Maiden Voyage.

It’s taken me 5 weeks, and so much more trouble than I ever anticipated, but yesterday I finally got my boat on the water. It took me ages to work out how to rig it. The ones at the club already have all the lines (ropes), blocks, and fittings attached, it’s just a matter of putting it all together. I got mine out from under it’s boat cover and it was a bare mast, boom, and a bag of different lines. I finally got it together (not quite right, it turns out, but enough to work.) When it’s all at rest it looks fine, it’s not until you examine every inch of it closely, by assembling it, that you notice the flaws.

The sail is shot. It’s old, old, old, (which I knew, and was OK with, it’s only for learning) but when I put it on the mast I saw the sleeve that fits over the mast is ripped. Two 3″ rips, quite close together, so it’s only a matter of time before the middle bit rips and then it’s a huge tear. That’s annoying. I’d previously read that because they are a one design boat, if you get a seaworthy Laser of any age and put a new sail on it you will have a boat that’s at least 95% as good as any top of the range new one. So, it was on my to-do list, if I liked the boat and stuck with it. The state of the sail has forced my hand a little early.

Some of the lines are a state. One is the wrong size, most are tired, some fraying at the ends, or in the case of the bungee type line (shockcord) that holds the daggerboard (the small keel thing that you can raise or lower to suit) the outer has totally separated and it only has the internal strands of elastic holding it together. Less than ideal.

Also the tiller has a wooden handle (I think it’s from a different boat) which is too long, so the tiller extension fouls the mainsheet.

Then for the real test. Is the hull any good?

I asked if I was OK to sail as they were having a race of some fancy boats. I said I just wanted to pootle about to test my ratty old Laser to check it wasn’t going to sink. It was a joke, they are literally unsinkable because they have that much buoyancy built in, but the guy took me seriously and said all new boats should do a buoyancy test. So before I could start I had to wade out then tip my boat on its side for ten minutes, then turn it over and try to sink the other side. It didn’t sink. Yay!

I took it out for a spin. The sail wasn’t acting right (old, and I hadn’t fitted the rigging right) and the mast seemed to be bending (turns out the mast sections have to be assembled a particular way). The tiller extension was getting in the way. And I was rubbish, obviously. There is a real skill to angling your sail to the wind, one I don’t yet have.

I took it back to shore and put it on the trailer. Then dragged it out of the water. It seemed a lot heavier. That was when I really got worried. A new sail and lines is one thing, if the hull wasn’t watertight I might as well just bin the boat. Well,no actually, apparently it’s a relatively easy job to apply some plastic paste stuff which hardens and repairs the hull, but come on. Sail, lines, tiller and hull? That’s virtually a boat.

I looked over the boat and right at the back is a screw-in, bung type thing. I asked one of the salty sea dogs as I wasn’t sure if that was to drain water from the cockpit or the hull. It was for draining the hull. I took it out and tipped the boat right up. Not a drop. Excellent. The rest is do-able.

As I was writing that I realised that the bank slopes down into the lake. Of course it’s going to feel heavier dragging it out. Idiot.

I told the salty sea dog that I was just testing the boat out, and already I had to buy a new sail. He said to just buy a generic one. Apparently if you want to race other Lasers, at proper Laser events, you have to have everything brand Laser. To keep it level playing field. And to gouge you twice as much for the same bit of kit. For racing at the club any old sail will do. And that isn’t my goal anyway, I want to get out on lochs and lakes and in the sea. It will take me a long time before I’m good enough to be thinking of entering a proper Laser class event. By then I’ll know if I want to buy a rip-off sail. I think by the time I’m that good I’ll probably be in a different class of boat anyway. Either a faster, more modern one for racing, or a bigger, slower one for leisurely cruising with Wendy.

I’ve found a sail kit online. It’s the more modern design of sail (only £20 dearer than the inferior, early design) the batons (sticks in the sail to help it hold its shape) and the big sail numbers to stick on.

Then I was looking at line kits. For the brand name, modern kit, it was nearly £300! You get the pulleys and such with it, but basically £300 for a bunch of lines. Then I found a video on how to rig a “classic” (old) Laser. It turns out they are different than the new ones, which is part of the reason I couldn’t rig mine by just following the online instructions. It was from an American firm trying to flog you lines, so they did a breakdown of every length and diameter of line and how to rig it. Perfect. Being American it was all “11 feet of 5 millimeter line” hahaha.

I noted everything down, added the lengths together and ordered it from a British supplier (sorry guys).

I was just going to get the lines that were shot, but what the hey, I might as well do the whole thing. £47 for all the lines for a completely fresh new boat. I’ve ordered some whipping twine so I can tidy up the ends when I cut it all to length. I’ve read you don’t actually need to as you can just melt the ends of modern plastic-ey ropes, but it will look neater and more sailor-ey.

First image I could find. Just imagine the line ending on one side of the twine.

So, when my sail and lines get here I should be set with a proper decent boat. Then I can’t blame the tools anymore. I’ll give it a few more Sundays (when the rescue boat is out, how they like noobs to sail) then I can start going on Mondays when there’s nobody there. I’ll have the whole lake to myself then.

In other news, I’ve started my recovery rest period from running. My foot doesn’t feel smashed after my recent escapades so I’m hoping the recovery will be quicker and hopefully actually stick this time.

I read a very interesting piece on woman beating men on ultra long distance events.

( )

It’s well worth a read just to marvel at what some of them have achieved. For me though, the second half was a revelation. I’ve read similar in the past. “Women are better at handling pain, they have more stamina” etc. This went further by saying what’s wrong with men. They said women have less ego, so while men are all “I can take the pain, I’ve hardly trained but I’m going to smash it!” a woman at the same race wouldn’t turn up unless she was damned sure she was good for it. She’d have trained for the distance, the course, the pace and was ready for it. Men try to wing it, don’t put in the consistent work, go out too fast and burn out. To answer the question of my last blog, *THAT* is what just happened. My Manchester marathon DNF, through that lense, isn’t a mystery. It’s stupid, but obvious. I’ve always done it but never thought about it. I’ve always got away with it before. Now I know. When I get back to running I am going to be so much better thanks to that article.

To maintain some run fitness and build bike fitness I’ve got back on the Sufferfest. Getting started is a bit daunting because your first ride is an hour long beasting to set your fitness levels. Well, it’s not. It’s warm up, 5 second sprint x2, easy ride, 5 minutes flat out, easy ride, 20 minutes flat out, easy ride, then 1 minute flat out. It’s a fiendish test because each hard section saps your legs for the next one. Anyway, I got it done. Which is a double victory, one for just doing it, and two because I’ve had massive issues trying to get my trainer and Sufferfest to be compatible. This latest attempt seems to have worked. I’ve got a fortnight’s free trial of Sufferfest so I can see if it works for the training sessions as well. If so, crack on!

Wendy got her car back, so she’s delighted. It seems they hadn’t screwed the engine cover thing on . (That big stiff sheet thing under the car that keeps road muck off the engine.) The screws had shaken out, but rather than them possibly taking the car away again (if that was caused by the accident) I just cable tied it down. It seem fine. Next time it has to go in the garage we can see if they can fit it properly.

I only got two shifts last week so I’ve been doing a lot of reading. A woman on twitter suggested ‘The Ship Who Sang’ as a classic sc-fi book.

Read this for a first page:

Page 2 was “that’s all fine and dandy, now lets set off for jolly space romps”.

I’ve read some books in my time, and some go out of their way to paint a nasty villain, but I’ve never read one that takes the most distilled pure evil of nazi eugenics and cheerfully extols it as premise for an uplifting book.

A society where disabled kids are killed or have their body’s growth stunted, are encased in a steel shell, never to touch the outside world, nor to eat, breath, or even see except through a machine. Then they are brainwashed and forced into indentured servitude/ slavery until they’ve paid for the privilege.

It is pure evil. The rest of the book should be about destroying the ship programme and eradicating the nazi scum society that engendered it with extreme prejudice. It’s not. It’s about one woman’s fun space adventures.

I was genuinely horrified. The unconscious assumption behind the book, that that is acceptable.

Rant over. Just wow, though.

I had another horrifying glimpse of the future thanks to to Tory brexit. I went on to the new, online doctor’s thing, called Push Doctor. Check out the first thing that shows up.

But the Tories are totally not privitising the NHS. They are the caring face of fascism.

Right, bit of twitter and I’m done.

William Shatner (James T Kirk) got shot into space for real this week. He’s 90!



What Just Happened?

It’s all gone pear shaped since my last blog.

It took us 6½ hours to get to Inverness on the way up. On the way back, due to it being Friday, it said 7½ hours on Google maps. Bad to start with. Then the satnav diverted us to avoid horrendous road works on the M74. But that lead us through a gridlocked town centre instead. We were both getting stressed out. Then I saw I sign for the M74, thought it couldn’t be any worse, and took it. We queued to get on to the slip road, then found out the southbound slip road was closed so we had to go north back to the beginning of the roadworks again. Another disaster ensued. In the end, with a 20 minute stop for the toilets and a brew, and another stop to fuel up, it took us nearly 9 hours to get back.

It was awful. Like a really bad day at the office but worse because at least that’s just me, with Wendy in the car, who isn’t used to spending all day frustrated and raging, I was stressing over her stressing. So that was terrible.

On Saturday I’d volunteered to do some work at the boat club. The email requesting workers said that due to the 18 months of covid a lot had got overgrown with weeds, and stuff needed sorting to make room for more boats. As my boat hasn’t yet got an official berth (it’s in the temporary overflow at the top of the carpark) I thought I could help the club out and myself at the same time. I stipulated I would have to be on light duties as I had a marathon the next day.

Ha! I got there in my chunky boots I use for my motorbike (which I’m no longer used to clumping around in, always being in trainers) and my first job was dragging big tree branches up a field as they chainsawed them down. Then they said they wanted to make a new boat park. So I was digging up thick, clay-ey soil. Then they wanted 20 tonnes of tarmac/ gravel shoveling into wheelbarrows and moving to the new boat park. Which wouldn’t have been too bad except it had been there years and set solid. We had to pick axe it to break it up. Most of the people who turned up were quite old men, and there was only one pick axe, so me and another guy were taking it in turns navvy-ing. It was hard, hard work. I had to take my glasses off because I was sweating all over them. So much for light duties.

Today I got up early again and Wendy ran me into town, so I could get the train to Manchester, then the tram. I got there pretty smoothly. There was a 40 minute start time delay. We finally set off. I’d had a thought during the week, if I could maintain 9 m/m over the evil hills of Loch Ness, surely I could hold 8 m/m on a flat course? Then I got greedy and started thinking maybe 7.45? I did 7.47, 7.44, 7.44, 7.58, 7.50, 7.48, 8.03, 8.00, 8.08 and then it went to hell. 9 miles in and my calves were cramping, my feet were hurting and I just couldn’t hold the pace. I got an 8.36 for mile 10 and I was really struggling. I tried to adjust my expectations. If I could keep it under 9 m/m for the rest it would still be reasonable. By mile 13 I realised the best I could hope for was a finish. I had nothing left and I was hurting badly. I was looking at a DNF (Did Not Finish). I kept it going but by mile 19 I was stopping and walking sections. I finished mile 19 in 11.38! I knew it was over but I kept trying. I made it to mile 20 but by then I was walking more than running. I saw a tram stop and sacked it off. I had to do the Walk Of Shame with runners on the tram and trains who’d finished the marathon.

I don’t know what happened. I can blame last week’s marathon and yesterday’s hard graft, and my gob writing cheques my body couldn’t cash, but honestly I just don’t know. I’ve done 3 marathons on 3 successive weeks before now. And I’m often too ambitious for my meager ability, but I always get the job done, however badly. This is only my second ever DNF (the other was when they pulled me out of the sea swim on my first triathlon, because I hadn’t trained for sea swimming). I’m a bit shaken. I tried and tried, but my feet, calves and knees were killing me, and my legs just wouldn’t run.

I’m doubly sad because this was my last race of the season. I really thought I was in with a chance for a PB. Instead I’ve got to rest my hoof for months with that weighing on my mind.


That’s a half marathon, an evilly hilly full marathon, and a 20 mile failure in 3 successive weeks, and (touch wood) no plague weakness. So it’s not directly linked to exertion. That’s good.

Wendy should be getting her car back on Tuesday. I’ve booked the day off to do the exchange.

The entries for that triathlon (for next September) are live today, so I might enter tomorrow, when I’ve slept on it and regained some self belief. (I always assume I’m going to do stuff. Maybe not as well as I’d like, but at least get it done. It’s quite a shock to totally fail.)

Also tomorrow I’m putting some air in my pushbike tyres and getting set up ready to get back on the Sufferfest. Lots of brutal exercise on the turbo trainer. Getting bike fit while my foot heals.

Well, it’s been an eventful 3 days, at least.

Bit of twitter then I’m done.



Loch Ness

We made it to Inverness! Wendy was having a bit of terror when I suddenly questioned whether the insurance worked the same on her courtesy car. If they had only insured her to drive, without me as named driver, she would have had to drive the six and half hours here. No, it’s all the same, I’m good to drive.

It’s a nice car they’ve given us, a ’20 plate Skoda. Wendy hates it. Since passing her test she’s only driven her Mini, so going from a diesel 1.6 to a litre petrol, with a different bite on the clutch and a slightly different feel, and having to do the adjustment on fast, very bendy, wet, unfamiliar roads is a bit much for her. I reckon if she’d have just been trundling back and to to work, cutting her usual groove, she’s have been fine and really quite liked the Skoda.

I drove us here, we went into Inverness to pick up my race pack for the marathon then we drove to our holiday chalet. It’s really nice. Comfy, quiet, and has heating, which is an imperative as we’ve gone from long, long, warm summer into a cold, wet Scottish autumn. It’s weird though. They’ve got underfoor heating. So it takes hours to warm the pipes up and for the heat to get the room toasty, then suddenly you are lathered, you turn the heat off and it takes many hours for the pipes to cool and stop roasting you alive. Not an ideal system, really.

Anyway, we got here, race pack collected, and settled in. The owners had left us a welcome pack, a loaf of bread butter, cereal, milk, eggs, shortbread and a bottle of wine! Eek! Thanks but can you take that with you?

Then Wendy had to stress again. In the morning my race was a bit weird. You are not allowed to go to the start under your own steam, so Wendy had to run me to the main road (6 miles) where they had a collection point for the coaches. They don’t provide a return service, so I needed Wendy to come and pick me up from Inverness, 20 miles away. Poor sausage was a nervous wreck.

I had moment on Saturday night when I realised I hadn’t packed any gels (basically sugar sludge in individual packets, to give you energy). They were giving some out on the race, but not enough, and not at the required intervals.

Another stupid mistake: they said it was going to be cold at the start, wear a disposable layer. I looked through my kit, I had a long sleeve running shirt that I never use, wear and discard that. Stupid, stupid me. It’s meant to be a breathable, light top you can wear while running. We got to the race start, where Wendy had wisely suggested I try and buy some gels, and someone on twitter said if not, get some sweets. It was a wind blown, desolate hill top in the middle of nowhere. Oh dear. The temperature was about 6 degrees, but it was blowing a gale. We got dropped off 45 minutes before the race start. I was shaking with cold and my teeth were chattering.

I was looking around at some other runners in bathrobes and such when I remembered some advice from ages back, buy a cheap warm layer from a charity shop. Idiot! I’ve never needed a discardable layer before, so the advice never registered. I won’t forget in future!

We got going finally and after a few miles I started to warm up. The all I had to worry about was running out of energy and the hills. I’ve done basically zero hill training and this was solid up and down. The first 7 miles I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to finish. I just didn’t think, with insufficient training (and no hill training), I was going to be able to keep going. They had the first gel station at 6 miles and I managed to grab 2 gels. OK, if I can do that, I’m good for race fuel. Just the actual running 26.2 hills to worry about. It was brutal but I surprised myself by staying pretty consistent.

I’d said on twitter that I was going to take it easy to save my legs for Manchester next Sunday. Just a fun run, as long as I’m under 4 hours. Ha! It smashed my legs, and I had to dig deep, but I scraped in under 4. Chip time of 3.58. And a decent T shirt for a change.

Wendy came and got me and did one more drive after that, but she woke up aching more than me (from tension and anxiety) so I think I’m driving until she gets her Mini back. It was good of her to run me and pick me up if she was that anxious. I’d have been stuck without the lifts.

Yesterday we did some touristy stuff. We drove around for a bit and finally ended up going around Urqhart castle.

And got some pictures of the Loch.

We’ve had some good news about the car. The garage rang up, they’ve inspected it and are going to replace the bonnet, the front wing, the door, and the back wing. Basically the whole side of the car. Because the dent passed over the frame of the car I was worried that it might have bent it, then they’d have scrapped it. So, good outcome. Wendy’s made up. She can’t wait to get her familiar car back.

I am definitely getting a towing car for our next holiday. The Loch has been choppy and windy and perfect for sailing. Grrrr.

Right, Wendy’s up. Some twitter and I’m cracking on.