Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Night Sailing

Summer is with us, but so to is winter - still. When's it going to end I wonder...
I have managed to sneak some sailing sessions in-between the seasons though so we are coping well.
In July's edition of Practical Boat Owner can be found a feature on a night passage I undertook last year. It dawned (yes, I know) on me that night sailing can be a difficult subject to portray photographically as it is pretty dark, which in turn can be pretty boring to look at. I'm sure you know what I mean.. However the evocative shot that accompanies the article illustrates it quite well under the circumstances. The article is called Night Time Pilotage in Essex Shoal Waters and I hope that whoever gets to read it enjoys it..

  I can't get enough night sailing in nowadays though and through it my enjoyment of sailing has increased twofold. It is another string to your bow, another avenue and an important part of the whole. How I look forward to summertime Springs and a full moon. I've had times when I have left for the boat at 2100 hrs to get away for 2230 and a coming HW at 0130 for example when I would sail through the night under moonlight. Sheer magic it is. Although last Saturday nights venture became numbingly cold even with my trusted Ron Hill tracksters, snood and full face balaclava. Good job it was dark or else I'd have been arrested by the fashion Police.
  Charles Stock always said to me that many of his trips would not have been possible without sailing at night and I completely understand what he meant. I'm referring to single-handed sailing of course. As long as you understand the dangers and your limits it is such great adventure while everyone else is sleeping. And yes, it is OK to be scared to a degree. Lets face it there is a lot that can and does go wrong in an instant while sailing, and while fear is a perfectly normal human response that begins in the mind, it can emerge in physical symptoms, and is something that keeps us safe. Once you understand what the symptoms of fear are you can harness it in a rational way and truly enjoy the moment. For those who want to delve a little deeper there is a book called Know Fear by Geoff Thompson. From memory (along time ago) it is a useful read if you want to know more about this very misunderstood facet of the human response and the way we deal with it on a personal level.
Like anything where skill is involved the only way to get good at it is to put the time in. For a Judoka that means many thousands of hours on the mats with an uki honing his grappling skills. For the creek-sailor that means many hours spent sailing in a variety of creeks with endless scenarios of weathers in narrow, shallow, deep or wide, muddy etc, etc...

 For those that don't sail at night I have uploaded a small video of a moonlight sail undertaken last Saturday. This trip was again without a GPS so it is vital that a positive identification of a mark is taken otherwise I'd be hissing in the wind.

If like me you venture up the River Thames remember to get your free copy of the Recreational Users Guide from the Port Of London Authority. The Guide is filled with useful information (as is their website) for river users. The guide is updated every year so it is worth getting the latest edition. I strongly recommend you take a copy along on your next visit http://www.pla.co.uk/

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