – and so I did. Obligingly, the wind picked up and what started as beam reach back, turned into a beat which all three of us lapped up. Good to be in control and using nature’s power and our skills and experience to get the best out of our lovely Squib Satyr who was giving us an exciting and fun sail. With stringer winds we were able to make up more toward the wind and this gave us a good clear line to round the peninsula and head towards Normanton Church, on the south shore south of the dam and north of Edith Weston.
Time to check the time. What! 13:45 Time Flies (pun intended) We agreed Mark should take us back in. The wind was blowing a strong breeze directly onto the pontoon and there are boats moored the left as you going, making for a tight turn to tack and head for the pontoon. A few practices on bouys and with Mark on the helm, Dave on the jib and Andy ready with the bow to step ashore we set off at speed.
Bound fender on – done. Fenders out – done. Reminding the crew of the plan of approach – done. A reminder the plan can change and if so we’d come come out and do a fresh approach. Come on Mark you can do it! To be honest, he really did make it look easy. Rolling waves onto the shore, a stiff breeze, but with a deliberate stall to take the speed off the boat, a nudge with the jib to take the bow in, release the jib, a tweak on the helm and Andy stepped the six inch gap to the pontoon with ease – perfect Mark! Well done and well done the crew. Great team work.
The recovery, lead by Mark with Dave on the tractor leaving them to it on the boat went very smoothly and it wasn’t long before Satyr was back where she started, on her trailer in the park, with covers on, bungs out safe and sound and ready for her next sail.
With the weather doubts at the start of the day, were blown away and we certainly got a great sail, one of the best. See you guys again before too long. A really fun sail in good company.