azziria: (sailing)
I'm going to start with a big one: sail across the Atlantic, from the Old World to the New. (That is sail as crew, not on a cruise ship.)

This falls under the heading of 'big but not completely impossible' because of the time factor: I could find a crew spot easily enough, but it takes about 3 weeks, and it's not fair on my family for me to use up all my annual leave doing something that they can't (and don't want to) do with me.

But maybe, maybe in a couple of years if DS goes to the state sixth form college he's contemplating and we only have one set of school fees to pay for a while, maybe then I could take some unpaid leave from work and do it :)
azziria: (cave)
Day 5

In your own space, share something non-fannish you are passionate about with your fannish friends. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.

I think that most people on my friends list know that my big passion these days is offshore sailing, but before that it was caving (or spelunking, for those of you across the Pond).

I started caving in my late teens, and it pretty much consumed my life right up until I got pregnant with my first child. It gave me everything I was looking for - a close-knit 'tribe' to belong to, the excitement of risk and of pushing myself, and the kick of doing something that most people found slightly (or very) odd and didn't understand. I caved mostly in the Yorkshire Dales, and spent a lot of summers on expedition exploring new cave in the Austrian Alps (that's me in my icon, abseiling into the entrance of 164, a cave we were exploring in the Austrian Totes Gebirge mountains). I love sporting wet caves and big shaft systems best. I've seen some strange and beautiful things, and I've stood where no-one on this planet has ever stood before. I've also faced some dangerous situations and handled them; that's a good thing to know about yourself.

These days my passion is offshore sailing. The sailing I love isn't gentle sailing from one marina to another, sipping G&Ts while moored each evening. The sailing I love is the more serious stuff, the long passages, the night watches (I *love* night sailing). I get the same things from my sailing as I got from caving - the tribe, the excitement, the pushing my limits, physical and mental. My idea of heaven is beating to windward in a Force 6 with waves crashing over the deck. At that point you really know you're alive :)

Snowflake Challenge Day 5
azziria: (sailing)
Extended shipping forecast for this coming weekend:

Strong southwesterly winds on Friday will increase to gale-force for a time in northern parts of Fitzroy and Biscay as well as Sole, Fastnet and Plymouth. Winds veer westerly later Friday with gales persisting for a time through the English Channel. Strong westerly winds continue during Saturday across much of the area before easing back by Sunday morning.

So, we're racing from Cowes to Cherbourg, gun time 1900 Friday. Looks like a bumpy start, a beam reach all the way over, and then a more gentle run back on Sunday. Also not the weather (or the wind direction) for trying out our new spinnaker!

Can't wait :)
azziria: (sailing)
The standard of humour on the boat is... low. As evidenced by the amount of amusement still being gained from the fact that the skipper sometimes has to instruct a crew member to blow the guy...

And now that I know the rest of the crew a bit better I have a feeling that it can only go downhill from here on in...


Apr. 21st, 2011 10:02 pm
azziria: (sailing)
First weekend on the boat this weekend - plan is to all join the boat first thing tomorrow for a safety briefing, then hop over to Cowes on the Isle of Wight tomorrow afternoon, spend the night berthed in Cowes and then head out for 24 hour overnighter on Saturday morning, full watch system up and running, the works.

Nervous and excited both at once :)


Apr. 16th, 2011 11:39 pm
azziria: (sailing)

Dinner with the crew this evening, seriously good fun, they seem like a good and varied bunch, with a range of ages (18 - 63) and experiences (one complete novice to a couple of Yachtmasters). Ended up with a stroll down to the harbour to take a look at the Challengers moored in the marina.

We don't know which of the Challengers will be ours yet. Apparently 4 is the fastest for some reason (in theory they're identical, but...) and two of the four will be getting new sails before the Fastnet, but none of the skippers know which two yet.

Our skipper, M, is young (mid 20s) but clearly knows his stuff, is obviously a people person, and seems to have the gravitas to do the job. So all good.

Can't wait to actually get on the water next weekend :)

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

azziria: (lighthouse)

Spent the morning in the classroom brushing up on safety procedures and kit, and this afternoon in the swimming pool, fully dressed and in lifejackets learning how to deploy a liferaft and board it from the water (undignified!), and how to right it if it's capsized. Huge fun :)

Heavy weather sailing techniques tomorrow.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

azziria: (oceanabstract)
Away this weekend doing the Sea Survival and ISAF Offshore Personal Survival courses as the start of the Fastnet training - personal survival, safety equipment, heavy weather sailing techniques, rescue procedures, communications (need to brush up on my radio procedures and dig out my radio licence before next weekend), basic first aid, and a session in the pool with a liferaft (*g*).

Only downside is that my internet access will be limited to my iPhone. Better than nothing, but any writing done will probably have to be longhand in a notebook. Hopefully the hotel has wireless so I don't have to rely on the 3G.
azziria: (sailing)
No, I'm not doing it on my own. There will be 12 of us crewing the boat.

No, I'm not doing it with anyone I know. But as all of us on the crew are there because we want to have an adventure and aren't scared of working for it, I don't see that as a problem.

Yes, it is the race that all the people died in that year. That's why they've set such stringent training and qualifying conditions.

Yes, it might be a little bit dangerous. But it's all about controlled risk. That's why they've set such stringent training and qualifying conditions.

And no, I've never been seasick... so far...

More crew details courtesy of people answering the call for press info: one partner in a London construction law firm, one MD of a commercial insurance company, and one ex-assistant editor of the Sun and Daily Express newspapers(!). Sounds like a fair dose of alpha males there...
azziria: (oceanabstract)
So I've just filled in a series of questions asked by the Press Officer for our Fastnet campaign and, following another crew member's example, circulated them to the whole crew (I'm dying to know more about who I'm going to be sailing with, and I can't be the only one). So I've owned up to the fannish origin of my sailing passion (Master and Commander and Pirates of the Caribbean) to a whole crew of people I haven't even met yet.

All part of my new resolution to be more open about who I really am, and s*d the consequences.

We all meet up next weekend for our first training session - the shore based one, Sea Survival (including playing with a liferaft in a swimming pool, which should be a laugh) and Heavy Weather Sailing (since the large loss of life during the 1979 Fastnet - 15 fatalities, 25 yachts sunk - the Royal Ocean Racing Club have tightened up their entry requirements, which now include a requirement for a certain percentage of the crew to have done these courses, plus the requirement for each crew to have sailed 300 NM together in qualifying races in the 12 months before the Fastnet race itself). We're all going out for a crew meal together on the Saturday night - should be good :)

What I'm really looking forward to, though, is the weekend afterwards, when we have our first training weekend actually sailing. It's too long since I was at sea - I can't wait!

To do...

Apr. 7th, 2011 10:21 pm
azziria: (sailing)
To do before sail training starts the weekend after next:
  • Revise Lights and Shapes
  • Dig out Navy book and brush up on Rules of the Road
  • Go over position fixing and tidal heights again
  • Sort out grab bag
  • Try not to get overexcited

    Sea Fever

    Mar. 29th, 2011 08:12 am
    azziria: (albatross)
    All this talk of selkies and sailing has me longing for the sea again, and John Masefield had the way of it. Luckily I have a trip to the coast this weekend and then Fastnet training beginning next month to ease my sea-itch...

    Sea-Fever, by John Masefield.

    I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
    And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.

    I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
    And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
    And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

    I must down to the seas again to the vagrant gypsy life.
    To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
    And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

    Sailing :)

    Jan. 28th, 2011 07:56 pm
    azziria: (sailing)
    So, Fastnet details finally starting to come through today. Joining instructions for all the qualifiers and the Fastnet itself, plus a name and brief bio of the skipper (no crew details yet, think I'll have to wait until Feb for that).

    So, the skipper is a young Navy guy - marine engineering officer in training - which is all good, probably means lots of energy and enthusiasm. I'd prefer a younger crew, rather than old codgers, and I wouldn't mind being the only woman - truth be told I'm happier in male company (never really got the hang of the girly stuff, truth be told). Whatever, the crew will be sound, we'll all there for the same thing, the thrill and the love of the ocean, kindred spirits :)

    Anyway, we'll see.

    Can't wait!
    azziria: (sailing)
    Passed the meteorology exam for my Yachtmaster theory ticket this evening - all done and dusted now :-)

    Next week is the last week - some passage planning, and then to the pub. And then I get my Thursday evenings back.

    I'll miss the class, though. It's been good.
    azziria: (sailing)
    My Yachtmaster theory class last night ended on a bright note - our tutor had brought along some lifejackets that were due for service, and we got to put them on and pull the 'inflate' toggle but not until we were outside the airplane. Huge fun.

    Sometimes small pleasures are just the best ever :-)
    azziria: (sailing)
    A great weekend :-)

    Got down to Port Solent marina in Portsmouth on Friday night in time to meet the team (of mixed experience, but who had all sailed tall ships at least once, and were a great bunch), pick up the yacht (a Jeanneau Sun Fast 37) and get a safety briefing from Neil, our skipper.

    Saturday began with bacon butties and a race briefing before heading out through the lock into the Solent to where the first race was to start. None of us had raced before except for Neil, who did three legs of the Global Challenge ocean yacht race a few years ago - but racing long distance across oceans is a bit different from racing around buoys in a busy Solent. So it was a steep learning curve for all of us!

    The weather was very windy (Force 6), but the Solent is sheltered by the Isle of Wight so the seas weren't particularly big. Sailing was exciting but tiring - manoeuvering by last minute tacking to get out of trouble as 18 yachts try to round one buoy takes some energy. As does bracing yourself to even sit still when you're heeled so hard over that the rails to leeward are awash. And moving around the boat at that angle takes a certain athletic ability! Helming closehauled was challenging, too - the boat had a strong weather helm, and kept fighting to come up into the wind - and the wind was was very tricky and kept corkscrewing round and back every minute or so, meaning that as helm you had to be really on the ball to prevent inadvertent and alarming course changes.

    Close quarters race manoeuvres are also very good for sharpening up your rules of the road - no time to ponder gently "Hmm, is he on the port or starboard tack?" as someone changes direction sharply and comes screaming across your bow - you have to know and react accordingly.

    Saturday evening we were berthed in Haslar marina. We had drinks and dinner in the lightship there, but we were all falling asleep in the bar and none of us were late to bed.

    Sunday the weather had really got up - Gale Force 8 out in the Solent, and heavy rain, so the organisers decided to call off the racing. We took the yacht back round to Port Solent marina, put her to bed, and drove home.

    It was a shame that we didn't get to race on Sunday, but given that it's November and this is England, we did pretty well to get such a good day's sailing on Saturday, so I'm not disappointed. All in all it was a fantastic experience (although I do ache a bit today...).
    azziria: (sailing)
    I had my first Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Offshore theory class on Thursday night, and it seems like it's going to be another good class. The instructor is someone I actually know of (and a lot younger than the guy who taught me last year), and is very clued-up.

    I realise now, though, how thoroughly we were taught last year. This course covers a lot of the same ground, only in more detail - but it looks like I've already covered a fair bit of that extra detail in some areas.

    And one of the other students amazes me. Chatting over coffee in our break, he casually announced that he'd taken up sailing 12 years ago. When he was 72.

    There's hope for me yet *grin*

    Tick, done

    Sep. 18th, 2005 04:56 pm
    azziria: (sailing)
    I am now the proud possessor of a Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) Maritime Radio Operator Certificate of Competence - Short Range Certificate, licencing me to use marine VHF radios fitted with Digital Selective Calling.

    Sounds impressive, doesn't it?! *g*

    A very good course, with a very good instructor.

    Strangely enough, this is the only qualification you legally have to have in order to take to the sea here in UK waters. Everything else is voluntary - you can just buy yourself a boat and get out there, however dangerous you might be. (However, charter companies - understandably! - won't charter you their yachts unless you have some qualifications, which is a very good reason - although of course not the only one - for me getting myself properly trained.)

    Thanks to everyone for the crossed fingers and best wishes :-)


    azziria: (Default)

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