A Boat on the Side

The More Things Change . . . . .

Over twenty years have passed since I began researching the market for trailerable boats. My proposed business had to fulfill some pretty demanding criteria, not the least of which was that I had to sell enough to make a living.

One of the questions we asked people at launching ramps was pretty straightforward. “Want don’t you like about trailer sailers?” Among the many replies that stood out loud and clear was “It takes two or more people far too long to rig and launch them.”  Why was this so? The answer was simple, the universally held assumption that the boat had to have a bermudan rig with its proportionally long and unwieldy mast.

Norfolk Broads Cruiser with Lead Weights

Now raising a long mast can be done – Thames barges used to do it frequently. Their solution was a heavy duty windlass and industrial strength blocks and tackle. There are a few trailer sailors who have similar arrangements, including screw on spars to provide leverage but too many of them rely on too many hands. Over the years many ideas have been tried with varying success. The traditional Norfolk Broads cruisers had a robust tabernacle with lead counterweights on the mast heel which swung under the deck. Others simply had big steel affairs with the pivot point as high as possible. I designed a sliding sleeve system to enable the mast to slide forward for trailing but never bothered to do one – in the end, in my experience, a shorter mast is the best for a trailerable boat. Enter the lugsail or gaff mast on a small tabernacle – the one we’ve used for twenty years.

Scruffie Marine Mast Tabernacle

Annette took an enquiry today from a man who is selling his 26-footer because “It takes three of us to get the mast up!” He’s after a Scintilla 24, offering hassle free single-handed rigging and launching. So why do so many trailer sailers still have long masts and over complicated gear? Mine don’t, I suppose I’ve always looked at things with a questioning mind.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Vintage National 12

We did a sailing demonstration some years back at a beach clubhouse for a local yacht club. There was a retired man there also giving demonstrations, with a rather nice simulated clinker glassfibre 12-footer, a bit like a softer National 12 I sailed as a youth. She had a three quarter rig, main and jib, spreaders, stay adjusters, hanks on the jib, boom vang, mainsheet on a traveler track – in fact everything you could ask for. He’d bought the moulds and rights as a retirement project and we wished him well. He arrived before us but we rigged our Shimmy 12 and launched her in about ten minutes – the Shimmys don’t even need a tabernacle, the unstayed mast drops straight into a slot. So off we went on the first of many demos.

Shimmy 12

It was a fresh onshore breeze so the Shimmy was in her element – straight off the beach, no worries. Came back, went out, came back and the man’s still fiddling with various bits. Finally he got the sails up and launched the boat. Trouble was he couldn’t get the centerboard down far enough to get sufficient grip – the little boat just kept going sideways back on to the beach with every wave. Heads were banged by the wildly swinging little boom. Tempers were fraying, more hands joined in with two blokes wading out waist deep to hold her head to windward while two more stood by to give her a shove. Eventually she made it and yes, she sailed very nicely. But it took over an hour to rig and get in the water and it took four people to help get her off the beach.

I felt really sorry for the owner and I’ve never seen the little open sloop again. Our little Shimmy 12 is still going strong and still selling well and the basic concept is just as viable now as it was a decade or two ago.

I bless the day I decided to seriously question why trailer sailers had to be the way they are.

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How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep*

Without doubt we live in a world of wonder and a world of sorrow. A world of marvels and a world of conflict.  A world of delight and a world of destruction. There are infinite pathways to depression and clearly signposted roads to despair. Surveys reveal over 80% of us are suffering stress. The braver souls among us will have assessed the global situation and found fear. Yet there is always a beacon on the horizon – ever a light in our souls. Where can we go to re-ignite that scintilla of hope? What can we do to make it all better?

We can go to the beach of course. We can be beside the seaside, we can be close to water. It’s part of our ancient heritage – we are drawn to water, we are intimately connected to the planet’s liquid soul. From wallowing in a scented bath to splashing in the shallows to wafting along a quiet river or riding a Pacific breaker. We are at one with water in all its forms. Our bodies are nearly all water and our yearnings are inevitably connected to water. Who doesn’t want to holiday on a tropical island? Or cruise the seven seas in an elegant white ship?

The admen cleverly use watery lures all the time from “crystal waterfalls” to “pristine paradise” – all those swaying palms, the white sand, the impossibly turquoise waters . . . When can we leave? I’m mentally packed already! Bear with me. Scientists will tell you the molecules of H20 are arranged in a four sided pyramid – a tetrahedron. We can use that. Researchers tell us that water is programmable. We can use that too. Mystics will speak of the River of Life, churches use Holy Water and I’ll tell you how to attune to the inner ocean, dispel the sorrows and get a good night’s sleep into the bargain.

We’re going to take a break now  . . . . .

This programme is proudly brought to you by Scruffie Marine, a world of guilt-free sailing fun, elegant yachts, sparkling blue waters and sunny days.

Welcome back  . . . . .

I taught meditation for many years, I taught people from all walks of life – saints, sinners, prisoners, developers, whores, builders and bankers. I even thought I’d have a go at lawyers but that was a challenge beyond mere mortals. The jailbirds were in some ways the most receptive, they were a captive audience (groan!) But these days we can’t call them jailbirds  nor lags or even crims, they aren’t even “guests” of Her Majesty anymore since the prisons are now run for profit by huge American correctional corporations and their “guests” have become cogs in the money machine that is Corrective Services. Along the way bankers became financial advisors and whores became sex workers. None of the lovely ladies I taught ever paid in kind either, in case you were wondering. But spare a thought for those locked away where sorrow and sleeplessness is epidemic. Not for them a warm cuddle at night, no their life is a cold hard clanging affair and  I thought why not try to help them out? Indeed try to help them stay out! So over many sessions a special meditation exercise evolved and crystallised into something like this. It’s most effective when you can’t sleep.

First get yourself comfortable and relax. Start by visualising a three dimensional triangle – a crystalline tetrahedron like the water molecules but large enough to sit, stand or lie in and strong enough to support your weight. Toughened glass mind camping, if you like. Not my original idea but a simplified version of one introduced by  Elizabeth Kruger – an effective foundation, especially at bedtime. We try to relax but tensions and worries often intrude so we’re off to the beach to chase them away and the triangle is the magic carpet.

Lie on your back, legs uncrossed, and relax all of your muscles, one by one, head to toe – as though you were melting into bed. Visualise the beach – it’s perfect and it’s all yours. Warm sand, blue water, waving palms, gentle breeze – it’s your sanctuary, your holiday island. Now concentrate on the waves rolling in and breathe with them. Breathe in as the waves build up, pause a moment and breathe out as they recede. It’s important to relax as you breathe out, paying particular attention to the neck and shoulders. Breathe at your own pace. Ocean breathe with the relaxing rhythm of the waves. Gently but firmly breathe away the sorrow, the worries, the tensions. No place for them in your tropical paradise. Of course they’ll keep coming back, these mischievous disturbers of your peace, but re-focus, re-align and relax them away. Be aware of body tension. What’s bugging you? Work, money, partner, relatives? Whatever it is, it’s likely you’ll feel it in tense neck muscles, tightening abdomen, hunched shoulders. Back to the waves – breathe away the sorrows just as the receding waves wash the beach clean. Keep the flotsam and jetsam of everyday clutter off your beautiful beach.

Now don’t push it too hard, the aim is relaxation and stillness, try too hard and you’ll just create more tension. Breathe until you’ve settled into an easy rhythm. Now you can begin to programme your life. What is bothering you? Politicians? Forgive them. Office bullies? Smile and forgive them. Wayward children? Smile, think of their good points and forgive them. State of the planet? Whoah – the big one! Just try to live mindfully and relax, realise that  you are but a grain of sand yet paradoxically a vital cog in the planetary machine. By breathing, relaxing, getting a good night’s sleep, being at peace with yourself you are automatically a better person the next day. That in itself helps because now your 90% water body is programmed to be healthier, more attractive and more forgiving and let’s face it, every little bit helps.  Treat this as a beginning, a step towards re-programming your future.

There are as many variations on this as there are swimmers in the sea of life but the essence is simplicity. Breathe, relax, breathe – shoulders neck – breathe, relax.

For myself, I sail a beautiful white schooner. I hear the waves playing around her elegant clipper bow, I feel the ship come alive as the South Pacific breeze fills her sails, I breathe as she gently rolls to each wave  . . . I . . . yawn . . . rarely fail to get a good night’s sleep.

Of course you have to avoid excess caffeine, too much alcohol, drugs. Yes I know, a shame, but there you are.

Finally, as you are dropping off you may want to turn over or sleep on your side. Breathe and relax again and visualize the crystal triangle around you. It’s your cocoon.

Ocean breathing, sweet dreaming.

* The text of this item originally published in Living Now magazine under the title “Water – Your Partner in Peace.”