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June 20, 2007

More reminiscences

Sailing is one of my great passions, one I don't get a lot of opportunity for these days. Sorting out these old photos and deciding how best to preserve them has brought back a lot of memories one way and another, and a sense of the freedom I enjoyed as a boy - a freedom denied children today, even though they are nominally "freer" than ever before. The photo below shows the "Sharpie" Panga lifting her hull onto a broad reach (a point of sailing with the wind over the ship's quarter) and with her crew hgaving a reaching spinnaker hoisted. These boats carried at least two spinnakers, the shallow cut "reaching" version seen in the picture and a fuller cut "balloon" for when they wanted to run before the wind.

Pnaga on a reach.jpg
Panga lifts to wind and sea as she begins to gather speed on a broad reach in the entrance to East London Harbour.

Generally I sailed a smaller class, the fourteen foot "Sprog", a slim chine built hull with a large sail area and a lively handling characteristic. The "Sharpie" had a sail area almost three times that of the Sprog and was consequently faster, although a little less nimble. The Sprog class was a two person boat, although I have sailed one single handed (hard work!), and could give a very exciting sail if you were prepared to work the boat to her limits. They were great fun, especially sailing well out to sea from the mouth of a busy harbour.

The long course on this club's racing schedule involved a triangle out to sea that meant a race was over twenty one miles in straight lines - beating to windward in a series of short tacks meant you could almost double that in some conditions. But it also gave plenty of opportunity for some wonderful sailing and to learn your seamanship the hard way.

Posted by The Gray Monk at June 20, 2007 11:48 AM

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