Monday, 6 December 2010

Passing Wind - my first boat

Passing Wind
My first  boat
6th December 2010

I was searching through some old photo's recently and came across a very grainy image of my very first boat.

Passing Wind - my first boat in 1979

I have always been keen on woodwork and instead of working during the summer  on 1979 after A Levels,  I decided to build a boat instead. Now I wasn't being lazy, far from it, I had a job lined up with Midland Bank that was from the 3rd September and I figured it would be an excellent way to use my last extended period of free time.

I did a bit of research and settled on a set of plans from an Irish company, a Laser like dingy which was 10ft long, 4ft wide and about 10 inches thick. This was billed as a very fast craft with an oversize sail which demanded the best spruce timber to withstand the strains placed on it. This timber was sourced from a traditional boat builder on the Norfolk Broads and clad in exterior ply.

Much to my surprise it took shape quite easily and with a bit of adaption here and there the pile of timber was transformed into the sleek line of a racing dingy. The problems came with the rigging. The plans didn't cover the mast or the boom so I resorted to measuring the photo and concluded that the mast should be about 18ft tall and Jeckylls of Wroxham supplied an off the shelf sail to fit. This was my first foray into the mysteries of a chandler's - love as first byte!.

And so over the weeks my first boat was born, but to register it I needed a name. After some thought I went with my schoolboy humour and called it Passing Wind.

Passing Wind was a huge success, after a few teething troubles I learned how to sail it and took it out all over the Broads in all kinds of weather. I remember some glorious summer evenings on Wroxham Broad, extended runs south for miles south from Coltishall and some hair raising runs in storm conditions on Barton Broad. PW took all I could throw at it, heeling over so far the water spilled over the gunnels and running so fast before the wind that even with me perched right on the transom, the bows still tried to bury themselves in the water like a submarine.

Passing Wind last sailed about 20 years ago when I took it to Rutland Water with my best man. Sadly she was well past her prime and one of the stays same undone, and the mast fell around our ears leaving us to paddle our way back to the slipway. An inglorious end for a gutsy little craft.

But it's not really the end. Passing Wind lives on, leaning against my garage wall 31 years after I built her and the rigging still clutters up my garage. Try as I might I can't bring myself to cut her up. I know I should, I know she will probably never sail again, but she has a special place on my heart.

Sorry about the terrible photo. Its the only one I have, taken on one of those ghastly 110 cassette camera's in low light. Better a bad photo than no photo at all.


Halfie said...

Hugely impressive! I always rue having had to "choose" art over woodwork at school. Woodwork was oversubscribed. I hated - and was useless at - art. Although I am reasonably mechanically minded, I know that a bit of early-years tuition in woodwork would have been very useful.

Captain Ahab said...

Stanley Crouch, my woodwork teacher played a far more significant role in my life than we would ever have realised. The carpentry was the start of a lifeling passion but he also forced me into a place wher I had to face some particularly nasty schoolboy gremlins - and emered
the stronger for it.