Number 216 / December 2009

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Published by the Open Canoe Sailing Group

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My Views (RodL)

Legal Disclaimer: Views expressed below don't necessarily mirror those of the OCSG management. (I'm not so sure they even represent mine.)

Let's be controversial for a bit. Nothing like a good argument in this season of goodwill to keep us from getting stayed in our ways (a boating term?) and traditional. (And we wouldn't want that, would we?)

How can you compare a multihull with a monohull? Read Wally's advert of last issue describing its Titanic-like unsinkability. When I think of the physical and nervous exhaustion I have in order to keep my humble craft upright in anything more than a F3 in open water and how it makes me re-assess the meaning of life and what I'm doing here anyhow, while a craft twice the mass of mine and 3x the beam, smoothly passes by conveying a nonchalant figure idly fiddling with a biccie wrapper, I wonder about the fairness of life. It's not that I don't like multi-hullers. I can even manage a short time with them despite their little - you know - eccentricities. Until they start their jargon that is, with words like "flying it" and "how many cu. cm. is yours?".

And another thing - I'm fed up with solicitor-proof Euro-safety. I want to admit that I don't have a level 2 in camping. I know that means I should only camp buddied-up, site marked on the campsite map (which must be A3), within hailing distance of a more experienced camper and estimated time of waking stated before my tent is taken in tow. I'm afraid that sometimes I actually like camping alone and even performed a break-camp without someone standing by. In the rain. With no hat. Sorry.

And when is a race not a race? (If I slowly move a bit more into the middle, I might pick up a bit more wind and beat Dave to the tea place without him realising.) I've got a few doubts about next year's "racing only on odd Sundays in the season" rule. And "only after at least 6 hours clocked up on your weekend cruise sheet". (I bet you forgot to get yours validated by a committee member

this year. They're the ones with the gold wet suits.) Then there's the proposed embargo on using certain terms in the pub - Start line, Far buoy, 720 degrees penalty, Handicap… I know it's for our own good and that racing eventually won't even enter our minds. (I wonder if we staggered the start for fairness, we could all have a competitive cruise?)

Remember the photo from last month (on the right)? How did they manage to look so contented without all our... er... progress?

Canoe Boys - Chapter 8b (Alastair Dunnett)

The detailed charts of the coast are sprinkled with information and warning advice, particularly about any unorthodox set of the tide. Where a channel does not run clearly north and south, the flood tide coming up from the south must go in to the channel by the handiest entrance it can find, and go out by the other. A novice navigator may not have the experience to tell from the other conditions present whether the flood steam will arrive from the east or the west. Do not let him worry. Sailormen have been here before; the information has been gathered and noted down in the charts and sailing directions.

Broadly, however, the flood-tide flows north, and the ebb-tide south, and if you are going north you will go when the tide does. According to the district, this will mean a stream running at from one to several knots in your favour. With a canoe, you have to adjust your entire time-table to that of the tide, and if the stream starts flowing an hour before dawn, you will require to be up in time to go with it, and so enjoy six hours or so of positive travel - a good day - before it turns against you. You can also travel in the short period of slack water, and also, of course, against the

tide, if you must move on, but this will cut your pace considerably. Anything above three knots will be very tough work, while there are certain main coastal channels where the tide runs faster than you paddle. These tide factors scarcely affect power-boats, but the canoeist's first lesson is to learn to be friendly with the tide.

And with the wind. Unlike the boat of normal design - even the rowing-boat - a canoe has little grip of the water. Only a few inches are below the surface, and the rest of the hull, with the figure of the canoeist, offers to the wind what is in effect a larger proportional sail area. A wind on the water can blow a canoe before it like an inflated bladder. On our coasts the wind blows almost constantly. It is true that, in a sultry summer, calms may occur, but these are rare. During the three months of our trip we never happened to be afloat on a calm day.

The wind, which is the heart of the weather, is largely unpredictable. It has wild, unexpected local variations, and may squall and whisper its way round the compass in a few hours. Here it differs from the tide, which has at least a regular rhythm, although it held fast to the long-term secrets of

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