This page will hold stories from members not just about sailing on the Trent, but also personal stories related to sailing in one way or another. Hopefully these will serve to illustrate the wide range of life experiences present in our Club members.
Paul’s Sailing Story
I’d often walk with the dog beside the river Trent and watch the sailing. I thought it must feel fantastic to glide along with wind power alone, but didn’t have the time to investigate further with a young family at home. Then before I knew it, I was approaching my 50th birthday and my wife Angela wanted to know what I wanted to do for my 50th. I told her “I’d like to try sailing,” so it all began.
A friend and I visited Notts County SC first, but the people we met made it appear to be too much trouble, so we came away disappointed. Then we came to NSC and it was a whole different story. Everyone was very friendly and we were soon booked on the next RYA level 1 course.
I loved the level1 course. My instructor (Bill) appeared to be a bit of a rebel. It was quite windy and some of the other boats were reefed but he wasn’t bothered and we were soon streaking across the water, with him hanging out of the boat and I absolutely loved it. I knew I was hooked from that first sail. My mate’s instructor was a little more careful and he didn’t feel the excitement, so he didn’t continue sailing after level 1. This just shows how much influence the instructor can have on a new sailor.
I joined the club and did the RYA level 2 course. I then bought my first boat, an older Laser from Bill my instructor. I had great fun learning to race with that old boat and made some great new friends at the club. I was given an old road trailer which I adapted to fit using some of the scrap in the corner of the compound and a few of us travelled to various Midland open events. I didn’t win or even come close, but I loved every minute of it.
After a couple of years, I wanted to try some big boat sailing. We booked a Neilsons learn to sail holiday at Vounaki Beachclub in Paleros Bay, Greece; where we spent the first week learning to sail a yacht by day and staying in the hotel overnight. My son James and daughter Sammy came too and learnt to wakeboard while we sailed. At the end of the first week, both Angela and myself had received our Level 2 keelboat certificate. At the start of the second week, the 4 of us got on our yacht, just us, and we sailed around the Greek islands with the flotilla. It was amazing. I couldn’t believe we were sailing a yacht on our own. We had a fantastic holiday and I was now hooked on big boat sailing.
I then studied for the Day Skipper theory, every break and lunch hour at work I had my head in the books. As soon as I felt I had mastered it, I booked a Day Skipper Practical course at Largs in Scotland. The course was over a long weekend Fri – Mon and the instructor was a Polish woman who had some brilliant stories of all her sailing adventures. There were practical tests on my sailing ability and navigation plus a theory test.
With the Day Skipper qualification under my belt, we chartered a small yacht ‘Bareboat’ in Poros, Greece. Myself, Angela and James set off to explore the islands of the Argolic gulf, totally free to go where and when we wanted with no support crew or flotilla. It was a bit daunting at first but I loved it. We’ve since had many Neilsons sailing holidays and sailed various hobbie cats and dinghies with family and friends. I even won the weekly regatta race sailing a Pico in very strong winds and planing most of the time, because the others in Lasers capsized.
Back at the club I decided to change my Laser and get a Supernova. I find the Supernova sails better than the Laser, but I’m not as competitive in it for some reason. Perhaps I’ll go back to a Laser at some point or try something else. I enjoy teaching others how to sail so I took the RYA Dinghy Instructor course and this year I also trained as Senior Dinghy Instructor so that I can help the club and lead some of the courses we offer. This summer I will also be a dinghy instructor at Rutland Water for a couple of days a week during the summer season.
Back to big boats and myself, Andy B and his mate sailed from the Hamble and into the Solent for a weekend to brush up our skills. Myself and Neil B joined a yacht with Neil’s friend and we sailed it from Dover across the channel to Boulogne for an overnight stay, sailing back the next day. We had many issues during this trip but we all made it back safely. I learned to always double check all the yacht’s systems before setting off, regardless of how well prepared the yacht appears to be.
Three of us at the club set ourselves a Top Gear Challenge, to buy a Mirror dinghy for less than £300 and see what fun we can have. We each bought a boat, (Andy B bought two!) and we set about modifying them so we could “sleep” on board including a camp bed and a tent. We’ve sailed these old Mirrors from the club, downstream as far as Farndon. We’ve also sailed from the club upstream as far as Shardlow Marina, staying overnight at Trent Lock near Trent Valley SC. We’ve sailed from Normanton on Soar back to the club with an overnight again at Trent Lock. We’ve sailed on the Norfolk Broads and recently we’ve sailed the river Deben from Felixstowe ferry to Woodbridge, overnighted and sailed back with the tide accompanied by inquisitive seals. I’ve joined the DCA (Dinghy Cruising Association) and look forward to many more Mirror trips in the future.
Last year, myself, Angela and 3 other couples chartered a 48ft yacht with 4 cabins and 4 heads from Poros in Greece. We went along with a flotilla because I was the only sailor! At least two of our friends tend to get sea sick and one can’t swim so I had to make sure they were kept busy and didn’t have time for sickness or nerves. We all had such a brilliant holiday that we are all going again this year. This time though we are chartering a 41ft catamaran from Piraeus near Athens so we can explore the islands of the Saronic gulf. I’m getting excited to sail such a large boat and I’m wondering if I’m going to find enough space to moor such a wide boat in the small village harbours! I have more big boat trips planned, including a possible Atlantic crossing next year.
So, Angela’s question “what would you like to do for your 50th?” was just the start of my sailing journey, and I’m loving every minute of it….