Wednesday, April 25, 2007

DSC_2986 - ColregsFirst sunburn of the year equals first sail of the year. Yes, I know I probably could have got sunburnt in February and I could also have been sailing much earlier, but, well, we can't all live in San Diego, and the sea's still cold now so it's not as if I'm a total wimp (despite for the most part not expecting to get wet when sailing - capsizing simply isn't a me thing).

So the weekend was spent in some distinctive, or possibly stunningly normal, B&B, complete with beds illsprung swathed clinging sheets and breakfasts where the components are only distinguishable through variance in ratio of grease to salt. I now can understand the friend who abandoned Atkins in favour of a diet with includes jacket potatoes and bananas; it's odd to be driven to craving Coxes* at breakfast and indulging in psychosomatic imaginings of lemons. All this in a room designed round the display of trinketry, furnished with locked keyless bookcases, fake ferns in repro planters, and a eight inch Venus de Milo overshadowed by gaudy chunks of pottery, consisting of petrol station finest, discards of scout jumble sales and some identical to my grandmother's cheapest set (which provided many year's service until I dropped the pile while putting them away), all bathed in the sound of early morning Radio 2 issuing from the ersatz Deco radio. The bedrooms don't quite compete, featuring only foam etched wallpaper suggesting either they put the paste on the wrong side or affliction by recent catastrophic cascades, manic fringing, and doilies like volcanic ash marring some fairly decent pieces of furniture. Taste is an odd thing.

* The plural of Cox's please, MQ.

So after one not wholly sleepless night, but one not helped by intercostal wires, the sight of a sprogmada putting all thoughts of sailing far from our minds, we each devised separate entertainments. One little piggy went to Jewson's, one little piggy went gossip foraging and this little piggy went wee, wee, wee round much of the town, camera in hand, as will be demonstrated by Flickr, where the results are slowly appearing. Rather than repeat what has been said and will be said at the other place (look, it's your own silly fault that Flickr gets probed before the blogs; I know my update rate is low, but it seems to be slightly above average. Flickr has constant new stuff, blogs have that "I'm not giving up blogging but" post yet again).

After the journey of discovery and confirmation, I wander back while we spend a great deal of time doing not terribly much with varying degrees of panache (as per usual). The grand plan for easing boat storage turned out to be not quite so simple, not quite so easy and not quite so effective as expected. Split drain pipes will go, with much coercion, onto scaffolding poles, but if the space is a pig to get into, a little less friction makes little difference. It is the universal rule of that place that a boat requires more people than can sail it to get it up the beach and put away, which given the ever more Parkstone-ish character of the place generally means struggling while certain people feign blindness (the same people who expect help shifting ironwork for private moorings without any use of please or thank you. But then they seemed to think applying a lot of effort was more important than applying a little thought when moving something extremely heavy; cue crashes, yells and demands to get a prop where I was already trying to get one).

At some point we actually managed to get the boat ready to sail and us changed (exempting she who has never knowingly sailed for about a decade). It's probably best I avoid any lengthy examination of the helm's competence, but we spent our time pinching or sailing in sweeping arcs while I tried to work out how to avoid blowback (or whatever it's called - when the wind guided by the jib puts a dent in the main) when the jib's on the verge of luffing. I'm never sure if the helm's not keen on hauling or whether he's enduringly unobservant. The latter I suspect, given how long it took him to realise the rudder had popped up again (we may finally have sorted it out, but more later.

Tiring of being damned if I do and damned if I don't, I take over the helm. We struggle onwards, with my crew infuriatingly trying to crew. Look, just sit still and try to keep the jib filled. It wouldn't be quite so bad if my weight weren't two thirds of his, meaning that my finely tuned shifts to balance it are are demolished by his struggles to get to where he thinks he ought to be. Ferries have sunk from smaller sudden shifts of load. Knowing commands only beget complaints about the tone of voice from him, I try vainly suggesting doing more with the jib that let it be a glorified burgee, but in the end decide my responsibility ends at the mast.

After the rudder pops up once more I decide to head back to Cygnet (spot the Googleproof codename), the crew fretting all the while about the tidal race across the ledges that has been there my whole life and the whole time I've been sailing, all this while the white water is about a third of a bay to port. If I sailed where he wanted me to we'd never make it past the end of the pier. I make it in on the same beat-come-reach-come-run-come-beat-again, the last waver of wind helpfully matching where the crew had left the jib and thus when visible to spectators everything looked fine.

Of course it started going wrong as the crew Rogered too soon, the wind veered a bit more and became onshore again, which is great fun when the crew is holding the boat side on to both the waves and wind, and I ended stuck between trying to get the main down and the rudder up while a spectator suggested I sail it onto the trailer. Fortunately my withering look was lost in the sagging mainsail (apparently he meant it as a commendation or my sailing ability, having such been discussing my competence and the beauty of my approach with she who does not sail. Naturally I treat all such comments and reports of compliments with the disdain they deserve. Of course I bloody well can; I'm me. To expect anything less is to be like GA's Great Uncle Bulgaria, who nearly fell off the stern shortly after asking if I really could row, and my first stroke then wasn't even that hard). Naturally the boat had to retaliate, upstaging and negating my effortless grace, so when I pulled the rudder up the cleat did not exactly come off in my hands, although it did come off on the rope which was in my hands.

Uh-oh. Realising that looking the sheared screwheads isn't going to achieve anything, I wedge the rope under one of the catches for the rear buoyancy hatch (well, it's basically the boat's boot that doubles as a buoyancy tank). Flinging myself forward to loose the main halyard I then manage to get the luff wire slotting into the bottom of the feeder. Standing in a rolling and yawing boat trying to haul a halyard with one hand, lift the boom on a jamming gooseneck and free the end of the wire with my other hand, all while the sail's catching the wind is not quite as much as sailing is. Especially not with a rapt audience.

That's the problem with sailing - the bits that aren't sailing. Setting up the boat not knowing where things have been left, how they've been left and what particular bit of jury-rigging needs doing this time aren't very enjoyable. I would suggest the sailing holiday solution to this (having someone to catch the boat and being able to step off it is so nice, even if I could never quite part myself from the habit of yanking the dagger board out feet away from the beach), but I know that doing things myself does mean that useful things like the bungs go in, at least most of the time.

Having rendered the rudder limited in its ability to manoeuvre (well, if it won't stay down and is lacking the cleat on the tiller which holds it up, then it's limited in its ability to reliably manoeuvre. I managed to turn it into Schroedinger's rudder, or possibly the Grand Old Duke of York's), we haul it up the beach and do the usual shuffle to get it away (having first eradicated all visible thistles). It's probably just as well dinghies don't have BMW-sensitive alarms, and it's hardly has if they really need that corner of boat (bear in mind I've been moving boats for about as long as I've been able to sail them; it's an awkward space with a small approach).

Thence much not-muching and so to dinner. Or rather wandering till we find somewhere to eat. Cue entering a pub to have the 3 guys watching television look up and the three girls clustered round the bar studiously avoid looking. Negotiations on whether the kitchen's still open, but it closes at nine at that's still nearly half an hour away; I'm not sure whether the bargirl was more dismayed to realise that more customers might mean more work or that it still wasn't nine yet. She really wasn't pleased when she realised that despite her hints we might like to eat in the restaurant (partly because the bar was full of smoke; although it turned out to have drifted out to the back restaurant). So back we head, to await the promised restaurant service.

At about quarter to nine we depute someone to go and find the waitress and perhaps mention suggest that us giving the pub is rather reliant on actually being given the opporunity to buy something. This prompts action, along with the request for a credit card to keep behind the bar lest we should flee (er, we just doubled the paying population of the pub and have to walk through the near empty building to get out). Oddly we completely ignore this request and no more is said of it.

We order quickly, except for one who insists on pondering and then goes with what he was intending have in the first place (look, I'm the indecisive one, and I've managed to pick something and it's not even the default lasagne). Drinks appear, which thrillingly for the pub mostly consisted of tap water each with a sole ice cube because we'd said "no ice" and they'd said "it doesn't run cold" (yep, it'll have been sitting under the sun baked High Street all day).

The food appears and we wonder whether we're the only people to have eaten all day. The chillies come in heaped balti bowls and that's not including the rice. I'd reckon to get at least three meals out of that amount of mince. I start wondering whether I ought to have ordered CCC instead of my steak and whatever pie (which is a reasonable size although apparently served from a great height) when I'm asked to taste it. Yep, there's definitely more chilli than either con or carne.

While we eat the waitress slams and stomps round setting with clattered aplomb a couple of tables for breakfast. We indulge in subtle looks and quiet comments, not quite being sure how to take near decapitation by Weetabix. Settling for misplaced efficiency rather than outright aggression we attempt to ignore it, and suddenly it's over to the sound a spinning bowl falling out of thrumb on a table. Theorising as to whether she has to get it done before she leaves and when she might leave we're interrupted again and two people burst out of the kitchen door. A while later they they return and within minutes come back out at the head and crashing procession of the youth of the town. One guy reels out and registers with shock the presence of customers, but he's swept away by the flow.

The silence returns, only the faint eddies in the smoky air betraying the past maelstrom. The waitress reappears to ask "Can I have the dishes?" This is met with silence except by those still eating. She departs, confused. We agree she must be new (Can? Have? Dishes? Asking before we've all finished and knife lies with fork? I know it's not a single shoulder establishment, but that's still being a tad proactive).

We finish and arrange paying, which thanks to chip and pin and a short lead involves walking behind the bar. It turns out she wasn't just new, but this was her first day. I'd never have guessed. And so we depart, leaving the cluster of barmaids to ignore the same cluster of customers-come-boyfriends at the other end of the bar, while young and enthusiastic guys bound in to set up for their hopefully more popular gig later.

And so to bed, via the Guardian crossword, because it's a small, bloody minded, tourist town out of season.
[Below are a couple of phrases intended for a use which never came: guess what and who they're about. Further down is the rest of post, abridged by time]

Slightly flirty, slightly bitchy.
Too known and yet not known.
Once more I've forgotten to finish this off, having left it for probably months, so now I cannot quite remember what else happened. We did our duty, for God, Queen and sailing club. This involved the usual chaos of the start, which was postponed through lack of wind, which then shifted (yes it is possible for an absence to have an angle), requiring a change of course which was still ongoing when the race started. The start also had the quirk of only one person on the committee boat knowing of the new start timing, which gives three minutes intro rather than five, and which none of the laminated and fool-proof paperwork mentioned. Much of the race was spent chatting to the people on an adjoining safety boat (who shouldn't really have been there, but...), and by chatting I mean the adults talked while the children kept making slightly too much eye contact and no noise. But then with powerfully blue eyes, looks a bit like a blond cavalier, gorgeous smile, young enough to still show vulnerability mixed with machismo, old enough to be adult, and of course clad in a wetsuit which invariably flatters [and flattens] you can hardly blame me for wanting to avoid anything inane or crass and thus skipping that branch of communication. Unfortunately I couldn't contrive a situation where I swap with the good doc, leaving us alone and adrift, instead having to settle with being rescued from my marooning by them, during which I felt far more ungainly than I possibly was.

I'm sure other stuff happened (like managing to get two thirds of the way down the main room at the club before I noticed the sumptuously voiced commodore was making an announcement to a rapt audience) but I can't remember much of it. All that's remained is a cluster of mistakes while sailing and the distinctive presence of a cute guy. So that'll be my faults and someone else's everything but. Oh well.


* I think it would actually be "Cox's". No change, because the noun in question (to which we would add the plural morpheme) is actually omitted. IIRC they are actually Cox's Orange Pippins, in which case it would be something like "Cox's Orange Pippinses".

Or maybe just "apples".
What a fool I am. Of course the singular is "Cox's Orange Pippin" so that the plural is "Cox's Orange Pippins". Of course.

By mentioning this I am making it clear that I wasn't joking last time. I am thus behaving with integrity and humility. And, of course, modesty. Aren't I good?
Most enjoyable story.
Most unedited story more like. Can you tell I might have neglected to proofread that one? Scathing comments don't work so well if I unintentionally type "scarring comets", or forget which verb I was using employing engaging so chuck another three into the sentence.

Managing to forget to Googleproof the name of the pretentious nearby yacht club was a good touch too. Bloody soup-orderers (they which they did on Channel 16).

And MQ, am I supposed to obediently reply 'yes' at this point?
I think you're supposed to laugh in my face at this point, actually. But by all means say "yes" if you feel you ought.
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