Raptor UK canoe sailing

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July 2010

particular ferry skipper (en route from Pooley Bridge to Howtown) must have seen that he was on a converging course for some time before signalling me and had apparently made no attempt to change course, despite having plenty of room to manoeuvre. But then, if I'd been looking around more diligently I would have spotted him earlier...

Soon after setting off from Skelly Neb with Luke I hit (hard) an unmarked rock with my daggerboard and the impact jammed the board into my Raptor's hull slot so that I was unable to raise it. I made for the shore and was able to free the daggerboard by kicking it backwards and forwards under the hull. I reached my peak speed for the day (9.8 knots) while sailing close-hauled on a port tack as I passed the headland west of Skelly Neb. The wind decreased in strength as we neared Aira Point but remained gusty. I found that the Raptor's foil really proved its worth in the windy conditions, allowing me to unfurl a useful amount of sail and

Skelly Neb obstacle.

continue to point well to windward, while still providing relatively easy, stress-free sailing. By contrast I was impressed at the amount of hiking Luke had to do in order to stay upright on his monohull (no outriggers). He clearly had to work much harder (and live much more on a knife-edge) than I had to while sailing my Raptor. Once confidence is gained with the Raptor's foil and mainsheet control it is a very relaxing boat to sail, even in fairly extreme conditions.

I forgot to start my video recorder before setting off from UYC and when I did start it (once on the water) I had my goggles mounted above the peak of my cap rather than covering my eyes. As a result the first ¾ hour of video recorded was mainly looking skywards! The video shows a partial view of the ferry encounter but not a great one. Heavy rain flooded my video system's microphone as I approached Aira Point, severely affecting sound quality for the remaining weekend's recordings.

After I beached at Aira Point (shortly before 1:30 p.m.) I walked back towards the headland to look for Luke. I couldn't see him so thought of crossing the river Aira Beck to reach the headland beyond but, when I saw the volume of water and speed of flow, decided against it, as I thought there'd be a good chance I'd be swept into the lake. Luckily Luke's boat soon appeared around the headland and once he had beached

Luke at Aira Point.

Aira Point beach.

and furled his sail we walked up to the café for coffee and cake (GBP4.65 each). After a 70-minute stop I decided to head on to Glenridding while Luke chose to wait for his two buddies to catch up. A couple of boats were approaching as I set off from Aira Point and I learned later that these had been AndyW and JohnS, my expedition buddies. The sail south was fun and took me under an hour. As I approached Glenridding a solid 'clunk' made me think I'd grounded my daggerboard again, however, it proved to be a large, partially submerged tree branch that my daggerboard had hit. The heavy rain had washed a lot of debris into the lake. A ferry started to pull away from Glenridding pier as I was nearing it on a port tack when a strong gust of wind hit me, causing my Raptor to accelerate towards the pier. I hoped to be able to avoid it by cutting behind the ferry after it had left, but it was too slow to turn through 180 degrees, so I lay to until it had passed. I then headed for my favourite spot north of Patterdale, beached my boat and drank my thermos of tea. There was a strong current from the rivers Goldrill Beck and Grisedale Beck, which both discharge into Ullswater nearby, that I had to cross to reach the beach.

South Ullswater.

Glenridding Dodd.

Glenridding pier.

South Ullswater.

After a half-hour stop, the sail back from Glenridding to the club, where I arrived before 5:30 p.m., was an easy run. It seems to be a feature of Ullswater that wind strength often decreases in late afternoon and I had to supplement sail power with paddle power for some of the passage. Using both forms of propulsion I was able to achieve speeds of 8 knots and had fun chasing and overhauling a


Place Fell view.

Video clip: Large/small

sailing cruiser that had its sail furled and was motoring northeast. I spotted a beautiful rainbow as I rounded Skelly Neb.

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