Keeping the Flag Flying

As a small diversion as Spy Wednesday is gone and Maundy Thursday dawns, I found a nice little video on Facebook about the strange exhibits at the recent Royal Yacht Association boat show.

The video is presented by Roger Barnes the leading dinghy cruising evangelist in England, seconded by David Sumner who gave me the most useful advice for my rig.

What is really striking is the difference between the racing boats and their associated equipment, marketed by the firms that produce them, for the sole purpose of “sailing round the cans” at regattas. Sailing costs money! Or does it?

The striking thing in this show was in the outer corridor, Avel Dro belonging to Roger Barnes and Curlew, a cruising Mirror belonging to David Sumner. Roger made the point that they were not there to sell anything, but rather to provoke curiosity in this alternative way of sailing small open boats for pleasure.

Sailing used to be called the sport of kings because of the sheer amount of money invested in the boat and all its equipment. Nothing comes free in life, but perhaps we cruisers can rely more on ingenuity than buying a new boat off the shelf. I call my Sarum the “tramp sailor”, because I don’t have an awful lot of money to spend on her. I make do and repair to the maximum and only buy bits of equipment when nothing else is possible. Sarum‘s  workmanlike scruffiness, with her battered fibreglass hull and custom rig, contrasted last year at the Semaine du Golfe with varnished wood and elegant hulls. This year, she has a new launching trolley, an improved road trailer and a better boom tent.

Many people were attracted to those two usual boats impregnated with the humanity of those men who work and sail on them. Curlew has been all the way round the Isle of Wight. The video brings a smile to the lips when we see the spirit of English initiative and grit!

This little Mirror is slightly smaller than mine, which was dwarfed at the Semaine du Golfe last May. Sarum has a white hull and a pale blue deck, just between the clinker-built hull and the two men tending a boat with a red hull.

semaine-golfe02Sailing on the open sea in such a small boat is an intrepid venture, and we have to be extremely prudent with the weather and tidal conditions.

I now look forward to my first time out on the sea this year, perhaps in early April after the spate of bad weather over the Easter weekend.

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