Friday, July 27, 2012

Dinghy sailing again

There's great cycling from Dromineer. That's how we found Black Lough of course (see the previous blog). There are views of Lough Derg you don't usually see. Here's Illaunmore, the big island just off the Tipp shore where we anchored for lunch on our way back from Kilgarvan.

Looking at Illaunmore from Urra
It was a steep climb to the top of Urra Hill where we found several houses. One is clearly visible from the lake - a white box-like structure. We discovered a sister house to it, probably not visible from the water.

White house
Work must have stopped suddenly - the chimney is painted halfway up. You find yourself making up stories about what befell these ambitious projects dotted around the country. This would be quite a place when finished with fabulous views of the lake if you trimmed the hedge on the road passing beside it.

The dinghy finally got launched in Mountshannon last weekend without a glitch. Amazing. Straight into the water. The outboard started. We hadn't forgotten anything important.

The dinghy in Mountshannon
The quay wall is at a mad angle in this photo. That's always happening to me. My horizons are forever crooked. I put it down to malfunctioning eyesight - I have astigmatism which does strange things to straight lines. Anyway, there's our pretty little dinghy secure against the mothership.

We took the dinghy out in very light winds to get ourselves attuned again. We didn't go out at all last year. The dinghy was sanded down but not varnished, Winter Solstice was up north and we seemed to be doing other things. Would we remember how to put up the mast and sails? Would we know which line did what. Would we still be able to sail the thing?

So many questions, thankfully all answered yes. It seems that sailing is like riding a bike - you don't forget. It's a physical memory once you've done something many times and your body remembers.

The next day we tried going out twice, but each time the wind eluded us. The lake looked very beautiful though.

The day after that I woke to hear shrouds clanking against masts and knew we were in for a good day. The difference between sailing and cruising requirements! However, it wasn't going to be as easy to get out. The day before we'd sailed easily from the harbour, but we'd moved Winter Solstice the previous evening. We'd been to The Snug for dinner before going to the hotel to play in the session, but came back to the boat in between to let the dogs out. Before we walked up to the village, the jetty looked like this:

There's Winter Solstice on the left
When we returned there were three big Carrick Craft boats parked here. A clot of lads was being rowdy on one of them. It could mean only one thing. Stag Party.

We moved. They were very nice about it. I went and explained what we were doing - didn't want to offend anyone - saying it was for both our benefits. They wanted us to come aboard and have a drink. A big lad dressed as a Viking lifted me from my feet. Hmm.

As we pulled out suddenly we had a passenger.

'I wanted to help,' he said, looking slightly alarmed.

'You're going to have a little trip,' I said, and made him sit down safely on the coach house roof.

The boat and passenger were reunited with the shore and we set off to the pub for tunes.

So to sailing in the good wind. We motored to an outer jetty, put up the sails and easily got out. Joe had the helm, caught the wind and sped along towards Holy Island. Then it was my turn. Back into the little bay off Mountshannon Bay. A very different sail to the day before.

I tried to bring the dinghy in without the motor. Too windy, and in the wrong direction. Would have been Ok if Winter Solstice had been in her original position as we could have gone head to wind on the wall. We very nearly did get onto the jetty we'd set off from, slowly slowly head to wind until nearly there, then a quick turn and the wind caught the sails. Away we went out of the harbour, tacked and came back. Actually, the first attempt was good, but because both Joe and I were on the same side of the boat, Joe with painter, me with boat hook, we dipped over too far and the dinghy was in danger of getting trapped under the jetty.

So eventually we dropped the sails and motored to the wall just in front of Winter Solstice. I was ready with the painter when Joe accelerated instead of putting the outboard into neutral. We shot forward into the rubber dinghy of the huge cruiser in front. Then the wind caught us and we bumped, very gently, the cruiser itself.

We were both very grumpy when we finally tied up off Winter Solstice.

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