Category: Uncategorized

Damage Limitation

I’ve had a bit of a relapse with the obsessive shopping thing.

It’s only three weeks until we go away to Loch Ness, a huge body of water, ideal for sailing if you can avoid the monster. I want to sail! I looked all over the internet, but I can’t find anywhere that rents sailing boats. So I set to looking at buying a boat.

I know, I know. *sigh*

The thing with internet shopping is you start by saying ‘I want a cheap boat that I don’t mind crashing’, and read the reviews. And every single time they say “this is an adequate item, but what you want is *this* one, at ten times the price”.

I was looking at the Laser. It’s relatively cheap because there have been so many made, and there are a lot for sale, second hand.

It’s an adequate boat. It’s an old, basic design that it’s detractors say is painful for leaning out of the boat, and the mainsheet gets tangled on the transom. As I’ve already discovered.

But you can learn on it and, if it’s cheap enough, not worry about getting the odd scratch. It will still do the basic boaty stuff.

But what you *really* want is the RS Aero. The hull is ridiculously light (30 kilos as opposed to the 76 kilos of the Laser) it’s hull has rounded wings so you can lean out comfortably, the transom is open so if you capsize water just pours straight out, and it’s a lot faster.

But it’s a premium boat and it’s only been in production for a few years so has a limited second hand market.

The Lasers I was looking at range from £350 to £1,600. There is one, bare bones, Aero for £5,700 or £7,000 with the desirable sails, cover, and launching trolley. Then you have to think about my competence. And whether I’ll stick to it. And how gutted you’d be if you smashed a £7K boat into a rock. It would be like buying an Aston Martin to pass your test in.

Damage limitation, then. I was messaging some guy about the £350 boat, but he was in Norfolk, and the final straw was when I asked about the sail size. There are 3 sizes, more sail is more power and suitable for heavier sailors. Obviously I want the biggest sail. Possibly two of them. The Norfolk guy had the smaller sails. I looked, and you need to buy a different mast, not just a larger sail to go full size. That would double the price of the boat.

Then I found an obscure sale sight, Boats and Outboards, that had one for sale in Manchester, full sized sail, for £500.

I went and had a look today and it seems fine and dandy. I looked up the Laser site to find the faults to look for, I couldn’t find any on this boat. You never know until you launch and sink, but it looks OK.

My plan was to look at this morning and if I liked it go back in Wendy’s car and pick it up, then take it to Liverpool to try it out. I’ve never sailed in the sea, but how hard can it be? If the worst happens, I could just start a new life in Ireland when I land.

I was talking about throwing it on the car roof on my own, and the guy said it is do-able, but it’s a job on. I can lift 130lbs, but when it’s spread over 14′, it’s massively awkward. He said to grab an end and we did a two man lift. It weighs a ton. That’s a total change of plans. I’m still thinking it through, but it seems it’s would be such an ordeal to get it on the roof it’s not going to be practical for the holidays. That was the whole point. I mean, I could probably get it on and drive there. Then I’d have to take if off. Then put it back on, drive to the Loch, assemble it, sail for an hour, strip it, then try and heave it back on to the roof, then take it off again at the chalet. Until I actually try manhandling it on my own I can’t say for certain, but after that initial lift today I think it’s going to be too much.

I’ve emailed my sailing club, I think I’ve got a berth included in my membership, so I’ll just take it to the lake and sail it there for now. I’m a bit miffed, to be honest. I’m not beaten yet. I reckon if I put straps around it I could lift it. The whole point was for a cheap, roof-rackable, relatively light boat. To get sailing for the least possible expense. I don’t want to buy a road trailer, a car with a towing hook, and pay for insurance. I do want to get on the sea. That looks to be where the real fun is. Hmmm. I might not get to sail in Scotland this time. Maybe get some sailing time in on the lake, then take days out to Liverpool when I’m more experienced. And I’ve built up my boat lifting muscles. This is all just speculation. I only viewed the boat a few hours ago and I’m still processing it.

One of the salty sea dogs on the training course suggested an old book that covers everything you need to know for advanced sailing. The first example of stupid rookie mistakes it gave was heeling the boat right over and thinking you were going fast. If you do that the boat has less hull in the water on one side, so less resistance, so the boat naturally turns in that direction. So you have to use the rudder to counteract it. Which is drag. A flat boat is a fast boat. Not what I wanted to hear, I want to be right on the edge, full power. But as he illustrated, a flat boat doesn’t have to be a boring boat.

No lack of commitment from the crew, there.

I’ve still not heard any more from my job application, but that just means they are being slow. Lots of people have had a ‘no’.

Talking of lorry driving, the government have gone full loony. The Brexit lorry driver shortage is meaning empty shelves in the supermarkets, McDonalds running out of milkshakes, and some chicken joint closing because they’ve got no chicken.

But don’t mention Brexit.

Anyway, the government have already relaxed (ripped up) the Working Time Directive so lorry drivers can now legally work longer (our previous 15 hour days were a bit slack, to be honest) but that’s still not cutting it. So now they’ve gone full on barking and have said they are changing the driving test. You can now go straight from a car licence to an artic. (You used to have to pass the rigid test first.) And you can now pass the test without coupling the unit to a trailer, or being able to reverse.

No. Really.

A ton of new “drivers” who will be doing 15+ hour days (it’s only the dodgiest, most unscrupulous of employers who will take them on) who can’t pick up a trailer or reverse onto a loading bay, or even park up. So basically an exhausted car driver in a 44 ton truck, on cruise control, stressed out of their face and clueless. I can’t see any possible way this could end in carnage, multiple deaths, and more closed motorways.

The Japanese prime minister has just resigned for failing to control Covid, (16K deaths in 3 times the population density of the UK). Bozo is shameless in the face of 134,000 (recorded, figure fudging going on) UK deaths. I don’t suppose he’s bothered about any more deaths from lorry smashes.

The bike is still a joy. I had to nip to Manchester on it today. Awesome beast. Now it looks like I’m keeping it, and keeping biking, I was looking at that bike handling “knee down” course again for next year. There’s no rush to book it, and I’m due a tax rebate, so I’ll treat myself out of that when I finally get it.

Wendy is well on the road to full sanity. I keep forgetting, she’s so good. Still the odd blip, but it’s the exception not the rule, now. Brilliant.

My hoof seems to be holding up a lot better lately. It’s the Warrington half marathon in a fortnight (then Loch Ness marathon in 3 weeks, Manchester marathon in 4) so I thought I’d better test the water this morning. I went for a test half, as fast as I could, so I’d have an idea where I am. I started off fast but each mile got a bit slower. I ended up with a 1.42, which is not terrible. My heart rate average was 92% (of maximum), so I wasn’t coasting.

I’m thinking my poorly hoof is a lot better these days. I’m hoping after the last 3 races, when I rest it, it won’t take too long to heal fully. And hopefully the post viral fatigue/ plague weakness will be equally as quick to fix. I’ll be getting back on my indoor cycle trainer when I stop running to maintain some fitness without impacting my foot. So I’ll be cycle fit when I’m healed. You know what that means… TRIATHLON!

I’ve seen two in I fancy. One is a half Iron distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 miles run) the other is a bit of a fun event. 1 mile run, 38 mile ride (but it’s all evil hills, including the 2½ mile ascent of Kirkstone Pass, a road aptly named “the struggle”) then a 9 mile “run” up some steep, off road, hills (apparently even the pros use their hand to scramble up). If my hoof heals to plan I might do both.

Oh, and I’m dieting. Again. Meh.

Right, out of here before I eat the keyboard.

Some twitter and I’m done.




Testing Times

After the first morning of my sailing training, and capsizing 5 times, things got a bit better. The second day there was hardly any wind, so we were basically practicing the drills in slo-mo. Then it got so becalmed we couldn’t even return to shore and the motorboat had to tow us back in. It was a very frustrating day, but it meant that when we got some decent wind on the third day I had an idea what I was doing.

There were some full-on blasts that kept blowing up, so you had to lean right out of the boat to stop it getting blown over. Which also meant it felt like you were going really fast. I enjoyed that bit a lot. The thing is, when you are sailing away from the wind you want the sail out at 90 degrees to the boat, which means you have to let out a ton of the rope (mainsheet) that controls the sail. Then when you turn it around to sail towards the wind you have to pull the sail in tight. What kept happening with me was all that loose mainsheet kept getting caught around my transom (rear of boat). On several occasions this meant I was suddenly flying along, sail fully powered up, boat tipping over, with no way of letting the sail out. So seconds away from another capsize. Happily I’d learnt enough to throw the rudder over and steer fully into the wind to depower the sail. Then you have to lay over the boat and free the mainsheet, in doing so lose the tiller so the sail swings around again, duck under the boom, grab the tiller, and the mainsheet had caught on my transom again! AAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH!

I ended up spinning round twice, which is ducking under the boom 4 times, before I had a working mainsheet and tiller. This was while the boat was heeling over from side to side, trying to capsize.

So that was fun. For anyone watching, at least. Once I’d finally regained control I was happy that I’d learnt enough not to have been swimming again, but it was a close call.

I’ve passed the level 1 and 2 now, so I can rent the club Lasers on a Sunday (when there is motorboat rescue running) for a tenner a day. I’ve put my name down for one next Sunday, I’ll see how I get on. There was some interesting theory on sailing. I’ve always assumed a sail was a big sheet for catching the wind. Not so. On a dead run, with the sail at 90 degrees to the boat and flat to the wind, that is what it’s doing, but then you can only possibly go as fast as the wind. The genius of the sail design is it acts like a wing, so the air flowing over it creates “lift”, so you get the wind speed and the “lift” so you can actually sail faster than the wind blowing you. Also I thought a jib (the smaller sail on the front of the mast) was just more area to catch wind. Nope. It acts like a funnel to force air over the mainsail faster, creating more “lift”. That’s probably not that interesting, but it was a revelation to me. Also I’ve seen those dramatic pictures of boats heeled right over, a sailor heeling right over the boat, and thought that must be the fastest thing going.

Again no. You’re ruining the boat’s hydrodynamic properties, and making it steer into the wind, necessitating corrective rudder position, which is drag and slows the boat down. A flat boat is a fast boat. Not sure how I feel about that. I like the drama. (Apparently, when you are really good, you can use it on purpose to get the boat to turn without using the rudder.)

Although, flat doesn’t have to be boring.

Anyway, I’ll see how I get on with the club Laser on Sunday on my own.

Really I want my own boat so I can take it on holiday. It would be great to sail on the Scottish Lochs. I’ve looked online and I can’t see anyone renting sailing dinghies for the day. I’m wary of my motivation though (prob just manufacturing a deadline so I can shop). And I don’t know enough to know what to look for in a second hand boat. Even though I could get a cheap Laser for £375 with a trailer, then I’ve got to buy a car to tow it, and get insurance. Because I’ve been a named driver on Wendy’s insurance for a couple of years I’ve lost about 10 years no claims bonus, so that would be steep.


I’ll wait.

Wisdom like patience.

It sucks. I want everything and I want it yesterday. Bah.

I didn’t get to run while I was sailing. By the time I got home I was tired, hungry and lazy. I was mocking (in my head) the other lads on the course saying they just got in and went to bed. And that they were stiff and sore. Then, after the third day, when the wind got up so I was leaning right out off the boat, I got up after the course and I was done in! The small of my back was sore, my stomach was sore, and my quads were ruined. I was walking around stiff legged for two days waiting for them to heal. I’ll have to do some core exercises if I want to enjoy this sailing lark. Anyway, I was looking at the holiday dates (while searching for boat hire) and I realised it was only 37 days until the Loch Ness marathon! Eek!

In the last 10 weeks I’ve done 15 x 1 hour runs, 3x 10 miles and two half marathons (13.1 miles). That’s it. The rest of the time I’ve either been working, struck down with plague weakness, sailing, or being fat and lazy. Mostly the latter. I thought I’d better see if I had anything in my legs. I decided to do an impromptu marathon today (day off).

The last bunch of times I’ve tried to do a marathon it’s been so terrible that I just wasn’t sure I was even going to finish. The biggest battle today was forcing myself out to do it. I woke up already making deals on defeat. “Maybe just do 20 miles”, “See how I get on”, etc.

No. Commit to the distance. I needed to know what I was like over the full marathon.

I got my kit on and noticed my new top give the impression of a plunging neckline into my ample man decolletage. Super.

I set off with 4 gels and my 1.5 litre vest bladder so I’d be self sufficient and not face the quitting temptation you get if you come back home for fresh water bottles.

I set a few arbitrary goals:

1: Don’t die

2: Run a marathon.

I don’t know if it was the extra weight but I was really slow. After 4 miles I was on 37.21. I did a quick bit of dodgy mental maths and realised that was over 4 hours. (About 4.05)

On the hoof amendment:

3: Sub 4 hours

I worked it out if I could keep it at 9 m/m for the rest of the run I’d be sub 4. Hmm:

4: Drag it back to an average of sub 9 m/m.

That meant I had to run every set of 4 miles, including miles 22-26, faster than my first, fresh, 4 miles! OK, challenge accepted!

I did it! Achieved all 4 of my goals.

Considering where I am, with limited training and bouts of weakness, I was quite chuffed with that.

I got back and was done in, just sat leaning against the bin. Wendy came out and looked really worried. I asked her if she was alright (she’s so much better, but still not 100%) and she said she was worried about me because I was weak before I started and I’d been gone so long. I’d told her I was running a marathon before I went out. “Yes, but I thought you’d be back in 3½ hours.”

Everyone’s a critic, lol.

Snap of the new tory (toll) Runcorn bridge from my run. With bonus magpie I didn’t notice when I took the picture. Stop. Snap. Run.

Wendy’s back to work for full days tomorrow. Her doctor didn’t give her the three days she wanted, but said to try two full days a week, then review it with her after a month. Which seems a very reasonable position. Wendy’s works have been bending over backwards to accommodate her. They know she *is* the debt team and without her they lose all their funding. As Wendy said today, it’s a pity they had to drive her insane before they were willing to treat her right.

Some Twitter and I’m done.

Parenting skills



Serendipitous Happen-chance.

I’ve started at my sailing club. I went to help out on Sunday, just helping take boat times on the races and inputting the data into the computer. Today I did my first lesson.

I think I was wise to take lessons. I capsized it 5 times in the morning session. The rudder is so sensitive! You push it a little bit and the boat goes everywhere. Not a problem in a straight line, but you have to tack upwind so you are swiveling around, while ducking under the swinging boom, and changing sides of the boat, then trying to steer with the tiller extension behind your back until you can swap hands. As with learning to drive anything, it’s a lot of things to be concentrating on at once.

After the dinner break we went back out on a tougher course and I was fine. Once you’ve got the basics you can relax enough to see what is starting to go wrong and correct it. The good thing is I am now a master of the capsize drill for righting the boat. That bit holds no fear for me anymore.

Also, due to DVLA being swamped and taking forever, I’ve not sold motorbike, so have had chance to ride it back and forth to the club twice. If you’re not all dolled-up in complete race leathers, just wanting to get your knee down, you can really enjoy that bike. I was in awkward kit, to which I’m not accustomed, trying for a maneuver I’ve never done, straight out of the box on an unfamiliar bike. In retrospect, I was setting myself up for a kicking and huge disappointment. Riding in familiar, comfortable kit, with somewhere to go, and pushing my limits incrementally, is brilliant fun. I *heart* my Triumph again!

I’ve got over my shopping thing. Well, I’ve stopped doing it, which is not the same, really. I’ve bought some books, some seeds and we went to the garden centre yesterday so we got some flowers. That isn’t the problem. I actually use the obsessive searching, comparing, and hunting down the very best model for the very best price, as a fun hobby in itself. The purchase is where the fun ends, to a degree. I crave newness and change, shopping provides that, and kills many pointless hours. I can see that that is a problem now I’ve had my nose rubbed in it.

I’ve got to buy some specific kit for this yachting lark (a top, some wetsuit material shoes with a grippy sole, and a buoyancy aid- I bought a lifejacket, not the same thing-) but I’m going to be in an out. See. Buy.

In much the same vein, I’ve not looked at cars since the Damascus Google search on Obsessive Compulsive shopping. Or boats. Or anything. The bike is getting me to the club for now. Apparently the club rent boats out to noobs (£15 a day) when you’ve done the training. They encourage you to use them for a while to get your skills up, and try different boats, before you commit to buying one. I’ll do it like that. If I stick to it, then I’ll get a boat. Hopefully I’ll be able to rent one on holiday in Scotland.

I applied for a full time gig with the Royal Mail about 6 weeks ago. I was talking to a driver when I was shunting last week (well, he was talking to me) and he said he’d had an email off the them asking for the authorisation code DVLA need to issue, so RM could check his licence. I’d not had a “no”, but not heard anything.

I found that on my ‘phone after sailing! Brilliant! I’m still in the running.

Also, they do open water swimming at the boat club lake, so that will be something to keep my eye on in the future. Preferably when my swimming wetsuit doesn’t look like someone shoving a whole cow in a single sausage skin.

Work has been a karmic rebalancing of the lorry driver scales. In Lockdown 1, the motorways were empty apart from professional drivers. It was brilliant. That, and people not touching me, were the best parts of the plague for me. Now the UK is on the world’s leper list so hardly anyone can go abroad, and it’s school holidays, so literally millions of clueless, impatient, angry amateurs are all clogging up my office. Eughhhh.

Right, bit of Twitter and I’m out of here.

Forest Fr1ends were musing on the Great British Holiday:

And Brexit

I’ve found some top tips for tomorrow’s lesson:

I forgot to say, I did have one moment of whimsy. I thought of a new hobby after boating.


Sort of boaty, but more up and down. How hard can it be?

I had a quick look and it’s £10K for your licence and £16K for a “project” seaplane conversion. OK, maybe not.

I’m following some guy from Zimbabwe on Twitter, he posted this, which I love. I can’t track down the artist though.

OK, more boaty goodness in the morning.

Sleep tight ye lubbers.