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Oh cripes - another August Bank Holiday gets washed down the plughole

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From E-Learning IV

Fig. 1 Wind and weather chart courtesy of WindGuru for Seaford Bay, August 25th

  • Day
  • Date
  • Time
  • Wind Speed (Beaufort Scale)
  • Wind Gust Speed
  • Wind Direction
  •  Temperature
  • Wind Direction
  • Cloud cover and forecast density at various descending levels (High to low)
  • Forecast precipitation in millimeters

Stars - the degree to which those who love strong winds will love it. Three stars is an unmissable opportunity for windsurfers and kite-boards.

Too wet, too windy - but perfect for the diehard windsurfer or kiteboarder: I'm neither. I'll be standing on the shore looking at the waves breaking on the beach in an hour or so. The sailing club's Race Officer will decide if sailing is on or not. The serious issue is if we start a race heavy weather could make bringing dinghies in treacherous. If it goes ahead, as Saturday, I will be drenched to the skin helming the safety boat - a RIB we bring out of Newhaven Harbour.

Lessons learnt lately?

The opportunity to improve sailing skills is made all the more swift courtesy of downloadable eBooks and YouTube. After earlier trials inland on a lake yesterday became my first outing helming a dinghy on the sea, and my first race - we had three. Before I took to the water I checked a few items off from a guide to dinghy sailing and at lunch I followed up further tips on YouTube. Is there a limit to what the Internet can tell or show you? The list of tips and insights given by fellow sailors would be long: fixing bits of the boat, getting it off the trolley and into the ocean ... getting it back.

Late onto the water I was a good 30 seconds off the start of the race and never made it up in the Club Laser. The second race I was in the thick of it as 22 dinghies josled for position - two years of crewing a Fireball payed off and sneakily I managed to be one of the first Lasers into this race and for the first lap of three led the fleet - it felt like by some fluke I'd got around the first lap of a F1 Grand Prix in a Citreon 2CV. Staying upright is about as far as my skills go for now. The third race was scuppered from the start as the tiller handle came off; this might be like a fisherman dropping his rod in the water and having to resort to a hand-line ... or a jokey losing his stirrups at the start of a race ... or doing a cycle race without any handlebars: sort of.

However, it is remarkable what you learn and how much more you learn in adverse conditions. My 'skills' have been plagued for weeks by my a clumsy swapping of hands when you tack between the mainsheet and the tiller, every time you tack your hands have to swap duties, the lead hand taking the rope on the mainsail (main sheet), the rear hand taking the tiller ... well, my tiller-handle was gone, which turned every tack into a drill. It worked. I'd liken it to any sports coach giving competitors a challenge in order to fix a problem, or to speed up 'adaptation'.

Trial and error, mistakes, dealing with the unexpected and a challenge ... being pushed. Learning works best when it is anything but 'plain sailing' - we learn so much from mistakes, from figuring things out, by asking for help ... and giving help in turn. How do we keep the human context alive in e-learning? Are we not like astronauts on a lone mission a million miles from earth?

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Design Museum

All change on the weather front

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 17 Aug 2014, 10:16

Fig. 1 Sailing on Seaford Bay

Here we go - autumnal weather, socks for the first time in two months, even a jumper and when out on the water waterproofs, spare clothes and a towel.

This squall sent half the fleet in - to shore that is, only one capsized repeatedly. The first race included many cadets, the youngest crew 8 and 11. 

Out on RIB so drenched through. The sea on the other hand is a balmy 19 degrees. Felt like a bath. Time for a dip?

 

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Learning from mistakes

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 2 Aug 2014, 11:04

Fig.1. It felt like this even if it didn't look like this.

I capsized four times this afternoon. The first I got over the side of the dinghy and righted without getting my feet wet; it is six or seven years since I did this crewing a Fireball. Even in a wetsuit the English Channel is cold enough early in the season. The second time I floundered into the drink and the mast ended up embedded in the mud - I had to be rescued. Ominously I'd been out all of six minutes. Was I up to helming a Laser in a Force 6 with a full sail? It took another 90 minutes before the next dunking; I was tired, cramp in one calf, both thighs shaking. By now I'd just about figured out how to wrestle with the gusting wind. I was also trying to get my hands swapped over effectively on ever tack and to keep my feet from being tied up in the mainsheet. Another hour before the fourth capsize: a propper dunking in which I fell overboard rather than the boat capsizing - I was grinning for ear to ear: still am. Like Tantric Sex? Hours of holding off the inevitable then wosh-bang-wallop. It's the most fun I've had in ages. This sudden burst of enthusiasm for sport delivers on many fronts: exercise, fresh air, thrills, a mental and physical challenge ... a modicum of risk and much more to do and learn before I take to the sea. In 10 days, potentially, I have my first club race. In the sea. With waves and tides and other boats. Unlike the brain, my muscles now need a day at least to recover - I feel like I've been on the rack.

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