DSC – A New Member’s View

Peter Clements (WebEditor)

Where do I start? Just over 12 months ago I decided to join DSC to fulfil a long (very long!) desire to get into sailing. So why did I and how has it gone?

My first interest in sailing was nearly 40 years ago when a teacher in school asked if anyone was interested in trying it out. My Mother decided as I wasn’t a good swimmer, it wasn’t for me, so first interest dashed!

Next chance was after University finals when 4 of us landed in the Lakes in a friend’s school-built Heron dinghy. Over the next 3 or 4 years we managed a few more sails including once at West Kirby. Social life and womanising kicked in, so interest in sailing went on the back burner again!

Roll on marriage, job changes, moves around the country and 10 years later we’re living in Arnside, Cumbria and I manage a few sails in a friend’s GP14 on the River Kent. As it is at the top of Morecambe Bay, the tide runs at about 15 knots so it was bit livelier than the Dee!! We also managed a flotilla holiday around Corfu. In the following year Fiona was born so my sailing dreams were sunk again!

At this point 20 years ago we moved to Cheshire, Joanne was born and soon we started trips to Abersoch with caravan in tow, finding cats on the beach. A few years later enter Don Findlay for the ?I’ve always fancied one of these? chats on the beach. I managed a couple of sails with Don but my first race ended up with us towing a de-masted cat back in, so that was the end of that. Logistics of towing caravan, Rita, 2 kids, dog, finance and no crew again kicked sailing off the agenda.

By this time I was getting pretty disillusioned about ever getting started and I’d turned into an anorak having had every book I could out of the library. I even resorted to hiring a Wayfarer at Southport and trying a Laser at Winsford SC’s Open Day. Redundancy (twice) and other issues put sailing back again.

Then 2 years ago I saw an ad in Abersoch …… ?Prindle 19, complete with trailer etc…….£1500? Bargain, I thought, leave on the beach, trip down for weekends, get teenage daughters interested……at last!! Sanity check e-mail to Don Findlay before I jump, then the questions… ?Have I done any more sailing, where will I sail?? Polite suggestion from Don if I bought it, I would be well advised to learn to sail it on a lake with Rescue boat, e.g. Bala, before I go off the beach or buy something smaller. Suitably brought down to size I reconsidered, hopes dashed again!

However Don then pointed me at a Prindle 16 for sale at Dee Sailing Club, which brought me here. I’d not even thought about a club or racing, just wanting to have a boat to blast. A few chats in the dinghy park, a Quiz night and an F18 talk from the inevitable Mr Findlay and I realised I’d found the answer…..Dee Sailing Club. Nearly 40 years from my first interest I realised might actually get into this sailing lark!

I , and the family, were made very welcome and advice on gear and boat buying was soon forthcoming. Initially I did try get to crew for others (before the Crew List) but frustration with this soon led me to buy my own boat. The Dee grapevine in the form of e-mail’s brought Nigel Sedgwick forward to show me the ropes (literally) and crew for me.

First week we were out Sunday, Wednesday, Open Day on Saturday and Sunday again. The years of theory study soon started to drop into place and after all those years of waiting I managed 12 hours in the first week!! A big driver to take the plunge was to do this before I was too old or unfit to do it. Thoughts on following Monday were I’d already left it too late but did I have a big grin of satisfaction??

The rest of the season progressed with more races, some straight after work, occasionally taking crews off the ?Crew List’ when Nige was unavailable and, you guessed, a Don Findlay training day. Within weeks I felt part of the crowd and receiving as much abuse as regulars! Once I started throwing some back I was soon told I would fit in just fine!

Reflecting on the last 12 months I reflect that although I wasn’t looking for a sailing club, I have found membership so useful for assistance, knowledge, experience and not to mention accessibility to sail. The social benefits have proved a wonderful bonus.

I wasn’t looking to race but have found this the ideal way to learn and compare technique and performance. The race course forces you to experience all the points of sailing including tidal effects which you wouldn’t do if you just went for a blast.

The Sailing Programme gives me the impetus to get out when I might otherwise be tempted to sit in. How often do you intend to go to the gym but never make it? This year there are other opportunities to sail on Saturdays for practice/training.

Above all, of particular interest to newcomers, is the Safety issue of having Rescue boats out. Even on the Dee the weather can change rapidly as I found on my second outing. It went from 5 to 25 knots in 15 minutes and I experienced my first capsize! When I think back to contemplating going off Abersoch beach as a novice I shudder.

So would I recommend DSC to new members? Most definately! Whether you are a novice or experienced you will be welcomed. Novices can take their own time to build up experience and experts will find some tough competition.

Graham Maxwell