A Weekend of Sailing, Sun, and Space in Windermere.
It was great for the charity to get back up North and see our Northern friends again. At the start of 2020 Jonny Cormack advised that his company Better, had bought Ghyll Head Outdoor Education Centre, just on the outskirts of Windermere and it would be a great place to hold a Blind Sailing weekend. Due to COVID the charity had to wait just over a year, but it was worth the wait though 😊.
Blind Sailing UK’s commodore Lucy Hodges said, “I cannot put into words the magic of the weekend, with COVID restriction still in place and wanting to keep everyone safe Ghyll Head Centre ticked all boxes, with a large outside place to eat and socialise along with our own private waterfront we did not see anyone outside of our group it was magic”.
It was also great to hear from other VI sailors that weekend Judith said “I can only recall visiting Lake Windermere on one previous occasion so when the opportunity arose to sail “up north’ I jumped at the chance. Despite the long journey, it was worth it as I wasn’t disappointed. The locality was very busy with tourists but Jonny’s accommodation and sailing location offered peace and tranquillity, fabulous views and a wonderful learning experience. On Friday evening, courtesy of Captain Jonny’s lake tours we headed to Bowness for fish and chips which was really something different and an introduction to the vast expanse of water”.
True to say as Judith said the weekend started in an amazing way. Lucy and Colin were quick to finish their fish and chips as they embarked on a late boat delivery after waiting for the Great North Swim to end. They started the delivery all smiles in the warm sun and it was great to see their selfies as the sun set and the teeth start to chatter.
Saturday was all about getting back in the GROOVE in shifting wind, great practice for those on the helm and main. Thanks, must go to Ark Sailing for the loan of there 211, which allowed some of our sailors their first opportunity to sail on a keel boat and understand that the theory is the same as sailing in a dinghy, ie. weight and how the boat feels no matter what boat you are in.
Lunch was wonderful, we had our own waterfront to sit, chat, have a warm drink and ask questions. This time enabled us to take a moment to enjoy being back with friends and gave us a chance to recharge our batteries ready for more time on the water. Because of the extra hours of daylight that summer awards us with we were able to continue sailing until after four and would have happily continued sailing for longer but had to return to the lakeside location as the breeze had increased. With the warm sun warming the lake some of the group took a dip to chill off, again we felt so lucky to have a safe place to swim. We also welcomed a new young volunteer Sarah from Ullswater. As a charity we still find it something special about watching new young volunteers share their love of sailing and take it all in their stride, using their basics of communication with their crew and installing confidence in our blind sailors.
Saturday nights barbeque was enjoyed by all, thanks to the team and our cook Judith. The surroundings were stunningly peaceful, everyone loved the chance to chat and catch up, with over 50% of the group not being able to see the view it was still something magic for those after being described the view, they could feel the space and how high up our vantage point was looking down over the lake.
The next morning, we had lighter breeze. Getting confidence and moving has been key in our back on the water sessions, one of the ways we did this was by removing the rudders. It was great to see all moving around the boat and working it out, for some this was a new skill and showed the theory they had been learning online. When asked how she felt the morning’s session had gone Kate said, “I have to be honest and admit that I don’t like the feeling of how unstable the dinghy felt but it has helped me to understand how much weight plays a crucial role in controlling the movement of a boat through the water.”
In the afternoon, the wind had filled in. We had an opportunity to mix in with the Windermere racing and although we were making our way down the lake to deliver the dinghies back to Windermere Activity Centre, we could not turn down this chance to have a bit more fun.
A final word from Judith and her summary of the final day, that I am sure will inspire and support our thanks at the end of this blog.
“Sunday, the wind had dropped off. Rudderless training was on the itinerary and a perfect opportunity to do it with the reduced wind. Back into the Lasers under the instructions of Jonny. Again, a very informative exercise which clearly demonstrated the online learning re weight theories. This training demonstrated how a boat can be steered by using weight alone and it required a delicate touch which took some getting used to. However, you learnt quickly because if you don’t get it right you go round in circles. After nearly loosing Oscar overboard with his sheer dedication to prevent tacking again, we did crack it and made it even more meaningful when given a course to navigate. I can’t give enough praise for the training received and what I learnt on this weekend. It has given me so much more confidence and I can’t wait for the next time to use and develop the skills further. It just makes me hungrier for more! Simply saying “Thank you” doesn’t seem enough but a massive “thank you” for all those involved in Blind Sailing
Windermere Activity Centre were also a partner in contributing to the smooth running of the weekend. Ark Sailing loan of keel boat and again Ghyll Head Outdoor Education Centre for the amazing facilities. And not forgetting all the volunteers that make it all happen on the water.
We cannot say thank you enough to all involved, it was an amazing weekend. We are already looking forward to our next trip up north.
As well as the pictures in this blog you can go to our Youtube channel and see more of our weekend in windermere.
Did we achieve our goal for the weekend to enable sailors TO GET back on the water feeling safe I think we can say YES.
Or simple click on this link https://youtu.be/eBF7reyKd10
From this Ark Sailing is working with Blind Sailing to provide RYA Level 1 and 3 keel boat qualifications with a small discount. If you are interested, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org